Germ theory denialism

99% of the anti-vaxxers in and near Portland, Oregon will call you a “science denier” if you suggest CAGW is debatable in any way. Simultaneously, they choose to risk the death of their children from measles.  Never mind the danger to others of providing many more disease vectors.

State of emergency declared in US measles outbreak

This is a serious disease we had eliminated in the United States 20 years ago, until these morons decided to believe the germ theory of disease didn’t apply to them; while inviting thousands of poor people from third-world countries to live among them without medical exams.

Apparently, there’s no victim-identity group for “children who haven’t had measles vaccinations.” Odd, since there is one for “sex-transitioning 10 year olds.”

Perhaps the fact that measles is a very serious disease when contracted by an adult male contributes to the disdain for vaccination among these Rousseauian wannabes.

Finding out what’s in it

Changing Stance, Administration Now Defends Insurance Mandate as a Tax

When Congress required most Americans to obtain health insurance or pay a penalty, Democrats denied that they were creating a new tax. But in court, the Obama administration and its allies now defend the requirement as an exercise of the government’s “power to lay and collect taxes.”

…“For us to say that you’ve got to take a responsibility to get health insurance is absolutely not a tax increase,” the president said last September,

He forgot to add, “Until we have to defend it in court.” Of course, the question is semantic, whatever term is used.

Insurers Push Plans Limiting Patient Choice of Doctors

The relentlessly rising cost of health insurance is prompting some small Massachusetts companies to drop coverage for their workers and encourage them to sign up for state-subsidized care instead,…

Since April 1, the date many insurance contracts are renewed for small businesses, the owners of about 90 small companies terminated their insurance plans with Braintree-based broker Jeff Rich and indicated in a follow-up survey that they were relying on publicly-funded insurance for their employees.

“Publicly-funded” may be the most dangerous phrase in the English language. Of course, you’ll be able to keep your doctor and your current health insurance under a Federal plan. The president said so.

Lost in Taxation

[W]ith ObamaCare, the agency [IRS] is now responsible for “the most extensive social benefit program the IRS has been asked to implement in recent history.” And without “sufficient funding” it won’t be able to discharge these new duties…

Well, well. Republicans argued during the health debate that the IRS would have to hire hundreds of new agents and staff to enforce ObamaCare. They were brushed off by Democrats and the press corps as if they believed the President was born on the moon.

No. That’s Hawaii.

I can’t wait to find out what’s in the financial “reform” legislation.

The very definition of a modern major death panel

Brought to you directly from the Kevorkian annex of the UK’s National Health “Service.”

Sentenced to death on the NHS

Patients with terminal illnesses are being made to die prematurely under an NHS scheme to help end their lives, leading doctors have warned.

In a letter to The Daily Telegraph, a group of experts who care for the terminally ill claim that some patients are being wrongly judged as close to death.

Under NHS guidance introduced across England to help doctors and medical staff deal with dying patients, they can then have fluid and drugs withdrawn and many are put on continuous sedation until they pass away.

RTWT

Consumer driven health care


Here is an interesting post on market driven health care from National Center Blog’s David Hogberg, who picks a bone with someone named Matthew Holt.

Holt uses LASIK eye-surgery as an argument against consumer driven health care. Since LASIK cost has fallen 30 inflation-adjusted percentage points in the last decade and since customer satisfaction averages 93 percent, it seems a poor example. Apparently, Mr. Holt’s complaints are that consumers are not well enough informed, and that advertising fails to reveal that the services of all providers are not identical.

The National Center Blog does a fine job of pointing out that this objection is basically twaddle, but let me add a bit, including a personal experience and some prognostication.

I’m near the front edge of the baby boomer cohort and until very recently, had had no experience with any medical condition that could be considered chronic, i.e. with long term implications. The short version of the story is that at the urging of my better half I undertook a sleep study to find a cure for what she claimed was a snoring problem.

The diagnosis of sleep apnea offered a choice of 60 percent successful surgery requiring an overnight stay in an ICU and 4 weeks of recovery, much of it very painful, or a potentially uncomfortable machine which I would probably have to use every night for the rest of my life.

I decided I’d try the machine first. I was naturally interested in the comfort features most likely to allow me to avoid surgery. So, I did some research. There is no central information source for these machines, but there are many vendors on the internet and a multitude of discussion groups and even blogs. I discovered a great deal about the machines through advertising, and I settled on certain features.

Armed with an idea about what I should look for, much in the way I would research a car or a major appliance, I obtained a second opinion and a prescription for this “Class A Medical Device.” I expected my final decision to be made after a visit to some kind of showroom where I could estimate the utility for travel, the control functions, features I may not have already discovered and general reputation of various manufacturer’s offerings. That is, I wanted to speak with a salesman.

Such a place only exists on the internet. Instead, I received a call from the respiratory technician of my doctor’s choice, who informed me he had a particular device ready and could deliver it in a couple of days. I asked about the features that were important to me, features that had never been discussed with me by anyone in the not-consumer driven health care arena. I was informed that I did not need those features because my prescription did not specify them. I informed him that since I would likely be using this thing for the rest of my life, I thought the features did matter. After a great deal of goofing about with a health care system that had already decided I was not competent to participate in this decision, I got what I wanted.

The point is that the “health care system” isn’t really prepared for consumer choice. The prognostication is, that as more baby boomers bump into such issues, they will bring both their expectations of consumer choice and their intransigent feelings of “specialness” to bear in ways the health care system had better get ready to appreciate, even if Matthew Holt never does.

LASIK enjoys 93% customer satisfaction because it involves cutting your eyes with a laser. I bet people tend to be interested in the success rates even more than I was with my machine.

Now, add to that the fact that a Health Savings Account combines the tax reduction advantages of a traditional IRA with the tax avoidance advantages of a Roth IRA. That is, contributions to an HSA are tax deductible and, if you spend the proceeds on health care they are never taxed.

You can pass on an HSA as an inheritance. You will not be able to do that with Mr. Holt’s opinion.

Consumer interest in medical care is clear, and the market will supply more and more information as baby boomers demand it. We haven’t had a free market in health care for decades and we don’t have one now. Speculation about the dearth of this market is premature.

Proxy


A press release from the National Center for Public Policy Research sees the President’s SOTU health care reform proposals as positive:

“That is the best idea for health insurance since the enactment of health savings accounts,” said NCPPR senior policy analyst David Hogberg. “This really helps level the playing field for the tax treatment of health insurance.”

Presently the tax code favors employees receiving their health insurance through their employer. “That really puts individuals at a disadvantage,” said Hogberg. “This change will help lower the cost for those people who purchase insurance on the individual market.”

The proposal to limit the tax deduction also deserves praise. With the current unlimited tax deduction, employees have more incentive to demand higher cost insurance policies that cover every little health expense. This leads to higher demand for health care, which leads to higher health care costs. That, in turn, boosts costs for health insurance. “The limit on the tax deduction will reduce the incentive to buy expensive, wasteful policies,” said Hogberg. “That will result in lower health insurance costs for everyone.”

There’s no question that government intervention increases the cost of health care, both through direct subsidy and taxation policy, but what really caught my attention were these comments from Congresscritters Charles Rangel (D-NY) and Pete Stark (D-CA):

Rangel: “This is a dangerous policy that ultimately shifts cost and risk from employers to employees and could result in a higher number of uninsured.”

Stark: “Under the guise of tax breaks, the president is pursuing a policy designed to destroy the employer-based health care system through which 160 million people receive coverage.”

The “employer-based health care system” is itself a result of government interference. Because the Feds imposed wage and price controls during WWII, employers competed for employees by offering benefits through loopholes in those controls – paying for employee health care, for example. “Employer-based health care” originated from doubly inept government intervention. Fifty years later, General Motors, and Michigan, are suffering from that government intervention.

So is everyone else. ALL health care costs are higher because the government fiddles with it. Bush proposes to allow health insurance tax deductions for the self-employed and the “progressives” freak. How reactionary.

That Rangel and Stark think employers owe employees health care is unsurprising, that they act as if it appears in the Bill of Rights is populist paternalism, that they have no interest in affordable health care is obvious. They would prefer a government run health care system; and unless employers are kept shackled to the responsibility, and employees to the dependency, true socialist health care is less likely to happen. Employers currently function as proxies.

I recommend reading Arnold Kling’s articles Insulation vs. Insurance, and The President’s Plan at Cato Unbound for further perspective.

Serendipitous Update: 8:12PM
Thanks to Bizzy Blog for this link


America’s biggest motor manufacturers are negotiating a revolutionary plan to rid themselves of tens of billions of dollars of healthcare liabilities by transferring the responsibility to employees’ unions.

General Motors and Ford have opened talks with the United Auto Workers (UAW) union about a scheme that would see the union run a massive fund to pay the healthcare bills for tens of thousands of retired car plant employees. In return for a one-off payment into the new UAW fund, the car makers could, with one bound, be free of liabilities they say are crippling them.

Technically, this would be an employEE sponsored health plan, would it not? Though, if I were a UAW member, I’d much rather run my personal plan myself. Second choice is – leave it with GM until SarBox applies to Unions. Thanks anyway.

…every other advanced country


Amy Ridenour at National Center blog has posted a couple of interesting thoughts (here and here) on health care in the last 2 days. In one case, she noted the disingenuity (or simple ignorance) displayed by New York Times fifth-columnist Paul Krugman, pointing out that if (as Krugman states), “…every other advanced country somehow manages to provide all its citizens with essential care”, that Canada is necessarily included. Taking Krugman at his word, she provides some evidence that he is unaware of the meaning of the word “essential,”

Krugman could try telling that to the 50 Canadians who once lived in southern Ontario and were on a waiting list to receive a cardiac catheterization, but they are now dead. Maybe he could tell it to the 59 other Canadians on that waiting list who suffered a serious heart attack.

This is only scratching the surface as TOC has noted in previous posts. (See the end of this post for a partial list.)

I wrote, in an email Amy was kind enough to append to her post that,

Actually, Canada is but one example.

Mr. Krugman apparently has overlooked the fine health care provided to Fidel Castro. Fidel has to have received the finest free health care available. Imagine how well this works for the common man in Cuba. Of course, this would not be any big deal except for the refrain we hear from the far left about how good health care is in Cuba.

I was thinking of this earlier today when I read,

A new study shows a double standard between the full coverage drug plans that politicians and bureaucrats enjoy and the partial coverage that is given to Canadians under public plans.

CARP, Canada’s Association for the Fifty Plus, commissioned the study which compared prescription drug plans of elected and public officials to public drug plans in British Columbia and Ontario and those managed by the federal government for aboriginals, veterans and soldiers.

Canada’s politicians are not different from our own in regard to providing themselves with benefits that far exceed those available to ordinary citizens, but in a country where uttering “two-tier health care system” can get you genteely lynched, this is quite a story.

I will need to explain “two-tier health care system.” In Canada, outside the Province of Quebec, it is illegal for health care to be offered except through the government. This is not so strictly enforced as the more statist breed of Canadian would like, but it is the law. It’s why many Canadians come to the US for care when they cannot get it at home.

Two-tier health care is a form of national health care system that is used in most developed countries. It is a system in which a guaranteed public health care system exists, but where a private system operates in parallel. The private system has the benefit of shorter waiting times and more luxurious treatment, but costs far more than the public one for patients. Thus there are two tiers of health care, one for the public at large and another for those who can afford to pay for better care. Most advanced countries in the world have two-tier primary health care to varying degrees, except for Canada outside Quebec where officially, but not in practice, it is illegal.

In Quebec, because of interminable waiting times for treatment, the “one-tier” concept has been declared unconstitutional.

The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) and the Canadian Orthopaedic Association (COA) stated today that the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision in the landmark Chaoulli/Zeliotis case represents a stinging indictment of the failure of governments to respond to the mountains of studies and years of research with real action for our health care system.

“In essence, the Court has agreed with (the CMA/COA’s) fundamental position that Canadians have the right to timely access to health services,” said Dr. Albert Schumacher, President of the CMA. “They have gone as far as ruling that prohibiting patients from using private financing and private insurance where wait times are excessive, at least under the Quebec Charter, is unconstitutional.”

“One thing that is certain is that we physicians will continue to put our patients first,” said Dr. Schumacher. “I took an oath to do my best for my patients – as did all my fellow doctors – and that will not change just because our national health insurance program now faces important changes.”

The Supreme Court struck down a Quebec prohibition that banned the use of private health insurance to provide medically necessary services. Although the ruling applies only in Quebec, since the prohibition was found to violate Quebec’s Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms, it could open the door to similar litigation in other provinces.

Previous TOC posts on Canada’s health care system.

Saturday, December 23, 2006
Lessons from Canada

Friday, December 15, 200
Socialized health care choices

Wednesday, November 22, 2006
Previewing Hillarycare

Wednesday, May 17, 2006
Socialist health care

Friday, May 05, 2006
Free health care

Wednesday, April 26, 2006
The cost of free health care

Saturday, April 22, 2006
Universal Health Care Update

Thursday, April 20, 2006
Universal Health Care

Friday, January 13, 2006
Things we can learn from Canada

Wednesday, March 15, 2006
Social Change in the United States: A Canadian anal -ysis

Thursday, August 18, 2005
Ob-Gyns with 10 Month Waiting Lists

Thursday, July 14, 2005
You don’t always get what you pay for

Monday, July 11, 2005
Brave New World meets Animal Farm

Thursday, June 30, 2005
Medicine Cabinet Minister

Friday, June 17, 2005
45 Million Myths Continued

Thursday, June 16, 2005
45 Million Myths

Monday, April 04, 2005
Canadian Health Care. You’ll Get Old Just Waiting.

This is what Hillarycare would bring here.