Saturday, September 08, 2007

Again with the Healthcare

Dear readers, I just realized that I hadn’t written anything today, so I decided to post my follow-up response to my healthcare debate with the anonymous free-market commenter I mentioned two posts ago. You can read his response to my post, but there’d be no reason to. It’s just the same old contradictory muck that you’ve seen before. Long on assertions and theories; short on details and reality.

And in case you were wondering: No, I’ve never been particularly obsessed with healthcare until I wrote two posts bashing free-market conservatives for what they wrote on healthcare. Now I can’t seem to leave it alone. That’s just how it goes.

My Response

Anonymous – When I wrote that you wanted to end health insurance and only rely on catastrophic health insurance, it was obvious that I simply miswrote that, as it would make no sense otherwise. I even noticed that and meant to rewrite it, but just forgot. The fact that you’d suggest I was misrepresenting you is entirely absurd. Why would I have mentioned the catastrophic coverage at all if I meant to misrepresent your position? I also forgot to mention what an anal putz you are, but they probably already guessed.

As for your suggestion that employer-paid insurance is "government intervention," almost all business expenses are deductible. The only one I can think of off-hand are meals & entertainment, which are only 50% deductible. They deduct payroll expenses and other employee perks. Why should health insurance be any different? If an individual buys a computer, it’s not tax deductible. But if they start a business and use that computer for business purposes, it becomes tax deductible. Their health insurance would be deductible too. See how that works? Business expenses are deductible because businesses are taxed on their profits, not their revenue. How is that government intervention?

And do you honestly believe that employers only offer health insurance because it’s tax deductible? Really??

And FYI, the real advantage that employers have over individuals for purchasing insurance is that they get group discounts. Group health is WAAAAY cheaper than individual insurance. And the more employees being insured, the cheaper the insurance is per person. While that certainly gives big firms an advantage over small ones, that’s the free-market for you.

And so even if we punished businesses by disallowing their deduction for health insurance, most of them would still give health insurance to their employees. And so where would that get you? Nowhere. Unless you explictly banned the employer health-insurance plans, you would have achieved nothing but raising their tax bills. I honestly assumed you understood that and realized that an outright ban was the only way to get rid of employer health insurance. And if we didn't get rid of health insurance, your "free-market" healthcare wouldn't go anywhere. Once again, I can't believe I'm forced to explain basic facts to you.

Beating the Experts

And I agree that under your system we could use our doctor as our medical cost expert. That’s exactly what I said the problem was. I suppose you let the sales guy choose your car for you too, as well as holding your d*ck. You’ve already suggested that doctors might behave unethically, by giving poor treatment. Somehow, that only applies to my system, while they’re all ethical in yours and you can trust them to tell you how much you should pay them. Of course.

And where on earth do you get the idea that everything in our current system is “charged to the max”? There’s a mechanism used for setting prices, and it’s called the free-market. You should read about it some time. I’ve already explained all this, but you ignore it anyway and choose to treat me like an idiot. But as I said, if the experts are getting screwed-over by doctors and hospitals, as you say they are, then I don’t see what hope the rest of us have.

But then again, as is typical of conservatives, you don’t believe in expertise. Because you don’t understand how an insurance company sets their prices, you imagine that no one else knows either. Instead, you imagine that they’re all idiots who pay “the max,” while you’re this genius who will trust what his doctor tells him the price should be. Of course.

The Fun Part

But you know what, I’ve just read ahead to the rest of what you wrote, and shit; I give up. I take it all back. You’re a complete moron. This is quite out of character for me, but I’m not even going to waste my time with this anymore. You have explained nothing, but prefer instead to talk vaguely of “government intervention” mucking everything up and how the “free markets will provide,” without ever really explaining what the government is doing wrong or why you imagine that the millions of people already getting screwed by the system won’t be joined by the millions more currently being helped by the system.. Instead you prefer to insult me by pretending that I think the government can solve everything..

Well I don’t. I’m not like you. I don’t think there are cure-alls. I don’t think there are perfect answers. Different options have pros and cons, and we make our decisions by weighing the good versus the bad.. But not you. You’ve got this fantasy idea that the market works perfectly, even though it obviously doesn’t and you refuse to explain how anything will work, besides a blind faith that “the market will provide”. You’ve got a theory which you imagine justifies your selfishness and just tune everything else out. It’s obvious that you don’t even know how the market really works. All you care about is that you think it gives you what you want, and that’s all you need to understand.

And it’s equally obvious that you know absolutely nothing about healthcare. Why should you? You almost never go to the doctor and never needed one for anything serious. And as with most conservatives, you just can’t understand anything that hasn’t affected you directly. Because you don’t need healthcare, you imagine that nobody else does either; so you don’t want to pay for it.

But there’s nothing special about your good health. I’m older than you and I rarely go to the doctor either. But that’s not skill. It’s luck. And there’s nothing to say it will continue. I’ve gone many years without insurance in the past, and it just meant that I avoided the doctor. I’ve also gone without car insurance before. Nothing bad came from either of those decisions. But it wasn’t because I’m so great. It’s because I got lucky. Just like you’ve been lucky.

An Anecdote

Let me tell you a story. Last year my older sister started feeling run down and had a really bad headache. After a few days, she made a late night trip to the hospital. Why? Because she had insurance, so she could spend someone else’s money to get rid of the headache. They ran some expensive tests and found that she had a really bad sinus infection that was giving her the headaches (I think an MRI showed that). They also found that she had a really high white cell count, which is a symptom of leukemia. They ran more tests and found that she did have leukemia. She immediately got put into a top cancer hospital and earlier this year was told that she was cured. Her life is now saved and her daughter still has a mom. She still has to take lots of pills and her hair has only begun to grow back, but she’ll live.

And how did that happen? Because she had employer insurance. Without insurance, she’d have been unlikely to be “careless” with her money and see a doctor. I mean, people get headaches. It happens. And she surely wouldn’t have agreed to the expensive tests that she got that found her high white blood count. After all, the headache wasn’t even related to the leukemia. It was just luck that they found it at all. Who does blood tests for a headache? They did, because they couldn't explain her symptoms and insurance was paying the bill.

And sure, your catastrophic insurance would have covered the super-expensive leukemia treatment, assuming she had coverage. But without insurance footing the initial tests, she probably would have just kept popping Tylenol and avoided the hospital all together. Now she spends much of her free time raising money for leukemia to help save other people’s lives. That’s what society is all about: People helping other people.

But fuck all this and fuck you. I don’t need this shit. You’re not going to listen to a damn word I say and you don’t give a damn if my kids die. All you care about is your money. You’re a selfish fuck who brags about ripping off his employer and the suckers who allow you to drink at their open bar. Those two things are telling enough about what a selfish jerk you are. And you assume we’re all like that! Typical.

You tell me that I’m supposed to “suck it up” when my daughter has a concussion. Well fuck you. I just hope that you’re never left to the mercy of the system you wish to harm millions of us with. Of course, a selfish fuck like you would never say the same for me. How do I know? Because that’s the hell you’re already wishing on me and my kids. But don’t worry. You’ve got your money and your health, and with any luck, you won’t have any kids. We can all hope, anyway.

BTW, the one time my daughter did get a concussion, she had to stay in the hospital for two days. Concussions take more than stitches, dumbass. They’re fucking concussions. Look it up. The CAT scan to determine if she had a concussion cost more than $100. You really don’t know much about medical care, do you?

Perhaps some day you can have the joy of watching your five-year old get pushed off the top of a slide and start vomiting and being unable to speak. Frantically trying to find a hospital in a strange town was fun too. But in your mind, this was just a $100 bill that I should suck up. Fuck you.


Doctor Anonymous said...

why would i find you misrepresenting me absurd, when you have garbled things i wrote in previous comments already? go read what you wrote again, i don't see why you find it strange that i would attack such a ridiculous statement.

regarding tax deductability and health care. good God man do you want government to be so big that it can actually have someone come over and read something to you? i have twice posted (or maybe thrice?) a link to why health insurance is not through you (as every other type of insurance is) because of the government's choice to make it tax deductable through business and not for you. how it grew from a small set to national policy. i know you're not illiterate, maybe since i posted the link and it wasn't in clickable blue words for you that you were unable to figure out how to navigate to the information? maybe i should mail you a beta cassette on copying and pasting. you constantly accuse me of being "dishonest" while you ignore information and make up your own.

why do you insist on calling what we have now a free market, and blaming what a true free market's failures would be on what we have now? i have sent you links for that as well. i am beginning to wonder if you have a learning disability. you cannot assign blame for crappy free market failures on a true free market. you can only assign blame to the crappy free market. which needs reform, we both agree on this. the solution is the real free market though, not a step back into socialism.

you whine about experts but you seem to get your house and car insurance just find without the government cradling you don't you? are you an expert in automotive repair and homebuilding? did you consult any when you chose your insurance?

what services do you think the free market will not provide? you are saying that there will be demand, but no one will step up to provide? examples??

regarding your sister, i'm glad to hear she is alright. i'm also glad to hear she didn't have to wait in any long lines, or months for treatment, or get slotted behind someone because they were "young" while your sister is "old". and that's great that she had insurance to cover it. without insurance that would certainly have been bad. but as we both know i have never claimed that one should be without insurance.

sure i give a fuck about your kids care. i'm trying to keep them in a system that has the best quality care in the world, and i'm trying to make it affordable too, just like it used to be before the market was messed about. no, i don't think i should be forced to pay for anyone's anything. yes, i have and will continue to make charitable contributions to worthy causes. of course i could do this more if part of my income wasn't being stolen by the government. the open bar thing, are you still too stupid to admit that people are more frugal with their own money? i personally rarely drink, and i don't assume "all people are selfish" - i simply believe the TRUTH that people, as a collective, are more frugal with their own money. my common sense tells me so, and despite yours telling you otherwise, you can come up with endless examples of this being true. most obviously a cash vs. open bar at a wedding. sorry if you don't like to admit reality.

i didn't tell you to suck it up that your daughter had a concussion, what happened to you not misrepresenting me? this paragraph makes it sound like i implied she should go walk it off. i told you to suck it up to a price difference. and you accuse me of being dishonest in my posts??? i smell hypocrisy!

so the test costs $100... and? since that has nothing to do with a truly free market set price i have no idea why you're bringing it up as a failing point or "expensive" example of a free market.

the stuff you complain about me not providing you is in those links, which i have provided multiple times, rest up for a few days and then see if you can try to read them.

and a fuck you back for labeling me as dishonest and yourself not misrepresenting my views, while you misrepresent my views through a dishonest rant.

repsac3 said...

Can I just say fuck you both... And the horses you rode in on... And my nastyass third grade teacher... Can't forget her. And that stranger over there... Yeah, fuck him, too, just because...

Boy, I feel so much better now... Thanks!!

I'll have to come back & read this all in depth, but I was really taken with all the group fucking going on, & thought I could contribute some, too... The shit's better than therapy... 8)

whig said...

Ah, yes. Free market health care, where people with genetic conditions should be put out in the snow.

Doctor Biobrain said...

Look, if I misrepresented anything you wrote, it’s because you refuse to explain anything. Like why you keep acting as if we’d have regular health insurance in your ideal system, while complaining about how health insurance has ruined us and makes everything too expensive. I keep asking for you to explain this stuff, but you do nothing but repeat yourself and insult me.

As for reading your links, I refused to do so as I knew it would be a waste of my time. As I've said before, I've found that if someone can't explain something, they probably don't understand it. I don't understand how you can write so extensively on this subject, but seem unable to provide any kind of explanation as to what the hell you’re talking about.

But then I went ahead and read both links and now it all makes sense. They were as pathetic as your arguments. Where are the explanations? Where are the details? It's just a bunch of assertions about how HMO's are destined to harm us and how the government overpays for service, even though doctors often complain that they don’t pay enough. But it provided no evidence of this at all. It's no wonder you can't explain anything. You've never seen the explanation yourself.

Reading the Links

Having read those links, I still don't understand why health insurance shouldn't be as deductible as other business expenses. It makes no economic sense, and I’m guessing that you only oppose it because you oppose health insurance. That’s like someone wanting to disallow travel deductions as a way of hurting the hotel and airline industries. But it makes no economic sense.

And you ignored my section on group rates, which is the real reason why employer-paid insurance is cheaper than individual. And the reason for that is the free-market. Instead, you post a link with the same stale arguments I’ve found unconvincing in the past and insult me for not reading it. But of course you had to ignore that argument. Because Harry Browne didn’t tell you what you were supposed to think about group insurance being cheaper.

BTW, that Harry Browne link had the same argument as Stossel regarding frivolous doctor visits causing a huge increase in health costs. You know, like the frivolous doctor visit that found my sister’s leukemia. As you admit, it’s better to go to the doctor early, than waiting until things get worse. Harry Browne would prefer we wait. That would only make things more expensive.

The Experts

As for the experts, I never said we needed experts to get us health insurance. I said insurance companies use experts to know how much to pay for care; while you’d prefer to use your doctor as the expert telling you how much to pay him. And you're right in saying that I have no problem getting house or car insurance. I also have no problem getting health insurance. You want to make that harder for me.

And as I’ve said before, you’re entirely confused as to how the markets work. Just because there is demand does not mean there will be supply. Doctors and hospitals have expenses. They need to make profits. If you can’t afford the price that they need to charge, then you won’t get the service. I’ve explained that repeatedly. You, on the other hand, have failed to explain why insurance companies overpay for services or where you think the money is going. I’ve asked for that repeatedly, but you do nothing but insult me. But again, Harry Browne hasn’t told you what to think, so you’re forced to remain silent.

Remember, I’ve been begging you to explain any of this stuff to me. Your refusal to do so is fairly strong evidence that you don’t have a clue what you’re talking about. You keep babbling about government intervention, as if the use of that phrase is self-evident. And as your “proof” you just cite other people who babble about government intervention being the problem. I find this less than convincing.


BTW, the CAT scan test alone cost “MORE THAN $100”. And if you clicked through the link I provided for that, you'd see a private CAT scan company that charges a minimum of $270 for the service. And they're a discount company advertising online that provides cash discounts. I suppose you imagine that they’re over-priced too; though you still haven’t provided any argument for how this could be possible.

I mentioned all that because you seem to be under the delusion that a concussion might only cost $100, which I should “suck up,” yet the test alone cost far more than that. The fact that you’d think a concussion could be cured with stitches says much about your ignorance. I’d have no problem if medical care was limited to such small amounts. The truth is that you’d be lucky to get out at five times that amount.

And sure, maybe you’re right and insurance companies are idiots who overpay for service. But if you don’t have a clue as to how much it might cost in your system, and you don’t, then what the hell are you talking about? Fine, I’ll play that game too. If government paid for all healthcare, everything would cost taxpayers one dollar, and it would rain ice cream and lollipops every Sunday. Wow, this shit is easy when you don’t mind pulling it out of your ass.

You say that you care about my kids, but I assure you I could not have afforded her treatment. It just sounds like empty lip service from someone who doesn’t want to admit that my daughter could have brain damage, were we to institute your system. But I suppose if I just showed them a Supply & Demand chart, they’d have accepted the meager amount I could have afforded to pay. And they could have shown it to the CAT scan manufacturer, and they would have dropped the price for that too. Magic!

Expensive Care

Speaking of CAT scan costs, here’s a hospital’s PDF that shows that a new CAT scan machine cost them $2.5 million. Of course, these weren’t invented until the 70’s and you see the 50’s as being the ideal time for healthcare costs, so perhaps you don’t think these expensive things are worth it. Just so you understand, at that price, if they charged $250 per person, they’d have to use it on 10,000 patients before it would break-even; and that doesn’t cover ongoing expenses and radiologist fees…and profits. But you imagine that CAT scans could somehow cost less than $100 in a truly free-market. Of course.

This is the primary reason why healthcare costs went up: We have much better healthcare due to better equipment and treatments. But you’d rather blame government and health insurance, rather than acknowledge that good healthcare is expensive.

Overall, you are obviously confused about all this. It now sounds like you still want to have insurance pay what they pay now, while also insisting that insurance is ruining us and making things overpriced. Or maybe not. I honestly have no idea what you’re trying to say, and I don’t think you do either. If I’m misrepresenting what you’re saying, then it’s just because you haven’t done such a great job of representing it in the first place. But I suppose that’s just because Harry Browne hasn’t explained it any better himself.

Mumphrey Bibblesnæð said...

Libertarians are selfish idiots. I mean, I have nothing against idiots as such; but selfish idiots, well, I find them to be loathesome turds.

Mumphrey Bibblesnæð said...

I left a long answer about 2 posts down, after I saw that the good Doctor Anonymous brought up how great schools are in 3rd world countries.
I guess what libertarians are at heart are just selfish assholes. They feel like they've earned everything they have, even the ones who inherited everything they have, and they just don't care about anybody else who might not be as lucky. It's really telling to me that libertarians only get really worked up about property rights and laissez faire economics. Some of them talk about civil and political rights now & again, but when it comes time to choose, they'll always pick the authoritarian Republicans who'll try to read everybody's mail, try to make us worship their God in their way, and tell us what we can and can't do in our bedrooms, as long as they'll cut the libertarians' taxes, too.
The great thing about libertarian "philosophy", too, is that it says that being selfish is the greatest and noblest thing one can do, and altruism and charity are REALLY the selfish behaviors, and destructive to society. I guessit's always nice, if you're a selfish asshole who doesn't care about anybody else, to be told that it's a wonderful and righteous and noble and--dare I say it--selfless thing to be a selfish asshole who doesn't care about anybody else. You can screw everybody else and be assured that you're a better person for doing so. What's not to like if you're a selfish asshole?

Doctor Anonymous said...

a quick response to to mumph then i'm off this site forever. mumph, you misunderstand my stance if you say that i believe charity is a selfish behavior, i've mentioned giving to charity many times in the above. i would give $100 to a healthcare charity before i'd ever give $100 to universal healthcare. this is because i completely believe that the charity would use far more of that money for effectively providing help. i think the charity would do 80 bucks worth of good, and the government would do 40 bucks worth of good. what follows also is i could either
1. give the charity 50 dollars, to do the 40 worth of good that the 100 of UHC would have bought, and then spend/give/invest/whatever with the 50 that would have been otherwise wasted to bureaucracy
2. give the 100 and know that it is doing twice as much as the UHC

now apparently it is impossible for you in your belief system to acknowledge that i give to charities, but i do. and one of the criterias i look at is how much actual value is retained per each dollar. if we actually had a solid way of measuring 1. quality and 2. value per dollar, and tracked these metrics over time, i think you would quite easily see why i oppose these socialistic approaches to care. i would *love* if this kind of metric was kept for every branch of government. it would also make showing bio how big government is the most inefficient pig there is. of course the government wouldn't want you to see these numbers anyway even if you could produce them. luckily you can for charities though.

good site -

and since bio can't copy/paste:

Rank Charity Administrative Expense
1 Virginia Performing Arts Foundation 77.0%
2 Jewish Campus Life Fund 61.8%
3 The National Centre for Padre Pio 59.8%
4 Jobs with Justice 59.7%
5 American Textile History Museum 58.3%
6 Eden Institute Foundation 57.2%
7 The Fresno Metropolitan Museum 55.3%
8 Boys Choir of Harlem 53.4%
9 The Culver Academies 52.7%
10 Institute of the Americas 52.0%

what i would give to see those numbers for government. btw, charity is reduced in your system as income is reduced and redistributed for "entitlements". hungry and gone Doctor Anonymous.

Anonymous said...

oh one truly last thing, as i read mumph before bio. short because i am running out and it is an obvious fallacy. you can't define free market costs based on what things today cost. a $270 catscan today does not mean then in a really free market the catscan would also cost $270. it also doesn't mean that the $2.5 million machine would cost $2.5 million tomorrow. bye.

Mumphrey Bibblesnæð said...

What does it matter what the catscan machine would cost tomorrow or next year or 30 years from now?
If the hospital already has the machine, then it's already paid the money. If it cost 2 million and a half dollars when they bought it, say, 1 year ago, it doesn't matter if it's only 2 million today. They already spent the money, and they're going to want to get that back. They're not going to say, "Oh, jeez, we spent $2 1/2 million, but now they're only 2 miilion, so we didn't really spend the other $500,000. We can give everybody one fifth off their cat scans!" That makes no sense. But then, it seems not much else that guy writes does, either.

Doctor Biobrain said...

Sorry Anonymous, but I've already stated that under my all-government plan, healthcare would only cost $1 and it would rain lollipops and ice cream. So that beats your hypothetical CAT scan prices, no matter what they are. In fact, we wouldn't even need CAT scans. Doctors will be able to use their government-issued x-ray vision to find out what's wrong with people and give them a pill that cures everything. The pill is free. All that's needed is for America to institute the purest vision of my plan, the details of which I'm not able to explain.

This shit really is easier when we can just pull it out of our asses.

Dan said...

Libertarianism is a fatally flawed ideology.

It is based on a highly dubious premise, that of the "rational economic actor" one which has been repeatedly disproven in the real world.

In science, a hypothesis being disproven is grounds for altering the hypothesis and trying some new experiment.

To a libertarian, the hypothesis is never wrong, the experiment is always to blame for the failure of their free market ideas.

Good work thrashing a libertarian on health care Biobrain. It's a sad testament to their hollow worldview that non-experts without even the benefit of more than cursory research can easily put paid to their specious claims. When they whine that academia doesn't take them seriously, this is why. Academics like to argue non-trivial things, and libertarianism isn't.