Posts Tagged ‘US Medical System’

More on Healthcare

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2009

– A friend of mine who is following the Healthcare debate sent me the following.   It speaks for itself so I’m just going to publish it as is.

– If you find yourself wondering if you are seeing a pattern here, follow this link for a series of stories all on the same subject.  Sobering stuff, indeed. 

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As the health care debate rages onward, here comes yet another article debunking the “threat” of socialized medicine…and note that this article was issued almost at the beginning of the so-called debate on health care. Haven’t seen it? Hmmm, not surprising — as mentioned in my last sending on this subject, the health care industry is spending $1.5 MILLION dollars each DAY to pay lobbyists to both prevent these aritcles and the keep their current profitable system in place…all of which is funded BY YOUR PREMIUMS. And if that’s just what they’re paying lobbyists, imagine what they’re paying advertisers, other media and (gasp) Congress folk! Check out the bill…so far, it’s come to about $65,000 per Congress person (slightly higher for Republicans but that’s about average, even for “Blue Dog” Democrats).   But hey, it’s your money…your health…your Senator or Representative…your say.

Published on Tuesday, July 28, 2009 by

The Truth about Socialized Medicine

by Audrey Mayer

I have been hearing a lot of pundits and politicians bemoan “socialized medicine” and its supposed inefficiencies and inequities. These horror stories are never accompanied by data, just hearsay and anecdotes from “a friend of a friend” in Canada or the United Kingdom. Rarely have I heard from people who have themselves experienced a universal public health care system. As one of those people, I thought I should speak up.

While living in Finland for three years, I experienced socialized medicine up close and personal. I gave birth to my son there.

Finland’s public health care system is run by a government agency called KELA, and the doctors, nurses, dentists, and other health care workers are government employees. KELA usually covers 100% of the cost of most services at public clinics, with small copayments for prescriptions and hospital stays that are scaled to a patient’s income. Finland also has many private clinics that are available to those who want to use them, where patients pay the extra cost of the private service (KELA will pay up to what the service would cost at a public clinic). When you visit a clinic or hospital you present your KELA card at the reception desk, and if a payment is necessary you can pay at the clinic, or a bill can be sent to your home.

All Finnish citizens and permanent residents are eligible for KELA benefits, as are immigrants on work and political asylum visas. I was eligible for the KELA system because I was in Finland on a work visa, and I paid income and social services taxes from my paychecks. Yes the taxes were high, about 40% of my gross pay. However, it is comparable to my take-home pay here in the US once I factor in my health insurance premiums, deductibles, and copayments, along with my income and social security taxes.

The care that I received in Finland throughout my pregnancy and childbirth, and for the first 9 months of my son’s life, was simply amazing. I saw the same nurse and doctor for monthly pregnancy checks (and later they were my son’s primary medical caregivers); their offices were in the same hallway. Both women knew us by name and by sight, and always remembered what we had discussed for the previous visit. Routine ultrasounds were performed at the maternity hospital; my nurse made each appointment for me and I simply showed up at the hospital for the procedure. When my labor started I headed to the maternity hospital, and the hospital’s nurses and doctors knew exactly who I was, as my medical files were available to them through KELA’s computerized filing system. (Patients must sign a form that allows their medical files to be accessible by other medical facilities, so a patient’s privacy rights are protected.) Every nurse coming on duty reviewed my file before seeing me, and so my discussions with them were focused on what my son and I needed at the moment, not what had been done during the previous shifts. After my emergency Cesarean operation and a four day stay in the hospital, only one bill was waiting for us when we got home, for a total of 260 Euros.

I never had to wait to see a medical professional, nor was any necessary procedure delayed or denied. Every nurse and doctor I saw was caring and knowledgeable, and spent whatever time was necessary to make sure that I received the care I needed.

I have now been living and working back in the US for 6 months, and already I have had problems with my health insurance plan through my employer. I found out the hard way (that is, at the doctor’s office after my son’s vaccination visit) that my son had been arbitrarily dropped from my plan months before, even though I had been paying the premiums for the family plan all along. It took almost a week of phone calls to get him reinstated. All the while, I privately wondered if the two ear infections he had had in the spring had prompted some computer at the health insurance company to calculate that he was “overusing” the system, and automatically drop his coverage.

That may seem like paranoid thinking, but I have seen it all before. In 2001, my mother was diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer. Instead of focusing her strength and attention on recovering from a double mastectomy, chemotherapy, and radiation, she spent much of her time arguing with the health insurance company and the hospital over bills she had already paid, and routine treatments that should have been covered by her insurance plan. Ultimately she lost her insurance altogether when she lost her job, and she has since been living in remission, uninsured.

When these pundits and politicians go onto national television and spew all sorts of false rhetoric about the evils of socialized medicine, it makes my blood boil. They are doing an incredible disservice to their fellow Americans, both those with and without health insurance. For every anecdote they have about a Canadian waiting six months for necessary open heart surgery, I can find twenty Americans for whom that equally necessary surgery is completely out of reach. Now is the time for an honest assessment about what (if anything) can be salvaged from our current system, and to put a system in place that does what it is supposed to do: provide health care.

Audrey Mayer is an assistant professor at Michigan Technological University, focused on sustainability research and education.

A mean streak in the US mainstream

Saturday, August 29th, 2009

– What to say?   This is one aspect of the U.S. that I will not be sorry to leave behind when I shift to New Zealand.

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The Independent (UK)
Tue, 25 Aug 2009

The US tolerates more inequality, deprivation and suffering than is acceptable here

HealthCareFailureWhen we Europeans – the British included – contemplate the battles President Obama must fight to reform the US health system, our first response tends to be disbelief. How can it be that so obvious a social good as universal health insurance, so humane a solution to common vulnerability, is not sewn deep into the fabric of the United States? How can one of the biggest, richest and most advanced countries in the world tolerate a situation where, at any one time, one in six of the population has to pay for their treatment item by item, or resort to hospital casualty wards?

The second response, as automatic as the first, is to blame heartless and ignorant Republicans. To Europeans, a universal health system is so basic to a civilised society that only the loony right could possibly oppose it: the people who cling to their guns, picket abortion clinics (when they are not trying to shoot the abortionists) and block funding for birth control in the third world. All right, we are saying to ourselves, there are Americans who think like this, but they are out on an ideological limb.

If only this were true. The reason why Obama is finding health reform such a struggle – even though it was central to his election platform – is not because an extreme wing of the Republican Party, mobilised by media shock-jocks, is foaming at the mouth, or because Republicans have more money than Democrats to buy lobbying and advertising power. Nor is it only because so many influential groups, from insurance companies through doctors, have lucrative interests to defend – although this is a big part of it.

It is because very many Americans simply do not agree that it is a good idea. And they include not only mainstream Republicans, but Democrats, too. Indeed, Obama’s chief problem in seeking to extend health cover to most Americans is not Republican opposition: he thrashed John McCain to win his presidential mandate; he has majorities in both Houses of Congress. If Democrats were solidly behind reform, victory would already be his.

The unpalatable fact for Europeans who incline to think that Americans are just like us is that Democrats are not solidly behind Obama on this issue. Even many in the party’s mainstream must be wooed, cajoled and even – yes – frightened, if they are ever going to agree to change the status quo. Universal healthcare is an article of faith in the US only at what mainstream America would regard as the bleeding- heart liberal end of the spectrum.

As some of Obama’s enemies warned through the campaign – and I mean warned, not promised – this is the philosophical terrain where, his voting record suggests, this President is most at home. But many more are not. The absence from the Senate of Edward Kennedy, through illness, and Hillary Clinton, elevated to the State Department, has left his pro-reform advocacy in the legislature sorely depleted.

But there is something else at work here, too, beyond defective advocacy, and it lays bare a profound misunderstanding. Europe hailed Obama’s landslide election victory as evidence that America had reclaimed its better self, turned to the left and bade farewell to ingrained racial divisions as well. That was a benevolent, but ultimately idealistic, gloss.

Obama’s victory can indeed be seen as a reaction to eight years of conservative Republicanism under George Bush and a turn by US voters to the left. But that left is still quite a bit further right than in most of Europe. Nor was it just a leftward turn that cost John McCain the White House; it was also a rejection of the weaker candidate. Obama’s great asset was that he came across as more competent on the economy, at a time of global financial meltdown. From this side of the Atlantic, we convinced ourselves that Americans had voted with their hearts, but there was a considerable element of the wallet as well.

That wallet element helps explain the deep-seated misgivings that have surfaced about Obama’s plans for health reform. A majority of Americans believe they have adequate health cover. Their choice of job may be limited by their insurance requirements (and labour mobility reduced). And their calculations may be upset – sometimes disastrously – by accident or illness.

But with most pensioners protected by the state system known as Medicare, an “I’m all right, Jack” attitude prevails. It coexists with the fear that extending the pool of the insured, to the poorer and more illness-prone, will raise premiums for the healthy and bring queuing, or rationing, of care – which is why stories about the NHS inspire such dread. The principle that no one should be penalised financially by illness is trumped by the self-interest of the majority, then rationalised by the argument that health is a matter of personal responsibility.

The point is that, when on “normal”, the needle of the US barometer is not only quite a way to the political right of where it would be in Europe, but showing a very different atmospheric level, too. For there is a mean and merciless streak in mainstream US attitudes, which tolerates much more in the way of inequality, deprivation and suffering than is acceptable here, while incorporating a large and often sanctimonious quotient of blame.

This transatlantic difference goes far beyond the healthcare debate. Consider the give-no-quarter statements out of the US on the release of the Lockerbie bomber – or the continued application of the death penalty, or the fact that excessive violence is far more common a cause for censorship of US films in Europe than sex. Or even, in documents emerging from the CIA, a different tolerance threshold where torture and terrorism are concerned.

Some put the divergence down to the ideological rigidity that led Puritans and others to flee to America in the first place; others to the ruthless struggle for survival that marked the early settlement years and the conquest of the West. Still others see it as the price the US pays for its material success. What it means, though, is that if and when Obama gets some form of health reform through, it will reflect America’s fears quite as much as its promise. And it is unlikely to be a national service that looks anything like ours.

To the original…

– Research thanks to John P. and Charles S.

The brutal truth about America’s healthcare

Sunday, August 16th, 2009

Free_HealthcareAn extraordinary report from Guy Adams in Los Angeles at the music arena that has been turned into a makeshift medical center

They came in their thousands, queuing through the night to secure one of the coveted wristbands offering entry into a strange parallel universe where medical care is a free and basic right and not an expensive luxury. Some of these Americans had walked miles simply to have their blood pressure checked, some had slept in their cars in the hope of getting an eye-test or a mammogram, others had brought their children for immunisations that could end up saving their life.

In the week that Britain’s National Health Service was held aloft by Republicans as an “evil and Orwellian” example of everything that is wrong with free healthcare, these extraordinary scenes in Inglewood, California yesterday provided a sobering reminder of exactly why President Barack Obama is trying to reform the US system.

The LA Forum, the arena that once hosted sell-out Madonna concerts, has been transformed – for eight days only – into a vast field hospital. In America, the offer of free healthcare is so rare, that news of the magical medical kingdom spread rapidly and long lines of prospective patients snaked around the venue for the chance of getting everyday treatments that many British people take for granted.

To the original…

Health insurers refuse to limit rescission of coverage

Thursday, June 18th, 2009

– There’s a lot that bothers me about health care coverage here in the U.S.A.  I’ve written several times on it:

– But I don’t think I’ve seen anything that irritated and angered me quite like the story below.

– Insurance industry executives saying in front of congress that they will do basically anything they can to drop folks who are insured – rather than paying their legitimate claims.  Unbelievable!

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cancelLawmakers ask three executives if they’ll stop dropping customers except where they can show “intentional fraud.” All say no.

Executives of three of the nation’s largest health insurers told federal lawmakers in Washington on Tuesday that they would continue canceling medical coverage for some sick policyholders, despite withering criticism from Republican and Democratic members of Congress who decried the practice as unfair and abusive.

The hearing on the controversial action known as rescission, which has left thousands of Americans burdened with costly medical bills despite paying insurance premiums, began a day after President Obama outlined his proposals for revamping the nation’s healthcare system.

An investigation by the House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations showed that health insurers WellPoint Inc., UnitedHealth Group and Assurant Inc. canceled the coverage of more than 20,000 people, allowing the companies to avoid paying more than $300 million in medical claims over a five-year period.

It also found that policyholders with breast cancer, lymphoma and more than 1,000 other conditions were targeted for rescission and that employees were praised in performance reviews for terminating the policies of customers with expensive illnesses.

“No one can defend, and I certainly cannot defend, the practice of canceling coverage after the fact,” said Rep. Michael C. Burgess (R-Tex.), a member of the committee. “There is no acceptable minimum to denying coverage after the fact.”

The executives — Richard A. Collins, chief executive of UnitedHealth’s Golden Rule Insurance Co.; Don Hamm, chief executive of Assurant Health and Brian Sassi, president of consumer business for WellPoint Inc., parent of Blue Cross of California — were courteous and matter-of-fact in their testimony.

But they would not commit to limiting rescissions to only policyholders who intentionally lie or commit fraud to obtain coverage, a refusal that met with dismay from legislators on both sides of the political aisle.


The Battle for Pork Chop Hill (healthcare)

Tuesday, June 16th, 2009

obama-listening– A friend of mine is an M.D. and recently he responded to President Obama’s request for grass-roots input from the U.S. public on health care reform by writing a letter to the president detailing his thoughts.   He sent me a copy of his letter to see if I had any thoughts and/or comments.

– I found it a well-written, thoughtful letter full of excellent suggestions but when I responded to him, I found it impossible to get into the spirit of it.   To me, here in the U.S., the battle for serious health care reform, is a meaningless battle – a lot like those battles when our troops fought for mastery of particular hilltop in WWII and the Korean War.   The hills won one day at a terrible cost would be abandoned just a few days later as the conditions of the larger enclosing battles changed.

– Frankly, I don’t think there’s any chance that the U.S. will ever enact serious health care reform and in my response to my friend, below, you’ll see why.

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Dr. H.,

Thank you for responding to the president’s request for input on our health care system.   What you’ve written here is an excellent public service.

I too have thoughts about all of this but I’m afraid I am less optimistic that calls for ideas will lead to any changes of significance.   My fear, as I’ve told you before, is that the medical and pharmaceutical industries in the U.S. have been thoroughly captured by large and powerful profit-centric corporate interests and that nothing will wrest control back from them short of a revolution.

Corporations vs. People

I don’t mean an armed revolution.   I mean a revolution in how we, as human beings, think about what the purposes of our national governments should be.   I’m fond of saying that, “One cannot have two number-one priorities.“  When it comes to deciding what governments are for, we certainly cannot.   We either have to place the welfare and happiness of the nation’s people first or the freedom of the nation’s corporations  to do whatever they want to do in their pursuit of profits.  We cannot have it both ways.

Once this choice is explained clearly and brought into our collective consciousness, I have little doubt that most people would feel that government’s number-one priority should be to maximize the quality of life for its citizens.   But, absent such explanations and awarenesses, our country, and most others as well, have been primarily molded by those who seek profit and power for themselves with little regard for the circumstances of others.

(As an aside, let me say that I am not against Capitalism.   Indeed, it is the engine that creates wealth and innovation in our societies.   I am only saying that at the very top of the decision pyramid, when corporate interests clash with the best interests of the people, the decision makers should opt for the good of the people.   Done even handedly, this might limit the range of actions of corporations but it would still be a level playing field for them and none would be disadvantaged verses the others.   More over, those decisions makers at the very top would be strongly instructed to stay out of the way of corporations to the maximum extent possible – save when the people’s best interests are at stake).

So, from my POV, the battle here is not how we can ‘fix’ health care.  It goes far far deeper than that.   Until we, as a people, decide that the happiness and well being of the nation’s people IS the highest priority of the national government, we will always have these battles.   And, given the drive and tenacity of those whose primary aims are for power and profit, we will usually lose these battles.

Beyond all of this, there are bigger problems for our country and the world yet looming.


A healthy vibrant country can organize its finances to support free medical care for all of its citizens.  Several countries around the world have proven this decisively.   But, I’m not sure that a country whose finances are faltering badly can do this.   And our country is faltering badly at this point in its history.   Globalization was touted as our “friend”.   Indeed, as the “world’s friend”; better and cheaper products for everyone and improved standards of living for all.

life-and-debtBut, it hasn’t turned out that way for some of us.  Small countries, like Jamaica (see the Movie “Life and Debt“), have had food stuffs injected  into their markets at far lower prices than their local farmers could sell for.  The result is that the local farmers have all lost their farms and moved to the cities and now entire countries are completely dependent on the food stuffs supplied by the multinational corporate proponents of Globalization.  Sure, these folks can buy their food cheaper.  But now they’ve lost their independence, their jobs, their communities and they are utterly dependent on outside forces for their survival.   Globalization has made them into captive consumers.

And the rich nations have not escaped unscathed.   Multinational corporations seeking ever larger profits have convinced us in the U.S. to send our manufacturing and high-tech industries overseas.    They promised us lower costs on all the cheap goods  love to buy at Wal-Mart.  And for a while, that was fun.   But now we see the deep truth that a nation can only continue being rich if it produces and sells things of value.  And we’ve been turned into a nation of consumers and borrowers by Globalization and are getting poorer by the day.

The multinationals saw great opportunity some years back when they gazed at, for example, the U.S. and China.   They thought, “China is poor and has really cheap labor and the U.S. is rich and its labor is expensive.   If we connect these two situations, goods will flow from China to the U.S. and money will flow from the U.S. to China and we’ll set ourselves up as the folks in the middle coordinating the exchange and getting hugely rich.“  And, for the multinationals and China, it’s been a good deal.  But, for the U.S., the promises of Globalism have only impoverished us.

So, back to socialized health care.   I don’t believe that even if the U.S. wanted to implement serious socialized healthcare, that we could.   What would we pay for it with?   We are no longer a wealth generating nation.

So, that’s one of the big looming problems I was referring to.

Economies and Growth

The other has to do with the idea that most of our societies are built upon the principle that healthy economies are growth economies.  That’s worked well for us as a species up until now but it isn’t going to work much longer.   We’re coming to the limits of what the planet can supply for food and water and we’ve clearly exceeded what it can supply for renewable resources. We’ve built the very foundations of our societies on a non-renewable resource, oil, that will be running out soon.   And we’ve messed with the atmosphere’s Carbon Dioxide so badly that we’re well on our way towards a major climate shift.

And, in the midst of all of these dire warnings written so clearly on the wall of our future, the very best folks can come up with, as they consider and fret about the problems of the currently global economic downturn, is that with luck and perseverance, soon we’ll have our economies all back up and running just as before – with ever increasing growth, consumption and pollution as the cornerstones of our brave new world – same as the old unworkable, unsustainable world.

So, that would be the second problem – and it’s a big one.


pork-chop-hillIf you are down inside the workings of a specific nation and deeply involved and  invested in the concerns and problems of the local health care system, then it might seem reasonable to you to fight the good fight  for a better way of doing things.

But I would suggest that if one gets out of the trenches and ascends above the entire field of battle to a great height, one might see that in the bigger picture it isn’t going to matter if your brave and idealistic unit captures that small hill called “Healthcare”.   Bigger forces are afoot and visible from a greater height.

Those are my thoughts, Dr. H.   As always, I know I sound like a great pessimist.   But I don’t feel that way.   I think I am simply seeing the bigger picture.   I too am idealistic and I talk and rail and write about all of this almost daily.   But, in truth, I don’t do these things because I think I can really change them.   I act more because speaking the truth is right in and of itself and needs no other justification.

At the end of your letter, you listed the following points:

1. There is no place in medical care for “For Profit”.

2. Insurance companies’ priority is profit for shareholders.

3. Direct to patient advertising should be banned.

4. Medical Schools need to be induced to greatly increase graduation of primary care physicians, including loan forgiveness for those who go into primary care practice.

5. Providers should be incentivized for keeping patients healthy and minimizing expensive tests and medications.

6. We should have a single payer system that links patients and families with primary care providers that have support from social services, nutrition and exercise referrals and other support groups.

7. Hopefully we can move toward a society with less income inequality and social injustice where we prioritize education and opportunity and improve the quality of life for all.

I agree and applaud everyone of them.  And I say this not withstanding the fact that I think this battle over health care will be swept away by the larger trends that are afoot.

Again, thanks for writing your letter to the President.  I deeply admire your motives and your idealism.   Please do not take anything I’ve said here as a criticism – it is not intended to be.

Your friend,

Dennis Gallagher

Health Care Insurance in the United States

Sunday, June 7th, 2009

We just got our new healthcare costs for next year.   An 11.3% increase.   This means that out monthly healthcare costs will jump from $885.98/mo ($10,631.76/yr) to $986.40/mo ($11,836.80/yr).   That’s $1205.04 more per year.

And this is the cheapest insurance our provider offers.  We each pay a $2,500 deductable before we see any benefits coming back to us.

Am I deeply disgusted?   You bet.   I’m not going to get 11.3% more services for the extra money I’ll pay – just the same services as before.

I really wonder what is making healthcare costs rise so strongly here in the US if I’m not getting more services?

One thing I’d be willing to bet on:  The health insurer companies are not in danger of going under.  If their costs rise, they just pass it on to those who buy their policies.

Things are unraveling in this country day by day.   And those corporate interests who have captured our pharmaceutical and medical systems stand above the fray and continue to milk us for their profits.

Have you ever asked yourself why an operation that costs $30,000 in the US costs $6000 in India?   Oh, you say, “It’s because the quality of the medical care in there is sub-standard?”   Not so.   It is equivalent.   Read this: or this .   And if you are still curious, Google for “medical costs in India” or “Medical costs in Thailand” for more.   It’ll be an eye-opener.

New Zealand and its socialized medical system is looking better and better to me everday.

Are medical costs the leading cause of U.S. bankruptcies?

Friday, June 5th, 2009

– This story and the one before it both illustrate what is so very wrong with the fact that the U.S. is the only industrialized western nation without universal health care.   And why?  Because corporate interests have captured our system and they are not about to forego their immense profits for the benefit of mere people.

– Read this to see how it could be:

– And read these to see the ways things are going very very wrong: and

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At least 62 percent of all U.S. family bankruptcies result from medical expenses, reports a study released yesterday in The American Journal of Medicine—an increase from the 46 percent the reseachers found in 2001.

Analyzing data from 2,314 randomly selected 2007 (pre-mortgage-meltdown) bankruptcy filings revealed that most of those who had claimed bankruptcy because of medical expenses had health insurance, owned homes, were in their mid-40s and had middle class incomes.

High out-of-pocket expenses for those already insured and the loss of private insurance were the primary reasons for medical bankruptcy, report the study authors—many of whom are active members of Physicians for a National Health Program, a group that advocates for a single-payer system.


Healthcare and Bankruptcy

Friday, June 5th, 2009

— By Kevin Drum | Wed June 3, 2009 11:03 PM PST

On the campaign trail, Barack Obama frequently cited research showing that medical expenses were a contributing factor in 55% of all personal bankruptcies.  A new study says he was wrong. It was actually more than that:

The study found that medical bills, plus related problems such as lost wages for the ill and their caregivers, contributed to 62% of all bankruptcies filed in 2007….Medical insurance isn’t much help, either. About 78% of bankruptcy filers burdened by healthcare expenses were insured, according to the survey, to be published in the August issue of the American Journal of Medicine.

….Most people who filed medical-related bankruptcies “were solidly middle class before financial disaster hit,” the study says. Two-thirds were homeowners, and most had gone to college.

The study does not suggest that medical expenses were the sole cause for these bankruptcies, but it does identify them as a contributing factor. The increase in such filings occurred despite a 2005 law aimed at making it more difficult for individuals to seek court protection from creditors.

Among bankruptcy filers, those without insurance reported average medical expenses of $26,971.  Those with private insurance reported average medical bills of $17,749.


Health Sector Has Donated Millions to Lawmakers

Sunday, March 8th, 2009

– Need more reasons why serious health care reform won’t becoming to the U.S., in spite of what President Obama’s implied?    Don’t get me wrong.  I am a big Obama fan.   But, the cards are too deeply stacked against real health care reform here.   It’s just a political reality on the ground.

– See also here and here and here.

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Health insurers and drug makers have showered members of the 111th Congress with millions in campaign contributions over the last four years, with a special focus on leaders who will play major roles in shaping health-care legislation, according to a study to be released tomorrow.

Health insurers and their employees contributed $2.2 million to the top 10 recipients in the House and Senate since 2005, while drug makers and their employees gave more than $3.3 million to top lawmakers during that period, according to an analysis of federal elections data by Consumer Watchdog, a California-based advocacy group.

The biggest beneficiaries in the Senate included  John McCain (R-Ariz.), with $546,000;  Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), with $425,000; and  Max Baucus (D-Mont.), with $413,000, who as head of the Finance Committee will play a leading role in the debate over health-care reform.

In the House, the two groups gave $257,000 to  Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) and $249,000 to Minority Whip  Eric Cantor (R-Va.). On the Democratic side,  Rep. Earl Pomeroy (N.D.) received contributions from the insurance sector ($104,000), while  Rep. John D. Dingell (Mich.) took in $180,000 from drug companies.


Screwing the Poor

Friday, March 6th, 2009

– I wrote, with some passion, the other day about universal health care – and why it won’t be coming to the U.S.

– Here’s another piece by Kevin Drum of Mother Jones that speaks succinctly to this point.

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Karen Tumulty writes in Time this week about her brother, Pat, who was diagnosed with kidney failure and then learned that the private insurance he’d been paying for for years wouldn’t cover him.  That’s bad enough, but then there’s this:

A paradox of medical costs is that people who can least afford them — the uninsured — end up being charged the most. Insurance companies, with large numbers of customers, have the financial muscle to negotiate low rates from health-care providers; individuals do not. Whereas insured patients would have been charged about $900 by the hospital that performed Pat’s biopsy (and pay only a small fraction of that out of their own pocket), Pat’s bill was $7,756. For lab work — and there was a lot of it — he was being charged as much as six times the price an insurance company would pay.