Who Hijacked Our Country

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Get Sick, Have Health Insurance, Go Bankrupt

In 2007, 62% of all personal bankruptcies were the result of an illness. And 78% of those people already had health insurance when they first became ill. Most of these ill and bankrupt people had been covered by a private insurance carrier, not Medicare or Medicaid.

Compare these figures to 1981, when only 8% of personal bankruptcies were caused by illness.

If you’ve seen Sicko, you’ll remember that all of the victims from that movie had health insurance as well. It’s one thing to dismiss Sicko as just the ramblings of a flagburning socialist. But it’ll be harder for the knuckledragging community to dismiss this article, unless Business Week is just another communist front group.

According to this article, most of the people who filed for bankruptcy were middle class; two thirds of them owned their homes. One of the authors of this study, Dr. David Himmelstein, said:

"For middle-class Americans, health insurance offers little protection. Most of us have policies with so many loopholes, co-payments and deductibles that illness can put you in the poorhouse. Unless you're Warren Buffett, your family is just one serious illness away from bankruptcy.”

Dr. Himmelstein has also described health insurance as “an umbrella that melts in the rain.”

So — how can we pass health insurance reform over the objections of the multi-billion dollar health insurance industry and their harem of prostitutes (formerly known as “Congress”)?

Obama needs a villain, according to this article by Josh Skolnick. He says:

“Obama needs more than deadlines, his charm, and Rahm Emmanuel’s legendary arm-twisting abilities to get this kind of mammoth legislation passed. He needs a villain…He needs to out the nefarious characters blocking change — to put a face to the opposition.”

Republicans have known this for decades. For that matter, it’s ALL they’ve ever known. Get the public riled up, terrified, boiling with fury, and then create a villain. Presto!

How many laws have Republicans ever passed without conjuring up images of “Terrorists,” “Communism,” “parasites on welfare,” “bumbling faceless bureaucrats meddling in our Free Enterprise system,” etc. Zero. Nada. Zip point shit.

The article continues with: “So far Obama has only shown us the victims of the system. The enemies are insurance companies—but can you name a single insurance company executive?”

Time to start naming names. Let the Swiftboating begin. Vilify!

And how do we pay for health insurance reform? There’s a bill in the House that would raise taxes on the wealthiest 1.2% of the population. Republicans are hysterical about this. As they point out, successful Americans haven’t paid such outrageous taxes since 1986, when this rabble-rousing commie was in charge.

cross-posted at Bring It On!

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Anonymous Bee said...

I have a co-worker, an officer in the bank, who pulls down 6 figures a year. She has a doctor boyfriend, worth approximately $15 mil (was $45 before the stock in his company tanked). This boyfriend has a rare and deadly cancer. He is going to South Korea for some new stem cell treatment they have. I had to wonder "so, for people, like me, who couldn't dream of affording to take a 6 week jaunt to South Korea for a new cancer treatment because these fucking fundies in the US have us all in a biblical stranglehold, well, we just die of our cancer. Fuck you, and fuck him too." That's what I was thinking. I didn't bother to say it, because unfortunately I have to work with this idiot. I'm such a pansy.
Anyway, I forget what my point was. Oh, yeah, the Warren Buffets and (insert rich fart here) can afford lung transplants, liver transplants, experimental treatments in foreign countries, while the rest of us just waste away and leave our families in Mt. Everest style debt. That's bullshit.

July 15, 2009 at 4:48 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Bee: I remember reading somewhere that South Korea (among other countries) was developing and using stem cell technology, since they don't have a gang of Biblewipes stopping them. If these Biblehumps cared as much about the already-born as they do about stem cells and fetuses, we'd all have much better health coverage.

July 15, 2009 at 5:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How about ALL elected officials pay a percentage of their health coverage, like most of us do. Then how about these same elected elite take a small pay cut like many of us have. Then how about these same idiots pay for their own transportation and gasoline, their own living expenses, how about we do away with millions of dollars worth of extra perks, and how about these people pay into SS and and we revamp their pensions so they have to work 25-30 years to collect, and how about we cut the number of state and federal elected officials in half. That would save us millions and millions of dollars which would be a good start to providing health care to everyone.

July 15, 2009 at 5:52 PM  
Anonymous S.W. anderson said...

You want to know why so many people with insurance have to go bankrupt anyway, when they fall prey to a serious illness or injury? (Better sit down for this.) Here it is, in a nutshell:

The 10 largest insurance companies' profits increased 428 percent between 2000 and 2007 — $2.4 billion to $12.9 billion.

Be clear, that's not gross revenues, but profits. They obviously aren't paying doctors or hospitals anything like that much more. They aren't reimbursing their customers anything like that much more.

What they are merrily doing is pricing more and more people out of being able to afford health insurance at all. They're jacking up prices so their profits are 428 percent in seven years, while the number of uninsured goes up and up.

What the greedy, no-good bastards are doing is pocketing that much more, because they can. If I could have my way, we'd go single payer. And then the greedy, no-good bastards couldn't.

July 15, 2009 at 11:19 PM  
Blogger Randal Graves said...

This post and the accompanying comments are why I laugh when some wingnut brings up class warfare. Bah. Murka doesn't have that, it needs it, in spades, clubs, hearts and diamonds.

Oh, and whiny business types, healthy workers will benefit your Xtreme Rugged Individualist Risktaking in the long run. Just saying.

July 16, 2009 at 7:47 AM  
Blogger Demeur said...

I think we pretty much know how this is going to play out. The No Party will of course vote no on anything the congress comes up with. With the stranglehold insurance and Pharma have on them you know they'll vote against any changes. They want profits as usual and the congress wants its contributions as usual. If we do get a bill it will be so watered down that it's destined to fail much like the doughnut hole drug plan they came up with the last time. What they don't seem to realize is that with 14,000 loosing their healthcare each day they won't be able to make mass profits if you don't have the people to pay. Costs would then go to the point where even the rich can't pay. So what's next? Signs on medical clinics and hospitals "no insurance no service".

Make sure you get and post a list of all the congressmen who vote against this and keep a copy handy to post the next election cycle.

July 16, 2009 at 8:37 AM  
Blogger Oliphant Family said...

Insurance reform + medical provider reform = health care reform, right? Utah health insurance reform has been center focus for the state, UAHU and private insurance carriers over the past 24 months. Mike Oliphant (UAHU board webmaster) runs a small Utah based health insurance website http://www.healthinsurancetexas.biz as well as http://www.DentalInsuranceUtah.net . Mike’s viewpoint provides a unique analysis which comes from being a “fly on the wall” observer in countless state session and insurance meetings. “Utah has been thrust into a state insurance reform pressure cooker which isn’t necessarily negative where I am an insurer, insured and patient”. Several interesting changes took place with H.B. 188 passage earlier this year which seems all too familiar to the ongoing federal health care reform attempt under Obama’s administration. The spirit of the bill allows private Utah market place remedies. It essentially guarantees a Utah health insurance carrier a "no loss" or "no gain" premise over competing carriers that operate within the “Utah Insurance Exchange portal”. On the surface it would seem unattractive to a carrier’s consideration (voluntary at this point). But you have to understand the carriers’ goal is to cover their administration fees and maintain a 3% profit. The Utah health insurance reform model claims this can be accomplished now by legislation and the watchful eye of the state’s risk adjuster board. The medical claim risks are essentially shared equally among the participating carriers. Therefore, the carriers can focus on administration efficiencies more so than competition over a fluctuating market share. Insurance carriers such as SelectHealth have efficiencies and risk management experience polished by long tested actuarial tables with health statistics and claim trends. Is it a bad idea to share that experience with a national carrier such as Humana? Would it surprise anyone to know that maternity NICU and anti-depressants represent the highest utilization in health insurance costs for medical and pharmacy in Utah? Compare this to Texas which suffers from abnormally high levels of diabetes and liver disease per capita.
The other half of the “health care reform equation” is medical provider and billing practices. The state claims this is on the agenda. It is popular belief among Utah legislators that reform stops with the insurance carrier. However, how can the insurance carrier continue to bear the risk and re-distribution of health insurance premiums back out the door in claims without provider billing reform? Add to this obstacle a continuing shrinkage of the insured populace. Obama’s administration proposes mandatory participation in a health insurance policy by employers of all sizes, self employed and unemployed populace. The logic being to shore up the unhealthy with healthy premium. When analyzing the Massachusetts’s system, you actually pay a penalty if you have no proof of coverage. The benefit level and health insurance price is nowhere close when you compare Utah health insurance quotes through HealthInsuranceSource.net or dental insurance quotes at DentalInsuranceUtah.net. Utah premium is easily half. This insight comes from a Utah health insurance agent whom often interacts with employers and residents looking for affordable coverage, making sure claims are paid correctly, implementation and explanation of the many policy procedures and putting a complex SelectHealth insurance language in understandable terms. Yet legislators claim agents to be of no value all in the name to save 3-4 off of Utah health%
With the latest announcement of hospitals agreeing to contribute $155 billion, where are the costs going to be shifted for this donation? In Utah, studies conducted by BenefitsManager.net revealed that cost shifting already exists in the ER. There is apparent lack of legislators in Utah and on the federal level proposing TORT REFORM.

July 16, 2009 at 11:31 AM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Anonymous: Great ideas. Thanks for stopping by.

SW: Sick people are a goldmine for unscrupulous people. We need government-paid health insurance so the party can be over for "those HMO bastards pieces of shit" (my favorite quote from As Good As It Gets).

Randal: That's true; I don't understand why everybody (outside of HMO executives) isn't in favor of health insurance reform. Employers are losing billions of dollars from sick/disabled employees. It's not easy being a Rugged Xtreme Individualist if you're in the hospital and/or homeless because of medical debts.

Demeur: "Costs would then go to the point where even the rich can't pay." That might be what it takes to get health insurance reform. What's that say about us? It would be ironic, watching a bunch of millionaires clamoring for health care reform.

I definitely will keep track of (and post) the names of Congressmen who vote against this.

July 16, 2009 at 12:11 PM  
Blogger bob said...

So far, the only arguments Republicans are making against healthcare reform are the same arguments they make for EVERYTHING... which is that somehow capitalist interests are worth fighting tooth and nail to protect at all costs, "Bureaucratic meddling" is evil, and that somehow in passing reform it will mean future unassailable problems for us all.

My Father in law worked for over 50 years in the defense industry. He had top-notch healthcare. Yet he got cancer and 4 years later his healthcare maximum... "ran out". So he died.

That's bullshit. Healthcare is a right just like public education. If you want to know what's REALLY going on its that the healthcare industry realizes its sitting on an absolute goldmine: the retiring baby boomers, which will mean a HUGE increase in future profits. Heaven forbid anyone get in the way to stop the windfall.

July 16, 2009 at 3:19 PM  
Blogger Lew Scannon said...

Here's my thought: cut the defense budget in half, stop starting wars with countries that pose no threat to our existence, then cut foreign aid to countries that have nuclear weapons yet are not signed to the NPT, which, BTW, is illegal under US law. That's where the money can come from.

July 16, 2009 at 7:03 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Bob: Yup, the Right has everybody brainwashed about Horatio Alger pulling himself up by his bootstraps versus a bunch of faceless government bureaucrats who are trying to strangle the economy and ruin the country.

What happened to your father-in-law seems to be happening to a lot of people. It's not right and it needs to be changed.

Lew: Sounds like a plan.

July 16, 2009 at 11:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can tell none of you own your own business and do not understand the trickel down effect. In this case trickel up poverty.. And you would trade Freedom for what? If yall think the government does such a good job Why is medicare and medacaid and social security going bankrupt. I think they ought to come up with a better Idea. I was in a public system for 10 years look at the VA and Military run system It isn't pretty They gave a bunch of people HIV and Hepititus and that is the tip of the Ice Burg. You never see the same docter and you have to tell your hole lif story every time you see a doctor your a number not a person so say good by to your doctor. Their are not enough doctors now.If a person is going to pay a hundred thousand $ education and they can't make that up you think they are going to go into that field. I think not. Another thing about test they do a lot less depending on your importance as a person who is contributing to the system . What what you ask for or your heath care will be run by the DMV.

August 3, 2009 at 1:22 PM  

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