< Samuel Sings
School Holidays >

[Comments] (13) Health Care Woes:

Dear Mr. President:

I just spent over ten percent of our annual gross income for medical insurance covering myself and my spouse for only six months. Thanks for the small relief of Medicaid for my two boys. I hope we can afford to insure ourselves the last six months of the year.

Thinking of moving to Canada,

Alyson Matkin


Posted by Kristen at Sat Feb 04 2006 14:20

Don't get healthcare. You qualify for Medicaid if and when anything happens to you anyway. Plus if you are on Megalife, you are being ripped off royally.

Posted by Renee G. at Sat Feb 04 2006 17:33


I listened to the first half of the state of the union address and then had to take a hot bath to get away from it all. I too am dreaming of Canada.

Posted by Joe Walch at Sun Feb 05 2006 12:51

I will simply get into trouble if I say anything. Louise quoting a favorite movie: "they ought to put your mouth in a circus."

Posted by Joe Walch at Sun Feb 05 2006 13:10

All I will say is this; it all boils down to people who don't have pure hearts and who deny the gifts of God (to quote Moroni).

Louise and I read the S. of the U. speech together. Louise said: "I kinda liked it," and I also really enjoyed it. Louise liked the guest worker program, and I thought the program was a nicely worked politically positive maneuver in which outsourcing was replaced by insourcing of American Jobs inside America to Immigrants so that business can reap the benefits of lower wages as well as more administrative jobs, and Immigrants have a greater opportunity to work and earn more here than they would in, say, Mexico. That’s a win-win potentially. I don’t know if it will work or be beneficial, but it was an interesting policy maneuver.

I was most satisfied with the moral clarity used in outlining the nation-building policies of the administration. I am reminded of C.S.Lewis: “A good man knows right from wrong; but the more evil a bad man becomes, the more he thinks he is just fine.”

I like nation-building, and I like the voice that the administration has found in declaring the fundamental rights of humanity that are found in the Declaration of Independence. People are probably right that there is too much self-interest in the administration, however.

Posted by Sabine at Sun Feb 05 2006 17:49


I am with you on this one, we have health care, but bankruptcy was our only answer after all the hospitalizations, medications, etc. There is soemthing wrong when medical bills send you into a tail spin and bleed you dry. One CANNOT afford to be ill, with our without health insurance, unless you are wealthy.


Posted by Alyson at Mon Feb 06 2006 10:53


Joe: I do find it fascinating that you would use this C.S. Lewis quote: “A good man knows right from wrong; but the more evil a bad man becomes, the more he thinks he is just fine.” I couldn't have penned a more accurate line describing what I think of George W. Bush. His heavy use of Christian rhetoric is noxious to me, and where this earns his authority in the hearts of many Americans, I am a huge skeptic.

Renee: I am totally with you. I listened to the first half of the State of the Union Address, and could take no more, so I went to bed. I like the Canadian endeavor to provide good health care for all Canadian citizens with the earnestness that many Americans reserve for defending their "right to bear arms." There's a contrast for you. Every system has its issues, but I think I'd rather not worry so much about health insurance.

Posted by Joe Walch at Mon Feb 06 2006 19:23

You may well be right about Bush.

Health Care: On the bright side, at least we are getting better care than most of the Presidents of the U.S. (Washington was bled to death by a doctor for goodness sakes), and all of the so called robber barrons, and everybody born before 1950, anywhere, ever. I think that is quite a good accomplishment. Pretty soon the measure of poverty will be somebody who can only afford one laptop and who lives to be 80 years old, instead of 120. It is all quite relative.

I wish I knew the best way to go. I confess, I don't know the answer to have equity in health care, education, law, the labor and capital markets. One thing that I do know, however, innovation will help flatten the world. It is already better than the days when our parents never went to the doctor and just toughed it out.

Posted by Liz at Thu Feb 09 2006 08:34

Sure, back then healthcare was horrible - but it was horrible for EVERYONE. Nowadays, there are people within the same communities who get the best medicine has to offer while their neighbors on the other side of the tracks have a hard time seeing a dentist regularly becuase their insurance doesn't cover it. Sure, poverty is relative, but wouldn't it be great to live in a community where we could say there were no poor among us?

I think innovation is the key - creative minds, innovative people working together to develop policies and programs that help to redistribute income and generate sustainable ways of living. When we put time, energy and resources into making sure that everyone has access to healthcare, education, and safe homes, it benefits us all - even those who have a lot.

If we are talking about capitalist market innovation - it certianly helps those at the top, but it also creates a greater gap between the wealthy and the poorest of the poor. I'd put my faith in the innovation of people on the ground working hard to make a positive difference as opposed to putting my faith in the elite capitalists at the top, working hard to make an extra buck.

Posted by Frances at Thu Feb 09 2006 17:13

I think nation building should be done by the people who live in the nation, not by the United States.

Posted by Joe Walch at Thu Feb 09 2006 17:28

I don't mean to argue. I want universal health care, and education. Don't get me wrong.
As far as innovation in programs and policies goes, it just won't happen without true, eternal principles. All you are doing is putting a facade on a decrepit building, or gilding a rotten apple. No matter how white the sepulcher is painted, the inside will always be filled with the dead ash-heaps of history.

For example, communism failed, but the Israeli kibbutz system was a success. The only criticism was that the kibbutz was not “sustainable” (fancy word that means the use of force to maintain a status quo ideology—a favorite of junk science) because the children would not carry the tradition and thus the kibbutz would cycle through decline from inside and re-growth from outside. That aside, the difference was communism had no heart (or will, or voice, etc), and the kibbutz had the heart (or will, or voice) of the people.

As long as people refuse to take personal responsibility for their own actions, refuse to discipline themselves, and refuse to acknowledge the needs of others, then carefully crafted programs and policies will never work. The best the government can do is restrain self-interest from harming people. Sorry if I sound pessimistic, I really am not; I just know that there is no shortcut to the harvest. If you don’t plant the seed, the crop won’t grow.

In that type of system, we can only try to maximize the good that comes from capitalism (technological innovation, creation of wealth [rather than the distribution], etc) and limit the temptation to make capital out of other people (by selling defective products, artificially controlling prices or labor markets for personal profit, etc).

The mentality of the redistribution-of-wealth camp is one of scarcity. The capitalist camp is an abundance mentality. Thus you see arguments like the one posted previously: it is preferable that everybody have horrible healthcare than that we have unequal healthcare. Universal poverty is preferable to unequal wealth (Even the poorest of the poor in America is royalty compared to the middle-class of Haiti, Chechnya, Kenya, Sudan—notwithstanding Hurricane Katrina).

If you eliminate the rich then, sure—there will not be any poor among us. The creation of wealth may indeed widen the divide, but as the saying goes: “A rising tide raises all boats.” Why did America defeat fascism in the 40’s, and communism in the 80’s? It was the great engine of American productivity. We didn’t out fight them, we out built them, and the same will defeat radical Islam. When was the last time we had a famine in the land? The railroad, steam engine, polio vaccine, automobile engine, jet engine, computer, and internet are all enhancing the lives of the poorest of the poor. Furthermore, the rivers are running cleaner, and the air is more pure (if you disagree, open a history book back to industrial age Manchester, London, New York, Chicago, or take a look at present day Bejing).

It all boils down to having a pure heart, or will, or voice, and until the voice of the people choose voluntarily to eliminate poverty; the poor will ever be with us. Trying to change that will only bring a reign of terror, blood and horror—as seen in the French Revolution (contrasted with the mostly pure voice of the people in the American Revolution).

Posted by David at Thu Feb 23 2006 08:37

Alright. Looks like the medical community may solve our problem after all--I'm tongue in cheek here. Look for pay-for-performance medicine coming to a hospital near you. With pay-for-performance medicine (see 2/22/06 NYTimes article "Why Doctors So Often Get It Wrong"), doctors don't get paid unless she/he makes a proper diagnosis. The article cites the Journal of the American Medical Association which estimates that doctors misdiagnose approximately 20%. Ah, I know what you're thinking, but technology has been steadily improving that rate, what with the MRI's, CAT scans, and digital rectal thermometers (all three require sedation). But no, you'd be wrong; the rate of misdiagnosis hasn't improved since the 1930's.

Posted by David at Thu Feb 23 2006 08:47

Another thought. Capitalism is based on the idea that some people produce goods and services (supply) that other people want (demand). The system is greased by liberty, or the ability to choose what to produce and consume. The vacuum that keeps the system moving is scarcity, not abundance.

Posted by Joe Walch at Wed Mar 01 2006 11:42

I like hearing from Dave. I am not sure that the medical community can solve the problem. Capitalism is consumer driven, isn't it? I could be wrong.

As I have said before, people need to take responsibility for how much they consume. Doctors don't tell mothers and fathers that the surgery they perform on their children actually costs the doctor a substantial amount. That is right, the surgeon is paying out of pocket in order to work on your kids, and then if the parents sue the doctor then the cost can be quite prohibitive.

Just ask any pediatric surgeon--the kind of doctor that is the lowest paid, most spread thin, and has the highest complexity of work. Plastic surgeons and dermatologist, on the other hand, are pretty well off serving those who will pay. That is the reality. Lucky for the U.S. they have superb academic hospitals that support these labor of love doctors who would never survive in the world of medicaid. If you think the condition is better in Canada or England just ask all those Canadians and British staying at the no-cost Marriott next to the MD Anderson Cancer Center, or Texas Pediatric Institute in Houston--preparing for a free state of the art, oftentimes life-saveing surgery.

A word about scarcity. I understand supply-demand curves. I was referring to an attitude or system of being. India is increasing it's GDP by 8% per annum (per NPR this morning). The people who are making that possible are the ones who look at the possible future returns, not present market share.

Also, the only people who need sedation for MRIs, CATs, etc, are those with serious Psyco/phisiological problems or children. and those people are usually on medicaid so the doctor or hospital usually pays in order to have the tests done anyways. That is why people with insurance pay more in the hospital as well.

If that is what you mean by "pay-for-performance" then I concede the point (just a joke-- ;).

[Main] [Edit]

© 2003-2010 Alyson .