New Tech Meetup 14« an older post
a newer one »Wrong parts of Kris

Huh? Who's Dodd?

81% Chris Dodd
79% John Edwards
78% Barack Obama
77% Hillary Clinton
77% Bill Richardson
76% Mike Gravel
71% Joe Biden
66% Dennis Kucinich
47% Rudy Giuliani
41% John McCain
40% Tom Tancredo
37% Mike Huckabee
33% Ron Paul
32% Mitt Romney
27% Fred Thompson

So, I went to take a match-yourself-to-a-candidate poll site, choosing 2008 Presidential Candidate Matching Quiz as the one to run through. Kris had commented this morning that McCain was the bottom for him, which was funny, as he had registered Republican in the 2004 election in order to vote for McCain - his quixotic attempt to boost the demented village idiot from office. I was excited McCain was leading the Republican candidates after yesterday's primaries: we might actually have two candidates worth voting for if Obama wins the Democratic nomination.

Yeah, so the poll. I took the poll, annoyed at the question on health care, as none of the options were what I wanted. The question and options were:

15. What should be done about health care?
a. We need a national health insurance system that makes sure everyone is covered.
b. Keep the current system, but cut regulation and give health insurers more control.
c. No significant changes are needed at this time.

My answer would have been: scrap the entire system, and remove the gouging insurance company middle men. Doctor's offices charge $200 a visit because they know the insurance company is going to pay out only $60 of it, and the patient will pay $20. If the insurance company didn't discount so much, the doctor wouldn't inflate the prices, and those without insurance wouldn't be gouged with the $200 bill.

Something like that happened to me when I went in for a doctor-ordered MRI back in the mid-nineties. I received the bill for $2500. The office had taken my insurance information, but never bothered to submit the claim. Instead, they billed me, added late fees and threatened to send the bill to a collections agency. When the insurance company finally paid the bill, it was discounted to around $500. Gee, $2500 from the patient, or $500 from the insurance company. No wonder they went after me.

The problem with a National Insurance program is that someone has to pay the costs. 98% of the time, it'll be the healthy people paying for the unhealthy people (yes, a made up number, but you knew that, right?). I'm not sure people realize that tax revenues don't just appear out of thin air, they are paid by individual people (yeah, yeah, you really think corporations pay that much? Maybe that's where future revenues should come from - have to think about that one). So, when someone decides to spend 200 billion dollars to take down one man who shot at his daddy, that money has come from the pockets of the people around me. When Hillary proposes some everyone's covered insurance plan, that's my tax payment that's paying for that smoker's lung cancer.

And that last statement shows a horrible bias of mine against people who require preventative medical intervention.

I can't say it's particularly merciful. Another topic I should think about before just spouting drivel. The drivel I would spout would be something like most obese and overweight health problems can be prevented by exercise and life-style changes. Many of them are choices. Yes, it's incredible hard to exercise every day if you don't have motivation (like a sport you love), or a friend to go with you. Not exercising is a choice, though, and the consequences are a result of that choice. Same with smoking. Same with (currently illegal) drugs. Ultimately, though I don't like to admit it, the same with depression, which often has a physical cause that needs to be addressed (though, sometimes it's just life).

Yes, there are illnesses, diseases and health issues that aren't consequences: some cancers, juvenile diabetes, Down's syndrome, other genetic anomalies (hell, migraines with aura caused by weather changes - try to blame that one on me!), . These are the ones that should be subsidized by insurance.

Yeah, don't even get me started on the question about the death penalty.

At the end of the quiz, when I received my results, my thought was, huh? Who the hell is Chris Dodd?

Yay Wikipedia!

Chris Dodd and his political positions (we'll forgive him for his gun stance, and applaud everything else).

I'm still voting for Obama.


Haha, apparently I should vote for Chris Dodd too!

I was listening to NPR yesterday and heard a story about how health care cost more in the long run for healthy people than the obese & smokers (they die sooner):

Maybe this is why I can't get health care?!?!

Short quote:

The researchers found that from age 20 to 56, obese people racked up the most expensive health costs. But because both the smokers and the obese people died sooner than the healthy group, it cost less to treat them in the long run.

I would still argue that many of the old age "afflictions" could STILL be prevented by regular exercise. Dementia has been shown to be reduced by exercise. Hip fractures and other bone breaks can be reduced by weight bearing exercise. People who play games in their later years have a reduced incidence of dementia, too. It's a use-it-or-lose-it scenario, where exercise, good food choices and healthy lifestyle changes CAN reduce health care costs.

Besides, if "someone has to pay," why not remove the middle men (insurance companies) who are gouging people and doctors alike, and send the cost savings back to the patients?

So, I stand by my original thoughts on health care.

I totally agree with you, Kitt! The insurance companies are the true blood suckers of the sick! (Wow! That sounded morbid!) Anyway, my brother is a physician in New York and he's been saying for years that your suggested answer is the way to go. I think the general public is afraid that doctors would charge too much to be able to afford treatment, but in reality, doctors would have to lower costs in order to compete with each other. As it is, the insurance companies are screwing doctors so much, that after what I've heard from my brother, there is NO way I would be become a doctor (or he would in retrospect). It's sad, because you see doctors who love what they do, but are tainted by the red tape that prevents paying them for their hard work!

In VA, more and more doctors offices are NOT accepting insurance. You have to pay out of pocket and bill (HOUND) your own insurance company! I think THAT is ridiculous! Here I am paying for insurance and I am the one that has to go out of MY way to send in the bills and beg for reimbursement. As much as it angers me that these doctors won't hire medical billers to do their work, I can't entirely blame them because the insurance companies haven't been paying their claims. For the moment, I am avoiding medical practices that don't accept insurance, but the trend is becoming more and more prevalent and it seems like the competitive doctors are the ones jumping on the band wagon, because they know they can get patients.

On the topic of Juvenile Diabetes, it's well known that rates are increasing in the U.S. Although I can't find any facts online (through a brief search) to confirm or deny this, I always assumed that our higher rates were due to childhood obesity, which is a result of poor food choices made by many American parents. From your comment Kitt, that Type I diabetes ISN'T a consequence of a previously bad behavior, do you have knowledge about the cause of juvenile diabetes to explain this? I'm very curious! When I see parents shoveling candy into their kids' mouths to keep them happy, I can't help but wonder. I know it makes me especially angry when I consider putting my daughter in a dance class, but hear that most programs give kids lollipops at the end of class! Is that really necessary? I HATE THAT! Stickers are at least a healthier alternative, but seriously, I think the class ALONE is a privilege. Why do kids need to be coerced into behaving if it's SO horrible? I also think it's interesting that dance schools offer sugar rewards at an early age and then request kids lose weight a few years later in order to look better in their leotards!

Sorry! Can you tell I'm a little bitter about this? It all started when I went to pick up Linnea from the church nursery and found her scarfing gummy bears! Does a 15 month old REALLY NEED to be eating candy like that? She hadn't even had WHOLE MILK yet! Good grief! I'm definitely a California mom living on the wrong coast! But at least, I have a house! (I have to keep telling myself that!)

Anyway, to get back to your original argument, do you think candidates are too scared to propose the idea of dismantling HMOs because insurances companies make too much money? I feel like as much as universal health care is likely to fail in the U.S., so is the chance of taking down the insurance companies. What are your thoughts? I think you should come up with an answer and run for Prez in 2012! :-)

One of my brothers is diabetic, and has been since he was 5 years old (and I was 4). There is a history of diabetes in my family (a great uncle was I think the closest), so it wasn't unheard of at the time of my brother's diabetes diagnosis. So, yeah, some experience: not a direct, but a lifetime of its consequences.

In my mind, Type 1, formerly called juvenile, is a pancreatic failure through no active fault of a person: genetic failure, accident or injury, disease.

Type 2, formerly called adult-onset, is the one related to obesity and insulin-resistance caused by long term high blood sugar.

One can develop type 2 diabetes well before managing the "adult" part, hence the new names.

There is probably a grey area between the two. I'm not overweight, exercise frequently, eat lots of fruits and vegetables and less meat than more people. Yet, I have a 1 in 4 chance (vs the general public's 1 in 25 chance) of developing diabetes in my lifetime, an increased risk because I have a sibling with Type 1 diabetes. If I do develop diabetes, is the cause genetic or my love of chocolate? I wouldn't know, but I do check my blood sugar more often than people without diabetes do.

No way does a 15 month old need candy. I think Holly and Adrian Wolff didn't let their kids have refined sugar until they were older than 3, or something like that. I think I would have gone ballistic if my kid was eating candy that young. (Yay for the house!)

As for the candidates, alas, no, taking out a huge money making industry is definitely outside the realm of politicians, even if that industry is detrimental to the country as a whole. Changes will come by slowly, say as individuals band together to negotiate with doctors themselves, or doctors move to a discount service (say, pay $500/year for up to 10 visits, prepaid at the beginning of the year).

I can't say I'd be thrilled with universal healthcare in the U.S. Maybe a mandated maximum 5% profit margin on insurance companies? Or a non-profit insurance company? Have to think on that one more.

Whoo! My most popular post yet! Go, Dodd!

I totally agree with the insurance company - middle man argument. The only addition I would have to this is the malpractice insurance that doctors have to pay is outrageous. With all the frivolous lawsuits lawyers drum up, the malpractice is going to keep going up. We have to fix the legal system with regards to this as well. I don't know if financial caps on claims is the answer, or some sort of system where lawsuits get reviewed by a person/panel to decide if they are legit before all the $ is spent trialling them, etc. I personally vote for a system in which lawyers get penalized for bringing about frivolous lawsuits.

Food for thought...physicians are also ordering more "tests", radiographic studies, etc. as a result of these lawsuits...i.e. doctors want to "cover their butt" so they don't get sued for 'missing' something. We call it practicing 'defensive medicine'. This drives up healthcare costs as well. Damn malpractice attorneys (John Edwards background for anyone who forgot).

Great blog Kitt.