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Health Care Musings

Why Health Care Costs So Much ... shown in one graph:

Regarding those so-called administrators, Karl Deninger wrote, "They're nearly all paper-pushers who contribute exactly zero to actual consumer care. The problem is that all of these people draw salaries and thus drive up the cost of medical care by ridiculous amounts." What do these people do? Many are paper-pushers who deal with getting reimbursed by various health care providers. Others are there to keep records so that doctors can cover their asses in case of a malpractice action.

These medical bureaucrats do not raise the level of your medical care. They simply add cost. A corollary of Parkinson's Law is: Bureaucracy expands to consume the money available to pay for it. The only cure is to cut off the money.

Forty-years ago ... (more >>>)


Coming Soon To A Health Insurer Near You: A mother, dying of scleroderma (my dad died from the same horrid disease), was denied treatment coverage for life-extending medication but got approved for a suicide drug.

Her doctors had "suggested that switching to another chemotherapy drug might buy her time. Her medical insurance company refused to pay. She says she asked if the company covered the cost of drugs to put her to death. She was told the answer is yes - with a co-payment of $1.20."

Looks like Sarah Palin was right about those Death Panels. (posted 11/3/16, permalink)


Death Panels Are Back: Remember when the mainstream media excoriated Sarah Palin for her claims that government death panels are coming? Well, they're almost here.

Betsy McCaughey wrote, "Medicare said on Wednesday it wants to start paying for end-of-life counseling. It's being sold as "death with dignity," but it's more like dying for dollars. Seniors are nudged to forego life-sustaining procedures and hospital care to go into hospice. That enriches the booming hospice industry and also frees up dollars for the left's favored social causes."

Why is the government meddling with how we cope with death? The Institute of Medicine doesn't mince words. Scrimping on seniors will free up money "to fund highly targeted and carefully tailored social services for both children and adults." Just like ObamaCare. Robbing Grandma to spread the wealth.

In 2009, President Obama said seniors are getting too many procedures and maybe they're "better off not having the surgery, but taking the painkiller." Obama's health guru Ezekiel Emanuel argues the elderly should be a lower priority because "they have already had more life-years." (posted 7/27/15, permalink)


Obamacare Lies: Retired neurosurgeon and possible presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson recently discussed the fate of Obamacare, saying there is absolutely no reason politicians can't unravel, reinvent or outright repeal the health care plan - and those who say otherwise are selling a lie.

"Health care is a gigantic issue, and there's no question that the system was broken and that we needed to do something about it. What we did not need to do is create another massive government program, and we need to be looking at different ways of taking care of it, putting responsibility back into the hands of patients and to their health care providers. There are things that can be done. We keep listening to people saying 'the horse is out of the barn, you can't get it back in there, end of story' ... that's a bunch of crap. We can do anything. This is America."

Dr. Carson also decried how Obamacare shifted the role of power in the nation and took health care out of the hands of the people and put it into the control of government. "The people are supposed to be at the pentacle. The government is supposed to conform to our will, not us to their will." Amen. (posted 1/7/14, permalink)


We've Made Great Medical Progress In The Last 100 Years: Consider the offering from one Dr. Batty (courtesy of Stumptown Blogger)


(posted 8/15/14, permalink)


Death Panels Come To The Beaver State: Oregon now rations healthcare to Medicaid recipients. Terminal cancer patients are denied life-extending chemotherapy treatments.

Wesley Smith of NRO wrote, "Like most such panels, including the Affordable Care Act's Independent Payment Advisory Board, the Oregon Health Evidence Review Commission, or HERC, claims to be merely concerned with what supposedly works and what doesn't. Their real targets are usually advanced, costly treatments. That's why HERC, for example, proposed in May that Medicaid should not cover "treatment with intent to prolong survival" for cancer patients who likely have fewer than two years left to live."

Of course, free medical care is not a constitutional right. I've always said that, if you're poor, you'd better make lots of friends - maybe they'll take up a collection for your medical needs if you become seriously ill. That's what used to happen in the days before The Great Society, when folks were left to more-or-less fend for themselves when it came to illness.

Yet this let's-kill-'em-off-using-fiscal-triage government still does taxpayer-funded liver transplants for incarcerated criminals serving life sentences as well as chronic drunks and druggies. Go figure.

But fear not, folks, Oregon does permit assisted suicide. (posted 8/14/13, permalink)


The Death Of Obamacare? Let's hope so. Scott Grannis wrote recently, "I'm standing by what I've said before: "the defects of this legislation are so massive and pervasive that it will never see the light of day ... the Obama administration is going to delay enforcing the penalty ($2000 per employee) on businesses with 50 or more employees that fail to provide them with healthcare insurance. This will presumably give businesses time to adjust, but it also conveniently postpones a key and controversial portion of the law until after the 2014 elections.

This delay shows that there were even more fatal flaws to Obamacare than I thought. How could I - or any congressional staffer writing the original law, for that matter - have failed to realize that exempting businesses with fewer than 50 full-time employees from the penalty, but imposing the full penalty (which would start at $100,000 per year) on any business that goes from 49 to 50 employees, would do anything but create havoc among small businesses, the biggest source of new job creation?

For small businesses that currently do not offer health insurance, the effective cost of adding a 50th employee would be not only that employee's benefit package, but also $100,000 in annual penalties, or the cost of providing health insurance to everyone, which could be upwards of $6,000 per employee, or $300,000 for a business with 50 employees. Not many businesses are profitable enough to survive that, no matter how much time they have to "adjust." This is a huge anti-business and anti-jobs defect in the law."

Yep, and just watch how businesses respond: keeping employee levels below 50 full-time employees, cutting back hours, moving full-timers to part-time status, replacing employees with independent contractors. It has already begun.

Scott concluded, "The more time passes, the more fatal flaws we are likely to discover in Obamacare, and the greater its chances of further delays, and eventually its repeal."

The only thing with the word Obama in it (Obamacare, Obamaphone, Obamanomics, etc.) that has any merit is 'Impeach Obama'. (posted 7/5/13, permalink)


Modern Medicine: Recently, a friend mentioned the phrase 'blind pimples', a term everyone used to use but has now been replaced by some fancy-schmancy term. People never talk about getting a 'charley horse' anymore - a condition solved with the application of liniment and a bit of rest. Now, it's a 'spasm' and requires more extensive and expensive treatment.

The other day, my wife and I were talking about 'prickly heat' which everyone got in the summer back in those pre-air-conditioned days. You treated it by washing the affected part, drying it really well and then applying talcum powder.

Sixty years ago, there were only nine non-prescription medications and unguents available in the world: talcum powder, rubbing alcohol, Vaseline, Noxema, aspirin, Milk of Magnesia, calamine lotion, liniment, mercurochrome and hydrogen peroxide.

Oh wait, I forgot Sal Hepatica. That's because I sometimes think that's the name of an Italian guy from South Philadelphia that I went to high school with.

If none of those solved your problem, it was off to the hospital with you. Or the morgue.

Fast forward to now. Wal-Mart, Costco, Walgreens and almost every other store offers a plethora of salves and lotions loaded with vitamins, caramides and CoQ10, an element I never learned about in high school chemistry. And that's just in the over-the-counter section. There are tens of thousands of prescription drugs to treat almost any condition or disease.

Primecap Management manages the Vanguard Capital Opportunity Fund, which currently has almost 39% of its money invested in health care stocks. In its most recent report, the manager discussed health care investments, noting that "the industry's considerable investment in research and development over the years is driving the design of new and more effective therapies for many diseases, such as cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer's. The precipitous decline in the cost of genetic sequencing is allowing researchers to identify unknown diseases and to rapidly develop therapies that improve the standard of care and save lives. Increasingly, drugs developed based on genetic research are providing higher cure rates with fewer side effects than conventional treatments."

We live in an age of miracles. (posted 7/2/13, permalink)


Judge Overrules Cruella de Vil: I'm delighted to see that a little 10 year-old girl is getting a chance at life with a lung transplant. If you've ever been a dad, the subject of catastrophic illness striking your kids looms in your sweaty, fear-filled nightmares.

A federal court judge has granted a temporary order that will allow Sarah Murnaghan, who is dying from cystic fibrosis and desperately needs new lungs, to join an adult organ transplant list.

That said, I am concerned that Sarah might have jumped the line ahead of others on the transplant list because she's a cutie and her story has been well-publicized. And that some woeful, pimply-faced, unphotogenic 16 year-old adolescent Goth with bad hair who also needs a lung transplant may die as a result.

We shouldn't be saving lives based on perceived personality and cuteness, although we seem to do it all the time. It's American Idol Visits The ICU.

Nevertheless, I'm glad to see stern-faced HHS Overlord Kathleen Sebelius - aka The Grim Reaper - receive a proper and resounding rebuke.

This death-panel wannabee's claim that she can't waive a rule to save a 10-year-old's life is disingenuous, given she was last seen doling out ObamaCare waivers like Jolly Ranchers to Barry O's favorite union groups.

I think Cruella Sebelius actually enjoys playing her familiar role of skunk at the Sunday school picnic. I hope that HHS does not appeal the ruling and that there is a happy outcome for little Sarah Murnaghan. (posted 6/6/13, permalink)

Update: Sarah got her double lung transplant on June 12, 2013.


Killing Me Softly: In a recent New York Daily News editorial, Andrea Tantaros wrote, "There is a dirty secret about health care that President Obama hopes will escape the headlines. In his newly released plan to "reform" Medicare as part of overall deficit reduction, Obama has punted actual cost-cutting and instead proposed a panel - the Independent Payment Advisory Board - to recommend savings for the financially doomed program. Translation: Welcome to the world of rationing.

The board, which was an original part of Obamacare (remember the death panel debate?), consists of 15 unelected bureaucrats who will have unchecked, binding power in the interest of supposedly greater efficiency and lower costs."

Donald Berwick, the President's controversial Medicare administrator, already stated that the "decision is not whether or not we will ration care - the decision is whether we will ration with our eyes open."

Andrea concluded, "Although Obama and many congressional Democrats are hoping the complexity of the Independent Payment Advisory Board will keep people from paying attention, our eyes must be open, too. The fate of the elderly, the sick and the disabled depends on it."

Last year, when a proposal to encourage end-of-life planning touched off a political storm over "death panels," Democrats dropped it from legislation to overhaul the health care system. The Obama administration plans to achieve the same goal by regulation. In other words, by fiat. All hail King Barack.

Under the new policy, outlined in a Medicare regulation, the government will pay doctors who advise patients on options for end-of-life care, which may include advance directives to forgo aggressive life-sustaining treatment.

ObamacareSarah Palin, the 2008 Republican vice-presidential candidate, and Representative John A. Boehner, led the criticism in the summer of 2009. Ms. Palin said, "Obama's 'death panel' would decide who was worthy of health care." Boehner, now Speaker of the House, said, "This provision may start us down a treacherous path toward government-encouraged euthanasia." The 'death panels' already exist.

Palin was correct and still is correct. Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services, is the new Josef Mengele.

One of the questions raised by the news that the Obama administration is going to use regulation rather than legislation to bring in the so-called 'death panels' as part of Obamacare is how it happened that this was first foreseen not by the newspapers or the members of Congress but by Governor Palin. How could this happen? Aren't The Media our betters?

Charles Krauthammer has said, "Well, I think what's scandalous is that essentially the same idea was encompassed in a provision in the original law, in the original bill. I think it was article 1233, which was passed in the House and rejected in the Senate explicitly because of the uproar that was aroused by it. …

To then enact it through Medicare, through an administrative regulation, unilaterally, when the Congress had looked at it and rejected it, I think is [an] incredible example of administration arrogance and a way of going around what was clearly expressed as the will of the people. I think this is the kind of thing - exactly the kind of thing - you want to bring up in hearings so people will know what's going on, [as] they may not have heard about it."

health care bloggingI'll give Dan Cirucci the last word here: "Despite the fact that their original death panel provision within the Obamacare system was "repealed," President Obama and his administration have quietly reinstated the very same provision in the form of regulations. How? Under a Medicare regulation, doctors will advise patients on options for end-of-life care, which may include advanced directives to forgo life-sustaining treatment.

These consultations are supposedly voluntary, which is why the Obama administration has been able to justify them. However, they're actually not completely voluntary. While patients are given the option to say, "no," they will still be approached by doctors with these options, whether or not they asked for them in the first place. Thus, the government will try to recruit doctors to sell living wills and hospice care to unsuspecting elderly patients.

Unless Obamacare is repealed, these "voluntary" consultations will start to look more and more like death panels in the near future." (posted 5/23/11, permalink)


Third Party Payers: When somebody else pays for something, it always cost more. If you're dining on the corporate expense account, you'll order a big fat steak at Morton's. If you're funding the meal out of your own pocket ... hello, McDonald's.

When I first began my work career, my company paid for Blue Cross. Hospital stays were mostly covered but you paid for everything else - office visits, appointments, lab tests, etc. - from your own pocket.

"How much is this gonna cost?" used to a frequently asked question in doctors' offices in those days. In the mid-70s, things began to change - coverage was extended. Many people soon didn't even know what an office visit cost. They would go see a doctor at the drop of a hat because it was "free."

joe sherlock health care blogIf exercise would help a medical condition, the response is often, "Forget it. Just gimme some drugs." Need proof? Just look at all the fat people you see today. Or, take a gander at a graph or chart of U.S. Type II diabetes cases over the last 30 years.

People have become fatter and more diabetes-prone but, hey, there's always a new weight drug to try. (Yes, your Honor, I plead guilty to feeling this way on occasion. But I've started my treadmill regimen again. It has no co-pay requirement and produces no alarming side effects.)

In 1960, consumers paid almost half their health care costs from their own pockets.

Today, they pay for only about 12% of their healthcare expenses. The 12% that is still paid out of pocket likely consists mostly of payments by individuals not covered by employer policies and co-pays by individuals that are covered.

Scott Grannis has written: "To fix most of what is wrong with healthcare, we simply need to fix the tax code. Either allow everyone to deduct the cost of healthcare, or no one. Without the distortion of tax incentives, companies would eventually turn the healthcare purchase decision over to employees. That in turn would restore the proper incentives to consumers, allowing market forces and competition to make healthcare more efficient and more affordable." (posted 12/14/10, permalink)


Leading Indicator: Jane Adamy of the Wall Street Journal has reported that McDonald's "has warned federal regulators that it could drop its health insurance plan for nearly 30,000 hourly restaurant workers unless regulators waive a new requirement of the U.S. health overhaul. The move is one of the clearest indications that new rules may disrupt workers' health plans as the law ripples through the real world."

Obamacare is proving to be an unmitigated disaster. Adamy has noted, "McDonald's move is the latest indication of possible unintended consequences from the health overhaul. Dozens of companies have taken charges against earnings - totaling more than $1 billion - over a tax change in prescription-drug benefits for retirees. More recently, insurers have proposed a round of double-digit premium increases and said new coverage mandates in the law are partly to blame."

Update (10/7/10): McDonald's and 29 other firms have been granted health care 'waivers' by the Obama Administration Pretty soon, the only people left to have Obamacare shoved down our throats will be you, me and our kids.

Meanwhile, three Catholic hospitals in Pennsylvania are now on the market. The hospital management is telling the local media that Obamacare is a major reason why the facilities are being unloaded.

Mercy Health Partners CEO Kevin Cook has said, "Actually we're doing well. We're ahead of budget for the year. It's more that when we look out over the landscape of health care over the next five years and the needs of these facilities, the needs of this community, we understand a different level of investment will be needed than what we can do on our own."

He said much of that required investment is the result of the health care reform bill passed in Washington. The CEO said it means the need for more spending and less federal reimbursements.

And furthermore ... Principal Financial Group is exiting the health-insurance business in an early sign of expected industry consolidation as the impact of the health overhaul becomes clearer.

By forcing the exit of Principal Financial Group - which ran a profitable, $1.6 billion health insurance business - Obamacare has now left 840,000 Americans to find another source of coverage. (posted 10/1/10, permalink)


Ill Intentions: During a doctor visit last week, I learned that his medical practice is finding Medicare patients such an unprofitable segment that it is no longer accepting new ones, even if they are relatives or spouses of existing patients.

The practice is also trying to get out of Washington state's indigent program, which is locally administered by CUP - Columbia United Providers (described as a "community-based health plan"), funded by Washington taxpayers.

One CUP patient claimed that his prescribed meds made him dizzy and he fell and hit his head. He said that he telephoned the medical office and the nurse told him to "take a Tylenol." My nurse said, "Never happened - our standard response would have been 'call 911 immediately' - but he's probably looking for lawsuit money and that's why we now have to document everything, including every patient conversation. That's just another reason why routine health care now costs so much."

Demanding poor, aided by unscrupulous ambulance chasers, are doing everything they can to wreck health care for the rest of us. (posted 6/9/10, permalink)


Lies, Lies ... a damning health care report generated by actuaries at the Health and Human Services Department was given to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius more than a week before the health care vote. She hid the report from the public until a month after Democrats rammed their nationalized health care bill through Congress.

"The reason we were given was that they did not want to influence the vote," said an HHS source. "Which is actually the point of having a review like this, you would think. ... We know a copy was sent to the White House via their legislative affairs staff and there were a number of meetings here almost right after the analysis was submitted to the secretary's office."

The report released by Medicare and Medicaid actuaries shows that medical costs will skyrocket rising $389 billion 10 years. Fourteen million will lose their employer-based coverage. Millions of Americans will be left without insurance. And, millions more may be dumped into the already overwhelmed Medicaid system. Four million American families will be hit with tax penalties under this new law.

When Nancy Pelosi told America, "We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it," she forgot to mention that Democrats already knew what was in it. They just didn't want the rest of the country to find out.

In related 'Lying Democrat' news, "Rep. Patrick Kennedy was spotted doing vodka shots last week at a Capitol Hill bar just hours after he spoke about his history of substance abuse at a charity event." (posted 4/28/10, permalink)


Scary Precedent: Representative Michael Burgess (R-Texas) has said that if the mandate in the health care law requiring individuals to purchase health insurance or be penalized is upheld by the courts, the federal government could mandate anything, such as requiring all Americans to purchase a General Motors car.

''Never before in the history of this country have we had the ability to coerce American citizens to purchase something and then invoke the Commerce clause after we coerce that purchase."

Representative Burgess, a doctor, opined that there is no part of the Constitution which gives Congress the authority to mandate individuals to purchase health insurance. (posted 3/31/10, permalink)


Unhealthy Mess: If you've been reading the financial news, you already know that Caterpillar and John Deere have announced non-cash charges of $100 and $150 million, respectively, for this year based upon the impact of Obamacare on forward retiree health care costs. AT&T has announced that Obamacare will force it to take a $1 billion dollar charge. 3M is taking a noncash charge of $85 million to $90 million due to the change in the tax treatment of future Medicare Part D reimbursements. Prudential is taking a $100 million charge against earnings; for Boeing, the number is $150 million in the wake of new health care rules.

The impact of Obamacare will get worse as current employee costs ratchet upward - the aforementioned charges are only against existing retiree obligations.

As companies adjust to Obama's Socialist Health Scheme, retirees and current employees will experience major changes in their health care. Retirees are probably going to lose their employer-provided prescription benefits and be dumped into the now-overloaded Medicare system, just as the Democrats have finished stripping out $500 billion from Medicare to help pay for ObamaCare.

Look for a wave of angry constituents and busloads of new tea party members real soon. (posted 3/29/10, permalink)


What's Good For The Goose ... Senator Chuck Grassley (R - Iowa) will offer an amendment during Senate debate on the health care reconciliation bill this week to apply the reform legislation "to the President, Vice President, cabinet members and top White House staff."

Grassley said, "It's only fair and logical that top administration officials, who fought so hard for passage of this overhaul of America's health care system, experience it themselves. If it's as good as promised, they'll know it first-hand. If there are problems, they'll be able to really understand them, as they should." (posted 3/23/10, permalink)


Who's In Charge Of Your Health? I've made fun of Carly Fiorina in the past over her tenure at Hewlett Packard but, after a life-threatening bout with breast cancer, she is eminently qualified to speak out on the travesty that is government-run health care. Video here. (posted 12/7/09, permalink)


Calling All Susan G. Komen Marchers: The Komen Foundation and its affiliates fund non-duplicative, community-based breast health education and breast cancer screening and treatment projects for the medically under-served. The organization believes in the value of mammograms, especially since its namesake was diagnosed with breast cancer at the young age of 33 and died three years later.

I suppose you've read about the Feds telling women under 50 to skip that annual mammogram. Saves money for that universal health care thing, ya know.

"Tens of thousands of lives are being saved by mammography screening, and these idiots want to do away with it. It's crazy - unethical, really," said Daniel B. Kopans, Harvard Medical School radiology prof.

Dr. Bernadine Healy, former director of the National Institutes of Health, said the directive would save money but not lives, adding that, if the new guidelines are followed, more women will die of breast cancer.

Sarah Palin was right about those Death Panels. This is a sneak preview of Obamacare. I hope the many supporters of the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation will contact their congressional representatives and let them know how they feel about such cost-managed, value-engineered health care. (posted 11/25/09, permalink)


Catch 22: In the Pelosi-crafted health care bill, if you don't pay for health care insurance you may go to jail:

Section 7203 – misdemeanor willful failure to pay is punishable by a fine of up to $25,000 and/or imprisonment of up to one year.

Section 7201 – felony willful evasion is punishable by a fine of up to $250,000 and/or imprisonment of up to five years.

But - once in prison - you'll get free health care. (posted 11/9/09, permalink)


automobile blogBe Careful What You Wish For: Here's what happens with government-imposed health care. A former Democratic speechwriter for Edwards, Clinton and Obama has written, "For the first time in my life, I am without health insurance and it is a terrible feeling. ... I moved from Washington, D.C., back to Massachusetts, a state with universal health care. In D.C., I had a policy with a national company, an HMO, and surprisingly I was very happy with it. I had a fantastic primary care doctor at Georgetown University Hospital. As a self-employed writer, my premium was $225 a month, plus $10 for a dental discount.

In Massachusetts, the cost for a similar plan is around $550, give or take a few dollars. My risk factors haven't changed ... there has been no change in the way I live my life except my zip code - to a state with universal health care."

Blah, blah, blah ... bottom line: she can't afford the increased premium.

She noted, "While the state has the lowest rate of uninsured, a report by the Commonwealth Fund states that Massachusetts has the highest premiums in the country. The state's budget is a mess and lawmakers had to make deep cuts in services and increase the sales tax to close gaps." She is - understandably - unhappy.

Proving the old adage that you're only a liberal until you get mugged.

Still not convinced? Check out the story of this poor fellow. (posted 10/9/09, permalink)


Did Someone Say 'Tort Reform'? For years, I've opined that health care reform without tort reform is meaningless. I think I first made the statement back in the '90s when Hillarycare was being bandied about.

David Freddoso has written, "Since passing tort reform in 2004, Mississippi has seen the number of medical malpractice claims plummet by 91% from its peak. The state's largest medical liability insurer dropped its premiums by 42%, and has offered an additional 20% rebate each year since tort reform went into effect." The entire article is worth a read. (posted 9/23/09, permalink)


The Stink Spreads: Only 22% of registered voters believe Obamacare would make them better off. Even among Democrats, that number is only at 36%. People can smell the rotting of the Obamacare lies a mile away. Pee ... eeeewww.

You want better health care? OK, let's drop the laws and regulations that keep insurers from competing across state lines. Make individual plans tax-deductible, just like employer plans. Stop tying health insurance to employment and we'll end much of the fuss about losing coverage when changing jobs. Make health coverage job-portable the way retirement plans now are. Then get some serious tort reform legislation passed.

Meanwhile, the Teleprompter Messiah is promising to get free health care for illegals by making them legal. Pee ... eeeewww. (posted 9/21/09, permalink)


Maybe It's There To Keep Her Timed: Michelle Obama has been promoting the Democrats' proposed takeover of health care while wearing a timing belt around her waist. Why? I don't know. (A Drudge headline identified the device in question as a "bondage belt.")

But the First Lady knows much about health care; she helped pioneer the program officially known as the Urban Health Initiative, but most often referred to as "patient dumping."

Sen. Barack Obama's wife and three close advisers were involved with a program at the University of Chicago Medical Center that steered patients who don't have private insurance - primarily poor, black people - to other health care facilities.

I sure miss Laura Bush. She was a classy dresser. So was Nancy Reagan. (posted 9/21/09, permalink)


Car Costs vs. Medical Costs: In 1961, my dad bought a brand-new VW Beetle for $1,600. In those days, an office visit to our primary care physician was $3. House calls were $5. At those prices, ol' Doc Delaney could still drive a late model Buick. Most doctors drove Buicks in those days, usually Roadmasters.

The Buick Roadmaster was as luxurious as a Cadillac (and cost almost as much) but didn't carry the snooty Cadillac image that might offend patients. (Why do you think Buick developed the Riviera? Physicians could pilot a sleek, luxurious automobile while assuring patients that they "still had a Buick.") Doctors' parking lots at hospitals were filled with near-luxury cars like Buicks, Ford Thunderbirds and Chryslers. The few Cadillacs belonged to brain or heart surgeons.

Today, an entry-level Volkswagen - a Golf GL - costs around $16,000 - an increase of 10-fold. By that measure, my primary care physician should be charging $30. But he charges $125 for an office visit. He doesn't make house calls. He drives an older Honda Accord. Today, doctors' parking lots contain fairly mundane vehicles - Camrys, Ford Explorers and the like.

Physicians tell me that they are caught in a squeeze between ever-increasing, fast-rising malpractice insurance premiums and fee caps and/or discounts demanded by HMOs, PPOs and Medicare. Many can no longer afford near-luxury automobiles. I know two doctors who have thrown in the towel and simply closed their practices. One took a salaried job as an HMO executive; the other took early retirement.

Cars have gotten safer over the years. Medicine has gotten better over the years. But a bare-bones VW Golf priced at $65,000 would be as indefensible as current health care costs. Prior to my eligibility for Medicare last year, my health insurance premiums had more than doubled in the prior five years while the price of new cars had changed little.

Today, a veterinary office visit costs $40-50, compared with $125-150 for a human doctor. However, many veterinarians make more money today than medical doctors do. Why? Their patients never sue. Lawyers, especially the ambulance-chasing kind, are one of the main reasons healthcare costs so much.

Many of the tests that physicians order have no medical purpose; they are simply cover-your-ass tests to insulate doctors against possible lawsuits. A PricewaterhouseCoopers survey revealed that malpractice cases lead to more than $200 billion in annual costs from defensive medical practices. A recent Harvard study revealed that 40% of malpractice suits are frivolous, leading to 15% of the payouts.

Veterinarians also don't have to deal with insurance and/or Medicare paperwork and the cash flow problems resulting from these two behemoths. In most cases, vets deal directly with the customer on a pay-as-you-go basis.

Tort reform should include hard caps on pain-and-suffering awards, as well as a board of lawyers and doctors to review potential cases. 'Loser Pays' legislation would probably eliminate 95% of all medical malpractice lawsuits.

I have additional ideas on health care posted here. (posted 9/14/09, permalink)


And Furthermore ... speaking of health care, almost 4 out of 10 uninsured Americans live in households making more than $50,000 per year. "There are 9.725 million uninsured Americans living in households making $75,000 per year or more." (posted 9/14/09, permalink)


Good Question: U.S. Representative Mike Rogers (R-Michigan) asks, "Why should we punish the 85% of Americans who have earned health care benefits as part of their employment, and punish the employers who give it to them, to try to cover the 15% of Americans who don't have it?"

By the way, I saw a great sign in a Morristown, NJ Tea Party protest photo: 'Try Nationalized Legal Care First.' Yes, let's see how the malpractice attorneys like that. (posted 9/8/09, permalink)


Why Health Care 'Reform' Is A Sham: Give Howard Dean credit for speaking the ugly truth. Asked by an audience member why the legislation does nothing to cap medical malpractice class-action lawsuits against doctors and medical institutions (aka: tort reform), Dean responded by saying: "The reason tort reform is not in the (health care) bill is because the people who wrote it did not want to take on the trial lawyers in addition to everybody else they were taking on. And that's the plain and simple truth."

Over the past 20 years, the American Association for Justice (AAJ) - formerly the Association of Trial Lawyers of America - ranked sixth overall in campaign contributions from special interest groups. "The AAJ is the trial lawyers’ Washington lobbying group, and 90 percent of its $30.7 million in contributions since 1989 went to Democrats. At the other end of this pay-to-play process in the nation’s capitol, AAJ has spent nearly $14 million lobbying Congress just since Democrats won control of both chambers, including $2.3 million thus far this year."

Health care "reform" without tort reform is useless. (posted 9/1/09, permalink)


Health Solutions: Karl Denninger has proposed an interesting and well thought-out five-point plan for fixing health care. I had already posted a plan of my own here. Combining the two could be awesome.

Health care costs would drop even more with tort reform, which would substantially lower malpractice premiums. Unreasonable consumer expectations must be lowered as well. Zach Krajacic, writing in the Christian Science Monitor, has compared health insurance to car insurance, noting, "If insurance paid for every oil change and engine failure, we'd have an autocare crisis, too." (posted 8/10/09, permalink)


If It Ain't Broke: Ten reasons American health care is better than you've been told are listed here. The short article is full of impressive statistics. Excerpt: "Breast cancer mortality is 52% higher in Germany than in the United States and 88% higher in the United Kingdom. Prostate cancer mortality is 604% higher in the United Kingdom and 457% higher in Norway." (posted 8/7/09, permalink)


Health Care Madness: Ann Coulter has offered some sane commentary. Excerpt: "Just as people use vastly different amounts of gasoline, they also use vastly different amounts of medical care - especially when an appointment with a highly trained physician costs less than a manicure. Insurance plans that force everyone in the plan to pay for everyone else's Viagra and anti-anxiety pills are already completely unfair to people who rarely go to the doctor. It's like being forced to share gas bills with a long-haul trucker or a restaurant bill with Michael Moore. On the other hand, it's a great deal for any lonely hypochondriacs in the plan."

Ann continued: "You don't have to conjure up fantastic visions of how health care would be delivered in this country if we bought it ourselves. Just go to a grocery store or get a manicure. Or think back to when you bought your last muffler, personal trainer, computer and every other product and service available in inexpensive abundance in this capitalist paradise."

Finally: "Isn't food important? Why not 'universal food coverage'? If politicians and employers had guaranteed us 'free' food 50 years ago, today Democrats would be wailing about the 'food crisis' in America, and you'd be on the phone with your food care provider arguing about whether or not a Reuben sandwich with fries was covered under your plan. Instead of making health care more like the DMV, how about we make it more like grocery stores? Give the poor and tough cases health stamps and let the rest of us buy health care - and health insurance - on the free market."

Professor Mark Perry has pointed out that some Blue Cross plans cost less per month than a cell phone. (posted 7/31/09, permalink)


Joe Sherlock blogMr. Creosote Is My Role-Model: If Barack Obama and his minions have their way, health care will be turned upside down. Those who don't have insurance will get it - probably for free. Those who already have insurance will be taxed to death. Seniors, the enfeebled and the disabled - who will not meet the new 'cost-effectiveness standard' in the legislation - will be dispatched Eskimo-Style on ice floes after a hearty handshake, a "thanks for your service" and a final tax audit.

The upside of all this is that those unprofitable ethanol plants will be converted to making ice-floes in order to meet demand.

Former Democratic Senator Tom Daschle help craft the draconian health care bill. You may remember that Daschle was Obama's pick to be as the Secretary of Health and Human Services until Daschle withdrew his name amid a growing controversy over his failure to accurately report and pay income taxes - a common problem with Obama's friends.

Daschle has said that "health-care reform will not be pain free. Seniors should be more accepting of the conditions that come with age instead of treating them." I believe this is the Senatorial method of saying, "Drop dead."

As for me, I have a plan ... (more >>>)


Follow The Money: According to the Department of Labor, the average American family spends almost twice as much on pensions and social security contributions than it does on health care. It spends more on entertainment and tobacco than it does on health care.

Hmmmm. Maybe Obama should be nationalizing Ticketmaster, not health care.

The average family spends almost as much on dining out as it does on health care. Maybe Outback and The Olive Garden should be government run, too.

sherlock health care blog

Remember when the IRS seized Krusty Burger, renamed all the stores IRS Burger and took over day-to-day operations?

Homer Simpson: "Let's see, I'll have four tax burgers, one IRS-wich - withhold the lettuce, four dependent-sized sodas and a FICA-ccino."

Counter clerk: "Fill out Schedule B. You should receive your burgers in six to eight weeks."

Government health care - I can't wait: "Fill out Schedule B. You should receive your chemo in six to eight weeks." (posted 7/17/09, permalink)


auto blogSounds Like A Lucy Ricardo Scheme in an 'I Love Lucy' sitcom episode: Joe Biden told an audience, "We have to go spend money to keep from going bankrupt."

At an AARP town hall meeting, Vice President Biden told people that, unless the Democrat-supported health care plan becomes law, the nation will go bankrupt and that the only way to avoid that fate is for the government to spend more money.

At that point, Barack Obama walked onstage, removed his fedora and said, "Lucy, you got some 'splainin' to do." (permalink)


Walk The Line: A letter writer to The Reflector, North Clark County's weekly newspaper, lamented the presence of protesters at abortion clinics, noting that "every day patients and their families must walk past protestors just to get their reproductive health care needs met."

She pointed out that "the vast majority ... are low-income people who cannot afford to see a private doctor for their health care." Nor can they, apparently, afford to buy rubbers either. Although the vast majority seem to have enough bucks for booze, smokes and lottery tickets.

In this country, you may have a right ... (more >>>)


The Ultimate Health Care Solution: After a great deal of thought, I hereby propose a substantial revamp of the U.S. health care system, based on private sector, market-based solutions.

car blog

The current tax code encourages home ownership by allowing people to deduct the interest on a mortgage. A similar tax incentive will be created in order to encourage individual purchase of health insurance. (And/or Medical Savings Accounts.) As an individual, you can determine the degree of risk you want to take by choosing different health care coverage and deductible amounts. (Your employer can still pay your insurance premium if it wants to but it will get no more of a tax credit than if it paid, say, your car insurance premium.)

In my plan, all insurance payments ... (more >>>)


Other Pages Of Interest

copyright 2008-17 - Joseph M. Sherlock - All applicable rights reserved


Disclaimer

The facts presented in this blog are based on my best guesses and my substantially faulty geezer memory. The opinions expressed herein are strictly those of the author and are protected by the U.S. Constitution. Probably.

Spelling, punctuation and syntax errors are cheerfully repaired when I find them; grudgingly fixed when you do.

If I have slandered any brands of automobiles, either expressly or inadvertently, they're most likely crap cars and deserve it. Automobile manufacturers should be aware that they always have the option of trying to change my mind by providing me with vehicles to test drive.

If I have slandered any people or corporations in this blog, either expressly or inadvertently, they should buy me strong drinks (and an expensive meal) and try to prove to me that they're not the jerks I've portrayed them to be. If you're buying, I'm willing to listen.

Don't be shy - try a bribe. It might help.


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