March 11th, 2013
On Tuesday the NYC sugary drink ban goes into effect! Who can predict whether the people will eventual like the regulation that tries to promote a more fit US population, or whether the people will dislike the perceived attack on personal freedom? But the following quote by Robert Lustig that I recently read seems to be on point:
So the real question here is who do you want in your kitchen? The government, who will take your wallet and freedom? Or the food industry who’ve already taken your wallet, your freedom and your health?
November 17th, 2009
As I was talking to my good friend Tim today, he brought up a point which reminded me that I had written this blog post but never published it, so I finally got around to cleaning it up a bit. The main thing that Tim mentioned was about climate change and how that is currently playing second fiddle to more central issues such as healthcare and the wars. While that really might be the case (Tim is rarely wrong), there is still a commonality for us to uncover. The climate change is a socialism issue at heart, just like healthcare. Both issues say that we must make a commitment (and that may have economic and non-economic aspects) to make things better for everyone. In one case (health care), the proponents say that the government should support a health plan that covers people who are not covered by other private plans, even if that incurs some cost. In the case of climate change, the proponents say that we (all nations, all peoples) should try to stop the climate change, even if that incurs some cost (like making free plastic bags illegal). This underlying common thread may just be one reason that there is political alignment between climate change control proponents and government sponsored health plan proponents.
Now of course, no one in America, not even a democrat, wants to be called a socialist. This is just a taboo word, kinda the euphemism for a commie. And even with McCarthy gone from the political landscape, it is a disaster for an American politician to admit anything contrary to US being 100% extra virgin pure capitalist. This debate of course is not a real economic debate, in terms of GDP, capitalism index or other economic concepts, rather it is just labeling game. Go beyond the labels, and no one can argue that the spirit of helping out other people and the belief that everyone (even the weak, the disabled, the differently abled) has certain rights that cannot be taken away. In fact, US is the most disabled friendly country in the world, what with all restaurants and establishments of any non-trivial size subject to the most stringent anti-disability discrimination laws (and that all is a good thing!) And I wasn’t even going to mention the countless soup kitchens and the free flowing cash to the charities.
So, if we go beyond the labels, the question isn’t really whether we are capitalist or whether we are socialist. The question really becomes – how socialist (or how capitalist) are we? Why is it OK for the government to enforce anti disability law, but not to offer a health plan to people (who may be disabled in a slightly different way) who won’t be covered by private health care companies? Who chose to draw that line, and where?
October 25th, 2008
What is wrong with health care in America, you ask.
Well let me tell you what is wrong. A family member of mine who has Carefirst Blue Cross Blue Shield got some lab work done. This is what the explanation of benefits looks like:
Total charges: $934.00
Less non allowed amount: $803.27
Total paid: $130.73
Further it says in “Remark R033″, “Preferred providers agree to accept our allowance as payment in full. Therefore, the member is not responsible for this portion of the charge.”
Let me help you understand. Someone who has insurance, pays nothing, and the insurance pays $130.73 to the laboratory. But, if you did not have insurance, you would have to pay $934.00 – MORE THAN 7 TIMES! Add to this that $934 would be paid in cash, on the spot, while $130.73 would come 4 months later after much paperwork (so much in fact, that laboratories need to hire full time billing specialists). In case you think this is volume discount, consider that this amounts to an 86% discount!
In plainspeak, this is simply exploitation of the weak – laboratories charge more to who they can, those who have no leverage on them. The strong are those who have insurance. In this respect, the weakness (or the strength) is not provided by the law of the land (the rights), but by the insurance company. If your insurance company is strong, then it will pay $130.73. If it is second grade, perhaps it will pay $200. If it is a third grade insurance company, perhaps it will pay $300. But, on your own, you are the lowest of low, and will pay $934.