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Thursday, September 27, 2007

What Would Jesus Do?






Dear Christian Family Values Voters,

What would Jesus do?
It’s a test many Christians, including myself, apply to problems to determine a course of action.

I’m writing today concerning healthcare in America, because I can’t understand your position. I’ve gone round and round in my head and I can’t see how the Republican position on healthcare is at all Christian.

Jesus went around healing the sick and helping the poor and righting injustice. The one commandment he left us with is to love one another and do unto others as we would have done to ourselves.

And I just can’t make the mass raping of the American people by private insurance companies jibe with Jesus’ message.

I can respect your position on other issues, but I just can’t even understand where you’re coming from on healthcare. It’s not even in your own best interest. Generally you should expect that people will vote for their own best interest, economic or otherwise. But, I know so many lower- or middle-class Christian Family Values voters who would vote against themselves on this issue. I simply can’t understand why.

Some of you are uninsured and even uninsurable. Why would people who have no way to pay for doctors visits and beg for money to pay emergency room visits be in favor of private insurance companies?


Like every American, I’m a capitalist. But, there’s one reason why the free market system isn’t working for healthcare – the consumer has no freedom of choice.

In a free market capitalist system the guiding principle for keeping things fair and affordable is the consumers’ choice to purchase the product or not. We make choices every day about what we buy. For example, if no one wants to pay $600 for the new iphone then it will simply not sell and Apple won’t make a profit. As a consumer I have a choice whether to buy that phone, another phone or no phone at all. As a consumer, in this example, I exercise my free will and the best or most cost effective product wins out. There is no consequence of me not buying that phone or choosing a different one.

The same can not be said for healthcare in America. As a patient, I am not in a position to choose to not receive care if I am diagnosed with cancer or am in an unfortunate car accident. If my child breaks his leg and I do not take him to the hospital to have it set I could be charged with criminal neglect. My family’s loss of life, safety, health and well-being is the consequence of not purchasing the product. Yet the consequence of purchasing the product may very likely bankrupt my family, keeping us as far away from the American Dream as say Communist China.

There are no choices involved in the current system. At least not for the patient. Take what doctor I go to for instance. I do not get to choose any doctor I want. The insurance company told me which doctors they will pay for and those are the ones I see. This system can not be confused with a free enterprise system because I do not have access to any doctor I like in practicality. My insurance company has also dictated which hospital I must visit in case of an emergency.

My insurance company also arbitrarily dictates which tests, services and medications my doctor is allowed to give me. If he prescribes something that isn’t covered I ask him to change the prescription to something that is covered. Only the excessively rich choose doctors not covered by their plan. The middle class can’t afford this privilege.

I just can’t understand where the “Christian family value” is in supporting the current system of private insurance in America. What exactly is the value? It’s not choice. It’s not dignity. It’s not justice or fairness or respect for human life. It’s not caring for others. It’s not kindness. I just can’t imagine what value Christian Family Values voters are supposedly supporting.

As a Christian myself, with values and a family, I’m asking you to carefully reconsider your position on this issue. Please, suck up all your personal loathing over the politics of its director and go see the film Sicko. The sickest thing about it, is that it’s not even hard to believe. You already know the stories of these Americans, for you are one of them.

Reexamine the issue of healthcare by applying the question: What Would Jesus Do? Can you really say Jesus would support private insurance companies who have abused the American people’s trust? Would Jesus defend the inhumanity involved in denying a fellow American citizen medical care based on whether or not it’s profitable for the insurance company?

I, as a Christian, don’t believe that’s what he came here for at all.

23 comments:

jen said...

Bra-freakin-vo!

number6 said...

The genius part about capitalism is not just in the availability of choice, it is the ability of the consumer to determine what is best for them. You may say that those two things are the same, but they certainly are not. The primary reason why governments fail to be as efficient as the private sector, is that the organization – any organization, not just government – is not as capable as determining what is best for the consumer as is the consumer capable of determining what is best for them. You know when you need a new pair of shoes more than an organization does. Under capitalistic markets, the various producers scramble all over themselves trying to guess what the consumer wants so that they can turn a profit. In a competitive environment, only those that are successful in determining what the consumer wants best are in deed successful.

However, there is a very well known dilemma that can occur in free-market systems known as market failure. Market failure exists when the market fails to produce a particular good or service that is either needed or wanted as an option for purchase within the market as a whole or for a particular portion of the market (or at a price that can be afforded). Complete market failure occurs when no goods or services are being offered any longer because no entity is producing it for one reason or another, usually due to the inability to assure profit from the manufacture of the product. However, market failures can refer to the market’s failure to offer a good or service at a price that can be affordable by those who need the good or service. In the case of this type of market failure, there is some economic justification for the need for socialized markets to take over – whereby the public is offered the good and the public is also taxed by a government to pay for that good – otherwise the good or service would simply not be offered, or offered in a sporadic or super-selective manner that is economically inefficient. In America we already have many socialized systems of public provision – public schools, road construction, national defense, Medicare, Medicaid, etc…. Although all of these commodities would be provided under free-market conditions in some form or another, America has been greatly benefited by a higher level of efficiencies derived through public provision of these goods, rather than the spotty provision that would have resulted from regional and demographic market failures that would undoubtedly occur if these particular commodities were not provided publicly.

Most conservative voters do not consider the very real presence of market failures when it comes to health care, but these failures do exist. The middle-class are mostly provided health care through their employer and the wealthy can choose to either be insured or pay out of pocket for health care. However, there are particular classes of individuals that simply cannot afford much medical care given their existing salaries. Many of these individuals fall into the Medicaid category, which is designed to provide medical care for the poor. Yet, there is a whole class of individual that is not poor, yet is considered uninsurable. You see, insurance is a business. If a company cannot assure itself that they will make money off of insuring you, they will NOT insure you unless the law states that they half to. Most middle class, who are insured through their employers, are covered under the group-insurance laws that stipulate that if an insurance company wants to provide insurance through an employer – they are required by law to take every employee – this is a way for many that would otherwise be insurable, to receive insurance. However, there are large chunks of individuals that cannot receive insurance this way, but are not poor. Namely the elderly. Old people are very costly to insure. This is why we have Medicare – which guarantees insurance to all those who qualify, and which covers most of the elderly. However, there are still yet individuals that are considered uninsurable, do not qualify for Medicare or Medicaid, and do not have a job through their employer than provides them, or their family with insurance. This is what is considered a market failure. The insurance industry fails to provide large chunks of people with insurance at a cost that they can afford. I’m not talking a matter of choosing to pay or not to pay for insurance; I’m talking literal budgetary constraints that simply cannot be afforded by certain individuals. This is a market failure, and many would claim it as justification for the need for universal health care coverage. Furthermore, there is a very large demographic of dependents, where the head of household simply chooses not to insure their family for one reason or another. You can claim that this is a matter of choice, but for the three year old with chronic asthma – you can hardly claim that she chooses not to receive medical care as she is a dependent. These few examples are only a drop in a very large bucket.

However, despite the numerous cases where the market fails to provide medical care to individuals, most everyone has access to medicine in some form or another when it is needed. Every emergency medical provider is required to admit emergencies, regardless of ability to pay, and most fall into one the categories of the insured stated above. Even still, many more can access what medical coverage they need, even if they are not insured to do so. Most debate is about medical insurance, not access to medical care. However, there is a large number of individuals that the market would fail to provide medical care to for one reason or another. I personally believe that most all of these individuals could access medical treatment with some simple adjustments to the existing laws and coverage mechanism that are now socialized within the US (namely Medicare and Medicaid). However, the debate does go on as to what is most efficient.

Some fallacies do occur. Michael Moore’s movie “Sicko” (which, incidentally, is probably not a good source of comparison between free-market and fully socialized medicine), I have been told, constantly makes reference to the fact tha people can receive full coverage of medicine without paying anything for it. This is completely untrue. People will always pay for their medical coverage, only the mechanism for payment may have altered a bit. I used to to go school in th UK, where I received medical coverage without “payment” when I needed it. However, my wife had a very large chunk of her check taken out every single month that did, in fact, more than pay for my coverage. The deduction is a standard 20% across all middle-income earners. This is extremely higher than any insurance premiums would be for a middle-class person without any serious medical problems. True, there are people that access the medical care without any deduction taken out of their pay checks and without any payment to a doctor. But fact is, someone has to pay for it and it usually is not the rich and wealthy. My wife and I barely survived over there with what was remaining of her pay check. And full coverage was not an option either. They had even more strict laws on what was covered and what was not covered than most insurance companies have in America today. I believe the coverage was adequate and justifiable, but there is a fallacy that socialized medicine means total coverage – which is not true at all. Budgetary constraints always exist and decisions have to be made about degrees and areas of coverage all the time. The news source Reuters just published an article online two weeks ago stating that the government of Cuba officially notified the press that the coverage received by Mr. Moore’s stooges in his movie Sicko is not the type of coverage that the average Cuban is able to receive – and that it was the their top-of-the line coverage reserved only for the elite within their society and foreigners that normally pay for coverage at that particular hospital.

Fact is, socialized medicine, though economically justifiable in many cases, is not a cure-all for medical care. Budgetary constraints exist, coverage becomes a political issue, taxes for the middle-class would become even higher, and total coverage would limit many choices that currently exist today. However, more people would be covered; preventative medicine would likely become more readily available, large government medical coffers would be a huge boost to research and development (much like the R&D boom resulting from NASA’s space projects), and it is at least plausible that going to the doctor would be much less stressful for many as they would not have to consider the cost of the medicine. I honestly don’t believe that universal coverage is necessarily the Christ-like thing to do, but I also don’t believe it to be un-Christ-like. It seems like it is more our choice to make as a society. However, if people to consider the teachings of Christ in their decision making process, the chosen solution would be more likely to comply with a sense of love for our neighbor.

ChrisB said...

I work in a hospital, and I can honestly say that our system is the worst system -- except for all the others.

The biggest problem, as far as cost goes, is that our system discourages competition (from the patient's point of view) and provides the best payment (to the hospitals) for working inefficiently. Remember, Congress invented HMOs. They never invent anything that works well.

We have to be careful what we do to our system, though, since it seems to provide the best environment for innovation. There is research done in countries with nationalized health care, but not like it is here.

Rebecca said...

Amen.

So Sioux Me said...

I am part of the middle class who IS insured and here's what I know - I can not afford the system of private health insurance. I am not getting my money's worth. I'm also uninsurable should my husband not want to be employed with a large corporation at some point. No self employment for us. Small companies are out as well. My big health sin? Born with a rare genetic disorder that will have little effect on my life - uninsurable. My other sin? Treated for post-partum depression - too risky for insurance companies.

I also know that I'm paying a HUGE portion of my income toward healthcare currently for my premiums and copays and medicare and medicaid. Added together I seriously doubt it's going to "extremely more expensive" to the middle classes as number6 suggests. The difference for ME, personally will not be how much it costs but whether I actually get something besides a headache for the money I'm already shelling out.

The poor is covered. The rich don't need it. The middle class - otherwise known as most of us American Citizens are getting screwed!

We have NO power at all with private insurance companies. Ever tried to deal with one? Ever tried to get someone to explain why something isn't covered? Ever tried to get someone to even explain what is on your bill? At least I can vote my representatives out of office, send letters or protest - Insurance companies have no accountability to the American people.

I don't believe I'm getting the best healthcare in the world here. The rich might be - but the middle class are not. I don't trust anyone in the medical industry to take care of my best interests anymore. From my doctor to my nurse when they say, "let's just do the test to be safe" I hear "bend over!"

Tracee

Jeana said...

Hi, Tracee! It looks like the practical aspects of various systems have already been discussed at length, so I'll just speak to the other aspect of your question of why many Christians don't support socialized health care. We do believe that we have an obligation to help those who need health care, but we believe it is the role of the church, individuals, and private charities, not the government.

I think when you "force" people to help others by raising their taxes and using that money, you perpetrate a selfish complacency. People are then not only resentful that they were forced to help against their will, but they feel they've done enough and don't need to do any more. By giving people the option to be generous I think they generally step up to the plate and give more. You see this principle at work any time a restaurant charges a gratuity without asking the patron; the patron rarely tips even more, because of these same feelings.

Frankly, the government does not have the best reputation for getting things done logically, promptly, or well. Personally, I don't think this is because our government is bad, but because they're trying to do too many things that are better accomplished through a private, local venue. Call me pessimistic, but I don't feel great about putting my kids' healthcare into their hands.

So Sioux Me said...

Jeana,

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my question. I really do appreciate an honest discussion about this very important issue. I can respect why you see things this way, however I would point out that in PRACTICE this is not holding true.

Here's some Christian giving facts and the links where you can find the facts to check credibility, most are at www.generousgiving.org:
* Over 50 percent of the members of any given Christian congregation donate little or nothing toward their church’s upkeep and ministries.
* Total giving by all Americans is estimated at $212 billion in 2001. This is a change of 0.5 percent (-2.3 percent in inflation-adjusted terms) from an adjusted estimate of $211 billion the previous year—the lowest growth rate in giving since 1959. Total giving represented 2.1 percent of the Gross Domestic Product in 2001, close to the level from 2000 and 1999. http://www.generousgiving.org/page.asp?sec=4&page=161
* The proportion of U.S. households that tithed their incomes to their churches dropped from 8 percent in 2001 to 3 percent of adults in 2002. http://www.generousgiving.org/page.asp?sec=4&page=161#37

My counter-argument would be that since the Church is not effectively providing health care then it is not actually their job. However, since all Americans have an interest in having healthy citizens it IS the government's job.

Also practically, if the insurance company and the doctor are motivated by PROFIT why would I trust their judgment when medically caring for my child? PROFIT is way more of a suspect motive with way more opportunities for coruption when dealing with medical issues.

As an American citizen I have to admit that I do not currently trust my doctors to act in my best interest. If they want to perform tests "just in case," but they can't tell me the costs of such procedures are they trustworthy? They certainly don't feel obligated to full disclosure practices that other companies and corporations are held to.

I certainly feel violated when I open a bill for $300 more than they "estimated." Such "estimates" are off by at least 200% in my experience.

I believe what we have is COMPLETE SYSTEM FAILURE.

If we are all entitled to an equal education, kept-up streets, and national security - why are American Citizens not entitled to recieve competent and humane healthcare?

If Family Value Christians believe it is the Church's place to provide health care why are they not even tithing? (BTW - I, personally DO tithe).

Is it even reasonable, considering Churches in America are uncentralized (as opposed to say, Church of England where tithes are taxed directly by the government) are remotely capable of being responsible for health care? I don't even think that's a reasonable expection.

Frankly, the insurance company does not have the best reputation for getting things done logically, promptly, or well either.

In fact, the insurance company is motivated by profit, so we have the cost of beaurocracy, materials, salaries and huge big fat profit mark-ups in our current system of private insurance. If we took the profit out of the equation we would only have beaurocracy, salaries and materials to pay for. That can only be cheaper for those of us who ARE contributing. I'm contributing both tax-wise and tithe-wise and I don't think I'm getting my money's worth.

And I don't think my Church congregation is either capable or obligated to fix it.

Tracee

Jeana said...

First, let me thank you for discussing this with such civility. It should go without saying, but it rarely does.

I wasn't as clear as I could have been. I do not think it is the role of the church to set up a health care system, I mean it is the role of the church to help those who are in need.

While there is no question that health care is important, I do not view it as a "right" that must be provided for me. For example, food is even more vital to staying alive than health care is, but I do not believe that the government is responsible for providing it for me. I am responsible for finding a way to feed myself, and I am responsible for finding a way to provide myself and my family with health care. When someone is in need of food or health care (or shelter, or many other things) and can not provide it for themselves, I believe we should help each other out.

I agree that there are many problems with the current system, just as I believe there are many problems with a socialized system (just ask the Canadians).

I also think we have more choice than you realize. You may not have a choice about the treatment you need, but you have a choice about which doctor you go to. Your insurance company can't prevent you from seeing someone else, but they reserve the right to refuse to pay for it. You have the right to change companies or use a health care plan instead of insurance, or pay for your own treatment. If this is the only insurance company your employer uses, you can make your voice known. Usually if enough people express their dissatisfaction, the company will often either insist that the insurance company change their procedure or they change insurance companies. I'm not saying it's perfect, mind you, far from it. But some of the rules of free enterprise do apply.

In addition, speaking for myself, I know that when health care is costing me something, I am much more motivated to eat better, to take precautionary measurements, to use the system more conservatively than when someone else is footing the bill. A classic example is the person who smokes their entire life and then expects the state to provide treatment for their lung cancer, at astronomical cost to the taxpayers.

I can't answer to why all church-goers don't tithe or give. I would guess that giving has not increased much because of our current economy, in which case increased taxes will certainly not help anything.

Jesus told us clearly how we should act, but he gave us free will to choose whether or not we would act that way. Which is the same reason why I don't believe Socialist health care is the right answer. Under that system, you are basically forcing people to finance health care for others, rather than giving them the choice to be generous. I don't think it would be effective, and I do think it would harden hearts.

I do agree with you somewhat on how profit affects motives. Have you ever read Patch Adams' book? I love the relationships he describes with some of his patients. I believe, however, that it is a character issue. I think we need more people with good character who choose what is right, rather than a socialist system.

Unfortunately, that goal is just as difficult, if not more so, than changing the system.

So Sioux Me said...

Jeana,

Thank you for being the only one, so far, courageous enough to enter into the discussion with me. It's a touchy subject for sure. One in which emotions run high.

By your argument the Christian Family Values voting block could exercise their free will and CHOOSE to give generously to fellow citizens so that everyone in America could be entitled to health care with dignity. You could choose to be generous about fellow citizen's dignity.

From where I sit, what you are saying is the Christian Family Values voting block is choosing NOT to give generously. Becuase you aren't tithing. That's a fact, only 2-3% of American adults tithe as I said, so that means the Christian Family Values voting block is choosing both NOT to give generously through their churches AND refuse to pay taxes for a health system. You can talk all the theories about how things "should work" but, how they are actually working is that the Christian Family Values block is just choosing not to give to anyone. It just seems like such a hypocritically selfish stance to take, while loudly declaring yourselves followers of Christ. Who specifically said, heal the sick, care for the poor, tithe 10%.

As to the choice. It's such a mythical choice, in practice it's not a choice at all. Well, it's my insurance company's choice, but not a patients choice.

Capitolism relies on the concept of a fair market value. Companies can charge what the market can bare to pay. Is $9,000 for one night in the emergency room a fair market value? A close person to me went to the hospital for a heartattack scare, they kept her one night "for observation" and that's how much the bill was. She's uninsured and uninsurable. She's a Christian missionary who devotes her life to Christ. I guarantee you that had someone told her she was going to be billed $9,000 "for observation" she would have gotten out of that bed and had her heart attack scare at home.

The cost of service is not being disclosed prior to procedures. It's unethical business practice.

Is that $9,000 based on materials and cost of salaries? I don't believe it is. I believe about $6,000 of that bill is profit and built-in offsetting of insurance costs. The insurance companies try to keep costs down by refusing to pay so hospitals and doctors raise prices to force a profit out of someone - apparently ME. I am getting charged by both the insurance company, the medical community AND the government and I can't afford to keep riding this roller coaster as costs go up higher and higher. And no one but the government is accountable to the American people. Unless your choice is death by not going in for treatment.

As consumers are we getting our money's worth with private insurance? I don't believe we are.

I'm not asking for a hand-out, I'll gladly pay my fair share. I just believe the American people are being bamboozled by the insurance companies and the medical community. I can't understand why voting blocks like the Christian Family Values voters are not standing up for themselves or the rest of us.

Tracee

Jeana said...

Well...the number you posted only speaks to how many adults are giving ten percent to their local churches. It doesn't speak to how many are giving, albeit less than ten percent, and how much is being given to other causes like missionaries, charities, etc. Tithing is actually in the Old Testament. What Jesus said was to be a cheerful giver.


And there was also a study done recently that showed that conservative voters give much more to charities than liberal voters, no matter what their income (remember that famous comparison between Bush and Gore and their respective donations?) It just seems like a basic difference in thinking. One says "Give willingly", the other says "Force everyone to give, but for myself I'm not going to give until that law is passed." (I am not speaking of you personally, as you have already stated that you give--I mean many of the public figures.)

"I'm not asking for a hand-out, I'll gladly pay my fair share. I just believe the American people are being bamboozled by the insurance companies and the medical community." Now on that, I believe you and I agree. We just don't agree on what the solution is.

However, I did not comment with the intent of convincing you, but rather to answer the question you posed, which was why Christian Family Voters don't usually support socialist health care.

Of course you don't agree with me, but is my view point any clearer to you than it was before? Or was it a rhetorical question to begin with?

Either way, I've enjoyed conversing with you, Tracee.

So Sioux Me said...

Jean,

No, it wasn't a rhetorical question at all. I don't believe we'll ever find a solution to a very real problem unless there is open discourse. I honestly still don't understand where the Christian Family Values voting block is coming from.

It just seems so within your power to make another choice - a choice more in line with what Jesus told Christians to do. Take care of each Other and Love each other.

So within our power to change the way people in this country are being treated as regards to health care and the current system is benefiting. Not the people.

Constitutionally we are not obligated to protect the insurance company's interest. We are obligated to protect the PEOPLE's interest.

Honestly, I just think your math is wrong. Not that I'm an economist or a mathmetician, but Iam someone who very meticulously watches my money. I don't believe it will be more expensive and less efficient if the government handles the health care in this country. Take out the profit motive and it can only be cheaper and everyone would at least get what they are paying for.

I challenge every American to examine your pay stub and add the taxes and insurance together, go back to your annual accounting records like Money and add up the healthcare costs.

My total came to $11,575.67 for the last year. That's over one-fifth of our gross income and I still don't feel like I can afford to go to the doctor if my kids get sick.

Thanks for stopping by Jeana. I appreciate the discourse. I appreciate the mature listening to my issues. I'd appreciate if you demanded from Republican representatives that some kind of accountability to the American people be required by insurance companies.

Tracee

Jeana said...

Ah, but there's the rub. We very much disagree on what we believe Jesus would do.

And I am not saying that I like the current system, or that I don't think some changes are in order. What I am saying is that I don't think a socialized system would be an improvement, it would just be different problems.

Accountability--I could definitely get on board with that. It's government control I don't want.

Jeana said...

And it's been good talking to you too.

So Sioux Me said...

Jesus said, whatever you do to the least of these, you do to me.

I believe health care SHOULD be available for everyone regardless of their social status, religion, race or economic condition. We should be entitled to it as tax-paying American citizens.

I believe it's the not government compelling you to contribute, but Jesus himself. Jesus' is the one who instructed us, as Christians, to love one another and treat each other as we would want to be treated.

It's a decidedly UNChristian stance to say, "I got mine, you are not my problem" or "I shouldn't have to pay for you" or "you're not entitled to health care."

I don't understand at all how you could think Jesus would be on board with that position.

From a Christian perspective:
It is not a sin to be sick.
It is not a sin to be poor.
It IS a sin to not take care of the sick or the poor.

Tracee
A concerned tax-paying, tithe paying Christian American Citizen

jen said...

I feel that American society has to rid itself of the “I’ve got mine, you go get yours” mentality.

Yes, I think Christians should step up to the plate to make changes in the way our broken system is run. Christians make up a huge part of the body of people who actually vote, and will make or break this issue.

My family pays out the nose for private insurance, and we are capped off at the amount of money our family can earn in order to keep our uninsurable special needs child insured.

Most people with “good” insurance never stop to think that the ridiculously over priced drugs they pay a 10.00 co-pay for the rest of us, who are less fortunate, will pay a whopping marked up price of 86 to 423 percent which helps fund special interest groups who continue to dig deeper into our pockets to deliver less and use our money to lobby against us.

I know countless people who are in financial duress over unpaid medical bills. Lots of them are the working poor, many of them middle class folks that fall between the cracks. And I personally don’t know anyone, wealthy or not, that could absorb a catastrophic medical emergency with no insurance or even with “junk” insurance.

There are over 48 million people in the US with no health coverage, and 32 million others who are under-insured. Exorbitant medical bills in the United States play a huge part in personal bankruptcies, accounting for about 40% of the filings last year.

These numbers tell me that health care should no longer be up to the private sector. That plan has failed miserably, and because of it millions of lives are being ruined.

I would rather pay higher taxes than play hospital roulette, and risk loosing it all. Having to come out of retirement, and loosing everything I have worked for my whole life because either me or my spouse got cancer, or had a catastrophic car accident.

number6 said...

Well...from reading just a sampling of the posts to this commentary - one thing is for sure - there is much more misinformation out there than anything else.

You are not uninsurable because you have clinical depression or a condition that has little affect on your life. Very few people are actually uninsurable - and they are nearly all infected with later stages of chronic diseases like HIV or certain cancers. Now, the premium for your insurance with these problems may be more than your annual salary, but you are not uninsurable. Nearly everyone can get some insurance from somewhere if they really want it bad enough and can afford premiums as high as the sky.

Congress did not invent HMOs. Kaiser Permanente in northern California invented HMOs. Congress just makes them legal on a broader perspective.

Insurance companies donothing by acturarial work. The real vilians are doctors and nurses. Those punks make waaaay to much money. I know they study hard and all, but come one - they are nothing but glorified mechanics, most of them anyways. Seciondly, the frivilous lawsuits are the second major contributer of high cost of medicine. If there is one good thing that can result from socialized medicine, it is likely a reduced risk of doing business in the medical field - as the government would likely hedge its risk from gigantic lawsuits when something goes wrong in the ER.

Rob said...

"If we are all entitled to an equal education, kept-up streets, and national security - why are American Citizens not entitled to recieve competent and humane healthcare?"

This is a part of those American values you decry elsewhere. You feel entitled to an education and medical care. This is our problem in our society. You are entitled to nothing! Everyone needs to earn what they get. Those that couldn't or wouldn't earn it got Congress to intervene which, as usual, made it worse. Please do NOT look to Michael Moore's propaganda for answers. His way is the problem, not the cure. I know a lot of the media looks to France and Canada and elsewhere for examples, but there is a big reason why they are beginning to privatize their healthcare. You didn't hear about that? Well, that's because we have large and powerful labor unions and lobbying groups manipulating facts and emotionalizing the whole process. Why are Canadiens crossing our border for healthcare when their's is "free"?

So Sioux Me said...

There are values other than a good work ethic. Lack of selfish greed would be one. Compassion would be another. Those who can't afford to pay already get free health care (Medicaid, Medicare).

I'm talking about having every American - hardworking Americans like myself and my husband - be able to afford the health care system.

Being FOR private insurance companies is an anti-small business and entreprenuer position as well. Millions of small businesses and self-employed people go without health insurance because the cost is out of control or they can't qualify for insurance. These people WORK, (just as hard as you) they just don't work for a large corporation. Are you only supportive of a good work-ethic as long as employees work for large corporations then?

Tracee

Blue Dog said...

Currently, health care costs are rising at about 2.5% faster annually than US income (one reason the number of uninsured is increasing; small business employers increasingly do not (they simply cannot afford it) provide coverage. On the other hand, the insurance companies do very well. There are ways to address health care coverage without going to a single payer plan. I think the time has come to seriously explore those possibilities.

Mim said...

Once again I am feeling ever so thankful for the health care system here in Australia. It's not perfect, there are waiting lists and there are people who fall through the cracks. But I have never heard of a family going bankrupt in Australia over bills for emergency medical care. No one gets turned away from a public hospital or general practitioner because their insurance company hasn't approved that provider. I had all 3 of my kids as a public patient at a public hospital and all I ever had to pay was $60 for some ante-natal classes and ~$140 for an extra ultrasound in my 3rd pregnancy (and I got most of that back through my private insurance).

It is possible to have universal cover that works.

Rebekka said...

I totally agree with your assessment.

I live in Denmark, a country with socialised health care. (The country is what's called a social democracy.) I pay 38% income tax except for the first $700 per month, which is untaxed. There is a 25% sales tax on everything. It is so, so, SO worth it.

We never pay ANYTHING out of pocket to get health care. Checkups, blood tests, ER visits, hospitalisations, scans and tests, visits to specialists, house calls in the middle of the night (yes, really), whatever. Medication is heavily discounted depending on how much you spend a year.

But the high tax rate isn't just for health care. It's also for free education, including undergraduate and graduate levels, PLUS every student gets $850 a month in financial aid, that they don't have to pay back. And it's for roads, infrastructure, trains, social programs, etc, etc.

We don't have a problem living off what's left of our income, even though my husband doesn't have a high-paying job and I'm a nursing student. Wages are high because of the tax rates--minimum wage here is around $15/hr.

I also work at a hospital, and even though there are problems, we never have to worry about whether or not patient x can get that MRI that he really really needs. The doctor just orders it, and it happens.

My husband has a chronic illness, so even though I am an American we will never be able to live in the US, because we wouldn't be able to afford the health insurance that he *must* have.

Here when they are talking about socialised welfare-societies, they say "the broadest shoulders should bear the heaviest burdens".

Jonna said...

Whew. I think I hurt my head reading all of that!
I just one bit to say, and that is that I feel so sorry that you harbor such feelings of distrust and suspicion for your doctor. Having married a dirt poor med student and seen us from there til now (at the end of residency and facing an additional year of fellowship), I just want to tell you from the personal point of view, most doctors (my husband and our dear friends from his time training) don't do this to get rich. There was a joke that used to go around while we were all starving waiting for loan checks, we shoulda gone to MBA school. The fact is, MOST doctors do it because they have a compassion for their patients, they DO truly want to help, and they love the opportunities that science CAN afford people when things go right. My husband comes home and says "I believe in miracles, because I saw it happen today." Few people can say that about their jobs.
Some doctors do make quite a lot of money, many do not make nearly as much as you probably suspect, and NONE make what CEOs are making these days! And despite the salaries of doctors dropping, there are still the brightest, hardest working, caring young people SCRAMBLING to get into medical school. The money ain't the draw sweetie, it's the miracles.
The test that is better safe than sorry, you can blame THAT one on the lawyers (says a lawyer). And re salaries, the average pediatrician in Houston makes around $90k-$100k at the last I heard. The FIRST YEAR LAWYER with no experience at a large law firm in Houston makes $160k, with guaranteed bonuses and salary increases (And no, I don't wish I were one of those guys). You be the judge.

Tracee said...

Jonna,

My main issue is with insurance companies and their profit.

About my doctors I will say this: I have a very tight bugdet. When I ask my doctor what something, say an x-ray is going to cost, that's an extremely important question for me to have answered. I can not afford to have tests "just in case."

I have yet to have a doctor answer that question or to feel my question is legitimate.

I believe, I hope, most doctors do it because they are good people who want to help the ill. As such, I think think they should get paid very well under a social medicine system.

As it stands currently I think they pad the bill to compensate for insurance companies refusing to pay. They don't disclose their prices and that's unethical. I never know what their advice or service costs until I get a bill that I, frankly, can't afford to pay.

I think doctors go to medical school for great reasons. I just think they lose sight of what it's like to live on the median income $33,000 year in and year out. That extra $500 I get billed for makes no difference to the doctor - but it has a devasting impact on my family.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

What Would Jesus Do?






Dear Christian Family Values Voters,

What would Jesus do?
It’s a test many Christians, including myself, apply to problems to determine a course of action.

I’m writing today concerning healthcare in America, because I can’t understand your position. I’ve gone round and round in my head and I can’t see how the Republican position on healthcare is at all Christian.

Jesus went around healing the sick and helping the poor and righting injustice. The one commandment he left us with is to love one another and do unto others as we would have done to ourselves.

And I just can’t make the mass raping of the American people by private insurance companies jibe with Jesus’ message.

I can respect your position on other issues, but I just can’t even understand where you’re coming from on healthcare. It’s not even in your own best interest. Generally you should expect that people will vote for their own best interest, economic or otherwise. But, I know so many lower- or middle-class Christian Family Values voters who would vote against themselves on this issue. I simply can’t understand why.

Some of you are uninsured and even uninsurable. Why would people who have no way to pay for doctors visits and beg for money to pay emergency room visits be in favor of private insurance companies?


Like every American, I’m a capitalist. But, there’s one reason why the free market system isn’t working for healthcare – the consumer has no freedom of choice.

In a free market capitalist system the guiding principle for keeping things fair and affordable is the consumers’ choice to purchase the product or not. We make choices every day about what we buy. For example, if no one wants to pay $600 for the new iphone then it will simply not sell and Apple won’t make a profit. As a consumer I have a choice whether to buy that phone, another phone or no phone at all. As a consumer, in this example, I exercise my free will and the best or most cost effective product wins out. There is no consequence of me not buying that phone or choosing a different one.

The same can not be said for healthcare in America. As a patient, I am not in a position to choose to not receive care if I am diagnosed with cancer or am in an unfortunate car accident. If my child breaks his leg and I do not take him to the hospital to have it set I could be charged with criminal neglect. My family’s loss of life, safety, health and well-being is the consequence of not purchasing the product. Yet the consequence of purchasing the product may very likely bankrupt my family, keeping us as far away from the American Dream as say Communist China.

There are no choices involved in the current system. At least not for the patient. Take what doctor I go to for instance. I do not get to choose any doctor I want. The insurance company told me which doctors they will pay for and those are the ones I see. This system can not be confused with a free enterprise system because I do not have access to any doctor I like in practicality. My insurance company has also dictated which hospital I must visit in case of an emergency.

My insurance company also arbitrarily dictates which tests, services and medications my doctor is allowed to give me. If he prescribes something that isn’t covered I ask him to change the prescription to something that is covered. Only the excessively rich choose doctors not covered by their plan. The middle class can’t afford this privilege.

I just can’t understand where the “Christian family value” is in supporting the current system of private insurance in America. What exactly is the value? It’s not choice. It’s not dignity. It’s not justice or fairness or respect for human life. It’s not caring for others. It’s not kindness. I just can’t imagine what value Christian Family Values voters are supposedly supporting.

As a Christian myself, with values and a family, I’m asking you to carefully reconsider your position on this issue. Please, suck up all your personal loathing over the politics of its director and go see the film Sicko. The sickest thing about it, is that it’s not even hard to believe. You already know the stories of these Americans, for you are one of them.

Reexamine the issue of healthcare by applying the question: What Would Jesus Do? Can you really say Jesus would support private insurance companies who have abused the American people’s trust? Would Jesus defend the inhumanity involved in denying a fellow American citizen medical care based on whether or not it’s profitable for the insurance company?

I, as a Christian, don’t believe that’s what he came here for at all.

23 comments:

jen said...

Bra-freakin-vo!

number6 said...

The genius part about capitalism is not just in the availability of choice, it is the ability of the consumer to determine what is best for them. You may say that those two things are the same, but they certainly are not. The primary reason why governments fail to be as efficient as the private sector, is that the organization – any organization, not just government – is not as capable as determining what is best for the consumer as is the consumer capable of determining what is best for them. You know when you need a new pair of shoes more than an organization does. Under capitalistic markets, the various producers scramble all over themselves trying to guess what the consumer wants so that they can turn a profit. In a competitive environment, only those that are successful in determining what the consumer wants best are in deed successful.

However, there is a very well known dilemma that can occur in free-market systems known as market failure. Market failure exists when the market fails to produce a particular good or service that is either needed or wanted as an option for purchase within the market as a whole or for a particular portion of the market (or at a price that can be afforded). Complete market failure occurs when no goods or services are being offered any longer because no entity is producing it for one reason or another, usually due to the inability to assure profit from the manufacture of the product. However, market failures can refer to the market’s failure to offer a good or service at a price that can be affordable by those who need the good or service. In the case of this type of market failure, there is some economic justification for the need for socialized markets to take over – whereby the public is offered the good and the public is also taxed by a government to pay for that good – otherwise the good or service would simply not be offered, or offered in a sporadic or super-selective manner that is economically inefficient. In America we already have many socialized systems of public provision – public schools, road construction, national defense, Medicare, Medicaid, etc…. Although all of these commodities would be provided under free-market conditions in some form or another, America has been greatly benefited by a higher level of efficiencies derived through public provision of these goods, rather than the spotty provision that would have resulted from regional and demographic market failures that would undoubtedly occur if these particular commodities were not provided publicly.

Most conservative voters do not consider the very real presence of market failures when it comes to health care, but these failures do exist. The middle-class are mostly provided health care through their employer and the wealthy can choose to either be insured or pay out of pocket for health care. However, there are particular classes of individuals that simply cannot afford much medical care given their existing salaries. Many of these individuals fall into the Medicaid category, which is designed to provide medical care for the poor. Yet, there is a whole class of individual that is not poor, yet is considered uninsurable. You see, insurance is a business. If a company cannot assure itself that they will make money off of insuring you, they will NOT insure you unless the law states that they half to. Most middle class, who are insured through their employers, are covered under the group-insurance laws that stipulate that if an insurance company wants to provide insurance through an employer – they are required by law to take every employee – this is a way for many that would otherwise be insurable, to receive insurance. However, there are large chunks of individuals that cannot receive insurance this way, but are not poor. Namely the elderly. Old people are very costly to insure. This is why we have Medicare – which guarantees insurance to all those who qualify, and which covers most of the elderly. However, there are still yet individuals that are considered uninsurable, do not qualify for Medicare or Medicaid, and do not have a job through their employer than provides them, or their family with insurance. This is what is considered a market failure. The insurance industry fails to provide large chunks of people with insurance at a cost that they can afford. I’m not talking a matter of choosing to pay or not to pay for insurance; I’m talking literal budgetary constraints that simply cannot be afforded by certain individuals. This is a market failure, and many would claim it as justification for the need for universal health care coverage. Furthermore, there is a very large demographic of dependents, where the head of household simply chooses not to insure their family for one reason or another. You can claim that this is a matter of choice, but for the three year old with chronic asthma – you can hardly claim that she chooses not to receive medical care as she is a dependent. These few examples are only a drop in a very large bucket.

However, despite the numerous cases where the market fails to provide medical care to individuals, most everyone has access to medicine in some form or another when it is needed. Every emergency medical provider is required to admit emergencies, regardless of ability to pay, and most fall into one the categories of the insured stated above. Even still, many more can access what medical coverage they need, even if they are not insured to do so. Most debate is about medical insurance, not access to medical care. However, there is a large number of individuals that the market would fail to provide medical care to for one reason or another. I personally believe that most all of these individuals could access medical treatment with some simple adjustments to the existing laws and coverage mechanism that are now socialized within the US (namely Medicare and Medicaid). However, the debate does go on as to what is most efficient.

Some fallacies do occur. Michael Moore’s movie “Sicko” (which, incidentally, is probably not a good source of comparison between free-market and fully socialized medicine), I have been told, constantly makes reference to the fact tha people can receive full coverage of medicine without paying anything for it. This is completely untrue. People will always pay for their medical coverage, only the mechanism for payment may have altered a bit. I used to to go school in th UK, where I received medical coverage without “payment” when I needed it. However, my wife had a very large chunk of her check taken out every single month that did, in fact, more than pay for my coverage. The deduction is a standard 20% across all middle-income earners. This is extremely higher than any insurance premiums would be for a middle-class person without any serious medical problems. True, there are people that access the medical care without any deduction taken out of their pay checks and without any payment to a doctor. But fact is, someone has to pay for it and it usually is not the rich and wealthy. My wife and I barely survived over there with what was remaining of her pay check. And full coverage was not an option either. They had even more strict laws on what was covered and what was not covered than most insurance companies have in America today. I believe the coverage was adequate and justifiable, but there is a fallacy that socialized medicine means total coverage – which is not true at all. Budgetary constraints always exist and decisions have to be made about degrees and areas of coverage all the time. The news source Reuters just published an article online two weeks ago stating that the government of Cuba officially notified the press that the coverage received by Mr. Moore’s stooges in his movie Sicko is not the type of coverage that the average Cuban is able to receive – and that it was the their top-of-the line coverage reserved only for the elite within their society and foreigners that normally pay for coverage at that particular hospital.

Fact is, socialized medicine, though economically justifiable in many cases, is not a cure-all for medical care. Budgetary constraints exist, coverage becomes a political issue, taxes for the middle-class would become even higher, and total coverage would limit many choices that currently exist today. However, more people would be covered; preventative medicine would likely become more readily available, large government medical coffers would be a huge boost to research and development (much like the R&D boom resulting from NASA’s space projects), and it is at least plausible that going to the doctor would be much less stressful for many as they would not have to consider the cost of the medicine. I honestly don’t believe that universal coverage is necessarily the Christ-like thing to do, but I also don’t believe it to be un-Christ-like. It seems like it is more our choice to make as a society. However, if people to consider the teachings of Christ in their decision making process, the chosen solution would be more likely to comply with a sense of love for our neighbor.

ChrisB said...

I work in a hospital, and I can honestly say that our system is the worst system -- except for all the others.

The biggest problem, as far as cost goes, is that our system discourages competition (from the patient's point of view) and provides the best payment (to the hospitals) for working inefficiently. Remember, Congress invented HMOs. They never invent anything that works well.

We have to be careful what we do to our system, though, since it seems to provide the best environment for innovation. There is research done in countries with nationalized health care, but not like it is here.

Rebecca said...

Amen.

So Sioux Me said...

I am part of the middle class who IS insured and here's what I know - I can not afford the system of private health insurance. I am not getting my money's worth. I'm also uninsurable should my husband not want to be employed with a large corporation at some point. No self employment for us. Small companies are out as well. My big health sin? Born with a rare genetic disorder that will have little effect on my life - uninsurable. My other sin? Treated for post-partum depression - too risky for insurance companies.

I also know that I'm paying a HUGE portion of my income toward healthcare currently for my premiums and copays and medicare and medicaid. Added together I seriously doubt it's going to "extremely more expensive" to the middle classes as number6 suggests. The difference for ME, personally will not be how much it costs but whether I actually get something besides a headache for the money I'm already shelling out.

The poor is covered. The rich don't need it. The middle class - otherwise known as most of us American Citizens are getting screwed!

We have NO power at all with private insurance companies. Ever tried to deal with one? Ever tried to get someone to explain why something isn't covered? Ever tried to get someone to even explain what is on your bill? At least I can vote my representatives out of office, send letters or protest - Insurance companies have no accountability to the American people.

I don't believe I'm getting the best healthcare in the world here. The rich might be - but the middle class are not. I don't trust anyone in the medical industry to take care of my best interests anymore. From my doctor to my nurse when they say, "let's just do the test to be safe" I hear "bend over!"

Tracee

Jeana said...

Hi, Tracee! It looks like the practical aspects of various systems have already been discussed at length, so I'll just speak to the other aspect of your question of why many Christians don't support socialized health care. We do believe that we have an obligation to help those who need health care, but we believe it is the role of the church, individuals, and private charities, not the government.

I think when you "force" people to help others by raising their taxes and using that money, you perpetrate a selfish complacency. People are then not only resentful that they were forced to help against their will, but they feel they've done enough and don't need to do any more. By giving people the option to be generous I think they generally step up to the plate and give more. You see this principle at work any time a restaurant charges a gratuity without asking the patron; the patron rarely tips even more, because of these same feelings.

Frankly, the government does not have the best reputation for getting things done logically, promptly, or well. Personally, I don't think this is because our government is bad, but because they're trying to do too many things that are better accomplished through a private, local venue. Call me pessimistic, but I don't feel great about putting my kids' healthcare into their hands.

So Sioux Me said...

Jeana,

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my question. I really do appreciate an honest discussion about this very important issue. I can respect why you see things this way, however I would point out that in PRACTICE this is not holding true.

Here's some Christian giving facts and the links where you can find the facts to check credibility, most are at www.generousgiving.org:
* Over 50 percent of the members of any given Christian congregation donate little or nothing toward their church’s upkeep and ministries.
* Total giving by all Americans is estimated at $212 billion in 2001. This is a change of 0.5 percent (-2.3 percent in inflation-adjusted terms) from an adjusted estimate of $211 billion the previous year—the lowest growth rate in giving since 1959. Total giving represented 2.1 percent of the Gross Domestic Product in 2001, close to the level from 2000 and 1999. http://www.generousgiving.org/page.asp?sec=4&page=161
* The proportion of U.S. households that tithed their incomes to their churches dropped from 8 percent in 2001 to 3 percent of adults in 2002. http://www.generousgiving.org/page.asp?sec=4&page=161#37

My counter-argument would be that since the Church is not effectively providing health care then it is not actually their job. However, since all Americans have an interest in having healthy citizens it IS the government's job.

Also practically, if the insurance company and the doctor are motivated by PROFIT why would I trust their judgment when medically caring for my child? PROFIT is way more of a suspect motive with way more opportunities for coruption when dealing with medical issues.

As an American citizen I have to admit that I do not currently trust my doctors to act in my best interest. If they want to perform tests "just in case," but they can't tell me the costs of such procedures are they trustworthy? They certainly don't feel obligated to full disclosure practices that other companies and corporations are held to.

I certainly feel violated when I open a bill for $300 more than they "estimated." Such "estimates" are off by at least 200% in my experience.

I believe what we have is COMPLETE SYSTEM FAILURE.

If we are all entitled to an equal education, kept-up streets, and national security - why are American Citizens not entitled to recieve competent and humane healthcare?

If Family Value Christians believe it is the Church's place to provide health care why are they not even tithing? (BTW - I, personally DO tithe).

Is it even reasonable, considering Churches in America are uncentralized (as opposed to say, Church of England where tithes are taxed directly by the government) are remotely capable of being responsible for health care? I don't even think that's a reasonable expection.

Frankly, the insurance company does not have the best reputation for getting things done logically, promptly, or well either.

In fact, the insurance company is motivated by profit, so we have the cost of beaurocracy, materials, salaries and huge big fat profit mark-ups in our current system of private insurance. If we took the profit out of the equation we would only have beaurocracy, salaries and materials to pay for. That can only be cheaper for those of us who ARE contributing. I'm contributing both tax-wise and tithe-wise and I don't think I'm getting my money's worth.

And I don't think my Church congregation is either capable or obligated to fix it.

Tracee

Jeana said...

First, let me thank you for discussing this with such civility. It should go without saying, but it rarely does.

I wasn't as clear as I could have been. I do not think it is the role of the church to set up a health care system, I mean it is the role of the church to help those who are in need.

While there is no question that health care is important, I do not view it as a "right" that must be provided for me. For example, food is even more vital to staying alive than health care is, but I do not believe that the government is responsible for providing it for me. I am responsible for finding a way to feed myself, and I am responsible for finding a way to provide myself and my family with health care. When someone is in need of food or health care (or shelter, or many other things) and can not provide it for themselves, I believe we should help each other out.

I agree that there are many problems with the current system, just as I believe there are many problems with a socialized system (just ask the Canadians).

I also think we have more choice than you realize. You may not have a choice about the treatment you need, but you have a choice about which doctor you go to. Your insurance company can't prevent you from seeing someone else, but they reserve the right to refuse to pay for it. You have the right to change companies or use a health care plan instead of insurance, or pay for your own treatment. If this is the only insurance company your employer uses, you can make your voice known. Usually if enough people express their dissatisfaction, the company will often either insist that the insurance company change their procedure or they change insurance companies. I'm not saying it's perfect, mind you, far from it. But some of the rules of free enterprise do apply.

In addition, speaking for myself, I know that when health care is costing me something, I am much more motivated to eat better, to take precautionary measurements, to use the system more conservatively than when someone else is footing the bill. A classic example is the person who smokes their entire life and then expects the state to provide treatment for their lung cancer, at astronomical cost to the taxpayers.

I can't answer to why all church-goers don't tithe or give. I would guess that giving has not increased much because of our current economy, in which case increased taxes will certainly not help anything.

Jesus told us clearly how we should act, but he gave us free will to choose whether or not we would act that way. Which is the same reason why I don't believe Socialist health care is the right answer. Under that system, you are basically forcing people to finance health care for others, rather than giving them the choice to be generous. I don't think it would be effective, and I do think it would harden hearts.

I do agree with you somewhat on how profit affects motives. Have you ever read Patch Adams' book? I love the relationships he describes with some of his patients. I believe, however, that it is a character issue. I think we need more people with good character who choose what is right, rather than a socialist system.

Unfortunately, that goal is just as difficult, if not more so, than changing the system.

So Sioux Me said...

Jeana,

Thank you for being the only one, so far, courageous enough to enter into the discussion with me. It's a touchy subject for sure. One in which emotions run high.

By your argument the Christian Family Values voting block could exercise their free will and CHOOSE to give generously to fellow citizens so that everyone in America could be entitled to health care with dignity. You could choose to be generous about fellow citizen's dignity.

From where I sit, what you are saying is the Christian Family Values voting block is choosing NOT to give generously. Becuase you aren't tithing. That's a fact, only 2-3% of American adults tithe as I said, so that means the Christian Family Values voting block is choosing both NOT to give generously through their churches AND refuse to pay taxes for a health system. You can talk all the theories about how things "should work" but, how they are actually working is that the Christian Family Values block is just choosing not to give to anyone. It just seems like such a hypocritically selfish stance to take, while loudly declaring yourselves followers of Christ. Who specifically said, heal the sick, care for the poor, tithe 10%.

As to the choice. It's such a mythical choice, in practice it's not a choice at all. Well, it's my insurance company's choice, but not a patients choice.

Capitolism relies on the concept of a fair market value. Companies can charge what the market can bare to pay. Is $9,000 for one night in the emergency room a fair market value? A close person to me went to the hospital for a heartattack scare, they kept her one night "for observation" and that's how much the bill was. She's uninsured and uninsurable. She's a Christian missionary who devotes her life to Christ. I guarantee you that had someone told her she was going to be billed $9,000 "for observation" she would have gotten out of that bed and had her heart attack scare at home.

The cost of service is not being disclosed prior to procedures. It's unethical business practice.

Is that $9,000 based on materials and cost of salaries? I don't believe it is. I believe about $6,000 of that bill is profit and built-in offsetting of insurance costs. The insurance companies try to keep costs down by refusing to pay so hospitals and doctors raise prices to force a profit out of someone - apparently ME. I am getting charged by both the insurance company, the medical community AND the government and I can't afford to keep riding this roller coaster as costs go up higher and higher. And no one but the government is accountable to the American people. Unless your choice is death by not going in for treatment.

As consumers are we getting our money's worth with private insurance? I don't believe we are.

I'm not asking for a hand-out, I'll gladly pay my fair share. I just believe the American people are being bamboozled by the insurance companies and the medical community. I can't understand why voting blocks like the Christian Family Values voters are not standing up for themselves or the rest of us.

Tracee

Jeana said...

Well...the number you posted only speaks to how many adults are giving ten percent to their local churches. It doesn't speak to how many are giving, albeit less than ten percent, and how much is being given to other causes like missionaries, charities, etc. Tithing is actually in the Old Testament. What Jesus said was to be a cheerful giver.


And there was also a study done recently that showed that conservative voters give much more to charities than liberal voters, no matter what their income (remember that famous comparison between Bush and Gore and their respective donations?) It just seems like a basic difference in thinking. One says "Give willingly", the other says "Force everyone to give, but for myself I'm not going to give until that law is passed." (I am not speaking of you personally, as you have already stated that you give--I mean many of the public figures.)

"I'm not asking for a hand-out, I'll gladly pay my fair share. I just believe the American people are being bamboozled by the insurance companies and the medical community." Now on that, I believe you and I agree. We just don't agree on what the solution is.

However, I did not comment with the intent of convincing you, but rather to answer the question you posed, which was why Christian Family Voters don't usually support socialist health care.

Of course you don't agree with me, but is my view point any clearer to you than it was before? Or was it a rhetorical question to begin with?

Either way, I've enjoyed conversing with you, Tracee.

So Sioux Me said...

Jean,

No, it wasn't a rhetorical question at all. I don't believe we'll ever find a solution to a very real problem unless there is open discourse. I honestly still don't understand where the Christian Family Values voting block is coming from.

It just seems so within your power to make another choice - a choice more in line with what Jesus told Christians to do. Take care of each Other and Love each other.

So within our power to change the way people in this country are being treated as regards to health care and the current system is benefiting. Not the people.

Constitutionally we are not obligated to protect the insurance company's interest. We are obligated to protect the PEOPLE's interest.

Honestly, I just think your math is wrong. Not that I'm an economist or a mathmetician, but Iam someone who very meticulously watches my money. I don't believe it will be more expensive and less efficient if the government handles the health care in this country. Take out the profit motive and it can only be cheaper and everyone would at least get what they are paying for.

I challenge every American to examine your pay stub and add the taxes and insurance together, go back to your annual accounting records like Money and add up the healthcare costs.

My total came to $11,575.67 for the last year. That's over one-fifth of our gross income and I still don't feel like I can afford to go to the doctor if my kids get sick.

Thanks for stopping by Jeana. I appreciate the discourse. I appreciate the mature listening to my issues. I'd appreciate if you demanded from Republican representatives that some kind of accountability to the American people be required by insurance companies.

Tracee

Jeana said...

Ah, but there's the rub. We very much disagree on what we believe Jesus would do.

And I am not saying that I like the current system, or that I don't think some changes are in order. What I am saying is that I don't think a socialized system would be an improvement, it would just be different problems.

Accountability--I could definitely get on board with that. It's government control I don't want.

Jeana said...

And it's been good talking to you too.

So Sioux Me said...

Jesus said, whatever you do to the least of these, you do to me.

I believe health care SHOULD be available for everyone regardless of their social status, religion, race or economic condition. We should be entitled to it as tax-paying American citizens.

I believe it's the not government compelling you to contribute, but Jesus himself. Jesus' is the one who instructed us, as Christians, to love one another and treat each other as we would want to be treated.

It's a decidedly UNChristian stance to say, "I got mine, you are not my problem" or "I shouldn't have to pay for you" or "you're not entitled to health care."

I don't understand at all how you could think Jesus would be on board with that position.

From a Christian perspective:
It is not a sin to be sick.
It is not a sin to be poor.
It IS a sin to not take care of the sick or the poor.

Tracee
A concerned tax-paying, tithe paying Christian American Citizen

jen said...

I feel that American society has to rid itself of the “I’ve got mine, you go get yours” mentality.

Yes, I think Christians should step up to the plate to make changes in the way our broken system is run. Christians make up a huge part of the body of people who actually vote, and will make or break this issue.

My family pays out the nose for private insurance, and we are capped off at the amount of money our family can earn in order to keep our uninsurable special needs child insured.

Most people with “good” insurance never stop to think that the ridiculously over priced drugs they pay a 10.00 co-pay for the rest of us, who are less fortunate, will pay a whopping marked up price of 86 to 423 percent which helps fund special interest groups who continue to dig deeper into our pockets to deliver less and use our money to lobby against us.

I know countless people who are in financial duress over unpaid medical bills. Lots of them are the working poor, many of them middle class folks that fall between the cracks. And I personally don’t know anyone, wealthy or not, that could absorb a catastrophic medical emergency with no insurance or even with “junk” insurance.

There are over 48 million people in the US with no health coverage, and 32 million others who are under-insured. Exorbitant medical bills in the United States play a huge part in personal bankruptcies, accounting for about 40% of the filings last year.

These numbers tell me that health care should no longer be up to the private sector. That plan has failed miserably, and because of it millions of lives are being ruined.

I would rather pay higher taxes than play hospital roulette, and risk loosing it all. Having to come out of retirement, and loosing everything I have worked for my whole life because either me or my spouse got cancer, or had a catastrophic car accident.

number6 said...

Well...from reading just a sampling of the posts to this commentary - one thing is for sure - there is much more misinformation out there than anything else.

You are not uninsurable because you have clinical depression or a condition that has little affect on your life. Very few people are actually uninsurable - and they are nearly all infected with later stages of chronic diseases like HIV or certain cancers. Now, the premium for your insurance with these problems may be more than your annual salary, but you are not uninsurable. Nearly everyone can get some insurance from somewhere if they really want it bad enough and can afford premiums as high as the sky.

Congress did not invent HMOs. Kaiser Permanente in northern California invented HMOs. Congress just makes them legal on a broader perspective.

Insurance companies donothing by acturarial work. The real vilians are doctors and nurses. Those punks make waaaay to much money. I know they study hard and all, but come one - they are nothing but glorified mechanics, most of them anyways. Seciondly, the frivilous lawsuits are the second major contributer of high cost of medicine. If there is one good thing that can result from socialized medicine, it is likely a reduced risk of doing business in the medical field - as the government would likely hedge its risk from gigantic lawsuits when something goes wrong in the ER.

Rob said...

"If we are all entitled to an equal education, kept-up streets, and national security - why are American Citizens not entitled to recieve competent and humane healthcare?"

This is a part of those American values you decry elsewhere. You feel entitled to an education and medical care. This is our problem in our society. You are entitled to nothing! Everyone needs to earn what they get. Those that couldn't or wouldn't earn it got Congress to intervene which, as usual, made it worse. Please do NOT look to Michael Moore's propaganda for answers. His way is the problem, not the cure. I know a lot of the media looks to France and Canada and elsewhere for examples, but there is a big reason why they are beginning to privatize their healthcare. You didn't hear about that? Well, that's because we have large and powerful labor unions and lobbying groups manipulating facts and emotionalizing the whole process. Why are Canadiens crossing our border for healthcare when their's is "free"?

So Sioux Me said...

There are values other than a good work ethic. Lack of selfish greed would be one. Compassion would be another. Those who can't afford to pay already get free health care (Medicaid, Medicare).

I'm talking about having every American - hardworking Americans like myself and my husband - be able to afford the health care system.

Being FOR private insurance companies is an anti-small business and entreprenuer position as well. Millions of small businesses and self-employed people go without health insurance because the cost is out of control or they can't qualify for insurance. These people WORK, (just as hard as you) they just don't work for a large corporation. Are you only supportive of a good work-ethic as long as employees work for large corporations then?

Tracee

Blue Dog said...

Currently, health care costs are rising at about 2.5% faster annually than US income (one reason the number of uninsured is increasing; small business employers increasingly do not (they simply cannot afford it) provide coverage. On the other hand, the insurance companies do very well. There are ways to address health care coverage without going to a single payer plan. I think the time has come to seriously explore those possibilities.

Mim said...

Once again I am feeling ever so thankful for the health care system here in Australia. It's not perfect, there are waiting lists and there are people who fall through the cracks. But I have never heard of a family going bankrupt in Australia over bills for emergency medical care. No one gets turned away from a public hospital or general practitioner because their insurance company hasn't approved that provider. I had all 3 of my kids as a public patient at a public hospital and all I ever had to pay was $60 for some ante-natal classes and ~$140 for an extra ultrasound in my 3rd pregnancy (and I got most of that back through my private insurance).

It is possible to have universal cover that works.

Rebekka said...

I totally agree with your assessment.

I live in Denmark, a country with socialised health care. (The country is what's called a social democracy.) I pay 38% income tax except for the first $700 per month, which is untaxed. There is a 25% sales tax on everything. It is so, so, SO worth it.

We never pay ANYTHING out of pocket to get health care. Checkups, blood tests, ER visits, hospitalisations, scans and tests, visits to specialists, house calls in the middle of the night (yes, really), whatever. Medication is heavily discounted depending on how much you spend a year.

But the high tax rate isn't just for health care. It's also for free education, including undergraduate and graduate levels, PLUS every student gets $850 a month in financial aid, that they don't have to pay back. And it's for roads, infrastructure, trains, social programs, etc, etc.

We don't have a problem living off what's left of our income, even though my husband doesn't have a high-paying job and I'm a nursing student. Wages are high because of the tax rates--minimum wage here is around $15/hr.

I also work at a hospital, and even though there are problems, we never have to worry about whether or not patient x can get that MRI that he really really needs. The doctor just orders it, and it happens.

My husband has a chronic illness, so even though I am an American we will never be able to live in the US, because we wouldn't be able to afford the health insurance that he *must* have.

Here when they are talking about socialised welfare-societies, they say "the broadest shoulders should bear the heaviest burdens".

Jonna said...

Whew. I think I hurt my head reading all of that!
I just one bit to say, and that is that I feel so sorry that you harbor such feelings of distrust and suspicion for your doctor. Having married a dirt poor med student and seen us from there til now (at the end of residency and facing an additional year of fellowship), I just want to tell you from the personal point of view, most doctors (my husband and our dear friends from his time training) don't do this to get rich. There was a joke that used to go around while we were all starving waiting for loan checks, we shoulda gone to MBA school. The fact is, MOST doctors do it because they have a compassion for their patients, they DO truly want to help, and they love the opportunities that science CAN afford people when things go right. My husband comes home and says "I believe in miracles, because I saw it happen today." Few people can say that about their jobs.
Some doctors do make quite a lot of money, many do not make nearly as much as you probably suspect, and NONE make what CEOs are making these days! And despite the salaries of doctors dropping, there are still the brightest, hardest working, caring young people SCRAMBLING to get into medical school. The money ain't the draw sweetie, it's the miracles.
The test that is better safe than sorry, you can blame THAT one on the lawyers (says a lawyer). And re salaries, the average pediatrician in Houston makes around $90k-$100k at the last I heard. The FIRST YEAR LAWYER with no experience at a large law firm in Houston makes $160k, with guaranteed bonuses and salary increases (And no, I don't wish I were one of those guys). You be the judge.

Tracee said...

Jonna,

My main issue is with insurance companies and their profit.

About my doctors I will say this: I have a very tight bugdet. When I ask my doctor what something, say an x-ray is going to cost, that's an extremely important question for me to have answered. I can not afford to have tests "just in case."

I have yet to have a doctor answer that question or to feel my question is legitimate.

I believe, I hope, most doctors do it because they are good people who want to help the ill. As such, I think think they should get paid very well under a social medicine system.

As it stands currently I think they pad the bill to compensate for insurance companies refusing to pay. They don't disclose their prices and that's unethical. I never know what their advice or service costs until I get a bill that I, frankly, can't afford to pay.

I think doctors go to medical school for great reasons. I just think they lose sight of what it's like to live on the median income $33,000 year in and year out. That extra $500 I get billed for makes no difference to the doctor - but it has a devasting impact on my family.