Tag Archives: healthcare

How I learned to stop worrying and love the bomb …in Obamacare

From the Forbes’s article which attempts to persuade us that Obamacare really is chock full of puppy dogs and sunshine just as Obama promised:

Failure on the part of insurers to meet this requirement will result in the insurers having to send their customers a rebate check representing the amount in which they underspend on actual medical care.

That sounds all well and good until you stop and think about it. Who decides what constitutes “underspending”? Ultimately, under Obamacare, prices will be driven up through inflation as outrageous hospital bills are presented as evidence along with insurance companies’s counter-proposals that they are “underspending”.

A concrete example of this would be my recent experience my fourth child’s birth.

By the fourth child you pretty much know what’s going on and, barring any complications, things generally tend to go like clockwork. Well thankfully that’s pretty much what happened in our case. Biologically the birth was seamless, labor for about 2 hours, 3 pushes, and we welcome our son into the world.

So what could I possibly say about an uninteresting birth to show how Obamacare is such a terrible idea?

Enter the nurses.

When we arrived at the hospital we were taken to the prep room where my wife was to change into a hospital gown, get checked, and wait for the room to be prepared for us. It took my wife about 5 minutes to get prepared and it was apparently somewhat of a slow day so rooms were available and already prepped. But it still took us about 30 minutes to get into one. Why? Apparently there are new regulations which call for the nurses to play 20 questions with the mother-to-be before she can be admitted into a room. This process took so long that the mid-wife, who is not considered a medical professional by the way, decided to cut in and actually check how far along my wife was. I’m glad she did, too, because my wife was basically ready to deliver right then.

We were quickly whisked into a delivery room where the nurse playing 20 questions was joined by a team of nurses whose primary focus was to give my wife an IV because she had tested positive for strep and according to their regulations the mother needed to have at least two doses of an antibiotic before giving birth, a process which they expected to take about 20 minutes. Keep in mind at this point my wife was completely ready, biologically, to give birth.

This IV was so important to the hospital staff that they called in at least 4 different nurses to try and find a vein. After the fourth my wife finally told them she couldn’t hold back anymore and would push whether they liked it or not. I passed the last nurse who had tried to give my wife the IV in the hall later and overheard her complaining to the head nurse about how she didn’t want to get written up because procedures hadn’t been followed to the letter. So all the nurses run out into the hall way to discuss the situation and how to reconcile what is happening in the delivery room to their procedures, leaving us alone with only the midwife in the room.

And that’s how we welcomed my 3rd son into the world. With the medical professionals debating their procedures in the hallway while the non-medical professionals, unencumbered by a sense of obligation to follow procedure or the threat of the loss of our jobs if we failed to follow that procedure, got the job done.

The following morning my wife was cleared to leave by her doctor about 12 hours after giving birth but the nurses wouldn’t let her go until she had been there a minimum of 24 hours because, once again, procedure had to be followed.

Two weeks later we received the bills from the hospital. All told the hospital is charging about $14,000 for about 12 hours worth of work and since its itemized we get to see that my wife was given an $11 aspirin (single pill) and my son was given a $6 passifier (we bought a two-pack of the same passifier from a store for less than $4). Thankfully we won’t have to pay the full $14,000+ bill. My employer has graciously provided me with an insurance plan I had no say in and that plan is supposed to help deflate the bill somewhat. By how much we don’t know yet, hopefully it won’t be more than what we budgeted.

And that brings be back to why the bomb the Forbes article tries to tell us is actually a good thing is not, in fact, a good thing.

You see, the insurance company is rightly going to counter the hospital’s outrageous bill with a statement of how much they think it should be and they will base their percentage of coverage on that. Under Obamacare it seems the insurance company will simply be forced to pay whatever magic numbers the bean counters at the hospital dream up. In other words, we will be moving from a badly damaged pseudo-market system to a completely centrally controlled one where the prices charged have absolutely no relation to the real world at all. The hospital can charge thousands of dollars for an aspirin and under Obamacare insurance companies will be forced to pay every cent either then or later after the customer has been stuck with the bill. Either way the result is the same, the cost of medical care will skyrocket because of their government-granted monopoly.

Of course that’s not the only change that will take place. The other part of Obamacare is, as the Forbes article rightly notes, the destruction of any “for-profit” insurance company. Meaning the only insurers who will be able to survive such lunacy are insurance companies that don’t have to operate according to the virtuous system of profit and loss. It is, as was noted before Obamacare passed, the perfect scenario for sneaking in through the backdoor a universal healthcare system.

Now you might be thinking at this point that free healthcare for everyone sounds like a great idea. But there are two catches to that notion.

One is the simple fact that nothing is free. Defenders of other socialized healthcare systems like to point to how their cost of medical care is cheaper than ours. But if the cost of medical care is fixed by the state then such a claim makes no sense since it cannot be objectively compared to anything else. Remember that $11 aspirin? We only know that such a price is outrageous because we have a much more free market outside the hospital which currently charges as little as .0001 cents per pill.1 If the prices were fixed, as they were during World War II for many goods, we simply have no way to know whether we are being over or under charged.2

The other is that the further you remove the good or service provider from the person paying for the good or service, the less of an incentive the provider has for making sure what they are providing is worthwhile to the consumer. The insistence of the nurses to follow procedure rather than attend to the actual medical need highlights this point.

As I said in a discussion on this topic on Facebook:

It would help to drive costs down if I were the one paying for my care, even if I leveraged an insurance company who is my client and not my employers’, and if I were the one who got to determine my care, instead of merely accepting whatever the doctors and nurses dictated to me.

The answer to our healthcare problem is not more intervention. Its freedom.

  1. A quick search yielded a deal on Amazon of .01 for 100-pills. []
  2. Consequently, this is also why its invalid for economists to claim that World War 2 brought us out of our recession []
Share/Bookmark

Rights and healthcare, revisited

From an answer on the Quora question “Why do many Americans think that healthcare is not a right?”:

First and foremost we need to eliminate God from the discussion of rights. God is an issue of faith and to assert that rights are a product of God infers that those who are not faithful do not have rights and/or societies cannot assign rights. Indigenous societies in America very successfully managed tribal rights for 20,000 years without the need for the Christian definition of God.

Why should we seek to eliminate God from this discussion? It seems to me that if we are talking about trancendent human rights which apply to all persons in all circumstances at all times then, like morality, there is no better canidate for grounding such rights than the Creator referenced in America’s deceleration of independence from Brittan.

Whats more, it seems that such a notion of rights as being derived from a divine source has served both theist and non-thiest alike.

Further, capitalism, like secularism, is insufficient for providing us the “ought to” that constitutes rights. In lieu of a rights giver all we are left with is a description of statistical preference displayed in legal authority. Without a Creator we can only derive our rights from the crowd or the king and I believe Samuel Rutherford made an excellent case against both in his work Lex Rex.

In the end, if we do not define what is and is not a right properly we will try to create a utopia here on earth and history has shown us time and again that the pursuit of utopia is worse than acknowledgement of reality.

On the right of healthcare

Healthcare is not a right.

Since that sentiment has been shared quite a bit by itself, allow me to elaborate.

To say something is a right is is to obligate others to perform services and provide goods in accord with that right, otherwise the right is stripped of its meaning.

Traditionally rights have been seen as derived by God. So with healthcare we should ask why God is not providing that right for us in the world he has made.

This traditional view of rights is why we historically have worded rights as the right to pursue, not have, something. For example, I have the right to life, liberty, and happiness in our country. That doesn’t mean anyone is obligated to provide those for me, but rather that I should have a reasonable chance in attaining them.

Some might object that:

According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the United Nations in 1948, proclaimed that “everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of oneself and one’s family, including food, clothing, housing, and medical care.”

PS – ratified with the United States vote!

The UN fails to ground human rights in anything other than an agreed-upon consensus of nations. That means that their notion of rights is highly subjective and not a little whimsical at the outset.

But if we want to base our notion of rights on what the UN decides, why don’t we take a look at their record.

Oh, and the UN also considers the circumcision of children to be a violation of human rights.

And they consider the application of the death penalty to “children” (broadly defined) to be a violation of human rights.

In short, I do not see a reason to consider the UN to be an authority about what rights humans do and do not posses. Neither the US nor the UN are our creator and as such neither are able to confer rights.

Remember the deceleration of independence. The rights we recognize (or used to anyway) are the rights conferred to us by our common creator. Not by politicians, not by collective vote, not by international decree.

Another way to put it is this: Rights are not declared, they are derived.

In order to invoke a sense of moral obligation with regard to human rights you must first establish from whence these rights come. If you want to say that rights come from the government then I would agree with your assertion that healthcare is now considered a human right by virtue of the law. However that does nothing to address the question of whether healthcare ought to be a right or whether the law can be amended to remove that right or not.

If, however, we want to base our definition of a right on something more objective we need to look beyond what the law says and look, instead, to what God says.

The reason I brought up the constitution is to show how rights were thought of at our country’s inception. That is they are inalienable by virtue of being derived from God and not conferred to us by other men (like a king or parliament).

We used to operate based on an understanding of natural law. That is, our laws were created and enacted based on universals, generally rooted in a Judaeo-Christian framework. Now, however, laws are created and enacted based on the whims of those in power.

  1. ‎The US is a sovereign nation and not subject to the UN. I know we operate in a grey area at the moment on this but I am glad that my decision to have my sons circumcised does not mean I’m likely to face a UN panel on human rights violations any time soon.
  2. I’m not sure how you are extrapolating your scenario on abortion from my position. We are given the right to the pursuit of life, liberty, and justice by our creator. This doesn’t mean those things will be given to us automatically, we have to undergo the task of pursuing them. What it does mean is that preventing someone else from that pursuit is a violation of the rights we derive from our creator.

That doesn’t mean we can’t be aided in our pursuit, but it does mean that such aid is not automatic, expected, or to be demanded. In other words, if I aid someone on their pursuit of life, liberty, or justice I am doing them a favor. I am not obligated to do that for them. Likewise with God. He is not obligated to aid us, but he does as a free gift of undeserved grace.

When we misunderstand the relationship of rights and responsibilities we end up cheapening grace and charity by thinking they are obligations that can be demanded of others instead of gifts we should be thankful to receive.

Was there really a healthcare mandate over 200 years ago?

A liberal friend of mine sent me this article from Forbes which attempts to argue that “Congress Passes Socialized Medicine and Mandates Health Insurance -In 1798”

From the article:

In July of 1798, Congress passed – and President John Adams signed –“An Act for the Relief of Sick and Disabled Seamen.” The law authorized the creation of a government operated marine hospital service and mandated that privately employed sailors be required to purchase health care insurance.

There’s a few problems with comparing this 2 page law with the 2,000 monstrosity that is Obamacare. Here’s a short list:

  • Not everyone was employed AS a seamen, so off the bat this bill was worlds away from the mandate levied by Obamacare on every US citizen just for breathing.
  • The mandate was applied per ship, not per sailor. The only things recorded were the counts of seamen aboard. The fine of $100 was to be levied against the ship, not the individual crew members. This was really more of a payroll tax than anything else.
  • The seamen had the free choice of which port to go to, meaning there was interstate competition among ports with regard to this service.
  • The care was not open-ended and not lifetime. When your money ran out, you were kicked out. Oh, and pre-existing condition were not treated. This bill was specifically designed to alleviate the arduous effects of long-term sea voyage for the purpose of international trade. It was effectively an insurance plan for sailors, not much different than seafaring insurance plans that were already in place at the time to make intercontinental commerce less of a financially risky endeavor.
  • Doctors were not mandated to work at ports. In fact, this plan says nothing about the coverage provided. Its amazing to think that anyone would compare this with Obamacare when the medical care provided is not listed. The only thing the bill does stipulate with regard to the service is how the overseers of the port hospitals will be appointed by the president.
  • The money collected never left the port it was collected in. That’s what they used to call “states’ rights”.
  • The wording of the bill focuses on accounting. It actually expects there to be a surplus left over!

This bill was also far from uncontested as many posts that want to use this as ammunition to support Obamacare seem to imply.

For an extended review of this topic, I highly recommend this blog post at Wandering Reveleries.

Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide. –John Adams

Is the government takeover of healthcare a lie?

Contra to Politifact, the government takeover of healthcare, characterized by the existence of strict government oversight as to who gets what treatment when and where (aka, “death panels”), or none at all, is very real.

Its also increasingly hard to sustain the notion that the government takeover of healthcare is not an established fact when it has already lead to an increase in premiums, a loss in care (so much for the whole “if you like your existing plan, keep it”, we’ve experienced this one as well), and reduced coverage of the very people it was supposed to help (children and the poor).

In fact, hundreds of businesses and unions have already files to be exempted from Obamacare (or else they would have to drop coverage altogether, thanks to the crushing price-tag of this “non-takeover”).

If you are providing health insurance only with the permission of the federal government, government has taken over your health insurance.

Actually, if its such a lie that Obamacare is not a takeover of the healthcare industry, why has it already been ruled unconstitutional, specifically for its provision regulating economic inactivity? Not buying healthcare now carries with it the possible penalty of jail time.

On top of all of this is the great big whopper that Obamacare won’t fund abortions.

What is truly amazing is that in spite of all of these facts, liberal organizations like Polifact feel no shame in attempting to sweep it all under the rug by calling it a great big lie. As if we had made all of the preceding facts up and were merely out “to scare people”.

Hope and change is only worthwhile if whats hoped for is clearly defined and real and what is changed is well-vetted (remember that whole 5-day public disclosure, “we’ll televise the ‘debate’ on C-SPAN” mess?) and avoids as best as possible unintended consequences like those mentioned above.

Why should Christians in particular care about all of this? Because Obamacare funds lifestyles and choices (thereby encouraging them) that are in direct opposition to our faith. Sure, free market capitalism makes such things possible, but it does not force others to fund something they fundamentally disagree with. Also, Obamacare costs money, a lot of it. More money in the government’s pockets means less money in our pockets (because the government cannot create, only take, wealth). So even the weakest churches should be up in arms about Obamacare because more money going to the government means less money in the offering plate.

Obamacare costs lives

The self-styled Southern Baptist watchdog site BaptistPlanet posted recently about the impact of repealing healthcare. Specifically, the site author attempts to paint Richard Land, the SBC’s chief lobbyist, as evil for putting policies and partisan politics above human life.

Even the title of the post, “The cost in lives of Richard Land’s health reform repeal”, is meant to imply that the healthcare reform pill recently shoved down Americans’ throats designed to treat America’s healthcare woes has no negative side effects.

Since many people share the same delusion that BaptistPlanet apparently does, I’d like to provide “the other side of the story”. Yes,

It is a fact that Obamacare has caused huge hikes in premiums. We are well aware now that Obama was lying to everyone when he said that if we liked our current healthcare plans we could keep them.

In fact, the children Obamacare was supposed to cover were left high.

Now about the myth that “lack of health insurance kills”.

The truth is that health insurance was given to us as a result of free market forces as recently as the 1940s. So it is funny that socialists like Obama and apparently BaptistPlanet seem to think that that health insurance has magically become a right in the span of only 60 years.

And as for the 45,000 people said to have died because they lacked insurance.

First we need to be honest and say that many of the uninsured in America are so by choice. Like I and my family were for years. When we wanted medical care, I got it.

Secondly, Obamacare is modeled after socialist plans like the British National Health Services. And if socialized medicine is as awesome as BaptistPlanet seems to think it is, we would expect to hear nothing but rave reviews from the British people. Right?

The truth is that socialized medicine has been shown to degrade medical care across the board because instead of the free market (or limited as our case is thanks to lawmakers) deciding your healthcare options, a centralized planning commission

The problem of scarcity plagues all systems, including government run ones. So the argument that a “lack” of a something kills someone is really just an admission that the one posing the argument understands next to nothing about economics.

According to Obama, if you are too old to make the death panels, I mean healthcare commissioners care about saving your life, you can just take a pill.

Compassion. Yeah, that’s what socialized medicine is all about.

In fact, socialized medicine is so awesome that Canadian citizens and officials regularly take medical vacations to the US to partake of our broken system.

I suppose they are just reminding themselves how great they have it back home where it is easier to get a sex change operation than life-saving bladder surgery.

Actually, the truth is that many Canadians have decided that socialized medicine isn’t the holy grail it was supposed to be. Sadly, however, it is well evidenced that once social programs, especially ones as large as socialized medical care, are implemented, repealing them is next to impossible.1

So the next time you encounter someone like BaptistPlanet who is apparently suffering from the delusion that socialized medical care is only good and contains no negative side effects, be sure to offer them the red pill of reality. Even if they refuse to take it (hey, its a free world, right?) at least they will know that not everyone shares their insanity.

  1. That’s an all-around big government problem. You rarely see citizens rioting because they didn’t work hard and therefore have less, what you find are people rioting because they are lazy and want the state to provide for them. []

Why Google’s plan to provide healthcare coverage for partners of homosexual employees is a bad idea

Google recently decided to increase the pay of their homosexual employees to cover a tax on health benefits given to domestic partners. What is this tax? According to the NY Times:

Under federal law, employer-provided health benefits for domestic partners are counted as taxable income, if the partner is not considered a dependent. The tax owed is based on the value of the partner’s coverage paid by the employer.

In other words, paying for a domestic partner’s healthcare is not treated the same as paying for your own healthcare. It is the same as paying for a random stranger’s healthcare. In other words this is not a tax.

But Google thinks it is. Why? Because it’s vogue to frame gay rights issues in terms of infractions of civil rights.

So what are the problems with this?

The following is an exscript of a conversation I had on Facebook regarding this issue. One caveat I need to point out is that when I wrote the following I was under the impression that Google’s new policy was to purchase the healthcare coverage for their homosexual employees’ partners as opposed to simply providing extra pay. Even so, the discrepancy in pay still makes valid much of what I argue below.

A friend starts off:

very progressive, I’d support it if I were in their company

Me:

Even if that means you make less just because you are married (for real, not a pretend same-sex civil contract)?

Even if I weren’t opposed to this for ideological reasons, I would still be opposed to it for financial reasons.

Friend #1:

We all make less to pay for the subsidized health of all employees, and I don;t see their union as any less valid than my own.

Me:

No, this is above and beyond what the insurance company’s costs. This is Google 1.) deciding public policy and 2.) imposing that public policy on it’s own workers

I hope someone actually sues them over this because I can’t see how this wouldn’t be an unfair practice.

And its not a question of which union is “more valid”. It is a question of whether a homosexual union can ever constitute a valid marriage in the first place.

Friend #2 joins in:

You don’t actually make less for being married. You make less for being in a domestic partnership because of increased healthcare costs, and this removes that inequality.

Me:

Yes, there is certainly a marriage penalty, and things like this don’t help that societally destructive imbalance any.

Friend #2:

Marriage penalty? Actually, people who are married pay LESS for healthcare, not more. I’m not sure how that counts as a penalty. And I still don’t understand why removing that inequality (and not by reducing pay or otherwise harming the married people in question, by the way) is in any way unfair. It seems like a case of marriage going from separate and special rights to equal rights, and that seems right to me.

Me:

I don’t think you understand. There IS no “healthcare inequality” here. Well, not until Google instituted their company policy that is.

Let me put it this way. Say I start at Google making $50,000/y as a married man. For whatever reason I decide to divorce my wife and find a gay lover and call it “marriage”. Now I am entitled to make $50,000 + whatever is needed to cover someone who is not my spouse and has no legal obligation or attachment to me.

This actually incurs more than just the medical cost of the “spouse”. Additional costs are incurred for any “children”. And insurance premiums skyrocket accordingly (because such coverage of non legally bound individuals carries with it a certain amount of legal liability in itself) which has a negative effect across the board for everyone.

So actually the married man at Google is not only getting stiffed the additional matching contribution (which, believe it or not, is real money as it counts towards your gross income) and being asked to tacitly endorse am immoral (yes, I realize that is debatable among some) risky lifestyle (which is a determination made by both the CDC and healthcare companies themselves) but is also being required to help foot the bill for the added risk and legal fees.

So from my simplistic scenario above I have a few more questions that should help obviate the very real discrimination going on here:
1. Why is it only homosexual partners that get to enjoy this benefit? What about non-married boyfriend/girlfriends?
2. Why could I not divorce my wife and enjoy the benefits afforded to non-married “partners”?
3. If no legally binding relationship is required; Are any and all non-married persons now eligible for coverage under this plan?

This may be a trend, but it is a very bad trend both economically and socially. Hopefully we as a society will wake up from our foray into moral relativism before it is too late.