The Least, First

Monte Asbury's blog

Satire: Top 10 reasons to oppose universal healthcare

with 23 comments

singlepayer10.jpg

#6, yup. #5, uh-huh. #2, yes, that, too.

I’ve actually heard some of these pitched with a straight face—and you may find some in the comments, below.

But here’s the simple truth: Americans pay twice as much for healthcare as that paid by citizens of any other nation. For their money, they get a healthcare system ranked worse than that of more than twenty thirty-six other nations.

Now it’s not Hillary’s plan we’re talking about here – or Obama’s. No, true universal single-payer healthcare is much different, and much more efficient.

Which leads me to the reason I hear the most: “Inefficient government bureaucracy would drive prices sky-high!” Really? Think of this: Those millions of pages of paperwork doctors pass to hundreds of different private insurers—each with its own forms, deductibles, and co-pays; each advertising for its market share; each with its own unique mix of coverages—that’s more efficient?

Twenty Thirty-six other nations get better care for half as much. Have we, just maybe, been sold a pro-business bill of goods?

Take a look at Jane Bryant Quinn: Yes, We Can All Be Insured. Or Physicians for a National Healthcare Plan.

Have you seen the fellow traveling with John Edwards who couldn’t speak for the first fifty years of his life? He couldn’t afford cleft palate surgery. What kind of ruthless dogmatism is it that has persuaded us to keep private insurance at twice the cost—while 47 millions of our neighbors go without?


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Written by Monte

December 25, 2007 at 6:37 pm

23 Responses

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  1. Monte,

    Great name! My father’s name is Monte (family name he inherited from his grandfather), so I know how unusual it is.

    I know i am late in this post, but I found your post and am amazed how relevant the argument is. I like to consider myself a conservative (fiscally, that is). But the more and more I mull the issue over, the more I come to the conclusion that universal coverage is the only way to bring health care costs back into alignment with reality.

    As it stands now, if an uninsured patient becomes sick or injured, to the point where catastrophic intervention is needed to save his or her life, then they go to the emergency room. Most states have laws on the books that forces emergency rooms to care for patients whether or not they have the means to pay.

    So this patient is saved, but has no means of paying the bill. Instead, the health provider now has to either write off the cost of the care as a loss, or increase the fees they are charging other patients who have the ability to pay. Essentially, we, the American taxpayers, are paying for this health care either out of decreased tax revenue or increased health care prices, and we are paying for this at emergency room rates. This is part of the reason why health care has become so expensive.

    Additionally, the insurance companies are raking in record profits, though you would never know it by looking at their books. Take a look at the executive compensation packages for the top 5 health insurance companies if you don’t believe me. Do you think the boards of these companies would keep paying those salaries and bonuses if the companies weren’t bringing in the bacon?

    If we continue with a private model, then health insurance companies need to have their profit-driven model taken away from them. There is too much room for profiteering, especially when there are lives at stake.

    Which brings me to big pharma. Drug companies have been telling us for years how expensive it is to bring a new drug to market, and that they need to price it appropriately to recover those costs. Well, guess what? The cost of research, studies and the process to gain approval by the FDA is dwarfed by the money that big pharma is spending to market their new drugs.

    On top of that, most of those expenses incurred during a drug’s development are heavily subsidized by federal grants. That’s right, more money from the good ole American taxpayer.

    And the price of drugs in this country go through the roof when there is only one drug company that makes it. Think of the cancer drugs, AIDS drugs and immuno-suppressive drugs that cost thousands of dollars each month that end up becoming some poor soul’s only lifeline to this world. This is true profiteering, where a body would pay anything to keep a grip on life, and the drug companies are more than willing to charge everything they can to provide that service.

    Go north to our nearest neighbor in Canada and the drug prices drop precipitously. My dear friend, whose wife went through a bout with leukemia four years ago, is now ordering her cancer drugs from Canada once his insurance company said that they would no longer pay for the drugs. When he got wind of how much it would cost for him to pay out of pocket, he nearly balked as the $5,000 price tag per month. But he was willing to pay the money since it was all that stood between his wife and leukemia (the drug kept the cancer in remission). His doctor advised him to take a look at Canadian pharmacies. Once he got in touch with the right people, he started ordering 90 day supplies of the exact same drug (from the exact same plant) for less than $400.

    Another associate of mine who suffers from MS (very well managed for him), is currently fighting with his insurance company over a drug that keeps his symptoms in check. This particular drug, using the brand formulation, costs about $16 a pill, of which he takes 3 daily. The insurance company refused to pay for the brand formulation and instead wants him to use the generic formulation, which, for some reason, does not work the same as the brand formulation. The generic formulation costs $15 a pill.

    So now, he is ordering his drugs from Canada as well, for less than a dollar a pill, which is less than his copay through his insurance company’s drug plan. So, he is paying for it out of pocket.

    Big pharma wants to shut down the Canadian mail-order trade, and if they could do it yesterday, they would. They are limited as to how much profit they can make in Canada. The Canadian government has a very good eye on how much it actually costs these drug companies to develop and make their product, and it limits how much profit they can make from these drugs.

    It makes sense, because the Canadian Medicare system is the largest buyer of pharmaceuticals in Canada, and they want to make sure they get the best deal possible. So some of us consumers in the USA are directly benefiting from outsourcing, as it may be.

    And then there is the morass that health providers have to deal with. From filing claims with a multitude of insurance companies, each with their own precise method of filing that has to be followed to the dot or the claim is automatically denied, to the litigious mess known as malpractice, that has it’s own expensive little insurance product that every health professional has to purchase. One pediatrician that I know says that he has three office personnel who have no other function than to file and reconcile insurance claims. He even said that it was normal (NORMAL!) for insurance claims to be out as much as 60 to 90 days before it is paid. And that is if everything goes as expected, and nothing is denied. To add to it, he said he spends no less than 2 hours each day on the phone with health insurance companies, trying to explain why procedures agreed upon between him and his patient’s parents should be covered.

    Which brings up another point. If anyone tries to scare you into thinking that a government-run health system is going to put big brother into the position to deny you the health care you deserve…guess what? We are already there, except instead of some government bureaucracy (that at least has some accountability to you through elected officials), you have some faceless corporation more than willing to deny your care just to save a lousy buck so some shareholder can get their dividend. How about them apples?

    Afell

    March 2, 2011 at 5:19 pm

  2. Please no! If you get universal health care (what we call in the rest of the world, you know, “Health Care”) we will loose on of the best reasons to laugh at Americans!
    And that would be a shame.
    I cannot believe that you get a bill when you are in a hospital.
    Why somebody would be subjected to that?
    You are sick, you go to a hospital, you are a citizen, or simply a human, you see a doctor, he treats you, you get better. Next time you see that little portion (and I mean, little enough) of your wages or unemployment check going to “social security” you say: wow, that was money well spent.

    Pablo

    August 21, 2009 at 8:08 pm

    • Good comment, Pablo – how few US citizens realize this! So glad to have someone from Mexico come by! Thanks!

      Monte

      August 22, 2009 at 3:50 pm

  3. Thanks for your comments on my blog, and good luck with your paper. I’ve been putting a number of things on the blog about healthcare reform for a couple of years now. If you’re looking for resources, you might try my search window or the category “healthcare.” Many are truly excellent clips from others about single-payer healthcare plans. There is one that is a testimonial from a European woman about the healthcare she enjoys.

    I put these things out there in hopes others will use them, so please do help yourself!

    Best wishes,
    Monte

    Monte

    October 30, 2008 at 9:19 pm

  4. I agree. It’s a shame that some great minds go to waste. I am really hoping that we do get some form of universal healthcare coverage. Currently, I am writing an article about universal healthcare and the arguments behind both sides for my English analytical research project and I’m using that picture you have at the top as a primary source. I’m also planning on citing this blog as an example in paper as well. If I write the paper well enough, it will be published online where it might actually do some good in convincing people that universal healthcare is not a bad thing. Hopefully Nick will read the article.

    Late Entry

    October 30, 2008 at 7:33 pm

  5. Thanks, Late Entry! Good, kind thoughts. That’s the kind of society that makes life worth living.
    I don’t believe for a minute that we’re better off if the sick don’t “breed.” Nick does a great job of portraying the cruelty of rampant fascism, don’t you think?
    Hitler would be proud, Nick.
    Late Entry, not many think of the Einsteins that are trapped in various places around the world, unable to do anything but struggle to survive. We need the poor more than they need us, I suspect.

    Monte

    October 30, 2008 at 5:33 pm

  6. For the record, I can afford health insurance. I agree, Nick your logic is flawed. First of all, it’s inhumane and illogical to just let a portion of the population to die. Not all those who need medical care are afflicted by diseases that will pass on to the next generation. Also, a large part of the lower class is actually fairly healthy. Those who can’t afford medical care tend to want to stay healthy. I’m not a huge patriot and I don’t mean to be, but you must look at the bigger picture in terms of the contributions made by every part of our society. Plus, look at the Statue of Liberty, a major symbol representing the American people. It says “Give me your tired, your poor,
    Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free
    sick.” The less people there are, the less the number of people we have to work and the less the chance of us possibly finding a new Einstein. If you think this is bullshit, look at the number of people below the poverty line. If even a quarter of these people got sick and died because they couldn’t get medicine, that would be a huge hit on our country. By the way, helping others to live longer is not a bad thing. If the government said I could give up all my money to cure all the illnesses in the world, I’d ask the government, “Do you want that in cash or do want a check.” I hope you don’t ever have to experience a situation where someone you care about can’t afford health insurance and is lying on their deathbed, just waiting. I hope you reconsider your judgement, but I wont hold my breath.

    Late Entry

    October 30, 2008 at 12:25 pm

  7. Sorry, Nick, your argument is that the social worker or pastor or teacher should be less healthy and die younger than the CEO of the cluster-bomb maker or the mafia drug importer. That’ll be a master race, alright.

    Why do I think single-payer healthcare will be different than SS? Because it already is in almost every developed nation on earth. It works, with better results and for less money than we pay. Why bother saying it can’t be done, when it’s being done all over the world?

    Monte

    March 13, 2008 at 11:16 am

  8. PS: Social Security is going bankrupt, it was a government single payer system, put together to pool resources. Why do you think Health Care will be any different? Same system, same people, same population growth problems. Don’t mind my typo’s above.

    Nick

    March 13, 2008 at 1:08 am

  9. I have a great Idea about how to reduce costs of all those different health care options. We complain about all the insurance salesmen, and all the costs of bureaucracies and all that costs for filing paper and form, and agents and representatives. What is healthcare but people putting money into a giant pool which those who are afflicted get to draw out of? The answer I have to all those healthcare costs not associated with the actual costs of treatment are simple, they involve Jackson, Grant, and Franklin. Cold Hard Cash. That way you don’t pay for someone to tell you what options you want to choose, and take his fee. The dollar will go farther cutting out all the middlemen and all the bureaucracies.

    If you want to argue for the greater good
    – it is better for society to not let the sick breed
    If you want to argue people should have the right to live longer
    – We are all going to die, but we all work most of the time we are awake, using that to be productive to afford money for treatments to live longer, so we can work more to live longer… but in a pool system, some people are working – aka spending their life – to allow someone else to live longer. So isn’t that just not a net gain? It is shifting life around. Except the middleman gets a cut.

    http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/lcod.htm

    Number of deaths for leading causes of death

    Heart disease: 652,486 [- mostly Lifestyle and Genetics]
    Cancer: 553,888 [- Large lifestle, some genetics, some unexplained]
    Stroke (cerebrovascular diseases): 150,074 [- Cholestrol, unknown]
    Chronic lower respiratory diseases: 121,987 [- Smoking? contagious diseases, unknown]
    Accidents (unintentional injuries): 112,012 [- Accidents, Stupidity (preventable mostly)]
    Diabetes: 73,138 [ Lifestyle and Genetic ]
    Alzheimer’s disease: 65,965 [Genetic, maybe some links to aluminium (unproven)]
    Influenza/Pneumonia: 59,664 [Contagious deseases – preventable]
    Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephrosis: 42,480 [ I don’t know]
    Septicemia: 33,373 [ I don’t know]

    If an accident causes me to break my TV, should the goverment pay for it? If i did heavy lifting the other day and was weak when I tried, am I still covered? If my hands are genetically predisposed to sweat and not grip plastic tv’s well is that not a fault I couldn’t control? I can’t afford to buy another TV, so should someone else do it for me? If I am blind am I entitled to the same TV that a living person has? If I spent all my money on beer and cocaine and now I need money for the TV, should I be punished for my Lifestyle choice?

    In summary – “Shit happens, cough it up” – ‘Captain Ron’ aka Kurt Russel – 1992

    Nick

    March 13, 2008 at 1:00 am

  10. Jim B, a response to your other thoughts:

    “Health care should be a right…”

    Health care is a life or death matter. We believe that people are “endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights…” and you’ll remember that life is among them.

    “I want my anus bleached. … Should that be covered?”

    Decisions about coverage are often difficult; they are made by the insurance provider, as always. It’s been difficult before; it ever will be. Nothing new.

    “Where does the government-as-single-payer argument stop?”

    Well, friend, it stops where America decides it stops. We’ve been making this kind of decision for centuries. In some cases, single-payer has been preferred; in others, the diversity of the market was best.

    Invert the question to see how often and how successfully this decision has been made, i.e. Where does the anti-government argument stop? My city government is my single provider for sewage and water and garbage services, as well as streets and building safety codes and police; my state gov’t for most of education; My federal gov’t for national defense, interstate criminal prosecution, immigration control, etc. Shall we throw them all away because the government is the provider and we don’t like government? Of course not! Government is the single most effective, least invasive, most accountable-to-the-people means of provision in certain cases.

    We live in the middle, between industrial control and governmental control, and we assign to our governments those things that private industry or charities are unable to do or have failed to do satisfactorily, as we decide the needs of our fellow Americans are too grave to be ignored.

    Extremism in government control leads to stagnation and suppression of individual rights; extremism in business control leads to class-based societies and the exclusion of people without money – also suppression of individual rights. How ironic it is that becoming doctrinaire about “big government” ignores the domination of big business, arguably the greatest suppressor of human rights and engine of imperialism in modern history.

    The Founders of our nation wisely regarded both extremes (unrestrained capitalism and unrestrained government) as anti-democratic and equally intolerable.

    Monte

    January 1, 2008 at 3:01 pm

  11. But Jim, suppose you’re right – is anything changed? If the number were half off – if it were half as many millions as the CDC suggests – excluding a significant part of America from the health care that makes it possible for us to work and live would still be unspeakably heartless.

    I just can’t believe you would really be so doctrinaire as to consign millions to an early grave and a shortened work-life over an ideological preference. In the conflicts of Jesus, is it he or his opponents who choose ideology over mercy?

    Monte

    December 31, 2007 at 3:17 pm

  12. “In fact, the majority of the 47 million do indeed cite cost as the reason they don’t have health insurance…”

    “Cost” does not necessarily mean that one CANNOT afford health insurance, but might merely mean that one CHOOSES not to purchase it because of the cost. I could purchase a $30,000 70″ Plasma TV, but I choose not to because I would rather put the money elsewhere.

    I don’t mean to imply that no, or even very few, Americans cannot afford health insurance. I simply believe the 47 million number is inflated in order to advance a political position.

    Jim B.

    December 29, 2007 at 5:39 am

    • I believe that number is absolutely correct. I had health insurance when I had my full time good paying job, and I still was for the universal health care option. Then I was laid off and forced to take a part time min. wage job. Can I afford healthcare, HELL NO! I can barely feed myself let alone pay my bills. I had to go to the emergency room becuase I contracted MRSA.. Do you want to know how much that cost me?? I am on the brink for filing for bankruptcy becuase mostly all of it is medical bills, and im only 29. So please dont sit here and tell me you believe that number is inflated because most of us choose not to purchase health insurance, its not a choice when your not given any real option in the first place. Typical American ignorance and the sad part is that I’m an American to, but I at least had compassion before and even more now than ever. Give me a 2nd chance to enjoy being healthy again.

      Taylor

      October 16, 2009 at 10:02 pm

      • Thanks, Taylor, for sharing your story. It isn’t fair that some Americans spend 30 years buying homes while others – who make the same living – spend a lifetime making payments on medical care just because they got sick. And for those in the houses to criticize those facing bankruptcy suggests they need to get out more!

        Monte Asbury

        October 17, 2009 at 10:02 am

  13. Jim B:

    “I personally know a family who for many years did not purchase health insurance, because they were financially able to go without.”

    The family you mention (and possibly your own past situation) falls in the “Other” category on the CDC’s graph Why people don’t have health insurance. The “Other” category represents 6% of all un-insured Americans under 65.

    The illusion is common that America is much like me and my friends (thus Reason #6, above). In fact, the majority of the 47 million do indeed cite cost as the reason they don’t have health insurance; most of the rest list a first factor that suggests cost may also be a concern.

    I’ll respond to your other comments soon. Thanks for them!
    Monte

    Monte

    December 28, 2007 at 6:03 pm

  14. “Health care should be a right…”

    Define “health care”. I want my anus bleached. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anal_bleaching) Should that be covered? I feel like I am a man stuck in a woman’s body, and want to undergo gender reassignment surgery. Should that be covered? If not, why not? (I recognize the first example is silly, but the latter would certainly be considered a legitimate and necessary procedure by some.)

    If health care is a right, what about eating? Monte argues that paying numerous insurance companies is less efficient than paying the government. Why not pay the government for our food, instead of inefficiently spreading these payments out to various grocers and restaurants?

    Where does the government-as-single-payer argument stop? Isn’t housing a right? Mortgages and rent are through the roof in some areas. Why should the “haves” have access to the best housing while the “have-nots” wander from shelter to shelter? Let’s eliminate the middle-men (landlords, banks, etc.) altogether and have a government single-payer system!

    Where does this logic end?

    “47 million”

    It is patently dishonest to insinuate that all of these are poor folk who cannot afford health insurance. Many choose not to purchase health insurance for a variety of reasons. I personally know a family who for many years did not purchase health insurance, because they were financially able to go without. I temporarily elected to go without health insurance for a short time – not because I couldn’t afford it.

    “The purpose of the cartoon is to say that the discussion is often stopped before it starts by questionable pre-conceptions.”

    You mean by labeling proponents of one side of the debate as stupid, reactionary, wealthy, heartless, racist and irrational? Agreed.

    Jim B.

    December 28, 2007 at 12:25 am

  15. Derin – good question! Consumer economics expert Jane Bryant Quinn (Yes, we can all be insured) describes it as comparable to Medicare. The government is the payer only; it isn’t in the business of providing medical services itself. This has proven, in other countries, to be vastly more efficient than thousands of insurance companies duplicating efforts. That is why we pay twice as much as the citizens of any other country do. And, while some fear “big government,” it is big business that has the big dog in this fight.

    Jim B., you must live in a state that mandates individual purchase of insurance from a private insurer. That is far different than universal single-payer coverage. I agree that the discussion is sorely needed. The purpose of the cartoon is to say that the discussion is often stopped before it starts by questionable pre-conceptions.

    As GiannaKali’s illustrates so well, the insurance industry keeps its customers as long as they are profitable, then drops them by requiring a premium so high it can’t possibly be paid. This is the weakness of insurance as a business: better healthcare is the industry’s second priority. It’s survival depends upon profit. As long as that is so, the industry will reject those millions of Americans whose premiums won’t come near paying their projected healthcare costs.

    And thus the vast American inequity: If you’re rich, you have the best care in the world. If you’re not, and you get seriously, lastingly ill, you become a liability that your insurer will be unwilling to afford. The more you need insurance, the less likely it is that you’ll be able to pay for it.
    Private insurance, then, is inherently discriminatory – specifically and intentionally – against the most helpless: those who are ill or old or poor. And 47 million – comparable to every person in Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas, Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota combined – are in that number.
    That, IMHO, (and TY to “Gerald Ford“) is immoral and inexcusable.

    Monte

    December 27, 2007 at 1:26 pm

  16. Jim,
    you say something key:

    Why not less government regulation regarding exactly the type of coverage I wish to purchase

    We are not all able to have the luxury to “purchase” health care. Some of us have pre-existing conditions through no fault of our own and are prohibited from “purchasing” health care. Some of us are so poor we cannot afford even what may be to you “affordable.” Health care should be a right not something only for those lucky enough to have the means for afford it.

    Do you know when I tried to get health care the best deal I could get was $12,000 a year? That is about half my income.

    Tell me what do you propose for those of us who are not affluent? The first person leaves a good comment—this is about the have and the have nots and the haves in general, just don’t give a crap about the have nots.

    Just so you know I’ve been in the have camp most of my life with a stable high paying job with good insurance and I had the same belief about health care being a human right. My opinion does not come from my current circumstance.

    giannakali

    December 27, 2007 at 12:23 pm

  17. Wow. Talk about caricaturing the opposition.

    Why must the solution to a very complicated health care situation be government-run health care? Why more government and not less government? Why not less government regulation regarding from where and whom I purchase my insurance? Why not less government regulation regarding exactly the type of coverage I wish to purchase (e.g. I don’t need Port-wine stain or alcoholism treatment covered, but both are mandated by my state government – raising costs for everyone).

    I don’t mean to say that I have all the answers. I just mean to suggest that we haven’t really thought this through or had a meaningful public discussion. While some on the right knee-jerk react against government-run health care, many on the left don’t react or hesitate at all. And yes, that does scare me. Once you give something to Uncle Sam, it is very difficult to get it back.

    Jim B.

    December 27, 2007 at 4:52 am

  18. Loved the comic, and I too have seen some pretty specious arguments for not paying for universal healthcare. Have we become such a self-centered society that we can’t help pay for those less fortunate to have decent health care?

    Gerald Ford

    December 27, 2007 at 12:49 am

  19. Monte-Can you talk more about universal health care in a single-payer system versus universal healthcare in a government-ran healthcare system? I think I get it, but I think many others do not. Because I think “big government” can be “evil”. Because the government has proven that it is inefficient when it runs things (when it is the creator, at the helm and the maintainers). Because I wouldn’t mind the government flipping the bill or supplementing the bill, or regulating health care, but I don’t want them controlling the healthcare system.

    -Derin-

    thewienerdogblog

    December 26, 2007 at 12:10 pm

  20. Hey, just leave health-care alone. It’s one of the best ways to separate the “haves” from the “have-nots” we’ve got!

    Monte Says: Or maybe the “haves” from the “been had’s”! Thanks, kip!

    kip

    December 25, 2007 at 7:24 pm


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