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InvisibleDiploidM
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The Sick US Healthcare System
    #7010001 - 06/04/07 11:41 PM (13 years, 11 months ago)

Sicko? The truth about the US healthcare system

Michael Moore's new film is a damning indictment of the way the world's richest country looks after those who fall ill. Andrew Gumbel finds out whether his accusations are justified
Published: 04 June 2007

Cynthia Kline knew exactly what was happening to her when she suffered a heart attack at her home in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She took the time to call an ambulance, popped some nitroglycerin tablets she had been prescribed in anticipation of just such an emergency, and waited for help to arrive.

On paper, everything should have gone fine. Unlike tens of millions of Americans, she had health insurance coverage. The ambulance team arrived promptly. The hospital where she had been receiving treatment for her cardiac problems, a private teaching facility affiliated with the Harvard Medical School, was just a few minutes away.

The problem was, the casualty department at the hospital, Mount Auburn, was full to overflowing. And it turned her away. The ambulance took her to another nearby hospital but the treatment she needed, an emergency catheterisation, was not available there. A flurry of phone calls to other medical facilities in the Boston area came up empty. With a few hours, Cynthia Kline was dead.

She died in an American city with one of the highest concentration of top-flight medical specialists in the world. And it happened largely because of America's broken health care system - one where 50 million people are entirely without insurance coverage and tens of millions more struggle to have the treatment they need approved. As a result, medical problems go unattended until they reach crisis point. Patients then rush to hospital casualty departments, where by law they cannot be turned away, overwhelming the system entirely. Everyone - doctors and patients, politicians on both the left and the right - agrees this is an insane way to run a health system.

When Elizabeth Hilsabeck gave birth to premature twins in Austin, Texas, she encountered another kind of insanity. Again, she was insured -- through her husband, who had a good job in banking. But the twins were born when she was barely six months pregnant, and the boy, Parker, developed cerebral palsy. The doctors recommended physical therapy to build up muscle strength and give the boy a fighting chance of learning to walk, but her managed health provider refused to cover it.

The crazy bureaucratic logic was that the policy covered only "rehabilitative" therapy - in other words, teaching a patient a physical skill that has been lost. Since Parker had never walked, the therapy was in essence teaching him a new skill and therefore did not qualify. The Hilsabecks railed, protested, won some small reprieves, but ended up selling their home and moving into a trailer to cover their costs. Elizabeth's husband, Steven, considered taking a new, better-paying job, but chose not to after making careful inquiries about the health insurance coverage. "When is he getting over the cerebral palsy?" a prospective new insurance company representative breezily asked the Hilsabecks. When Elizabeth explained he would never get over it, she was told she was on her own.

Everyone in America has a health-care horror story or knows someone who does. Mostly they are stories of grinding bureaucratic frustration, of phone calls and officials letters and problems with their credit rating, or of people ignoring a slowly deteriorating medical condition because they are afraid that an expensive battery of tests will lead to a course of treatment that could quickly become unaffordable.

Even when things don't go horribly wrong, it is a matter of surviving by the skin of one's teeth.

In Montana, Melissa Anderson can't find affordable insurance because she is self-employed - an increasingly common affliction. When her son Kasey came down with epilepsy two years ago, she was saved only by a recently introduced child health insurance programme specifically tailored to people who aren't poor but can't afford to pay monster medical bills. She herself remains uninsured for anything short of major care needs.

Over the past 15 years, the stories have become less about poor people without the economic means to access the system - although that remains a vast, unsolved problem - and more about the kind of people who have every expectation they will be taken care of. Middle-class people, people with jobs that carry health benefits or - as the problem worsens - people with the sorts of jobs that used to carry robust health benefits which are now more rudimentary and risk their being cut off for a variety of reasons.

This is the morass that Michael Moore has chosen to explore in his latest documentary, Sicko, which goes on release later this month. Moore spends much of the film demonstrating that there is nothing inevitable or necessary about a system that enriches insurance companies and drug manufacturers but shortchanges absolutely everyone else. His searching documentary looks at health care in France, Britain, Canada, and even Cuba - still regarded as a model system for the Third World.

Moore has his share of ghoulishly awful stories. The film kicks off with an uninsured carpenter who has to decide whether to spend $12,000 (£6,000) reattaching his severed ring finger or $60,000 to reattach his severed middle finger. Later on, Moore focuses on a hospital worker whose husband needed a bone marrow transplant to save him from a rare disease. The couple's insurance company refused to cover the transplant because it regarded the treatment as "experimental". The husband died.

Many more stories are collected in a newly published book called Sick: The Untold Story of America's Health Care Crisis, by Jonathan Cohn. A woman in California called Nelene Fox died of breast cancer after she, too, was turned down for a bone marrow transplant by her insurance company. In Georgia, a family whose infant son went into cardiac arrest were forced to take him to a hospital 45 miles away on their insurance carrier's orders. He survived, but suffered permanent disabilities that more prompt treatment might have averted. In New York, an infant called Bryan Jones - whose case was trumpeted all over the local media at the time - died of a heart defect that went undetected because his insurance company kicked him and his mother out of hospital 24 hours after his birth, too soon to carry out the tests that might have spotted the problem.

America's health system offers a tremendous paradox. In medical technology and in the scientific understanding of disease, it is second-to-none. Since doctors are better paid than anywhere else in the world, the country attracts the best of the best. And yet many, if not most, Americans are unable to reap the advantages of this. In fact, as The New York Times columnist Paul Krugman has argued, the very proliferation of research and high-tech equipment is part of the reason for the imbalance in coverage between the privileged few and the increasingly underserved masses. "[The system] compensates for higher spending on insiders, in party, by consigning more people to outsider status --robbing Peter of basic care in order to pay for Paul's state-of-the-art treatment," Krugman wrote recently. "Thus we have the cruel paradox that medical progress is bad for many Americans' health."

Having the system run by for-profit insurance companies turns out to be inefficient and expensive as well as dehumanising. America spends more than twice as much per capita on health care as France, and almost two and a half times as much as Britain. And yet it falls down in almost every key indicator of public health, starting, perhaps, most shockingly, with infant mortality, which is 36 per cent higher than in Britain.

A recent survey by the management consulting company McKinsey estimated the excess bureaucratic costs of managing private insurance policies - scouting for business, processing claims, and hiring "denial management specialists" to tell people why their ailment is not covered by their policy - at about $98bn a year. That, on its own, is significantly more than the $77bn McKinsey calculates it would cost to cover every uninsured American. If the government negotiated bulk purchasing rates for drugs, rather than allowing the pharmaceutical companies to set their own extortionate rates, that would save another $66bn.

Astonishingly, there hasn't been a serious debate about health care in the United States since Bill Clinton, with considerable input from his wife Hillary, tried and failed to overhaul the system in 1994. That, though, may be about to change as the 2008 presidential race heats up. Everyone acknowledges the system is broken. Everyone recognises that 50 million uninsured - including almost 10 million children - is unacceptable in a civilised society.

Even the old, classically American free-market argument - that "socialised" medicine is somehow the first step on a slippery slope towards godless communism - doesn't hold water, because in the absence of a functioning private insurance regime the government ends up picking up about 50 per cent of the overall costs for treatment anyway. The indigent rely on a government programme called Medicaid. The elderly have a government programme called Medicare. And perhaps the most efficient part of the whole system is the Veterans' Administration, a sort of NHS for former servicemen.

Rather like London and Paris in the 19th century, where the authorities belatedly paid attention to outbreaks of cholera once the disease started affecting the rich and middle classes, so the American health crisis may be coming to a head because of the kinds of people who are suffering from its injustices.

Corporate chief executives, for a start, are gagging under the ever-increasing costs of providing coverage to their employees. Starbucks now spends more on health care than it does on coffee beans. Company health costs, as a whole, are at about the same level as corporate profits. In a globalised world where US businesses are competing with low-wage countries such as India and China, that is rapidly becoming unacceptable.

That explains, perhaps, why the chief executive of Wal-Mart, Lee Scott, has made common cause with America's leading service sector union - more commonly a bitter critic of Wal-Mart's labour practices - in calling for a government-run universal health care system by 2012. It's going to be a tough battle. The insurance and pharmaceutical industries bankroll the campaigns of dozens of congressmen and have so far been brutally efficient in protecting their own interests. The Clintons were defeated in 1994 in part because of the power of the industry lobbies. Doing better this time will take singular political courage.

In the meantime, we will hear ever more crazy stories like the one told by Marijon Binder, a former nun in Chicago who ended up being sued by a Catholic hospital for $11,000 because her two-night stay for a heart scare was not considered a worthy charity case. Binder, who works as a live-in companion to a disabled old woman, wrote on all her admission forms that she had no insurance and, in her telling at least, was reassured the hospital would take care of her anyway.

After a year and a monstrous bureaucratic fight that went nowhere, a civil judge promptly absolved her of responsibility for her bill - a lucky outcome, for sure. Binder said: "The whole experience was very demeaning. It made me feel very guilty; it made me feel like a criminal." She is, though, alive and solvent. Not everyone in this system catches the same break.

news.independent.co.uk


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Republican Values:

1) You can't get married to your spouse who is the same sex as you.
2) You can't have an abortion no matter how much you don't want a child.
3) You can't have a certain plant in your possession or you'll get locked up with a rapist and a murderer.

4) We need a smaller, less-intrusive government.


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Offlinehummermania00
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Re: The Sick US Healthcare System [Re: Diploid]
    #7010865 - 06/05/07 07:42 AM (13 years, 11 months ago)

It is very interesting to note that part of the potential "war" brewing on health care costs will be slugged out by corporations - those that profit from health care will want the status quo, and those that pay (ref. starbucks, walmart) will want to see it changed.


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You are a fortunate person indeed, if you can begin each day accepting the fact that during that day there will be ups and downs, good breaks and bad ones, disappointments, surprises, and unexpected turns of events.

When you have solved all the mysteries of life you long for death, for it is but another mystery of life.


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Offlinelonestar2004
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Re: The Sick US Healthcare System [Re: Diploid]
    #7011175 - 06/05/07 11:09 AM (13 years, 11 months ago)

Free Market Capitalism. Freedom of choice.

Capitalism works.

It is the engine that has driven more Prosperity and Good for mankind than nearly any other movement!!!!

It works in industry. And it works in Health Care. It isn't perfect.

But it works a hell of a lot better than Socialized Heath Care!


--------------------
America's debt problem is a "sign of leadership failure"

We have "reckless fiscal policies"

America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership.

Americans deserve better

Barack Obama


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OfflineRonoS
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Re: The Sick US Healthcare System [Re: lonestar2004]
    #7011339 - 06/05/07 12:06 PM (13 years, 11 months ago)

Apparently it doesn't...


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"Life has never been weird enough for my liking"


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Offlinededjam
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Re: The Sick US Healthcare System [Re: Rono]
    #7011353 - 06/05/07 12:11 PM (13 years, 11 months ago)

Quote:

Rono said:
Apparently it doesn't...




Apparently? I dont think thats been made apparent at all.


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Invisibleimplicitli
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Re: The Sick US Healthcare System [Re: Rono]
    #7011362 - 06/05/07 12:17 PM (13 years, 11 months ago)

I guess it depends on how you define 'works.'

If you have an excess of money in the US you can pretty much buy anything that you need to survive, and look about thirty years old forever; but if you are a single mother trying to buy antibiotics for a sick child, then you're pretty much out of luck.

Survival of the fittest, I guess.


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Offlinelonestar2004
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Re: The Sick US Healthcare System [Re: Rono]
    #7011517 - 06/05/07 01:09 PM (13 years, 11 months ago)

Canada has perfect health care.... If you can get it!!!!!!


"Upwards of 50% of newly qualified neurosurgeons now head to the US"

http://www.cmaj.ca/cgi/content/full/170/9/1377


"Equally frustrated are patients, health professionals and administrators across the country who struggle with a shortage of doctors every day.

In Calgary, Dana Ball has been looking for a general practitioner (GP) for three years. The mother of three young children says, “Whenever I see a doctor in a clinic or in emergency, I ask, ‘Do you know any doctors that are taking new patients?’ They say, ‘There are no doctors available—there just aren’t any.’”




Specialists are also in critically short supply. We need cardiovascular specialists, anesthetists, psychiatrists, radiologists, obstetricians. Hospitals have to turn patients away because of a shortage of emergency room physicians. In January 2000 Joshua Fleuelling, 18, suffered a serious asthma attack in Scarborough. Because the nearest hospital could not accept any more patients, the ambulance took him to another hospital, where he died. The coroner’s inquest listed the acute shortage of physicians in local emergency departments as one of the causes of his death."

http://www.readersdigest.ca/mag/2004/08/doctors.html




I wonder why so many Canadian Professionals flee that High Tax, Socialist, Bureaucratic, Utopia??????


--------------------
America's debt problem is a "sign of leadership failure"

We have "reckless fiscal policies"

America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership.

Americans deserve better

Barack Obama


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Offlinezappaisgod
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Re: The Sick US Healthcare System [Re: implicitli]
    #7011522 - 06/05/07 01:12 PM (13 years, 11 months ago)

Somebody found some anecdotal complaint about one person and that is a de facto indictment of the entire US health care system. Word, nerds, there are 300 million people in this country. You will never be found wanting for some poor schmuck whose ax got gored. See malpractice claims. Guess which direction that will trend if the government runs the show. I shudder at the legal bills. Unless the government forbids it, which they certainly could do. Imagine if they capped malpractice claims at earnings lost. No jury trial. Oh the humanity. Oh the stumpy creatures on every corner. Look at the VA. How's that working out?

My personal experience is that I have received incredibly fabulous care for my issues at a very manageable expense and free choice of physicians, for which I paid a slight premium (somewhat high deductible for those doctors outside the plan, no extra for hospital). This is very recent. It fucking boggles my mind that young dopers want more socialized health care. You should be the last people to ask for this.


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Invisibleimplicitli
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Re: The Sick US Healthcare System [Re: zappaisgod]
    #7011544 - 06/05/07 01:20 PM (13 years, 11 months ago)

I wouldn't say that the canadian system is perfect, just more accessible. I think that one of the biggest problems in health care are all of the hypochondriacs that go to the doctor over every little thing, and the fact that the population is swiftly getting older - and they never really took care of themselves to begin with.

Still, the insurance companies in the united states are turning a huge profit and denying claims that should be covered. Maybe they just need to be a little more regulated?


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Offlinezappaisgod
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Re: The Sick US Healthcare System [Re: implicitli]
    #7011642 - 06/05/07 02:12 PM (13 years, 11 months ago)

Quote:

implicitli said:
I wouldn't say that the canadian system is perfect, just more accessible. I think that one of the biggest problems in health care are all of the hypochondriacs that go to the doctor over every little thing, and the fact that the population is swiftly getting older - and they never really took care of themselves to begin with.

Still, the insurance companies in the united states are turning a huge profit and denying claims that should be covered. Maybe they just need to be a little more regulated?




I agree with you about hypochondriacs.
I agree that in spite of past bad behaviour medicine still keeps us alive longer than ever (careful with this one, see smoking thread).
Insurance companies are NOT turning huge profits in health care.
Yeah, sometimes they deny shit. See hypochondriac entry.
They're already heavily regulated. A little more? Maybe. A little less, maybe the cost goes down. We're not talking big diffs here.

I don't know that a health care system that makes you wait months and months for a hip replacement is more "accessible".


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OfflineSeussA
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Re: The Sick US Healthcare System [Re: zappaisgod]
    #7011657 - 06/05/07 02:16 PM (13 years, 11 months ago)

> It fucking boggles my mind that young dopers want more socialized health care.

I don't think it is young dopers, but the younger generation in general... and not just health care... the "system" owes these youngsters whatever they want, because, after all, they are special (sarcasm).  Personally, I blame the parents for raising children with the unreal expectation that life is easy, nice, and flawless.

Although I would never wish a "great depression" upon anybody, it certainly taught the older generation that life is not easy and that nobody is a "special little angel that is owed a perfect life because they are so, so, so, special.".

Ack, I think my cynical nature is showing... :wink:


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Just another spore in the wind.


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Offlinezappaisgod
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Re: The Sick US Healthcare System [Re: Seuss]
    #7011669 - 06/05/07 02:21 PM (13 years, 11 months ago)

I do find the special little angel shit disgusting. The parents, I don't blame so much, although they get plenty. Teachers, though, and social "scientists" prattling about self esteem I find utterly harmful. "No little fuckhead, your turd finger painting is NOT wonderful. Now clean it the fuck up." Sheesh.


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Offlinegluke bastid
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Re: The Sick US Healthcare System [Re: lonestar2004]
    #7011790 - 06/05/07 03:00 PM (13 years, 11 months ago)

Quote:

lonestar2004 said:
Canada has perfect health care.... If you can get it!!!!!!


"Upwards of 50% of newly qualified neurosurgeons now head to the US"

http://www.cmaj.ca/cgi/content/full/170/9/1377





You linked to an article about how Canada is training more neurosurgeons in its schools than it needs in its country. This proves nothing. It proves nothing about Canadians not getting adequate care. Thank you for wasting my time.

Quote:


"Equally frustrated are patients, health professionals and administrators across the country who struggle with a shortage of doctors every day.

In Calgary, Dana Ball has been looking for a general practitioner (GP) for three years. The mother of three young children says, “Whenever I see a doctor in a clinic or in emergency, I ask, ‘Do you know any doctors that are taking new patients?’ They say, ‘There are no doctors available—there just aren’t any.’”




Specialists are also in critically short supply. We need cardiovascular specialists, anesthetists, psychiatrists, radiologists, obstetricians. Hospitals have to turn patients away because of a shortage of emergency room physicians. In January 2000 Joshua Fleuelling, 18, suffered a serious asthma attack in Scarborough. Because the nearest hospital could not accept any more patients, the ambulance took him to another hospital, where he died. The coroner’s inquest listed the acute shortage of physicians in local emergency departments as one of the causes of his death."

http://www.readersdigest.ca/mag/2004/08/doctors.html





This second article links to a story about Canada denying jobs to immigrant doctors. That is pretty fucked and I don't see why they would do that. More importantly, I don't see why America would deny jobs to immigrant doctors, being that we are a proud nation of immigrants. The KKK might be all for it, but I doubt most of us would. Another article that proves nothing. Thanks for wasting more time.

Quote:

I wonder why so many Canadian Professionals flee that High Tax, Socialist, Bureaucratic, Utopia??????




I wonder why you can't find an article that supports this claim????????


--------------------
:hst:
Society in every form is a blessing,
but government at its best is but a necessary evil
 
- Thomas Paine


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Offlinegluke bastid
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Re: The Sick US Healthcare System [Re: zappaisgod]
    #7011803 - 06/05/07 03:06 PM (13 years, 11 months ago)

Quote:

lonestar said:
In January 2000 Joshua Fleuelling, 18, suffered a serious asthma attack in Scarborough. Because the nearest hospital could not accept any more patients, the ambulance took him to another hospital, where he died. The coroner’s inquest listed the acute shortage of physicians in local emergency departments as one of the causes of his death.




Quote:

zappaisgod said:
Somebody found some anecdotal complaint about one person and that is a de facto indictment of the entire US {or Canada in this case-Gluke) You will never be found wanting for some poor schmuck whose ax got gored. 




:smile:


--------------------
:hst:
Society in every form is a blessing,
but government at its best is but a necessary evil
 
- Thomas Paine


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Offlinegluke bastid
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Re: The Sick US Healthcare System [Re: Seuss]
    #7011842 - 06/05/07 03:17 PM (13 years, 11 months ago)

Quote:

Seuss said:
> It fucking boggles my mind that young dopers want more socialized health care.

I don't think it is young dopers, but the younger generation in general... and not just health care... the "system" owes these youngsters whatever they want, because, after all, they are special (sarcasm).  Personally, I blame the parents for raising children with the unreal expectation that life is easy, nice, and flawless.

Although I would never wish a "great depression" upon anybody, it certainly taught the older generation that life is not easy and that nobody is a "special little angel that is owed a perfect life because they are so, so, so, special.".

Ack, I think my cynical nature is showing... :wink:




I agree with what you are saying. I think the best thing you can do for a kid is prepare it for the reality that life is hard and things rarely work out nice and easy, much less perfect. And we are surrounded by people who are all "me me me me me"

But I also think we have a broken health care system, and the only people who like it the way it is are people who are lucky enough to be taken care of and they are scared that changing it might make them as vulnerable as the 47 million people in this country who are insured and don't have access to care. I'm not talking about the government employing doctors to go around makind sure everyone is ok, I'm talking about tweaking the system so that the number of people who have access to doctors and medication isn't about one out of five.

The notion that these are people who could get health care if they wanted or worked harder is a MYTH. Only 7% of those uninsured are so by choice, and 8 out of 10 uninsured Americans (including children) come from working families. How are you going to tell a 10 year old that they need to get a job with health benefits? 81% of those who are uninsured who have jobs work full time in jobs that don't provide health benefits. And as the cost of insurance rises, there are fewer and fewer employers that provide benefits. (www.amsa.org)

HELLO! IT'S NOT WORKING AND ITS GETTING WORSE.


--------------------
:hst:
Society in every form is a blessing,
but government at its best is but a necessary evil
 
- Thomas Paine


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Offlinezappaisgod
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Re: The Sick US Healthcare System [Re: gluke bastid]
    #7011976 - 06/05/07 03:58 PM (13 years, 11 months ago)

The dirty little secret is that most people in this country have very good health care. Very good.


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Offlinelonestar2004
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Re: The Sick US Healthcare System [Re: gluke bastid]
    #7012113 - 06/05/07 04:39 PM (13 years, 11 months ago)

Hello!!! lets raise them TAXES!!!! I am so FUCKING tired of everyone having a hand in my pocket...

Why should I pay more if I'm wealthier ? can you answer that question without telling me some Fucking sad story about an uninsured poor person with Gout? fuck them. Maybe they should sell their car and by some health insurance! its their fucking choice! Yep I,m selfish. When I go to work I am not thinking about earning more money for the GOVERNMENT, no I'm thinking about feeding my kids and home improvements....

why why why why should I pay more if I'm wealthier ?

I don't buy cars, houses, restaurant meals, books, or health care that way today.

The reason you people want the pay-by-your-ability method is that you want someone else to pay for the service you receive!

Thats it!!!!YOU want someone else to pay for the service you receive!!!!

Now can you image how sorry the fucking service would be at restaurants if everybody had the right to get free meals because the government was paying for them?

1.The government would set the minimum standards for what level of care all the restaurants would need to provide.

2.Everyone would be standing in line at their favorite restaurant until their quality went down.

It would since the restaurant now has no incentive to provide top quality meals any more with people waiting to get in the restaurant, and when the restaurant gets reimbursed the same amount as the shit- hole down the street!


Let the people decide what service, providers and PRICES they want, where they want to purchase it, and what amount they want to pay!!!

FREEMARKET = Let the people decide!


I am already paying peoples income, (welfare) paying for PUBLIC HOUSING! and now free health insurance! What incentive do these people have to get a job????

HELLO! Would you PLEASE get your hand out of my pocket....


--------------------
America's debt problem is a "sign of leadership failure"

We have "reckless fiscal policies"

America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership.

Americans deserve better

Barack Obama


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InvisibleLuddite
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Re: The Sick US Healthcare System [Re: lonestar2004]
    #7012137 - 06/05/07 04:46 PM (13 years, 11 months ago)

Only the sick need health care. I haven't been to the doctor in over ten years.


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Offlinezappaisgod
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Re: The Sick US Healthcare System [Re: Luddite]
    #7012140 - 06/05/07 04:47 PM (13 years, 11 months ago)

Up until last year, I could say the same thing.


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Offlinelonestar2004
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Registered: 10/03/04
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Re: The Sick US Healthcare System [Re: Luddite]
    #7012154 - 06/05/07 04:50 PM (13 years, 11 months ago)

I rarely go to the doctor, but I pay for the best insurance money can buy just in case something happens. ( I want a PRIVATE room with a Private bathroom!)


--------------------
America's debt problem is a "sign of leadership failure"

We have "reckless fiscal policies"

America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership.

Americans deserve better

Barack Obama


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