Monday, August 17, 2009

Who do you really think is going to take that Twinkie out of your hand?

It's ironic to me that that some of the scare tactics the opposition to healthcare reform are using are the actual practices of private health insurers today.

Case in point: Take a look at any health insurance quote site and you'll find that your rate is determined by sex, age, smoking status and locale.

Old male smokers living in crappy neighborhoods pay more for insurance than young female nonsmokers living in posh neighborhoods. No surprise there.

But do old smoking Vets get different VA coverage than young nonsmoking Vets? I don't think so. Do seniors living in one neighborhood have different Medicare pay-out scales than those living in another? Nope.

So for the 30% of Americans who currently have publicly funded care, their health insurance does not discriminate based on lifestyle choices such as smoking. The rest of us have to answer to Big Insurance. And yes, people have been fired by bosses who don't want want to pay higher smokers' insurance premiums.

Hoose is worried that Obama's going to outlaw his Twinkies. Why? Look at the precedent. Smoking is costing the VA and Medicare/aid plenty, but the gov hasn't outlawed it. (And yeah, I know cigarettes are expensive, but they're available at every gas station, grocery and convenience store in the country and you're free to buy as many as you want whenever you want. You don't need a license to smoke them.)

So there's the precedent. You want to be afraid, be afraid of Big Insurance.


* * *

24 comments:

Tony said...

Amen! When the day comes that we have to be afraid of government, we are all lost - health care will be the least of our problems.

hoosierboy said...

Yes because insurance has to make a profit. Big governent has no such worries -- they can just take the money from the few of us who still produce. If, like the Pres claims, the Big Gov't insurance is to be cost neutral (ha look at medicare -- run poorly like most Gov't agencies) then they will have to control costs. We the taxpayers cannot afford medical care for the 30% that get it now, how can we pay it for everyone without controlling use?

If we really want to reduce costs why doesn't the President and Democratic controlled Congress add tort reform to the mix? Nearly every expert says that will do more than any other action to reduce medical and insurance costs. A quick look at trial lawyers political donations will answer that question.

Kirk Jusko said...

I don't smoke, so it's no skin off my nose, but cigarettes are also taxed heavily to pay for such things as sport stadiums. Why cigarettes? To discourage people from smoking, of course.

However, I suppose you don't want them to actually quit until AFTER the stadium is built. And no longer running in the red.

Kirk Jusko said...

As for insurance companies needing to make a profit, should that be a bigger moral imperative than people dying because that can't afford medical treatment?

Anonymous said...

Why doesn't the government prohibit health insurers from accounting for their legal costs in healthcare premiums?
You'd love to take away our right to sue huh Hoosier? No doubt the marketplace can regulate itself. See: Union Carbide, Bhopal, India.

RJ

Anonymous said...

So in someones dream world, insurance companies are non-profit, no limits on who or what you sue for and the money to pay for this will be grown on trees.





james old guy

Anonymous said...

So in someones dream world insurance companies make unlimited profits with capped injury awards figured into the cost of doing business by very smart statisticians and trees become extinct because forests are clear cut to make room for the cemetaries of the expendible.

Oops, wait, that's no dream.

RJ

Osa46 said...

hello erin:

i have to say that i found the write-up about john's 'better' novel to be inspiring for me. of course, i recall the movie 'leaving las vegas' but until the write-up about john's novel 'better' in the cleveland scene, i was unaware somewhat of the novel. a few moments ago, i wiki about john and then read an interview that you gave to qrd back in 2005.

the excerpt from 'better' was very compelling to me: honest, fierce, elusive and ground all at once (i am reminded now of the voice of phillip k. dick in his last three novels prior to his death..).

as far as the whole obamacare game afoot: this country remains blindly connected to the spiritual zeitgeist of 1619 when the first 20 slaves were transported to the virginia colony from africa. since that moment, exploitation found a reason for expression, and a reason for existence. common sense tells me that in sweden, in finland, and in other 'socialist' nations universal healthcare does work. not a perfect system by any stretch of the imagination, requiring tweaking to maintain that strong balance between efficient and primetime care - universal healthcare in such 'socialist' nations does not suckle to the hard teats of profit motives that drives insurance companies to exist primarily for.

the insurance game has always been rigged: if you are a 'low risk' then you will be 'insured' and rewarded by having to pay into a system of 'health' insurance betting the odds that you won't ever need to draw monies from their coffers in case you fall sick. to my thinking though, the obamacare package will only pass if there are enough concessions made to the pharmaceutical companies (done) and insurance companies (obama has already bowed out of his vaunted 'public option' stance..).

i am glad for the cleveland scene write-up about john's 'better' novel. very glad to have also found your blog erin. thank you.


0sa.

hoosierboy said...

Public hospitals are required to treat patients regardless of ability to pay. Insurance companies are not killing people who do not have insurance.

Erin O'Brien said...

Welcome, Osa, and thanks for the nice comments.

A few notes:

Unless you have Medicare or you're uber-rich, you are one illness away from bankruptcy. The majority of bankruptcies are due to illness and most of those people are insured.

Don't believe me? Read this.

The only care option most uninsured people have is the emergency room. I suppose some go there when they have small troubling problems, that pinching pain that won't go away, a general feeling of malaise, whatever. Is that appropriate? Or is it better for them to wait until they are full throttle into their disease?

Think I could get a free mammogram at the ER, Hoose, or should I just wait until I feel a giant lump and then go? And if I died of the cancer because it was detected so late? Who's killing me then?

While you're at it, explain why thousands lined up for this free clinic.

There's a whole contingent of people who can't afford to use their insurance due to high deductibles. I'll bet Big Insurance loves them.

Anonymous said...

No argument that health care needs fixed,adding more taxes and beating up on the rich is the easy way out instead of finding the actual cause of the rising and out of control costs. Ten years ago three hospitals in this area had cat-scan machines. Today even some of the stand alone emergency rooms have one. Why is that? Its called fear, being afraid of a law suit because some shyster says " they should have had one". So where we had a waiting line ten years ago we now have cat-scan machines gathering dust. Those babies ain't cheap and neither are the people that operate them. How are the hospitals suppose to pay for this new required equipment? Do they all really need all the fancy expensive machines and equipment? Probably not, but lawyers have made the risk of not having one, unacceptable.
Insurance is expensive,why? Read above. Do people choose not buy insurance? Yes they do , some would rather drive a new car than pay for insurance. Some people make false claims to medicaid to cover thier health cost.
Anyone that thinks the government is their friend and the answer to all problems is delusional.

James Old Guy

Kirk Jusko said...

Obama and the Democrats should have proposed single-payer first, which would have made a public option seem like a less controversial alternative.

Health care reform is going to end up just mandates--forcing people to get insurance even if they can't afford it.

Anonymous said...

OMG this is terrible; now I really want a twinkie.

Glass Houses said...

What cracks me up is with all the scare tactics floating around, non of the nay sayers has a better solution. They just say "No."

The best solution they can come up with is, "Well, if they can't afford it, they should get better jobs."

Here's the problem with that theory. To get the better jobs they need more education. Education costs money. If they had the money for the higher education, they'd have the money for the damn health insurance.

Anonymous said...

About fucking time a Democrat had some balls.

http://www.weeklystandard.com/weblogs/TWSFP/2009/08/schumer_preparing_for_nuclear.asp

Schumer Preparing for Nuclear Option to Ram Through Health-Care Bill

"Baucus has until Sept. 15 to reach an agreement with Republicans -- and that is still the goal. "But if we don't, it is not going to stop us from moving forward with health care," Schumer told reporters Monday. "If the Republicans are not able to produce an agreement (by then), we will have contingencies in place. Health reform is just too important to let this window pass by." Among the options is invoking a procedural maneuver known as reconciliation, which would allow Senate Democrats to pass a bill with a simple majority rather than a 60-vote filibuster-proof threshold."

RJ

hoosierboy said...

Yep, we will shove it down the throats of Americans, even though a majority are opposed, because we know best...

hoosierboy said...

BTW, can anyone tell me where in the Constitution this is allowed (Federally mandated health insurance)? Should we just scrap those pesky 9th and 10th Amendments and be done with it?

Erin O'Brien said...

I do appreciate your anger over this, Hoose. The Goat and I argue this point endlessly.

Right now, you and I are paying for all the uninsured. They keep needing healthcare and as you've pointed out, the hospitals have no right to turn them away.

No one likes a mandate, but the mandate is silently in place as it is.

Another thought: I wonder why more people don't choose to go uninsured. I serious, why do you suppose that is?

hoosierboy said...

http://help.senate.gov/BAI09A84_xml.pdf

read beginning page 382.

Will they take away your twinkies? They sure will harrass you about it.

How about this argument, your car is broken down and you need a new one, but you cannot afford one. Do you buy it anyway? What do you give up, food, housing, clothes for your kid?

They US has no money to pay for such a grand scheme (even if it were a good idea). There are so many ways to improve the health system in the US (and there are improvements needed) without giving control to the Government.

Many of us support Roe V. Wade on the precept the Government hs no business telling us what to do. How can we support the Goivernment telling us we MUST have insurance?

Erin O'Brien said...

I scanned the document. I'm all for that kind of stuff, Hoose. Think back to the days before the big gov push to get everyone to quit smoking. That campaign was completely appropriate.

And yes, cig taxes are unfair as hell, but cheap cigs were a very very very bad thing.

And remember: Cigs are not food. You need food to live.

As for the mandate, I stand by my previous comment. Everyone uses healthcare and everyone should pay for it.

As for the money, I say raise taxes as soon as this recession cools. I'll pay my share. You can start by letting Bush cuts expire. Bush somehow convinced this country that we could endlessly spend (say WAR) while cutting taxes. You can see where that's gotten us.

We're in a helluva mess with the national debt and it's time to man up and pay the goddamn tab.

hoosierboy said...

the largest spending bill ever was done by the Dems -- the so called stimulus bill that has not stimulated anything but debt.

I say ALL americans should pay their fair share of taxes. Are you in favor of that?

Erin O'Brien said...

Yes I am, Hoose!

Anonymous said...

Would you comment on this person? He also has a youtube video that people are passing around the internet---people I thought had brains, but as it turns out, the sad truth is now known. I know you can do a really enjoyable review of this hoo ha. (signed, a faithful reader)

http://www.mikerogers.house.gov/newsroom.aspx?A=589

Erin O'Brien said...

Thanks anon,

It seems to me Mr. Rogers is so intoxicated with the act of fellating Big Insurance that he's agreed to say anything in order to ensure that he may continue to enjoy the feel of the associated member in his mouth.

I'm sorry.

It is late and I am tired, but there are dozens of legit clips that debunk Mr. Rogers' claims. Frankly, I'm a bit weary, as are all of the Good Guys (and I'm afraid the Bad guys might win), but if I've got the time and energy tomorrow, I'll post some clips. In the meantime, seek out the 8-23-09 edition of "This Week with George Stephanopolous" for some very smart debate.