13 July 2012

Obamacare - Socialised Hell

Congratulations America! You’re becoming yet another nation on the socialised medical bandwagon, along with lucky Brits like myself! Thanks to a semantical ploy that only statist fiction could ever consider logical, the Supreme Court upheld Obamacare as constitutional, on the basis that Americans aren’t being forced to buy it because it’s a tax. Technically the US constitution doesn’t allow the government to penalise Americans for not buying health insurance, but by taxing them the Supreme Court has deemed the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) constitutional. So you see, Obamacare isn’t considered a penalty because it’s a tax. Doublethink anyone?

Thus Americans must now sign up for Obamacare if they don’t have alternative medical insurance, thanks to a work of subjective legalese that could never pass in any objective sense. But what’s worse is that the US government only has the authority for very specific taxation, be it directly (such as income tax) or indirectly (such as VAT). This truly is a sad state of affairs for the America people. The US constitution, once the crowning glory of a pioneering constitutional republic, has become nothing but a token parchment that holds no moral or objective value. Statists everywhere must be rubbing their hands in glee, since the US was once the closest that humanity has ever gotten to a truly free society, based on the unalienable rights of people. Today it’s just another land where these rights are reinterpreted as others see fit.

Admittedly there is a lot wrong with US healthcare. But it’s a typical story of lobby groups breaking down regulation until this becomes a mere shadow of any initial intent. This is nothing new though, as all societies voting for representatives, while giving lobby groups the chance to bribe politicians into compliance, is never going to be efficient in the long run. Add to this the donations for those campaigning for office, and representatives are never going to serve anyone but the most powerful special interest groups overall.

In spite what those on the left might tell you, it’s not just corporations that hold sway in this respect. Labour unions like the Service Employees International Union, and feminist lobby groups like the National Organisation for Women, are also very influential. Sure, the obvious culprits like financial institutions and oil companies are always in the mix, and of course there’s drug industry lobbyists, highly relevant to the present topic.

Drug industry lobbyists have been pushing for medical prices to remain higher in the wake of Obamacare, a consistent lobbying pattern that leads to anything but a free market of supply and demand. What this does lead to is exploitable red tape in the terms and conditions of policies. Obamacare will purportedly rectify this, though all this regulation will inevitably lead to artificial price fixing, with only slightly less complexity in the terminology that sets out in policies. Obamacare simply prevents a free market of competition between insurance companies from ensuing, contributing to a crony capitalist society.

The slippery slope of inefficiency, leading to a gradual socialisation of the healthcare system, seems unavoidable now in the US – it’s only a matter of time. But what would this result in? For starters you can expect more and more cronyism to be adopted. One such example would be cleaning contracts for hospitals. In the UK this is notoriously bad. Contracts are sold to the lowest bidder in a tender offer, over extended periods of several years. The company that wins the contract, often having made the lowest offer, will cut corners in order to make a profit, with disastrous effect. Recently there’s been an outbreak of legionnaires disease in an Edinburgh hospital, linked to a contaminated water supply. To date one person has died, and several were put in intensive care.

Legionnaires aside, in the UK there’s also the outbreak of MRSA that resurfaces from time to time, again strongly associated with lack of hospital hygiene. UK Hospital waiting times are also a serious issue, up to 7699 people waiting over 36 weeks in Wales, where I live in the UK. These statistics are often worse than they’re made out to be, partly because there’s a low, medium, and high priority system when being referred to a hospital. Of course, when the pressure on waiting lists is up, the definition of ‘priority’ is re-evaluated.

Canadian waiting times for socialised healthcare
are also very poor (click for full sized image):

Speaking from personal experience I have very little to say that’s positive about public healthcare. My father suddenly dropped dead of a heart attack two years ago, and though he was blatantly overweight, his doctor basically allowed him to self-diagnose for years as a sufferer of heartburn, playing along with this absurd suggestion, no doubt because it meant one less person on a hospital waiting list. I would regularly say to my father that he was overweight, but others humoured his delusions, including professionals. As an overweight man my father had to take responsibility for not being here today. Nonetheless, in a private healthcare system medical check-ups are far more readily available, since there’s no pressure on quality of service, and doctors can be safe rather than sorry when diagnosing a patient.

My wife also had a tough time when giving birth to our daughter. We were told on the week of Christmas that our daughter had situs inversus, or in other words that the organs in the body are reversed. On New Years Eve it turned out that the nurses doing the ultrasound scan, which doctors do in the US, most likely had the machine aligned incorrectly, therefore mirroring the organs of the body. The moral of the story? Don’t send a nurse to do a doctor’s job!

During labour, my wife was hoping to have a water birth, but this was abandoned when the running water became discoloured (*cough* legionnaires). She went through around ten hours of labour, only to be told that the baby was back-to-back with the mother, which makes it impossible to push the baby out. She then had to have an episiotomy (look it up - it’s not nice).

As a result my wife then spent several days in a dirty ward, where even a second pillow was considered a big ask. My newborn daughter, having contracted jaundice, was struggling to stay awake long enough to feed, while my wife, having never had a child, was simply left to her own devices, unaware that she had to practically force our daughter to stay awake just so she could drink enough milk. All the while the severity of my wife’s stitches made it difficult for her to move. I was only allowed to be around this particular ward at certain times of day, which meant my support for her was limited until she got home a few days later.

It took weeks of intensive feeding routines to get my daughter’s jaundice to diminish, warned by nurses that she would have to go back into hospital if it didn’t get better. It would have helped if the nurses had given my wife the right feeding advice as soon as my daughter was born. But you see, that’s the thing with socialism - no one’s responsible for anything. As Winston Churchill once said:

“Socialism is the morbid doctrine that nothing matters but the equal sharing of miseries.”

9 comments:

  1. This mirrors a lot of the things I've experienced in the Canadian health care system. It saddens me that people in the US (and across the world) seem to think that socialised medicine is the only way to go. It makes me wonder if they've ever had to struggle though the hell that is a public healthcare system.

    The other side of the situation that I think you may not have considered is that because a public system is price fixed, there's no profit motive for doctors to do things well or right, or even to do things at all. Canada has been suffering under what we call the "Medical Brain Drain" in which our universities are pumping out doctors and nurses like crazy, but our healthcare system has to keep importing doctors from India and China and nurses from the Philippines, because the Canadian doctors and nurses are all going to the States where they can (or could?) make a decent wage (or one that can justify the costs associated with getting a medical degree in Canada).

    When will people learn that relying on the government for anything, particularly something as vital as one's health, is folly?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, the UK is importing a lot of doctors too, and the ones that are training here end up with exorbitant debts from university fees, and find it hard to get a job.

      I would love to see you create a breakdown of the Canadian healthcare service. It's important that the fabrication of quality public healthcare is exposed at every juncture.

      In answer to your question I don't know when people will learn - if ever. What I do know is that socialised medicine is a terrible service that I wish I could opt out of, get a tax break for doing so, and go private. That's the least that should occur to end this inefficiency. It costs lives at the end of the day, as I've learnt first hand.

      Delete
  2. I want to temper a few of the things you mentioned. With the canadian waiting time example you gave, people can pay extra money to get a private cataract surgery right away, or they can wait to get the same procedure publicly for 'free'.

    Health Insurance companies in the USA have a perverse incentive to basically commit fraud and not provide their service if it ever gets 'expensive'. How would you feel if during wife's child birth, the insurance company said FU, you have reversed organs and we're dropping all coverage!

    The US also has a ton of harmful regulation that basically causes the cost of health care to be double for the same service compared to a public healthcare system. The USA already had socialized medicine before obama care, it just wasn't equally distributed. There is also a very large administrative inefficiency in the american system not present the socialized system. The US is NOT the model to look at for private health care.

    Also having worked with people from china, a persons origin of education shouldn't be the only basis you judge the quality of their ability. I've worked with very skilled PhDs and immigrants from china with thick accents, someones country of origin shouldn't matter, only their skill.

    The better private healthcare options often get money from the government for their services, they just charge more and you cover the difference. That is your 'tax break' of sorts. I believe you could of paid extra for a better childbirth experience.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Publicly_funded_health_care
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/US_health_care#Efficiency

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've worked in the health care industry for the past five years in both billing and as a claims processor. If people think that the treatment they get from private insurance is bad here in the US, it's only going to get worse if the government gets involved. Based on my experience, many providers do not want to become contracted with Medicare because it means only more red tape they have to cut through in order to get reimbursed for their services and reimbursement from Medicare is much less then from a private insurance. If people think that they're going to get "free services," under Obamacare, they're sorely mistaken. Medicare (a federally funded insurance plan) charges patients a copay, coinsurance and or a deductible just like most private insurance plans. The government will have no choice but to bill the individual one, two or all of these options because taxes will not be enough to cover everyone. Therefore it is not a free service.

      I do agree that the cost of health care in the US is astronomically high and should be reformed. However our government's plan is not a feasible and will only hurt the people in the end.

      Delete
  3. ObamaCare is probably the main reason why Obama's party lost the lower house in the 2010 elections. If Romney wins, ObamaCare is toast. Things will get very interesting if the GOP carries the Senate, keeps the House, but Obama is reelected. This is especially true given that Obama does not know how to conciliate and bargain in a back room, over coffee and wine, and finger food. A great deal of practical politics takes place in meetings and over the telephone, where elites call each other by their given names. Kennedy and Johnson were good at this. Nixon, Carter and Obama were not. Obama apparently is an introverted intellectual who likes to give speeches to audiences dominated by the Faithful.

    About 40% of USA healthcare spending is public. One accesses this limited public system in one of 3 ways: (1) being past one's 65th birthday; (2) having done time in the US Armed Forces and receiving an honourable discharge; and (3) being deemed indigent. Most people who work for an entity with 100 or more employees enjoy private health insurance for their jobs. Including children and nonworking spouses requires many hundred dollars a month.

    If the patient is in crisis, American health care is quite good... and very costly. The wholesale prices of pharmaceuticals in the USA is several times higher than in any other country. The ObamaCare law specifically protects this situation. Most American hospitals were built after 1970. Most of all, all surgeons and most doctors earn enormous annual incomes. I bet USA nurses earn a good deal more than their UK counterparts. Before the rise of banksters, the highest paid people in any USA community were the surgeons.

    In the USA, private health insurance is an option. Trouble is, people seek out private insurance only when they suspect that there is something wrong with themselves or with a close family member. Knowing this, private insurers charge more. Private health insurance for a family of 4 now coast about US$1000/month (but comes with some income tax breaks). Most people of average means who believe themselves healthy decline to pay that much. Thus a vicious spiral of rising premiums and worsening average health status of the insured sets in. Economist call this vicious spiral "adverse selection." It is the main reason why affordable health insurance has to be compulsory for all. The NHS in other words. The trouble with the NHS is that it is a monopoly.

    ReplyDelete
  4. What was USA healthcare like before Medicare (1962), Medicaid (1962) and the VA system (1946)? Before the giant "nonprofit" workplace health insurer Blue Cross / Blue Shield (1939)?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Cross_Blue_Shield_Association#History

    The former minarchist regime was made up of doctors and hospitals varying their fees by what the patient was believed to afford. Also, most American cities with a population of 200K or more would have at least one public hospital that would treat without charge those deemed indigent. All doctors did a fair amount of charity work, but led upper middle class lives thanks to the fees they collected from the middle and upper classes. Hospitals were always nonprofits, whose mission statement included an obligation to serve the seriously ill without charge.

    Before 1920 or so, the word "doctor" covered a multitude of sins. Some were well trained scientists with 8 years of uni education. Others had attended a shonky trade school for as little as 2 years. The shonkier the qualifications, the lower the fees. Membership in the American Medical Association was voluntary.

    In 1910, a layman tabled a report on American medical education, revealing that much of it was inept and shonky. Over the next 20 years, 40-50% of American faculties of medicine closed. The standard of American doctors rose dramatically... but so did their fees.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What great information regarding minarchist health schemes. Thank you for that. I will almost certainly refer to it some time. I have been aware of this sort of system before socialised healthcare before. But solid examples are always very helpful.

      Thank you for your comments.

      Delete
  5. It might not necessarily be on topic what I write here but I just had share these thoughts with someone.

    So, I was talking with a few socialists about "free" healthcare and education (European style).

    They were all claiming that how superior a system is that will allow people to have "free" education and were all on bashing the US and other countries where this is not the case. As if they would be inferior to Europe.

    I just could under no circumstance convince them that these things are actually NOT free, not even close.

    They were making fun of the US of having student loans while claiming that in Europe you do not have to pay anything at all in order to go to college.

    They just don't seem to understand that they actually WILL have to pay for all these things through the exorbitantly high taxes they will pay for the rest of their lives after they get a job. And worse, when the "debt" is paid off, they will STILL have to continue to pay the tax forever.

    So, basically:

    - student loans: You take the loan, pay for your education yourself. After this, if you are good, you will get a job and pay off your loan. Once you have paid it off, you will not have to continue to pay.

    - socialist education: The government will pay for your education (because teachers are obviously not teaching for free). Once you finish your education you will pay back the money the government paid in your place through very high taxes. BUT the taxes will NOT decrease after you have "paid back" your "loan" to the government. You will have to pay the high taxes forever. Even worse, once you get older and will have a better pay, you will have to pay EVEN MORE taxes because of progressive taxation, since supposedly it is not fair that you got "lucky" and earn more and others were "unlucky" and earn less, so you should share your "luck" with others.

    I cannot comprehend how people can claim that student loans are "unfair" and "too high" and etc. considering that the cost of "free" socialist education is incomparably higher. It amazes we every day how most people fail to have any kind of common sense at all.

    It's like this:

    - you have a net salary of $1,700. You will have to pay for your own healthcare insurance, education etc. bringing the money you can use on yourself down to, say, $1,000.

    In this case everyone is bitching and moaning that this is not fair and it's theft and capitalism is robbery, since those things should be free and it's not alright that you can only effectively use $1,000 of your earnings.

    - you have a net salary of $1,000 (however your employer retains $700 in taxes, insurance etc - so your real salary was $1,700). You get "free" education, healthcare etc.

    In this situation, everything becomes suddenly "fair" and alright, even though you still only have $1,000 in your pocket.

    Is it REALLY this hard for most people to use some basic logic? Do people only see that money is being taken away from them if they actually hold that money in their hands and have to give it away? Don't they see that in socialism they STILL have to pay for absolutely everything that's supposed to be "free"? And more so, in socialism you pay incomparably more for those kind of services since you will pay the high taxes that are needed for those services forever.

    But just the fact that they don't physically hold that money in their hand they fail to see that they effectively have still paid for all the stuff that is supposedly "free".

    This is why I say that socialism is the most successful scam in history. It robs people of their money without them even knowing about it.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Don't Fret Mr.Z, there are some people from even the UK/EU, that understand that there's no such thing as a free lunch.

    I mean it's simply an expansion of the principles of entropy applied to money movement in a society.

    Socialism is basically a Ponzi Scheme, writ large, with noisy Orwellian screens blaring at people, all the time. I'm not sure that there's much distinction between certain kinds of Big Business/Government and Big Brother to be completely honest.

    I'm sorry to see that the US is being dragged down this route away from the Republic it was once so proud to be.

    Did not Kissenger warn people of the dangers of the military industrial complex and its' ability to lobby government and combine with it, lobbying is another huge issue.

    I mean it's as a simple a this: Money/Credits represent the cost, to mine, make, move and use something, and that has to be paid for.

    Star Trek (I know not everyones cup if Tea) seems to be a strange utopian world, a sort of scientism/humanist state, with courts governments etc, but a one world culture.
    It can easily be read as a Communism of sorts, but it seems to fall down on several counts, namely being democratic.
    Babylon 5 is also good for these kind of arguments, as this often appeals to socialist people, it is a mess of situation, but more realistic.

    Pop Culture metaphors tend to help, I've noticed, in helping people gain some objectivity about what they think.

    ReplyDelete