Posts Tagged ‘insurance’

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10 Points Marginally Related to Universal Healthcare

2010.November.10

[Contributor Post by johncleonard]

#1) TARP isn’t going to cost the taxpayers a lot of money in the end. Almost all the money given out is getting paid back and all we’re going to end up being on the hook for as taxpayers is the administrative cost of the program. This is not the huge source of debt/spending that we’ve been led to believe.

#2) The stimulus spending isn’t a good idea. However, again, it’s not going to cost as much in the long-haul as we’ve been led to believe. Every job it saves is taxable income that the government doesn’t lose. No, it’s not going to be cost-effective in any measurable way, but a lot of the infrastructure projects that are able to go forward because of it are sorely needed. Who wants to have to wonder every time they cross a bridge whether it’s going to collapse before they can get to the other side? Things like that are savings that can’t be measured, and that’s exactly why some of these projects have never gotten off the ground — if you can’t show how it pays for itself, the people don’t want to pay for it.

#3) America can’t afford to NOT have some form of Universal Healthcare. The healthcare and insurance industries are slowly choking off the rest of the economy. Who cares if you make $200K a year if you pay $190K a year to your insurance/docs, and believe me, that’s where things are headed if these companies aren’t reigned in, and I mean tightly. Taxes are already a drop in the bucket compared to what a lot of people pay for insurance alone, let alone their out-of-pocket medical expenses. Even if we go with socialized medicine and everyone’s taxes double because of it, most of the middle-class will be far better off than they are today in their cost/benefit ratio (and the poor will be protected, as well).

#4) A lot of people like to say that healthcare reform is about the government being able to control the people. Personally, I don’t see a single industrialized country that uses it that way. I also don’t see where socialized medicine has negatively affected the economy in the U.K., France, Netherlands, any of the Scandinavian countries, or anywhere else, for that matter. Where socialism gets dangerous to the economy is when the government tries to control all means of production and to plan an economy without the flexibility to change when the times change. Even the most ambitious socialists in the U.S. don’t think we should take things in that direction — at least not if they’re smart; it’s a direction that’s been proven NOT to work.

#5) If we eliminated every bit of government spending outside of the military and defense budgets, we’d save a whopping 15% of the total expenditures of our government. Not a single one of these Tea Party or even the oldschool conservatives is going to suggest we cut defense or military spending, even if we weren’t involved in two “wars”.

#6) Eliminating the “War on Drugs” could pay for healthcare for every individual in the U.S.. The way the insurance companies drive up premiums is by using a divide and conquer strategy. Premiums are based off risk amortization on what’s called a “pool”. The smaller the pool, the fewer people there are to foot the bulk of the risk, and thus higher premiums. One option that’s far short of socialization is to force insurance companies to consider the entire population as the “risk pool” when they calculate premiums for ANYONE. Another option would be to outlaw for-profit healthcare providers (the logic for this is simple: people’s health is too valuable a resource for this country to trust it to people who aren’t concerned with care before profits).

#7) There is a whole lot of “fuck you, I’ve got mine” going around in the U.S. right now. People forget that there were people there when they were struggling to lend a helping hand, or that they received benefits or, with even more irony, forget that their Social Security and Medicare benefits come from the government already. People are not just uninformed, they are being willfully misinformed. It’s my opinion that someone (Rupert Murdoch for starters, and we can go on and on from there) should be held responsible for that. Journalism is an art where objectivity is sacrosanct, and the companies that try and turn a profit on “news” are all guilty of letting their “sales” get in the way of their integrity. MSNBC, FOX News, CNN, all of them. There are still good journalists out there, and when you find one, they’re usually hanging onto their jobs by the skin of their teeth. It’s very difficult in the current market for people with the sort of integrity that the title of “journalist” implies to keep both their integrity and their jobs. This is why we have things like the “March to Restore Sanity/Fear” — it was as much about drawing attention to the media twisting things, slanting things, and dividing the people so it’s easier for the corporations to remain in power (make no mistake, the corporations “own” the majority of senators and representatives on both sides of the aisle) as it was about any sort of partisan statement.

#8) Debt. Debt. Debt. Borrow your way to prosperity has been the American anthem for a long time now. It’s finally starting to bite us in the ass, and it’s going to be painful to work our way out of it. Does that mean we should sacrifice the future and security of the republic to do so? I think that would be a terrible mistake.

#9) The Free Market tautology. I hear a lot of people talking out there who think that the Market is some god-like force that can fix anything. God, however, is also a tautology. You’re free to believe in either, of course, but expecting the Market to solve something that it has already failed miserably to solve is (in my opinion) one of the truest marks of idiocy. In the U.S., the government has a track-record of stepping in and providing essential services that the market fails to provide — this is true of roads, police, fire, water, sewer, flood planning, food for the hungry, retirement, medical care for the elderly, medical care for small children, and many other areas as well. In the modern world, the health of the populace is as much a matter of infrastructure as roads, bridges, the power grid, fire and police protection, water, sewers, and so on and so forth. Like I’ve said elsewhere, Universal Healthcare should be looked at in the same way a sanitation law would be viewed. Sure, we wouldn’t need such things if everyone was honest, considerate, and rational, but that’s not the world we live in. Those aren’t the people that share it with us. We share this world with a lot of fuckwads that care a lot more about when they’re going to buy their next new Bugatti than whether or not they’re not trampling on someone else’s rights to do it.

#10) I want to see the U.S. spend as much on education as it does the military. Education is where all these problems started, and where they could all end if we as a people are committed to providing each other with an actual education, instead of providing a glorified babysitter that’s primarily designed to churn out complacent workers. We’ve seen where that leads, and now it’s time that we realize that our collective complacency is what’s put us in this position. It’s also what makes it difficult to face the actual work that would have to happen in order to accomplish this. But if we don’t, this country is going the way of the Romans, and we will have failed every Patriot that has ever given their life, their liberty, or their sanity for this nation.

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My Third-World Mouth

2010.August.31

By the time I had dental insurance, a little money saved for non-emergency medical care, and a stain on my teeth that upset me enough to do something about it, I was 23 and living in Washington, D.C. I found a dentist just up the street from my K Street nonprofit, booked an appointment and acted like it was any other medical check-up when I went. When I sat in the big chair for the hygienist, she asked me how long it had been since I’d been to a dentist. “Never,” I said, “this is my first time.”

She cocked back and opened her eyes wide. “Were you raised in a third world country?” she flapped. If I hadn’t been at a low point in my Texan pride, if I hadn’t gone to D.C. in part to escape the increasingly regressive politics here, if I hadn’t been so focused on how I wasn’t measuring up to the D.C. lifestyle and my entire life up to that point was the problem, I might have been offended on behalf of my home state. Of course, there was an even deeper pride that managed to mutter an appropriate response…

“Couldn’t afford it.” And with that, I allowed it to be implied that the American working class, or at least my portion of it, constituted a third-world country.

Prove me wrong?

I mean, I can do the research as well as anybody, but there’s also something to be said of experience; there were a lot more perfect teeth in at college and where I was working in D.C. than there had been on the eastside of Fort Worth. My mom didn’t get dental coverage until I was well into my teens, and by then we just weren’t into the habit. In fact, even today, I’m pretty sure my mom’s still using a bridge that is older than I am.

After the hygienist finished insulting me, she was surprised to find that my teeth were in remarkable shape. They were crooked, they needed a good cleaning, and I definitely shouldn’t have been flossing more, but after 23 years, I had nary a cavity. Not even one. (Guess all that dental instruction in elementary school did help.) Since I’d fallen so far behind and did have something to learn (oh, so the brush is supposed to get at the gums, not avoid them…), I got the regular check-ups for the remainder of my D.C. career.

I never feared dentists, like you hear so much about. I don’t particularly enjoy getting drilled or scraped or any of that nonsense, but the expense and the bother were the only things worth justifying.
Six months after a rather rough cleaning, I came up with my first and second cavities. I had made it 23 years, but 18 months and some aggressive cleanings later, there they were. Maybe it was just my working class suspicion of anything that seems remotely luxurious (by which I mean “optional”, something with which I’m sure most middle- and upper-class Americans would still take issue), but I had no restraint in flippantly declaring that dentists cause cavities from that point on. I still don’t fear them, but it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say I have trouble trusting them.

But who wants crooked teeth? They had kept me from modeling in college, you know (that and bad posture — chiropractors constitute a luxury, too, you know; you should see my brother’s spine after the number of car accidents he’s been in…). I only allowed the dentist to refer me to an orthodontist after he scared me with enough stories about cross-bite and how bad crooked teeth could be for long-term dental care. I couldn’t care less about having prettier teeth (as long as I was brushing regularly, they looked fine to me), but healthier… well, it would save me more trips to the dentist down the road. So I did two and a half years on Invisalign, and most of my teeth are pretty now. I no longer have the cross-bite, but neither can I close my jaw all the way.

Orthodontic coverage in most dental plans stops at 18, so the fact that I had no children meant that I had ortho coverage in name only. I had to lean on family to pay for the rest, because while I had outstanding benefits, I was still just starting out salary-wise.

My wisdom teeth were late bloomers, arriving mostly around the same time as my braces. We worked around them with the Invisalign, but the orthodontist told me again and again I should have them out. They’re superfluous; they’ll get in the way; they might not grow in correctly. The pain was a little uncomfortable, but they grew in on their own (in their own sweet time). They were a little hard to reach with the brush, but I thought I did alright.

When I moved back to Texas, my income became much lower and more sporadic, and benefits non-existent. Since my teeth were doing much better, I skimped on adding dental to my expensive individual health plan. I finally got around to adding it again about four years later, and it’s still taken me months to make the time to go in.

Ugh, I don’t ever want to see those pictures of my wisdom teeth again. Turns out my brush really couldn’t reach them, and five years really was too long to go without a cleaning…

So this afternoon, they’re coming out, all four of them (although only two are problematic at the moment). The office manager convinced me this was the best way to go because I could save money on the anesthesia.

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