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Stop Socialized Medicine! Pledge to Refuse Medicare Coverage Now and Forever!

August 17, 2009

http://www.care2.com/causes/politics/blog/stop-socialized-medicine-pledge-to-refuse-medicare-coverage-now-and-forever/

Stop Socialized Medicine! Pledge to Refuse Medicare Coverage Now and Forever!

posted by: Scott P. 21 hours ago
Stop Socialized Medicine! Pledge to Refuse Medicare Coverage Now and Forever!

Scott P

Okay, here is the deal. If you are attempting to stop healthcare reform for fear of SOCIALISM then I would like you to sign the petition I created to pledge your support to refuse to use the Medicare you already have or to promise to never sign up for it. That’s right, Medicare is a government run insurance administered by private insurance (unfortunately) to private doctors and hospitals much like the evil public option in the healthcare bill will be. Not everyone seems to know this as, Rep. Robert Inglis (R-S.C.) told The Washington Post that, at a recent town-hall meeting, a man stood up and told him to “keep your government hands off my Medicare.”

I was once told by a family member who was complaining about his Medicare coverage that he had to sign up for Medicare and couldn’t choose private insurance. Not being 65 yet, I took his word on it. I have since done some research and learned (that’s right when you are told a fact you can actually take the time to ascertain its correctness) he was wrong. Medicare is entirely voluntary, although you will face a late fee if you sign up for part B or D after you are initially eligible. But since you are opposed to socialized medicine I am sure that you will never ever sign up.

Did you know that most of our medical research is also “publicly funded” i.e. socialized through the National Institutes of Health (NIH)? Much of our basic drug research is funded by….the GOVERNMENT! I guess you will also have to swear off using any drugs or receiving any service funded by the NIH, after all you would hate to use SOCIALIZED MEDICINE. If you have employer based insurance you pay your premium pretax which is obviously a form of government subsidization or SOCIALISM. I guess you should also demand the government stop subsidizing employer based health care via tax breaks. (For those not following…imagine if you didn’t get the tax break and then when you went to the doctor the government covered portions of your doctor visit up to the amount that would not have been collected by taxes i.e. they are pay for your healthcare). This comes to almost 200 billion a year in government subsidies.

Why am I so angry you ask? In a recent blog posting I stated that my insurance was over 10% of my salary. Since that time I have obtained a raise and yet my family premium is now over 20% of my salary through the same insurance. I work for a small business with less than 10 employees and the cost of providing insurance is prohibitive for my company. Luckily I am also in grad school so I can buy insurance from the school. They raised my rates significantly this year and also put in a new maximum payout for prescription drugs which my wife’s one medication will nearly surpass by the end of the year. It is only thanks to savings that I currently have insurance. I have no credit card debt, my mortgage is less than the average cost of rent, both cars are paid off and anyone that knows me can verify that I do not spend money on gadgets, clothes, etc. In other words I am a hard working part-time student with a family who spends his money conservatively and yet I can barely afford healthcare.

Note on Small Businesses: The self-employed and small businesses with fewer than 25 workers constitute only about 30% of all workers, but they represent almost half of uninsured workers, or close to 17 million people. These small businesses have the highest rate of uninsurance and constitute the largest percentage of uninsured workers. If you include the spouse and dependents for this group, a significant number of the uninsured are workers or dependents of workers in small businesses

I have never been unemployed for more than two-three weeks despite multiple layoffs when I worked in IT during the dot.com bubble and yet I have been without insurance more often than I can count on one hand. Each time I lost a job I was offered COBRA but the high premiums were jaw droppingly difficult to contemplate paying at the exact moment I lost my job. When I finally found a new job, I usually remained without insurance for another 90 days (the probationary period). On one such 90 day period I tore my meniscus the very day that I was eligible and signed up for insurance. I was more than a little lucky. It was bad enough that the torn knee made me lose a month of work (I became a server when I returned to college) but if I had to pile massive healthcare bills on top of money I lost it would have been a disaster. I dare say that I probably would have spent all the savings I was using to finish my bachelors to pay for medical bills.

Later after leaving that job for one without health insurance I attempted to obtain private insurance. Not only were the rates/deductibles far too high to be useful but it excluded any further medical service for my knee. Luckily, my wife’s job started offering insurance because less than a year later I started suffering from shin splints as an after effect of my torn meniscus. If I had taken one of those private insurance plans I would have been up the creek without a paddle. According to The Common Wealth Fund 73 percent of people who tried to buy individual coverage in the last three years did not end up buying a plan. What more evidence do you need to see that the invisible hand of free market guiding private insurance companies has become all thumbs?

I have also had experience with public insurance. My father was in the Army and I grew up with free medical coverage that was always top notch whether I went to Bethesda Navy Hospital for a major concern or to the local military primary care unit (PRIMUS). Did I sometimes wait an hour or two in the waiting room with the flu? Yes, I sure did but I have done that with private insurance too even when I had an appointment (PRIMUS did not give appointments). Military insurance was so vital that when my parents split they delayed divorce to make sure they were married long enough to guarantee my mom military healthcare after the divorce.

I am not alone in the world of hardworking people who can barely afford their health coverage. Despite common misconceptions that this plan is designed to help only the lazy and the shiftless (which is not that high a number if you consider that prior to the current Great Recession our unemployment rate rarely topped 5%) the large majority of un or underinsured are the working middle-class who make too much for Medicaid but not enough to afford private insurance.

Although one might presume that most people are uninsured because they have no job, this is not the case. 73% of the uninsured worked during the year, with an overwhelming amount working full-time. Some industries are less likely than others to offer health insurance. Farmers and agricultural workers, construction workers, the self employed and small business worker and those who work in service industries such as hospitality and retail have higher rates of uninsurance.

The numbers of working uninsured are only likely to rise as employers drop or reduce their health plans. The percentage of people covered through employer based insurance went from 64 percent in 2000 to 59 percent in 2007. This is partly due to employers dropping coverage and partly due to the rising cost of premiums which were not met with rising salaries. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the average annual premium for family coverage increased from $5,791 in 1999 to $12, 680 in 2008—a 9 percent annual increase. How many workers do you think earned a 9% annual increase in pay? If this continues it is impossible not to see how companies will suffer from this cost burden when they go up against foreign companies whose workers do not need such plans.

Even if you do not lose coverage at your job you may lose your job, decide to leave for a new job and be stuck without insurance unless you can afford COBRA (how free market is that to make you stay in a job for fear of losing health insurance) or you could get divorced from the spouse you depend on for health coverage.

Keep in mind that if you have COBRA and move out of the area, and your former insurer has no coverage in your new location, then you are back in the individual market, which is no market at all. The same goes for if your company goes out of business and your plan is by default terminated. COBRA is no guarantee of anything.

There are problems in our healthcare and I admit to not having all the solutions but if your only goal is to stop reform without offering a substantive solution then you are ignoring the problem.

America DOES NOT have the best health care in the world. Despite spending the most money on healthcare by, over 17 percent of GDP, the World Health Organization still rates our health care as lower than Switzerland which spends 10.9, Germany which spends 10.7, Canada which spends 9.7 and France which spends 9.5.

We were 37th in overall performance and 72nd in overall level of health with a higher infant mortality rate than all other developed countries. Does that sound like the best to you? It is time for change. Immediate change. We do not need to “slow down.” Universal healthcare has been an issue since the days of Teddy Roosevelt, how much slower can we go? We’ve watched the rest of the industrialized world provide universal healthcare successfully for the last four decades it is time we figure it out how to do it too.

So please, if you are opposed to healthcare reform because you fear SOCIALISM then sign my petition asking for you, the signers, to be removed from or prevented from obtaining Medicare.

Fear tactics about long lines, hip surgeries that never happen, death panels, etc. are the same type of hysterical exaggerations that were used in the fight against Medicare back in the 1960s. I figure if you are going to use the same arguments used against Medicare against a new public option for all then you should renounce your ability to sign up for Medicare. I am sure the private market will give you what you deserve.

Update:

According a recent Harper’s Index:

  • Percentage change since 2002 in average premiums paid to large U.S. health-insurance companies: +87
  • Percentage change in profits of the top ten insurance companies: +428

It seems pretty logical to me that insurance companies would have easily remained profitable without raising fees. Maybe not 428% more profitiable but certainely profitable. It is this drive for annually increasing profits inherent in our economy that makes profit-based insurance such a social and moral failure.Read more: politics

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Sammy permalink
    August 19, 2009 05:05

    All obama will do is outsource anyways. Just think about the all the lobbyists flocking to Washington DC because of obama’s reckless over-spending of $2 TRILLION in just 6 months, which alone is increasing the National Debt by 20%.

    Politicians take people’s money and reward the large corporations, in this case companies in the health care industry, since they have the money to more effectively lobby politicians. In the end smaller businesses will be hurt.

    Politicians will only reward companies that will be in their best political interest. Honestly, when can you really trust politicians since they are basically professional liars, and being president just means you are the best liar of the time. Why not just give the money directly from the people to the companies and take politicians in government out of the equation?

    obama is going to recklessly spend TRILLIONS of tax payers’ money just to give insurance to about 25% of those who do not have it. Over 50% of people’s income go towards taxes, just imagine how many more people will afford health care insurance if their income is almost doubled because of dramatic tax cuts.

    Competition is what is needed. It lowers prices of products and services, along with developing new innovations. All of which will benefit consumers. You need to remember that monopolistic tendencies can also apply to government.

    The reason why the cost of insurance is high is because politicians in government mandate insurance companies to increase their premiums to pay for ridiculous things. In addition, politicians put up regulations so that Americans are not allowed to get insurance from another state and use the coverage in their own state. This reduces competition making it more expensive for people to get insurance. On top of that medical professionals are not allowed to freely practice their profession in any US state without taking a long and tedious licensing process. This again increases the cost of medical insurance.

    In the end, the problem with most economic issues is too much government intervention of the economy by politicians, who will only tend to do things for political self interest. Just like how obama nationalized GM to pander to its unions. Politicians can barely run government, yet people think they can run a multi-national auto manufacturing company?

    The solution is SMALLER government, LESS spending, and LOWER taxes.

  2. justicenotchange permalink*
    August 19, 2009 18:39

    Single-Payer/Medicare For All, NOT Obamacare!

    http://www.pnhp.org

    from Physicians for a National Health Program

    http://www.pnhp.org/facts/single_payer_resources.php

    Single-payer national health insurance is a system in which a single public or quasi-public agency organizes health financing, but delivery of care remains largely private.

    Currently, the U.S. health care system is outrageously expensive, yet inadequate. Despite spending more than twice as much as the rest of the industrialized nations ($7,129 per capita), the United States performs poorly in comparison on major health indicators such as life expectancy, infant mortality and immunization rates. Moreover, the other advanced nations provide comprehensive coverage to their entire populations, while the U.S. leaves 45.7 million completely uninsured and millions more inadequately covered.

    The reason we spend more and get less than the rest of the world is because we have a patchwork system of for-profit payers. Private insurers necessarily waste health dollars on things that have nothing to do with care: overhead, underwriting, billing, sales and marketing departments as well as huge profits and exorbitant executive pay. Doctors and hospitals must maintain costly administrative staffs to deal with the bureaucracy. Combined, this needless administration consumes one-third (31 percent) of Americans’ health dollars.

    Single-payer financing is the only way to recapture this wasted money. The potential savings on paperwork, more than $350 billion per year, are enough to provide comprehensive coverage to everyone without paying any more than we already do.

    Under a single-payer system, all Americans would be covered for all medically necessary services, including: doctor, hospital, preventive, long-term care, mental health, reproductive health care, dental, vision, prescription drug and medical supply costs. Patients would regain free choice of doctor and hospital, and doctors would regain autonomy over patient care.

    Physicians would be paid fee-for-service according to a negotiated formulary or receive salary from a hospital or nonprofit HMO / group practice. Hospitals would receive a global budget for operating expenses. Health facilities and expensive equipment purchases would be managed by regional health planning boards.

    A single-payer system would be financed by eliminating private insurers and recapturing their administrative waste. Modest new taxes would replace premiums and out-of-pocket payments currently paid by individuals and business. Costs would be controlled through negotiated fees, global budgeting and bulk purchasing.

    The links below will lead you to more specific information on the details of single-payer:
    Single-Payer Overviews

    The Physicians Proposal for National Health Insurance

    “Proposal of the Physicians’’ Working Group for Single-Payer National Health Insurance,” JAMA 290(6): Aug 30, 2003
    Key Features of Single-Payer
    A useful handout detailing the main features of single-payer.

    Statement of Dr. Marcia Angell introducing the U.S. National Health Insurance Act
    A great overview of the need for and logic of a single-payer system. Perfect as an introductory handout.

    Liberal Benefits, Conservative Spending
    Another great introductory handout.

    The case for eliminating the private health insurance industry
    By Don McCanne, MD and Leonard Rodberg, PhD

    Public Citizen’s Response to the Citizens’ Health Care Working Groups Interim Recommendations (En Español)
    A great overview on the benefits of a single-payer system by Public Citizen.

    Rep. Dennis Kucinich Tackles Health Care
    Rep. Kucinich talks with Truthdig about the health care crisis in America.

    Financing single-payer national health insurance: Myths and facts

    Download PNHP’s Brochure
    Single Payer: Facts and Myths

    Single Payer FAQ
    A frequently-updated catalog of the most-asked questions about single-payer.

    Myths as Barriers to Health Care Reform
    A paper refuting many of the myths associated with single-payer.

    “Mythbusters” by the Canadian Health Services Research Foundation
    A series of brief papers debunking the common misconceptions about the Canadian health system.

    “Moral Hazard:” The Myth of the Need for Rationing

    Rasell, E “Cost Sharing in Health Insurance – A Reexamination,” New Eng J Med., 332(7) 1995

    Roos, et al “Does Comprehensive Insurance Encourage Unnecessary Use?” Can. Med. Assoc. J 170(2) Jan. 20, 2004

    Gladwell, M. “The Moral Hazard Myth,” New Yorker Aug. 29, 2005
    Myths and Memes About Single-Payer Health Insurance in the United State: A Rebuttal to Conservative Claims

    Geyman, John; International Journal of Health Services, Volume 35, Number 1, Pages 63–90, 2005
    Health Economics and Financing

    Introduction: How Much Would a Single-Payer System Cost?
    A review of government and independent studies of the cost of single-payer system.

    Administrative Waste Consumes 31 Percent of Health Spending

    Woolhandler, et al “Costs of Health Administration in the U.S. and Canada,” NEJM 349(8) Sept. 21, 2003
    Administrative Costs in U.S. Hospitals are More Than Double Canada’s

    Woolhandler, et al “Administrative Costs in U.S. Hosptials,” NEJM 329, Aug. 5, 1993
    60 Percent of Health Spending is Already Publicly Financed, Enough to Cover Everyone

    Woolhandler, et al. “Paying for National Health Insurance – And Not Getting It,” Health Affairs 21(4); July / Aug. 2002
    A Proposal for Financing National Health Insurance

    Rasell, Edith “An Equitable Way to Pay for Universal Coverage,” International Journal of Health Services. 29(1); 1999

    “Liberal Benefits, Conservative Spending”
    Grumbach, et al. JAMA, May 15, 1991, Vol. 265 No. 19

    “Markets and Medical Care: The United States, 1993-2005”
    Joseph White, Case Western Reserve University, The Milbank Quarterly, Volume 85, Number 3, 2007

    “Single Payer—Fifty Players: Alternative Payers for Universal Health Insurance”
    Thomas Bodenheimer, Health/PAC Bulletin, Fall 1992

    Paying More, Getting Less: How much is the sick U.S. health care system costing you?
    Joel A. Harrison, Dollars and Sense magazine, May/June 2008 issue

    Canadian Health Insurance: Lessons for the United States
    June 1991; General Accounting Office (ref no: T-HRD-91-35)
    The Case Against For-Profit Care

    Overview: The High Costs of For-Profit Care

    Editorial by David Himmelstein, MD and Steffie Woolhandler, MD in the Canadian Medical Association Journal
    For-Profit Hospitals Cost More and Have Higher Death Rates

    Devereaux, PJ “Payments at For-Profit and Non-Profit Hospitals,” Can. Med. Assoc. J., Jun 2004; 170

    Devereaux, PJ “Mortality Rates of For-Profit and Non-Profit Hospitals,” Can. Med. Assoc. J, May 2002; 166
    For-Profit Hospitals Cost More and Have Higher Administration Expenses

    Himmelstein, et al “Costs of Care and Admin. At For-Profit and Other Hospitals in the U.S.” NEJM 336, 1997
    For-Profit HMOs Provide Worse Quality Care

    Himmelstein, et al “Quality of Care at Investor-Owned vs. Not-for-Profit HMOs” JAMA 282(2); July 14, 1999
    For-Profit Medicare Plans Cost 11 Percent More Than Traditional Medicare
    MedPac Report, Jun 9, 2006
    Quality and Malpractice

    Introduction: Medical Malpractice, Health Care Quality and Health Care Reform (pdf)
    A Forum Report by Gordon Schiff, MD

    How Single-Payer Improves Health Care Quality (pdf)
    A brief by PNHP (makes a great handout!)
    A Better Quality Alternative: Single-Payer National Health Insurance

    Schiff, et al “A Better Quality Alternative” JAMA, 272(10); Sept. 12 1994
    Comprehensive Quality Improvement Requires Comprehensive Reform (pdf)

    Schiff, et al “You Can’t Leap a Chasm in Two Jumps,” Public Health Reports 116, Sept / Oct 2001
    The Failures of Other Reform Options

    Individual Mandates (The Massachusetts Plan)

    Consumer Directed Health Care and Health Savings Accounts

    Tax Credits for Private Insurance

    Why HSAs Won’t Cure What Ails U.S. Health Care

    Critique of Sen. Wyden’s (OR) “Healthy Americans Act”
    Comparison between Schwarzenegger Health Plan and Single Payer for California
    State Single-Payer Bills

    Issues for State Single-Payer Legislation
    By Dr. Steffie Woolhandler

    Key Features of Single-Payer
    A useful handout to help recongnize state single-payer legislation

    Health Spending By State Of Residence, 1991—2004
    Health Affairs 26, no. 6 (2007): w651— w663

    Arizona

    California – SB810

    Colorado

    Illinois

    Minnesota

    Ohio
    International Health Systems

    International Health Systems for Single Payer Advocates
    By PNHP Executive Director Dr. Ida Hellander

    International Resources on National Health Insurance
    Compiled by Joel A. Harrison, Ph.D., MPH

    Health Care Systems – Four Basic Models
    An excerpt from T.R. Reid’s book on international health care, “We’re Number 37!”
    Single-Payer Bibliography

    A bibliography of single-payer studies and papers

    Also,

    Advocates of the “free market” approach to health care claim that competition will streamline the costs of health care and make it more efficient. What is overlooked is that past competitive activities in health care under a free market system have been wasteful and expensive, and are the major cause of rising costs.

    There are two main areas where competition exists in health care: among the providers and among the payers. When, for example, hospitals compete they often duplicate expensive equipment in order to corner more of the market for lucrative procedure-oriented care. This drives up overall medical costs to pay for the equipment and encourages overtreatment. They also waste money on advertising and marketing. The preferred scenario has hospitals coordinating services and cooperating to meet the needs of their communities.

    Competition among insurers (the payers) is not effective in containing costs either. Rather, it results in competitive practices such as avoiding the sick, cherry-picking, denial of payment for expensive procedures, etc. An insurance firm that engages in these practices may reduce its own outlays, but at the expense of other payers and patients.

    Why not use tax subsidies to help the uninsured buy health insurance?

    The major flaw of tax subsidies is that they would be used to help purchase plans in our current fragmented system. The administrative inefficiencies and inequities that characterize our system would be left in place, and we would continue to waste valuable resources that should be going to patient care instead. Moreover, even with tax subsidies, moderate- and lower-income individuals would be unable to afford good coverage, leaving them with modest benefits and high cost-sharing that would often make health care unaffordable. Instead of perpetuating our current inequities, tax policies should be used to create equity in contributions to a system in which everyone is assured access to comprehensive beneficial services.

    If the tax subsidies are granted to individuals, employers would be motivated to drop their coverage, and most individuals covered would have merely rotated from employer coverage to individual coverage. The net reduction in the numbers of uninsured would be small. If the tax subsidies are granted to employers, a major shift in funding passes from employers to taxpayers without significant improvements efficiency or fairness. We can use the tax system to create equity in the way we fund health care, but we should also expect equity and efficiency in allocation of our health care resources. Distributing health resources according to human needs is possible only if we eliminate the private health plans and establish a publicly administered system.

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