Tag Archive for health care

Public Option – Red Hering

By Michael Haughey, October 26, 2009

Beware the Public Option – it is a Red Hering.  The purpose is to convince us that we are getting meaningful reform.  It is a Red Hering that will distract us from real reform.  Remember – Insurance is the problem, therefore a “Public Option” for insurance leaves unresolved the primary problem.  It won’t seriously reduce cost or provide health care for all.  In short, it will give us a program that will disappoint anyone with expectations of “change we can believe in”.  The insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies will then proclaim – with their million-dollar-a-day advertising campaigns – that the “public option” is a failure and convince the weak-kneed politicians to go back to the old system – obscene profit for all insurance and pharmaceutical companies.


In a single-payer system there is still the option to buy additional non-profit health insurance.  That is the case in all countries with a single payer or universal health care system.  If you are uncomfortable with the single-payer system, you can thus add some insurance coverage. 


In order to significantly reduce costs (by 30% and more) and provide significant improvement in health care delivery, two things are paramount.  First, the cost of insurance bureaucracy and excessive profits must be eliminated from basic health care.  That is the cost part.  Second, health care decisions must be taken out of the hands of bureaucrats and accountants and over-paid executives and put back into the hands of health care professionals.  The public options do neither.  They promise cost reduction by “healthy competition”, while requiring everyone to buy health insurance – thus handing over 40 million new customers to the health insurance industry.  That is a Red Hering – surely written by the health insurance lobbyists.  They promise no “prior condition exclusions”, yet do nothing to limit how much insurance companies can charge in premiums for persons with “prior conditions”.  Again – a Red Hering surely written by the health insurance lobbyists.


The biggest Red Hering is the fake debate over cost containment – the claim that they need to meet the President’s maximum cost of $900 billion.  They prey on the public fear of taxes by focusing on avoiding tax increases to “pay” for the “public option”.  They thereby avoid the discussion of the real solution – a single payer system that eliminates insurance payments and replaces them with taxpayer funded payments that leave all the insurance bureaucracy and excessive executive payments eliminated – for a likely savings of over 30%.  Anyone who passed high school math should be able to figure out that if you subtract your and your employers health insurance payments and then add in taxes that are 30% less – the result is a 30% savings.  How stupid do they think we are?


Finally – don’t believe the lies about single-payer not being politically realistic.  That is politician-speak for what they really fear – they are afraid of losing their substantial health industry lobbyist campaign donations.  The more they say it is “politically unrealistic”, the more we know they are afraid because it really is possible.


What to do?  A few things come to mind, and others have many more ideas.  First – insist on a public debate in Congress of Single Payer.  Make them discuss it in full view of the American public.  Then make them vote and go on record for or against Single Payer.  Any who vote against it – vote them out next election.  Similarly, lets force a debate on finally getting money out of politics and don’t let up until it happens.  The government belongs to the people, and the people should pay for it – not the lobbyists.  All funding of government, especially elections, by we the people.  All of it – and all of it completely transparent (in the open).  How to get there?  One way to start is to vote for candidates not yet bought out by the lobbyists.  Right now they are mostly in 3rd parties.  You know – the ones you’ve never heard of because they have no money.  But there are a few in the major political parties who have kept their ethics at a high level and worked for their true constituents (instead of the lobbyists interests).  Dennis Kucinich and Bernie sanders come to mind, and I’m sure there are a few others.


Again – beware of Red Herrings and gimmicks.  Term limits are interestingly most supported by the party not in the majority, and then lengthening (extension) of term limits supported by the same folks when they do have a majority.  If it sounds too easy – too good to be true – it probably is.  There are no simple solutions like term limits.  We must learn about our candidates – do the hard work, make them answer questions and call them on it when they weasel. 


Finally, make our voices heard.  Phone calls to congress-persons, letters, e-mails, letters to the editor, start your own web site (like this one), demonstrations – do all you can in your own way.


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Paying For Single Payer

By Michael Haughey, July 11, 2009

There has been a lot of discussion on Capitol Hill this week about how to pay for the “Public Option”. First of all, we want Single Payer, not a “Public Option” run by insurance companies. Second, the question is absurd. But before we get right to the explanation, I must request that politicians do something so that they may hear and understand. I will now speak directly to the politicians (most of them). There is a hand in your pocket. It belongs to a lobbyist for the insurance industry. I want to reach down, grab that hand, and yank it out of your pocket. You see, after that hand deposits money in your “pocket”, or really, makes threats about removing support from your next campaign, it grabs onto your “little brain” and squeezes. The result is a loss of blood to your “little brain”, you know, the one you think with most of the time. Don’t act dumb (no act required, I know), your actions belie the fact that you are in fact thinking with your “little brain”. Now – get away from the hand and let the blood return. Give it an hour.

Ready? Here it is. We pay insurance companies for “health Insurance” now. That’s right – we, the common people, actually pay for our health insurance, that is if we can afford it at all. For this example, lets say that I am paying $600 per month. To the insurance company. Now lets put in place Universal Public-Funded Single-Payer User-Selected Provider Basic Health Care with absolutely no insurance industry involvement whatsoever in basic care. Then I would pay less than $420 after eliminating the 30% plus that insurance companies and the paperwork cost us. I would pay the $420 as taxes to the government, who would be the “single payer”. Now I know math isn’t as important to politicians as it was when I went to school, but try to follow this. $600 minus $420 equals $180, which is how much my cost has been reduced. That’s right – I would be paying less. The Single Payer program would be paid for by $420 of the $600 that I used to pay to the insurance company. Most of us don’t care if we pay that $420 to the government if we are no longer paying $600 to the insurance company. So a full switch to Single Payer means that everyone who can chips in through a raise in taxes that is LESS that what we now pay fore insurance. See how that works? I know some of you think taxes are a foreign religion that you must never give in to. Give it a rest. Taxes are a necessary cost for doing collectively that which we cannot do as individuals, rich people excepted. Wasn’t that easy? Now if you still don’t understand, I suggest you go back through K-12 public school and pay attention this time.

What did you say, “you don’t want government running health care”? Have you listened at all? Single payer means government, really “we the people”, pays for health care. Health care would be provided by doctors, nurses, hospitals, university research programs, and so on. How is it run now? By doctors, nurses, hospitals, university research programs, and so on UNDER the direction of insurance companies who decide what care will be paid for. How do insurance companies decide what to pay for? By doing whatever maximizes profit for their investors and executives. That is, after all, their legal fiduciary responsibility. How do those decisions get made under Single Payer? By the doctors, nurses, hospitals, university research programs, and so on. See the difference? Some countries don’t even have billing departments. They just provide health care, further lowering costs since the billing and collections departments don’t even exist.

Simple. Effective.

Now stay away from that hand and do what must be done. Show that you have some, shall we say, “courage”.


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Universal Public-Funded Single-Payer User-Selected-Provider Basic Health Care

By Michael Haughey,  May 24, 2009

Pardon the long title. There are so many misconceptions and intentional deceptions about single-payer health care that a detailed title seems necessary. The biggest misconception is that single-payer necessarily means single provider. It doesn’t. It could, but that would not be the best idea. We like choice, and choice provides some incentive for competition on quality.

Notice that Insurance is NOT in this title, but basic health care is. The intent is to reserve insurance for the stuff many of us might be able to agree is extra. That could include single-occupancy hospital beds, or unnecessary cosmetic procedures. Public-funded single-payer means that we the people own and pay for the health care. The added costs for insurance procedures to process claims, deny care, cover risk, and make a profit are removed. That alone probably accounts for 30% of our present costs. We the people will also be protected from rates being raised if we get sick, or actually use the health care. We can collectively save cost by improving preventive care.

Universal Public-Funded Single-Payer User-Selected-Provider Basic Health Care is essential. Trusting the insurance companies to voluntarily “cut” 10% of the costs, as suggested by Obama, would seem most likely to result in services being cut by far more than 10% to achieve the 10% cuts. That is if costs are actually reduced at all. It is voluntary after all. Service is so poor right now, that any cut in service or quality is unacceptable.

A system that allows everyone to buy health insurance is subject to the same abuses as the present system. It still has the potential to break the bank for many of us. It still has insurance company accountants making medical decisions by deciding what they will and will not pay for. We still have an endless battle to get bills covered. It is still unacceptable. This is the one chance to get it right for present generations. If we don’t get it right now, most of us will never see a decent system. Universal Public-Funded Single-Payer User-Selected-Provider Basic Health Care. Accept nothing less.


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