Tag Archives: health insurance

The True Story of Deamonte Driver

     The story of Deamonte Driver has been brought to my attention by a commenter here.  It is a sad story.  No, it is a horrible story.  Unfortunately, the true story is not what my reader and worthy detractor has indicated. 

     It is not a story of how people die because of government-funded healthcare.  Deamonte and his family qualified for government-funded healthcare, including free dentistry.

     The story of Deamonte Driver is the story of a mother who neglected her children’s needs until one of them died.  She apparently did not do anything at home to prevent tooth decay.  She did not get them the free dental check-ups that they were entitled to.  She let her Medicaid lapse when she moved and did not make sure that it got reinstated.  She claimed that she had trouble finding a dentist who accepted Medicaid.

     It is a story about the horrors of poverty, but far from showing that government can dispel those horrors, it shows the inability of government programs to do so.  When a mother refuses to avail herself of the free, life-saving services she is qalified for, what is the government supposed to do next?  Should a healthcare “system” actually go pick up the kids every six months for their routine dental appointments?  Shouldn’t the mother do something herself to provide for her kids?

     Don’t get me wrong.  It is absolutely horrific that Deamonte died, especially in what had to be a horribly painful way.  If I had my way, he and his brother would have been rescued from their neglectful mother long before it got that bad.  My detractors, who exploit his death to push their political agenda do everyone a disservice.  They dishonor his memory, they excuse neglectful parenting, and they imply that the rest of us are cruel and heartless.

     I am neither cruel nor heartless.  My children have gotten dental care, even when it was hard for us to pay for it.  My wife or I would work two jobs if we had to, or beg from our friends or relatives to make sure that our kids were not suffering from rotten teeth.  That’s because we care.  In addition, as much as we are able we give money to those in need.  We believe that no child should die from a bad tooth, and if anyone we know is in need of money to get a cavity filled or to have a tooth extracted, we will be glad to help as much as we can.

The Best Health Care System

     If you were going to have heart surgery, where would you go?  One of Canada’s provincial premiers has gone to the United States.  Hmm. . .

     I have heard over and over again that the United States should adopt the same type of health insurance and health care system that Canada has.  If we did, then where would people go for delicate heart operations?

     Somebody will mention that poor people in America cannot get such an operation.  Maybe not, although I know a man who had heart surgery who is just about as poor as a person can be–living in a mobile home, selling vegetables on the side of the highway to supplement his disability payments.  His surgery was done at a fine training hospital and was paid partly by government assistance and partly by the hospital’s writing off the rest.

     Even if it were true that poor people in America could not get a needed heart operation, apparently rich people in Canada cannot get it there.  So the theory is that if not everybody can get something, then nobody should. 

     I suppose if some people are not able to afford a swimming pool, everybody should be prohibited from owning one.  If some people cannot afford to go to a private university, then all private universities should be shut down.

     I prefer to live in a country where people are free to make as much money as they are able to, and then can spend their money on the best products and services that they can afford.

     Otherwise people might have to travel to Singapore for heart surgery.  I’m sure that poor people will be able to do that!

Tattling in America

     From time to time I have expressed my concerns for the future of the United States under the current administration.  I have often exaggerated, or at least I thought that I was exaggerating.

     Now the President wants people to tattle on their fellow citizens, if they say or write something “fishy” about the Democrats’ health insurance bill.  Senator John Cornyn of Texas has asked the President to explain what is going on

     What do you think about a President’s requesting people to send him private e-mail messages and other private communications?  Is it appropriate?  Is it constitutional?

     Have any of you turned me in for my recent blog post that criticized the health insurance bill?  What will happen to those who do get reported?  I wonder if I should be watching over my shoulder.  I wonder if I will find a dead snake in my mailbox or a horse’s head in my bed.  (Yes, I am being facetious!)

The Worst of the Health Insurance Bill

     I want to start with a question. Why have advocates of the President’s health insurance bill referred to it as a “health care” bill.  Is the government going to build hospitals and hire doctors in order to provide health care for everyone?  No, the government is going to provide some kind of new health-insurance program and mandate certain policies for existing health insurance providers.  So let’s stop calling it a health care program and call it what it is–government-sponsored health insurance.  And let’s stop saying that people in America do not get health care.  With few exceptions, people have access to health care in America, although not everyone is covered by health insurance.

     Now on to my main topic–the three worst aspects of the health insurance program being proposed by the administration and Congress. 

The government will not call the fees it imposes taxes: “The tax imposed under this section shall not be treated as tax imposed by this chapter for purposes of determining the amount of any credit under this chapter or for purposes of section 55.” (page 203, lines 13-18)

What makes this provision bad is that it tricks people into believing that the government’s health insurance program will not cause taxes to be raised.  By not calling a tax, a tax, people will believe that they are getting absolutely free health care, as if doctors and nurses are suddenly working out of the goodness of their hearts and as if hospitals do not have to pay the utility bills.

The government will not let you sue over coverage limits and costs decisions: “There shall be no administrative or judicial review of a payment rate or methodology established under this section or under section 224.” (page 124, line 4–page 125, line 2)

I had brought up this subject before.  If a private insurance company fails to provide promised coverage, their customers have legal recourse.  It is not always easy, but an individual or group can sue a private insurance company for breach of contract or otherwise failing to cover people according to the law.  Can you sue the government?  Apparently not.  You and I will be at their mercy when it comes to getting the care that we need.

The government will ration your care: Establish an annual limitation on cost sharing to ensure that “the cost-sharing incurred . . . with respect to an individual (or family) for a year does not exceed the applicable level specified–$5,000 for an individual and $10,000 for a family.” (29.4-29.16)

So it’s there in black and white.  You will be covered, but only so much.  Under a private insurance plan, you decide how much coverage you get, based on what you think you need and what you are willing to pay out of your own pocket.  You can purchase extra policies, as I have, to cover catastrophic illnesses or accidents.  Under the government system, it sounds like you had better not get too sick or need too many tests or operations.

This section of the bill does not seem to mean what the folks at World Magazine thought.  It seems to refer to the part of health care expenses that individuals will pay out-of-pocket.  It does strike me though as odd.  If people will still have to pay that much out of their own pockets, how is it different from the current system in which most private insurance plans have deductibles or co-payments?

SOURCE:  World Magazine, “Washington’s Prescription

Click on the link to read more of the contents of the health insurance proposal and to find a link to the entire bill, if you are brave enough to read it.  Most of the politicians planning to impose us on it do not intend to read it all, apparently.

How to Pay for Government Health Care

     So how is it that the government will be able to provide cheaper health insurance than private companies?

     Will they hire fewer employees?  Hardly.  With no profit motive, the government health insurance company will create many new jobs, as government agencies always do.  Does anyone doubt that it won’t become another bloated bureaucracy?  If you do, what do you base your doubt on?  Not real life experience, that’s for sure.

     Let’s say that I’m wrong, and the government will run its health insurance program more efficiently than private companies.  They will hire fewer employees, pay them smaller salaires, and keep administrative costs and overhead to a minimum.  What will that mean in terms of service?  Will a sick person be able to talk to a representative right away?  Will claims be covered in a timely fashion?  Will disputes be settled quickly and fairly?  I’m not naive enough to believe that any of those things would happen.  I have dealt with government agencies.

     Of course the government could charge less if costs go down.  Will doctors suddenly cut their fees?  Will hospitals charge less?  Will drug prices go down?  I don’t think that any of those things is likely.  Unless the government puts a cap on prices and fees, they might even go up, since people will be happy to charge Uncle Sam as much as they can get away with.  In fact, it will be extemely easy for backroom deals to occur between healthcare providers and the government health agency, as they already do with existing government programs.

     One way to make insurance cheaper is to refuse particular services.  Private insurances companies already try to do that and sometimes actually get away with it.  At least people can sue their insurance company when they are trying to break the law or violate their contract.  Will we be able to sue Uncle Sam?

     Another way to make it cheaper is to charge higher premiums but pretend to charge lower premiums.  How could they do that?  They could do it in several specific ways, but it would generally amount to taking higher taxes from citizens.  It would be just like the bogus claim that ethanol costs less than petroleum, which is true only because the government is subsidizing the entire biofuels industry from the growth of the grain to the processing of the fuel to the distribution of it to fuel retailers.  Everytime you buy gasoline with ethanol, you are paying again for fuel that you paid for with taxes.  Some kind of similar subsidy will be used for a government health insurance program.  Millions of workers will look at the deductions for health insurance on their paycheck and think that they are getting a good deal, not realizing that they are paying even more for it out of their regular income tax.

A more dangerous way to make it cheaper would be to subsidize it but not confiscate more in taxes.  This would amass a huge deficit.  The solution, with Democrats in power, would probably be to just churn out more currency.  Does anyone need me to explain why that is bad?

     I’m not suggesting that our health care system is perfect.  Far from it.  It’s a big mess.  I just don’t want an even bigger mess. 

     Oh, and before you tell me that the British system is better, I want to mention that I have been learning about how great it is.  I am part of an online support group for people who suffer from migraine-associated vertigo like me.  In the United Kingdom, many of them have reported that they have to wait for several months for an appointment in a special neurology clinic.  They must be referred by general practitioners, some of whom, reportedly, are reluctant to do so.  The Americans on the board can usually get into such a clinic in the United States in two or three weeks, simply by asking their general practitioner to refer them.  While the British sufferers wait, often unable to work and in misery, their American counterparts are getting thorough tests and helpful drugs.  Oh, and some of the Brits report that they must travel long distances to get to such a clinic, whereas most Americans are within an hour’s drive to one.