Green Room

Debunking Some Healthcare Propaganda

posted at 4:27 pm on July 13, 2009 by

In a country of 330 million people, there’s an ample supply of anecdotes about people suffering the financial consequences of an illness.  Democrats are going to pound us with propaganda about those stories, especially in states where blue dog senators may be vulnerable.  In this ad targeting Mary Landrieu, we hear the heartbreaking story of a breast cancer survivor who can’t afford health insurance and has an uninsured daughter.

Note that Karen doesn’t say she’s been denied care.  Nor will her daughter be denied care.  Thanks to EMTALA, any emergency room will treat anyone regardless of their ability to pay.  We have sliding scale payment healthcare clinics and charity hospitals and Medicaid and the ability to make payments over time.  Karen could also try to find another job with a better insurance plan.  As for Karen’s daughter, a quick search revealed that a private policy with no deductible and low office visit copays for a teenaged girl costs around $120 a month.  Finally, Karen outright lies about the ramifications of the “public option.”  It’s not affordable for private plans to compete with government-run insurance, so the only option will be the public option, as so many on the left have openly stated.

I don’t wish to make light of the serious financial repercussions of a catastrophic or chronic health care problem. My husband had cancer and he beat the odds, thanks to MD Anderson’s innovative treatment and experimental drugs – exactly the sort of treatment which bureaucracy will kill.  We made payments for years against what we owed.  A few months ago, a family member was hospitalized three times; the total hospital stay was nearly two months. There was a large gap between the bills and what our health insurance policy covered.  So I know from personal experience that these events can be devastating on the individual level. Your savings can be wiped out. You might lose your house and have to rent an apartment.  Sometimes people in these circumstances take advantage of bankruptcy laws to get out of paying what they owe.  But none of this rises to the level of “crisis.”

In the fight to nationalize nearly twenty percent of the economy, a popular statistic is “47 million uninsured.” Recently Donna Brazile tried to tack on another 20 million “underinsured.” (via)  Who are these people and why can’t they pay for the services they consume?

Can people afford to spend more on health care?
This chart shows how people are spending their money (click for larger image):

With an average income of about $63,000, families spend $2853 on health care. Interestingly, these strapped, financially burdened people who can’t possibly pay more for their health care do manage to squeeze out $2698 for entertainment, $323 on tobacco and another $457 on alcohol. That’s a total of $3478, or about $290 a month.  Call me crazy, but I say most people can afford to pay for more healthcare if they really needed to. They’re just calling themselves victims and demanding to be protected from the consequences of their financial choices.

We’re afflicted with a “big screen TV poverty” mentality; we think the failure to achieve a desired lifestyle equates with poverty.  Poverty in America isn’t what it used to be; now people classified as poor own homes, one or two cars, have air conditioning, microwaves, cell phones, cable TV and internet.  Those people may not be rich, but they’re not what most of us would describe as poor, either.

Who are the 47 million uninsured?
They don’t exist.

It’s true that some people – though a lot fewer than the statists declare – are suffering genuine poverty and really can’t afford either health care or health insurance.  What’s not true is that no provisions have been made for those people.  As for the people in between – as one doctor puts it, “Why I should pay for someone’s health insurance so they can afford their iPod is beyond me.”

What’s the real problem?
Although the commercials and discussion focuses on younger to middle aged adults and on children, the fact is that about half of health care expenses are incurred by a mere 5% of the country, and 43% of that group are 65 and up.  The public option single payer option proposes to more or less kill them off instead of wasting precious resources on Gram and Gramps.  Medical technology exists today to extend lives further than previous generations dreamed possible.  With this expensive new technology comes difficult decisions about when to employ it.

The “just die already” crowd ranges from Bill Clinton to the New York Times, pushing the idea that refraining from “heroic” medical treatment is the right solution to deal with the health care crisis.  (Remember, in the case of Terri Schiavo, “heroic” included food and water.)  Well, denying care would certainly save a lot of money otherwise spent on medical bills – and as an added bonus would make more money available to the government via the death tax.  I don’t see Ted Kennedy lining up for it, though; he’s taking every measure he can to extend his life.  While I am a big proponent of making a measured decision about my own life, and if necessary, my loved ones, who wants the government making those decisions?  Especially a government which advocates eugenics.

What’s the real goal?
Medical research and innovation is demanded as a moral imperative when it comes to the futile embryonic stem cell research and largely ignored when it comes to highly effective adult stem cells.  Where are the demands to find innovative and less expensive ways to provide end of life care?  Didn’t the president say this “reform” is all about more choices?  If reformers were serious about addressing the cost of health care, they could at least throw a few bucks at an ad campaign to spark discussion, like this one.  But they don’t want discussion and an informed, educated populace or even reduced health care costs.  They want control.  They were after it forty years ago when Reagan spoke against it.

What, me worry?

“There is no chance that it’s going to be done by August,” said Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz. “President Obama was right about one thing: He said if it’s not done quickly, it won’t be done at all. Why did he say that? Because the longer it hangs out there, the more the American people are skeptical, anxious and even in opposition to it.”

Well, they definitely don’t want to give people time to learn this or this.  But I wouldn’t bet against Pelosi and Reid ramming some legislation through the system – unread – while we’re distracted with nonsense like this.  After all, President Obama insists, “We are going to get this done.”  Now is really not the time to relax.  Make sure you write and call your Congressman and Senators.

Cross posted here.

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As for “Just die already!” – this is what happens when a law is written that doesn’t factor in changing conditions.

In this case, I mean Social Security mandating 65 as the retirement age because “most men die before that”. Should have had a calculation in there to make it “average age men die at + 5”, thus ensuring the trust fund goes mainly to widows….

Now, though, people are in the habit of quitting their day jobs at 65 and coasting for up to 3 more decades on the governments’ dime.

No, I’m not in the “just die already” camp – but I am in the “get your hands off my wallet” camp.. There’s plenty of twentysomething moochers, don’t need seventysomethings getting into the act too!

And yeah, I expect Reid and Pelosi to try a hail-mary to get *something* that Obama can execute (he’s the head of the executive branch, after all) soon.. most likely is around Labor Day when Americans are looking the other way or are hung over.


acat on July 13, 2009 at 4:36 PM

I’m definitely not in the “just die already camp” – I linked the Engage with Grace project and I’m very much in favor of people making decisions to limit end of life care. But then, that’s people making the decision, not government. It’s one thing to say, “I want to die at home.” It’s another to be told, “Go home and die.”

Laura on July 13, 2009 at 4:44 PM

With an average income of about $63,000, families spend $2853 on health care. Interestingly, these strapped, financially burdened people who can’t possibly pay more for their health care do manage to squeeze out $2698 for entertainment, $323 on tobacco and another $457 on alcohol. That’s a total of $3478, or about $290 a month. Call me crazy, but I say most people can afford to pay for more healthcare if they really needed to. They’re just calling themselves victims and demanding to be protected from the consequences of their financial choices

That is exactly what I was ranting about under this post.

boomer on July 15, 2009 at 11:47 PM

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