Just Because You Have Health Insurance Doesn't Mean Your Bill Won't Be A Million Dollars

Here’s a scary thought: What if you have health insurance and still get stuck with a million dollar hospital bill? That’s what happened to Jim Dawson after a staph infection spread throughout his body.

From the WSJ Health Blog:

Part of the problem is that insurance caps — the maximum amount of a patient’s medical bill insurers will pay — haven’t been keeping pace with rising costs. The story says the average cap is $1 million per person, the same as it was in the 1970s.

Dawson’s cap was $1.5 million but after a staph infection spread throughout his body, he was still stuck with a $1.2 million bill from California Pacific Medical Center. He and was wife were outraged to learn about the hospital’s marking up of items.

“For instance, CPMC charged Mr. Dawson $791 for stockings designed to improve blood circulation,” the story says. “The same pair can be purchased on the Internet for as little as $12.”

Even more perplexing was the fact the Dawsons were told it would cost $1,030 just to get an itemized copy of Jim Dawson’s bill. The medical center was nice enough to send a letter — free of charge — seeking donations to the hospital.

Of course once the Wall Street Journal called to inquire about the bill, Mr. Dawson suddenly qualified for assistance under the hospital’s charity and they wrote off his entire bill.

Even With Insurance, Hospital Stay Can Cost a Million [WSJ Health Blog]

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  1. trollkiller says:

    Wait until the poor bastard figures out how little the insurance company really paid for thier part. I gurantee the insurance company did not pay $1.5 mill

  2. PølάrβǽЯ says:

    What I would like to know is how he got the staph infection in the first place. Isn’t the most common place to get that at – what do they call that place – a hospital? I have a funny feeling the hospital dropped the bill because the WSJ inquired about this very same thing.

  3. Trick says:

    And this will get better under “universal care” being touted by everyone.

    This is not a political right/left rant…

    Our government, left or right doesn’t know the meaning of save and cost cutting and when they take over paying for everything, do we really believe that costs are going to go down?

    Or that you won’t be charged? One way or another?

  4. VidaLondres says:

    That is outrageous. I’m completely disgusted. Basic human life-needs should not be for profit.

  5. goller321 says:

    @Trick: So I say cap profits and markups hospitals can charge. Let’s be real here, hospitals would rather build a unneeded wing on their build than treat the people for less. It’s a tax write off for them. I worked for a Catholic “non-profit” that wasted money like there was no tomorrow… They had a REALLY crappy mural painted in the main lobby to the tune of $40,000. Then they redo rooms with solid oak and maple trim at about $6-12 a linear foot. Then there are the doctors that make $500k a year… Maybe government shouldn’t run health care, but they ought regulate it.

  6. clementine says:

    Doctors make a lot of money for their skills … and to help cover their medical malpractice insurance bills.

  7. Coder4Life says:

    Yeah this is ridiculous. Having insurnace these days doens’t mean shit. They will rape you anyways.

    I went to the Mayo clinic had a 15 minute doc. appt, a CT Scan. Bill = $6000. After insurance I owed $600.

    I had the same tests done in Iowa at a clinic, same results. $1000 After Insurnace $100.

    It’s weird how they could charge me 6 times as much for a CT scan. It was $4000 of the charges. I was like are you kidding. It took you 20 minutes to do a CT Scan and maybe 30 minutes to read the scan. 1 hour of work = $4000?

    How much are these people making…

    Medical Bills have put me in alot of debt, and thats after insurance and guess what I work for an Insurance company.

    I have had no surgeries or anything, just scans and a bunch of appt. to doctors that can’t figure anything out and just keep telling me to come back every 2 weeks.

    Great.. I get to suffer and I get to pay lots of bills..

  8. clementine says:

    Edited to add – someone once told me what an average doctor pays to get malpractice insurance. It’s quite an eye opener.

  9. spinachdip says:

    @Trick: Actually, government has demonstrated that, when it comes to healthcare, it can be more efficient than the private sector.

    Granted, comparing Medicare to general healthcare isn’t the most parallel comparison, but you should disabuse yourself of the idea that private sector is inherently more efficient than the public sector.

    Efficiency aside, the insurance industry (along with the pharmaceuticals) has shown that it can’t be trusted to handle the nation’s wellbeing. Its basic tactic is to:
    (1) Deny coverage
    (2) Take their chances in court
    (3) And if they don’t prevail in court, blame the ambulance chasing lawyers and lobby for tort “reform”.

    There’s a special place in hell for the people who run health insurance in this country.

  10. goodkitty says:

    It’s time for a complete teardown and re-building of America’s medical system, from the way we ‘create’ doctors to the way healthcare is viewed as a profit center. We don’t accept (or at least we try not to) greedy corporations and self-interest groups taking over basic needs like electric, water, or *giggle* cable, but when it comes to whether or not a person will live until tomorrow without basic medical needs… it’s the wild, wild west. I know a lot of people who rant on endlessly about a secret AMA plot to keep people sick, and with stories like this I’m starting to believe it.

  11. trollkiller says:

    The best way to reform healthcare is to require that insurance companies pay the same rate as the private pay. Insurance (and medicare/cade) pays the doctor/hospital/lab etc aprox 30-40% of the private pay fee. To keep insurance payments at a decent level the doctor/hospital/lab have to gouge the private pay customer.

    I had to have surgery once, I had insurance that paid 80%. I got my bill for the $4000 I owed toward the $20,000 hospital bill. A couple of weeks later I got a letter from the hospital stating the insurance had decided to deny my claim. The letter also stated that they had returned the insurance company’s $5000.

    Ok I am no math wiz but 5+4=9 not 20. I can see a discounted rate for an insurance company, but $11,000 is not a discount.

  12. timmus says:

    It’s time for a complete teardown and re-building of America’s medical system, from the way we ‘create’ doctors to the way healthcare is viewed as a profit center.

    Bravo, bravo. Seriously, I’m rooting for a collapse of the entire system, because nothing else is working. Every time I see a medical-bill donation jar for a sick 3-year old in a local shop around here, it is a reminder to me how this system has completely failed. The big regional hospital system here has naming rights on a $2 million stadium and their CEO has a $12 million compensation package. WTF?

  13. timmus says:

    Doctors make a lot of money … to help cover their medical malpractice insurance bills.

    That has been proven to be bullshit. You’ve been sold a bill of goods, my friend.

  14. dirtymoney says:

    WHat I want to know is that… doesnt the hospital KNOW that there is no way in hell that they are going to get paid 1 million dollars by the guy they billed it to? (unless the guy is a millionaire)

    So what will happen?

    What happens when you owe an insane amount that you could never ever pay?

    If that happened to me…. I’d liquidate all my assets & move to phucket or some other cheap-to-live-in place & live in a hut on the beach.

  15. FLConsumer says:

    How did the staph infection spread through his body? Was it acquired while he was in the hospital? That’d be a fun one there.

  16. SteveBMD says:

    @dirtymoney: If that happened to me…. I’d liquidate all my assets & move to phucket….

    If that happened to me, I’d liquidate all my assets & just say fuck it.

  17. oldnumberseven says:

    I do not particularly want government run hospitals, but I would like access to the same insurance my senators and representatives have in exchange for being ripped off by taxes, ripped off by capitalists, spied upon, data mined, and wiretapped. Is that too much to ask?

  18. PølάrβǽЯ says:

    @Coder4Life: I’d dispute the charges. If I take my car to a mechanic, pay them lots of money, and it still runs like crap when I get it back, I don’t pay the mechanic, even if I have to sue them over it. If the doctor keeps charging you for things but never fixes them, why should you pay them a dime? I’m not sue happy, but if you pay someone to fix something, and they DON’T FIX IT, shouldn’t you get a refund?

  19. Major-General says:

    @timmus: Proven where? Or is the lack of specialities in some states a farce also?

  20. stinerman says:

    The reason why there is so much markup is because the hospitals are required to treat people who can’t demonstrate their ability to pay. Guess who eats those costs? The people who can.

    This is why I don’t get why people are so against universal health care. You’re already paying for the uninsured whether you want to or not.

    @dirtymoney:
    If you can’t pay, they sell your debt to a bill collector and then you declare bankruptcy. It’s actually a common occurrence. Most bankruptcies in the US are because of medical expenses.

  21. dirtymoney says:

    @stinerman:

    Hey cool! Totally worth it then. Would suck to have bad credit though, but I guess that only lasts for 10 years.

    I currently dont have any need for loans & I save & accumulate like an old miser(I can pay cash for cars & such). So… could I make a “one time gift” *wink wink* of my life’s savings to a friend & then declare bankruptcy?

    P.s. But wait… didnt they make it harder to declare bankruptcy?

  22. mr_jrdn says:

    As I said in the “Health Insurance 101″ post, universal health care is the way to go. I find it so perplexing that in a country as advanced as the United States people still have to worry about the most trivial issues. I know that most people ask “why should I have to pay for other peoples medical bills?” But why not put your tax dollars towards something useful for once? 440 Billion dollars towards military when you have people like Jim Dawson suffering with medical bills? Someone tell me if this seems absurd?

  23. mycroft2000 says:

    Stop almost any Canadian in the street (i.e., one who isn’t a millionaire) and ask whether he or she would like to trade the Canadian system for the American system, and you’ll get a look that suggests that you must be out of your mind. You would only be able to take our socialized medicine by prying it from our cold, dead hands. This is how much we love it.

    Our universal health care system has its faults — like any other — but the peace of mind we have in knowing that we cannot go broke because of illness outweighs them all by a wide margin.

  24. ceejeemcbeegee is not here says:

    As a self-employed person, this is what scares me: not having enough coverage and getting stuck with a huge bill.

    You need a whole ‘nother savings account just for medical emergencies.

  25. doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

    Dawson’s story does have a happy ending, sort of. After the hospital was contacted by the WSJ, CPMC called the Dawsons to say they qualified for financial assistance under the hospital’s charity-care policy and wrote off his entire bill.
    So if someone calls ‘shenaningans’ on a bill like this, the hospital laughs and writes it off?
    If this was a legitimate bill, how could they possibly afford to do this?

  26. jamar0303 says:

    Interesting timing. I’m watching “Sicko” in my high school Economics class right now. Really drives home the point that the US system is absolutely FUBAR. I turn 18 next year; I’ll vote, see how things go, and if they’re not looking up, I’m changing my citizenship as soon as I get out of college.

  27. Charles Duffy says:

    @dirtymoney: Bankruptcy courts tend to frown on that kind of thing.

  28. donnie5 says:

    @jamar0303: Because Michael Moor has been such a reliable source of information. But I will admit, Sicko is a better movie of his, but Universal Health Care has not worked too well.

  29. bustit22 says:

    @mycroft2000:

    Did you ask the Canadians who sued the Canadian gov’t because they had to wait so long for medical treatment that they were dying?

  30. phantomfly says:

    @Trick: Medicare overhead is 3 percent. Innsurance industry’s is about 25 percent. Who’s more efficient?

  31. JackAshley says:

    @bustit22:

    This is an overstatement; It’s actually the opposite that happens in Canada: The needy (those in life or death situations) get the immediate attention (at no cost, of course), while those with minor things (think hip replacements…I know, not too minor, but not life threatening) end up waiting forever.

    But it’s a safe bet that almost all Canadians would rather keep their long wait for minor (and often annoying and painful) afflictions to be cured than to ever see a medical bill.

  32. catnapped says:

    @bustit22: So this opposed to people not seeking coverage here because they can’t afford it?

    And did YOU ask the Americans who died because their insurance companies had to mull it over whether or not they were going to authorize a procedure? Takes time to decide whether or not there’s some way for them to profit off of it.

  33. catnapped says:

    @donnie5: Yeah, you’re right–much better to just do nothing…people will either just bite the bullet and pay up or die off. Win win either way.

    (sarcasm)

  34. donnie5 says:

    @catnapped:
    Sorry catnapped, I never said anything about doing nothing. I am all for the privet health care or some form of mandatory health care (but not like Hilary Clinton’s, she’s an idiot.)
    I am really for smokers and obese people cleaning up their life-styles so I do not have to pay for self-inflicted medical situations. Too bad I do not have enough room to clarify what I mean, because you will probably read into this comment and respond with something dumb.
    As for the guy in the article, he got a raw deal due to inflated health care costs because of a massively broken system. Sorry it happened, thankfully the hospital (like they always do) wrote it off. But I bet we have to cover the cost later.

  35. balthisar says:

    @mycroft2000: maybe you’re exaggerating just a bit. I spent last year living and working in the great Toronto area, and while the system was accepted, I heard a lot of grief about it, probably comparable to the amount of grief the insured in the USA have towards their insurers. I’ve also talked to expatriate Americans who came to Canada specifically so they could be insured, so there’s something to be admired towards the Ontario health system (every province is different, for my fellow Americans). Personally, I wouldn’t mind paying for some basic, state-run (not national), fall-back coverage so that we have a very basic level of coverage, and perhaps a disaster level of coverage, but I don’t want to be involved in that system. The horror of the Canadian system to me is that private medical insurance is illegal. You can take my private medical insurance when you pry it out of my cold, dead fingers.

    (Court cases in Quebec have put some doubt into the illegality of private insurance in Canada. Also, there is additional insurance that must be provided that the province doesn’t cover, such as medicines, dental after age 13, and other miscellaneous stuff.)

  36. mkmead says:

    How much is life worth?

    1.5 million dollars for one person?

    If this was 100 years earlier someone would of handed the guy a gun and a bottle of whiskey and walked away.

    In all seriousness I agree some hospitals push the billing on items up because costs are high, they get screwed on bills alot and insurance companies don’t always pay the bill fully.

    Also to answer the person who wonders why he might pay 1000 for something at one hospital and 6000 at another, it might be a more money because of a investment in newer machines or newer facilities throughout the hospital.

  37. Hambriq says:

    Bleh.

    Yet another example of the costs that can be cut in the health care industry. This type of price gouging is routine, to say the least. Every person you know has a story about their hospital visit/emergency room trip/etc. that cost about 10 times what it should have cost.

    Hospitals justify the overcharging by saying they need the money to keep their hospitals up and running, and are enabled to do so because the insurance companies keep paying for these things. Insurance companies have their hands tied because their only recourse is to not cover the costs, which only ends up screwing the patient, because they already incurred the cost of the treatment. And the patient rarely knows better, and even if they do, have very few options. What are they going to do? Let their bodies get ravaged by MRSA?

    Right now, I think a big step to cutting these costs is to require more transparency in the pricing of things. The fact of the matter is, a lot of these costs are relatively unnecessary, and people will stop accepting these “services” when they are offered if they know the price that accompanies it. I can’t count how many patients this flu season have told me about how the doctor gave their child an MRI because of a sinus infection.

    Okay, yes I can. Four. But that’s about $25,000 worth of medical procedure that could have been replaced with some easily Sudafed and a script for an antibiotic to boot, if they’re really worried.

  38. vastrightwing says:

    Get rid of your equity ASAP! Mortgage your house to 80% of its market value. Take the cash and put it in an offshore (preferably Suisse or Cayman) bank. When your equity position gets higher than 20%, take out a new mortgage and bank the left over equity. You can not afford to have any valuables where an insurance company can get their hands on it. This is the same thing as leaving bars of gold inside your car parked in a public parking lot. Someone will break in and steal it. I’m sorry to put it this way, but this is how the system works.

  39. spinachdip says:

    @donnie5: Really? I’ll inform Germany and France.

  40. Hambriq says:

    @mkmead: In all seriousness I agree some hospitals push the billing on items up because costs are high, they get screwed on bills alot and insurance companies don’t always pay the bill fully.

    Therein lies the problem. If everyone were to “play nicely”, so to speak, overall costs would end up decreasing. If doctors stopped ordering unnecessary costly procedures, if patients stopped agreeing to them, if hospitals stopped price gouging those items, and if insurance companies paid their bills like they were supposed to, the system would function far smoother and as a result, there would be a lot less unnecessary waste.

    And if kisses were made of rainbows, and gold fell from the sky, etc. etc.

  41. JKinNYC says:

    @timmus: Sorry man. malpractice insurance (hey, notice it is the insurance companies again) is forcing Drs out of practice all over the place. Talk to doctors you know. Talk to doctors you are friendly with.

  42. Rando says:

    tbh going after insurance companies isn’t the right thing to do.

    Fix the hopital bills and insurance prices go down. Hospitals make a ton of money

  43. JKinNYC says:

    @randotheking: Why can’t we go after both?

  44. catnapped says:

    @randotheking: Yeah right…everyone knows the only reason insurance companies are in business is to help people (eye roll).

    No, see what’ll happen in your scenario is the hospital bills will go down, insurance prices stay the same (or go up) and they’ll just pocket even more of the profits.

  45. aparsons says:

    @FLConsumer: I had to go to the St Lukes Hospital in Kansas City, MO a few years ago for a possible broken foot. I ended up needing stiches, and a nurse later came in to put a bandage on my foot. Right before opening a pack of gauze, SHE SNEEZED RIGHT INTO HER GLOVE. I told her to change her glove, and she refused. Irritated, I just ignored it.

    What happened next? You guessed it. A nasty infection resulting in another trip to the ER, and another hospital bill. On top of that, they charged me $190 for one of those shoes for a sprained ankle that I didn’t take and refused to give me an itemized bill citing that, “their system didn’t support it.”

    It’s complete bullshit what these hospitals can get away with. I fought, and fought, and fought with the hospital for that second uneeded bill and that overpriced shoe. The best they could do was give me 10% off.

    I did have health insurance, but it was a crappy Health Spending Account offered by Cerner, my employer at the time. You’d think that a healthcare company would have decent health benefits.

  46. kimsama says:

    @trollkiller: I could not agree more, that is seriously f’ed up.

    I was just talking about this with a coworker because I had gotten a bill from a lab that my doctor’s office incorrectly sent to my old insurance. It was for $200. When I filed it correctly with the current insurance, I get a nice letter saying that they paid $40 and now I don’t owe anything. Come again?

    Just another example of the heightened power of big business over the individual now (right along with mandatory binding arbitration, etc).

  47. mycroft2000 says:

    @balthisar:

    I was born and have lived in Toronto all my life, and although I’ve heard some “mild inconvenience” stories, I’ve not heard a single “horror” story from anyone I know. My parents’ and grandparents’ lives were saved multiple times in various hospitals after receiving prompt care, and we’ve had absolutely no reason to complain about any level of care that our family has received. I rather think that if the system was really failing us, we (meaning my family personally) would have had some personal experience of this failure at some time or other over the past forty years. Something tells me that the grief you were catching was from the type of people who enjoy complaining for its own sake.

  48. UnStatusTheQuo says:

    I just had an 8 hour surgery with 3 surgeons attending. I was in for a 5 day hospital stay after (a third of what they estimated). The billing estimates are hovering at $200,000.00

    Thankfully, my wife’s teacher insurance is excellent, so I think in the end, I will owe a $50 copay. Ah, HMO, because 0% always better, and I’ll be glad to get a referral for 0%.

    So insurance doesn’t always suck, but it does make a very big difference who your insurance is with, and what the terms are.

    A law office I was at had a shitty plan that was basically a self-insurance (by the worker out of pocket) plan up to $5,000, then it would kick in 90% to 20,000, and 100% after that. Still sucked a lot since anything you did until you got to the $5,000 deductible was out of pocket. Routine visit… Out of pocket. MRI… out of pocket. I’m much better off now.

  49. catskyfire says:

    @Coder4Life:

    The Mayo clinic cost more because it’s the Mayo clinic. When you go to one of the major research/treatment clinics, you pay for the higher expertise of those who work there as well as for the name. One doesn’t go to Mayo with a sprained ankle. They go there with complications or unusual items that need more advanced care.

  50. bustit22 says:

    @mycroft2000:
    My mother lives in Canada. She’ll be needing an artifical knee in the future. The wait time? 18 months.

    Her friend had a lung infection that a Canadian doctor diagnosed. She had to wait 4 weeks for an MRI, turned out it was cancer. Maybe if she had gotten an MRI sooner, she’d be alive.

  51. bohemian says:

    The two hospital/clinic monopoly where I live (both non-profit) practically own the city. They keep building new buildings, some of them are sitting unused. They have built golf domes, multiple fitness clubs, sponsored naming rights on every athletic facility in town, bought the city holiday parade and offered up land and large donation for a new city arena. Both are also building new buildings, multiple new wings and new stand alone specialty hospitals. This is in a state with 750,000 residents. They are making that much freaking money off of a patient base smaller than most cities.

    Prices for care here are considerably higher than elsewhere, more along the lines of the Mayo Clinic prices quoted by someone else.

    Our hospitals are rolling in money, both own the the two major health insurance plans in the state and most people carry a huge out of pocket medical debt.

    It is insane and has to stop.

    We have to get national health insurance. This would not have the government running hospitals but it would assure everyone has insurance and they would be able to demand realistic fees from hospitals. They do this right now with Medicare. Hospitals can’t try to get Medicare to pay some crazy inflated price like $300 for a pair of $12 socks.

    Right now I am in my third week of trying to get my health insurance to cover an expensive pain medication. They refuse to cover it because I have not tried the other medications they say I have to try first. The medications they say I have to try first are for shingles, I don’t have shingles so trying these other medications would do absolutely nothing for my back injury. This is all over formulary rules and stupid insurance company staff making these decisions yet have no medical knowledge.

  52. johnva says:

    The entire system is beyond help at this point. The only thing that will work to fix it is radical reform. And good luck getting that through the lobbyists.

    Seriously, it’s gotten so that it’s basically impossible to know what your bills will be like if you go into the hospital or even an outpatient clinic. There is NO price transparency and NO functioning free market for health care. I’m so sick of people claiming that the “market” works so much better than an actual regulated system of healthcare when we don’t have a real free market. If you think that the healthcare economy is functioning in a way that promotes price competition, etc, you are out of your mind.

  53. 5cents says:

    I’m not sure I follow being non-American. How can you rack up a 1.5+ million dollar bill? Surely that price has been inflated beyond any semblance of reason. At 1.5 million dollars, I assume a decent hospital could turn you into bionic man/woman no? At the very least, robotic arms with built in lasers.

  54. Pope John Peeps II says:

    @mycroft2000: Seconded. No Canadian seriously complains about the Canadian system unless they’re a retarded right wing goofball.

    The only serious problems are such:

    1) Shortage of trained doctors. This is because we a) withdrew a lot of Government sponsorship for training doctors maybe 10 or 15 years ago, and are paying for it now. That’s most of the reason for the waiting periods here in canada

    2) Chronic UNDERfunding of the medical infrastructure. A lack of proper equipment explains the rest of the waiting periods.

    Seriously though, the system works, and works well. If the Governemnt gave the health industry the support it needed to work properly, it would be a thing of beauty.

    @bustit22:

    Screw off. That’s a ridiculous example. Do you think a 4 week head start is going to make a difference to terminal lung cancer. My grandmother died of the same thing, so don’t even bother answering. A 5 year headstart? Maybe. 4 weeks. Bullshit.

  55. 5cents says:

    So in conclusion, do like the Brits do and get treated in India.

  56. Indecision says:

    @bustit22: “She had to wait 4 weeks for an MRI, turned out it was cancer. Maybe if she had gotten an MRI sooner, she’d be alive.”

    This is, to be honest, the first thing I think of when people talk about how great the Canadian health care system is.

    I, in the US, went to a walk-in clinic on a Thursday, and had prescriptions written for a blood test and an ultrasound, and got a referral to a urologist. Blood test was done the same day, ultrasound done Friday. Saw the urologist on Monday.

    He diagnosed me with testicular cancer, and wrote a prescription for a chest/abdomen/pelvis CT scan. The scan was done two days later, on Wednesday, and I was in surgery (not just at the hospital but in surgery) at 8:00am on Thursday.

    Meanwhile, CBC in Canada says “A shortage of urologists has become so pronounced that patients’ lives are at risk“, partially because there are only about seven of them in all of Newfoundland.

    “First of all, [patients deal with] the shock you might have prostate cancer, then the shock of being confirmed with prostate cancer,” he said. “Now you have the shock of saying, ‘I have to wait until next year?’ “

    Y’all can keep that on your side of the border. I went from “I think I should see a doctor” to being basically cured in a week. Sounds like in Newfoundland I would have died from it after it spread to my other organs while I waited for surgery. My urologist was adamant that I not even wait until Monday for the surgery, 4 more days (I had a trip planned), nevermind waiting a year!

  57. bohemian says:

    @5cents:

    We have considered this or Thailand. If we could find a verifiable Indian pharmacy we would be buying our medications and having them shipped here. They cost less than our copays there.

  58. Parting says:

    @bustit22: The difference is these people got treated faster (gouv sent them to an external hospital in US), and didn’t go broke. They wouldn’t be able to get ANY coverage in US because of pre-existing conditions. So they would be dead for sure.

    (I prefer to sue, that to get a guaranteed sweet and hearty funeral.)

  59. badteaparty says:

    @donnie5: Do you live in a country with universal health care? Because as was stated here, ask anyone in one of those countries if they would trade systems with us, and they will say no. That should tell you something. People love to trot out universal health care horror stories, but our own horror stories are looking much worse these days.

  60. Parting says:

    @Indecision: You know, population in Newfoundland in half a million. It’s like a small city. And Quebec is just neighboring, so many people get treated there, too.

    And MRI scans, you can get them in private care (which does not offer insurance, but the prices are still cheaper than paying insurance all your life.) So if you feel urgency, there are always ways of proceeding.

    Canada does need a lot more doctors and nurses and more funding. But a parallel system exists in private sector, too. It’s not as popular, but regular insurances still cover some of private expenses anyway.

    Unfortunately perfect system does not exist, but I prefer seeing Canadian government gradually improving the current health care, then losing everything I possess halfway through my life, because of some freak accident or hereditary illness.

  61. donnie5 says:

    @badteaparty:
    Geesh,
    I even admitted we had a broken health care system. And I stated that I was not a fan. I never stated why, I just said I was not. One of the reasons I am not a fan; I do not want people going to get a band aid at the ER because “hey, its free.” I also like the idea of capitalism encouraging Doctor’s to be the best they can be. I am sure there are plus sides as well as negative sides. But on the internet, I should only be on your side and not hold my own opinion.
    I like the idea of personal responsibility for healthcare as opposed to government handouts. If you are really in need, maybe the government can help you out (free clinics, medicare, welfare, etc.) but for the rest of us, we should stop being lazy and expecting handouts and work for a living, earn money, and pay for our own healthcare.
    JUST MY OPINION. I am sure lazy-asses everywhere will disagree while they wait for their handouts.

  62. donnie5 says:

    By not a fan, I am saying I am not a fan of universal healthcare.

  63. Indecision says:

    @chouchou: “You know, population in Newfoundland in half a million. It’s like a small city. And Quebec is just neighboring, so many people get treated there, too.”

    Ok…but I’m not the one who said it’s a problem. According to the article I linked to, even the Health Minister thinks it’s a problem.

  64. jamar0303 says:

    @donnie5: For the record, my economics teacher is an American immigrant to Canada, and apparently supports Michael Moore’s viewpoint.

  65. cashmerewhore says:

    Charity care has nothing to do with WSJ. It deals with your income from the last year and is a sliding scale based on federal poverty guidelines.

    The only thing the WSJ could’ve done was expedite the processing of his application at the risk of bad PR for the hospital involved.

  66. kretara says:

    @TIMMUS
    I would certainly like to see your proof that doctors don’t have high malpractice bills.

    I worked in health care for a number of years as a Respiratory Therapist and I had high malpractice bills. I was paying almost $3000/yr for my malpractice insurance, and no I never had a suit brought against me. I made the unfortunate career “choice” of working with premature infants and attending high risk births. For that reason, my malpractice insurance was really high.

    I’m friends with a number of doctors and every one of them has left private practice because they cannot afford the $15-30,000/yr they have to pay in malpractice insurance.

    Most of the doctors (all have been in practice for more than 10 years) that I know make less than $200,000/yr, have $500,000 or so in medical school debt, work 60+ hours/wk and dislike our health care system with a passion.

  67. Daniel-Bham says:

    Why not have a loser pays system specifically for malpractice suits? If a jury trial confirms that your suing was a waste of the people’s time, you have to pay the bill of the doctor’s lawyer.

  68. @dirtymoney: “What happens when you owe an insane amount that you could never ever pay?”

    My husband does some collections work for a local hospital and he hates it, because there are two kinds of people who end up in hospital collections — absolute assholes driving Ferraris who CAN pay, but decide not to and hide all their assets (usually transferring them to mommy dearest), and middle class families who’ve had catastrophic illnesses that have usually required one wage earner to quit work to deal with the illness (either of self or of child) who now own over a million dollars and who are flat broke and facing losing their homes because of medical debt and loss of income.

    And while I don’t agree with everything the hospital spends money on, their charitable aid program is pretty generous, and their write-offs of unpaid care is high for the region (but their prices are equivalent to places writing off much less). There’s simply a point at which even at the most generous hospital, middle class families are going to get fucked.

    What usually happens is a “payment plan” is worked out where people are paying $80/month on a million-dollar debt.

    @bustit22: “She’ll be needing an artifical knee in the future. The wait time? 18 months.”

    Wait time is not that much lower in many parts of the U.S. People always bring up these wait times in socialized systems (which are always for surgeries that are necessary, but not life-saving), but they’re usually pretty much the same in the U.S. unless you are extremely wealthy. And if you’re extremely wealthy, my understanding is you can buy yourself care outside the Canadian socialized system ANYWAY.

    @Indecision: “Meanwhile, CBC in Canada says “A shortage of urologists has become so pronounced that patients’ lives are at risk”, partially because there are only about seven of them in all of Newfoundland.”

    This is also common the American system. When I lived in NC, there were NO ob/gyns in the entire western half of the state outside Charlotte, which meant up to 4-hour drives to deliver a baby (or get routine prenatal care). Where I live now, in downstate Illinois, they routinely remind us we have no brain surgeons south of I-80 (that is, outside Chicago), and it’s a 2.5 hour life flight from some places to a hospital that can treat that kind of injury. (Ergo we should drive more safely is the point of the reminders, since catastrophic brain injuries will not receive prompt treatment. And then we should vote for tort reform is the second point of the reminders, because it’s all the lawyers’ faults.)

    I don’t know a single person who’s come to the U.S. from a socialized system and who’s been happy with our system, even highly-paid executives with excellent PPO coverage and very low premiums. They still don’t like it and find it very insecure and stressful.

  69. kittenfoo says:

    as someone who is about to lose health insurance at the end of the year, it is to the point where the only difference between having and not having insurance is that if i have insurance, i’ll go bankrupt a little later than i would otherwise. if i had a major medical situation, i would almost certainly go bankrupt, insurance or not.

  70. Parting says:

    @Indecision: He’s a politician. That he’s job to make ”we take it very seriously” statements to get re-elected.

  71. johnva says:

    @donnie5: I understand why you think capitalism works well. I don’t understand why you think it has anything to do with our healthcare system when the system doesn’t function as a free market. The fact is, our system doesn’t work. And there already is no “personal responsibility”. Healthcare providers can’t refuse to provide some treatments to people just because they can’t pay. So you are already paying for all the poor people, but you are doing it in a very inefficient way that actually encourages the system to adopt practices that screw over everyone. This is a big reason why we pay so much more for healthcare here in the U.S. than in other countries when you look at all the costs including taxes, insurance, out-of-pocket expenses, etc.

  72. drunken marmot says:

    I am a 46 year old woman, with a congenital heart problem. I am currently on the transplant list. I collect Social Security disability through having worked( albeit with difficulty) up until 3 years ago.
    My husband has insurance which will cover 80% of the estimated $500,000 surgery/ first year’s expenses. I have no idea how we will pay for the balance. Currently, I am in arrears on current medical bills- I pay what I can, when I can.
    We need a total overhaul of the system, but I don’t have the faintest idea where to start.
    BTW I used to live near the Canadian border along New Brunswick and there were many people who came to the US for better medical care.

  73. cashmerewhore says:

    @masser:

    Medicare/medicaid. Start speaking with financial counselors NOW, pre-transplant. You may be eligable without losing your house, and it’ll save you the 20% copays on the pre-transplant workups.

    Here’s hoping you get a heart quick and have a fairly uneventful post-transplant experience.

  74. cashmerewhore says:

    @kretara:

    The hospital system I work for doesn’t pay their doctors great (I know from hearing complaints from doctor-friends and my neurologist). It does, however, pay for their malpractice insurance 100%.

  75. Spotpuff says:

    Being from Canada this story makes me sad. I still don’t understand why the whole “public health care doesn’t work” fear mongering still works on you guys.

  76. Geekybiker says:

    I always thought hospital bills were so high because you’re not paying just your bill. You’re paying your bill and the next 3-4 uninsured/illegals that come through the door that they can’t legally turn away.

  77. TheOtherJen says:

    @timmus:

    No, it’s completely true. My dad is a physician and my mother is a nurse and the amount of medical malpracitice in our state has driven doctors to move or just stop practicing. Those god-awful ambulance chasers on TV and sue-happy people who buy into it are making it even worse. The doctors are not the enemy (with the exception of a handful), the system, pharmaceutical companies and health insurance companies are.

  78. @clementine: My dad retired last year after 42 years as a primary care physician. He was paying, when he left, $36,000 a year in malpractice insurance premiums.

    That’s a shitload of money, excuse the expression!

  79. joebloe says:

    Just say you’re an illegal immigrant next time so they won’t charge you.

  80. technotica says:

    I’m conflicted on the decision to go from a mostly privately managed healthcare system to a totally government run operation. I’m more on board with fixing the reasons why healthcare is expensive and moving it towards making it less expensive. That way insurance will be cheaper and in some cases people can afford it out of pocket.

    One thing that always bothers me hearing from the lefties is how the government has borked the war. However, they are the ones begging the government to take over healthcare. This confuses the hell out me.

  81. Jaysyn was banned for: http://consumerist.com/5032912/the-subprime-meltdown-will-be-nothing-compared-to-the-prime-meltdown#c7042646 says:

    @spinachdip:

    My ex-girlfriend (she’s from Heidelberg if you must know) says they have the same problem in Germany that we have in the states WRT people using their health care system but never contributing back to it. Here it’s illegal aliens, malpractice costs & people who go bankrupt trying to pay for care. There it’s Turkish immigrants & others who never bother to get a job to put tax money back into the system.

    I’m not saying it’s a bad idea, I’m saying that we may not want to model ours after existing national health care systems. We can do better.

  82. Eilonwynn says:

    If had spent the last year in the states, I would be beyond screwed. I’ve had to see a neuropsychologist, four sleep specialists, and get prescribed a machine that, had I had to pay retail, would cost $1200. My TOTAL cost so far has been $260 – the amount that the canadian gov’t didn’t pay for the machine. Everything else was completely covered, and within 3 hours of it being SUSPECTED that I had this particular disorder, I had an appointment with a specialist and a sleep clinic – for that night.

    My family has been in and out of canadian hospitals for years, and we have never had a single complaint – when my brother had open heart surgery at 6 years old, the WHOLE THING was covered. My parents had to pay gas to and from the hospital. That was it. There was no waiting period, even though what he had wasn’t considered immediately lifethreatening. There was no debate about whether it would be covered, no looking into what company would do what – honestly, how is oft-referenced canadian waittime any different or any more detrimental than that “is-it-covered?” time in the states?

    My american cousin has the same problem as my brother – he can’t have surgery because his parents can’t afford it. Period.

    I have NEVER heard anyone complain about having to wait a long time, UNLESS it is to see a depression counsellor in Toronto. Part of the reason there ARE wait times is due to prioritizing – it isn’t a first – come -first – paid – first serve situation up here. Those with serious problems get prioritized first, and those who don’t have them, get to wait a BIT. If, in the intervening time, there is a health-related breakdown, then two phone calls gets you moved up in the list.

    Also: Private insurance isn’t illegal in ontario. You can purchase, if you want, supplementary insurance, to make sure you get a private room and whatnot. Why you’d want to is beyond me, but you can. Be away from the proles, maybe.

    I have had the weirdest experiences when talking with my american relatives about general cost-of-living between canada and the states. Inevitably, i mention going to the states to buy milk – it’s much cheaper down there than up here, where it’s currently about $5 / gal. They are horrified that canadians would pay so much for milk. Then, i say, yeah, but my health care is covered, and I don’t have to worry about it. and they say “well, i still wouldn’t live there, because everything’s so much more expensive.”

    All in all, it’s a cultural mindset thing. And that is probably not going to change.

  83. AD8BC says:

    @spinachdip: Really? Have you heard of the VA?

  84. SVreader says:

    @Hambriq: Transparency would be nice. I was recently in the hospital, and felt like refusing or getting information on treatments was out of my control. For example, a few hours after being moved out of the ER up to the hospital, a woman woke me up to take my blood. I had just had my blood taken in the ER, and they had told me that they had done all the tests they needed. I questioned the woman about it, but she wouldn’t say why they needed to test again and just took my blood anyways. Had I not been so, well, sick and weak, I probably would have been more firm in getting answers.

  85. johnva says:

    @Technotica: Not to get too sidetracked, but the problem with the war is not just that it was horribly mismanaged by a government that doesn’t know how to do anything right. The problem with the war is that it was a fundamentally bad idea from the beginning. The continuing problems in Iraq are caused by a lack of a political solution, something that military force can’t create by itself.

    I think government can do a better job than the insurance companies are currently doing with healthcare because the insurance companies are doing an absolutely horrible job. We’re paying more and getting less for our healthcare dollar than people in countries with totally socialized medicine do. I’m not sure what the best solution is, but I do know that the status quo is not acceptable.

  86. gingerCE says:

    Malpractice insurance is a lot but in California they changed the laws capping malpractice amounts so the insurance is now a lot cheaper than it used to be.

    I guess this guy can literally call himself the 1.2 million dollar man.

    Glad to hear he was able to get the bill wiped clean.

  87. Jon Parker says:

    @donnie5: For all your loaded language about “personal responsibility” people “being lazy” and “handouts,” you completely fail to acknowledge the fact that 1. There are plenty of people who work damned hard and don’t have access to healthcare and 2. under our system the insurance companies who pay for health care have a strong financial incentive to deny care.

    Unless you’re willing to address those problems in a rational way without using Sean Hannity talking points, you have no argument.

  88. trollkiller says:

    @jamar0303: Watching Sicko in school…. Is it any wonder why we home school our children.

  89. trollkiller says:

    The Canadians can afford the health care system they enjoy because they don’t have to spend very much on defense. They know the USA will protect them from attack.

  90. Brad2723 says:

    Most of the problem with insurance and why it is so expensive for us is because of the prices hospitals think they can get away with charging. Almost $800 for a $12 pair of socks? You’ve got to be joking.

  91. AD8BC says:

    @johnva: The real problem with the war are the ingrates that were given freedom and continue to blow each other up. The war was a great idea at the time and, really, the only option. Saddam had to get taken out. Now it’s time to bring our guys home and let the ingrates kill themselves off.

    @trollkiller: Great point!

    @Brad2723: Absolutely.

  92. spinachdip says:

    @trollkiller: That and the darn “Evolution” they keep trying to pass off as science!!!

  93. trollkiller says:

    @spinachdip: That and the darn “Evolution” they keep trying to pass off as science!!!

    That is part of it, a lot of the “facts” on evolution have been disproved or modified. I find it is better to be able to show the children the current theories and then discuss why they may be wrong. It is better to make them think then it is to memorize the latest flavor of the week.

  94. johnva says:

    @trollkiller: Your point isn’t related to the discussion at hand. We are spending *more* on healthcare than the Canadians when you include both private- and public-sector spending. This argument has nothing to do with not being able to “afford” decent government healthcare. We could easily afford it and actually save money if we cut the waste caused by our private healthcare and insurance companies at the same time. Inefficiency and wastefulness is a huge problem here.

    @ad8bc: It wasn’t the “only option” to attack Iraq. We’ve lost a lot more than we gained by doing so; Saddam was effectively contained as a regional threat before the war. The problems that we are now having in Iraq were entirely predictable and in fact were predicted by people who knew what they were talking about. The Iraqis aren’t “ingrates”; it’s just that they couldn’t be expected to smoothly transition from a totalitarian dictatorship to a democratic state when they had no history or experience with democracy. It’s really unfair to blame them when the problem was inflicted on them by Saddam and by a foreign invasion. Things won’t calm down until there is a functioning government and political process to fill the power vacuum. But they can’t know how to build that overnight.

  95. mermaidshoes says:

    health insurance is the worst. i almost wish i didn’t have it at all–at least that way, i wouldn’t have the expectation that anything would be paid for in the first place.

  96. lyndyn says:

    @Eyebrows McGee: My boss spent three years in Newfoundland, ten years ago. Her (now ex-)husband was a doctor there.

    She BITCHES incessantly about her current (really not bad) health insurance and how much she loved the Canadian health system. She is the only person in my department with insurance (she’s salaried, the rest of us are hourly) and every time she complains to those of us who have no coverage at all, I just want to smack her.

    My husband is also Canadian. His theory? Canadians complain freely and loudly about the health system because they’re well aware that they have a decent system that could be better. Americans complain less because far too many of us are in the ranks of “too poor for insurance, too wealthy for Medicare, bitching won’t FIX anything.” It’s the elephant in the corner nobody wants to talk about. (Although conversations like this make it clear that’s changing.)

    The current uncertainty, perversely, makes things worse; it looks like we might get a MassHealth-style system in my state during the next three to five years, and so I’m afraid to even go to the doctor and pay out of pocket now and foul up my chances for actually getting treated for what might be labeled a pre-ex later on. If I had no real hope of ever being covered, I’d say the hell with it, go into debt to get my health fixed, declare bankruptcy, and start fresh. Instead I suck it up, work, hurt, and vote more left-wing than I’m really comfortable.

  97. aaydemi says:

    @Hambriq: I think you need to give doctors the benefit of the doubt and take your theory one step further to find out why health care costs so much. I’m a 3rd year medical student, and although I may be a bit naive at this point, I can tell you that 99% of tests and procedures are not done “unnecessarily.” We orders these tests for many reasons, your own health notwithstanding. In my own opinion, though, the reason health care is so broken and costs so much is because of LAWYERS.

    In addition to the $80,000/year (not inflated, I’ve seen the check) my attending pays for malpractice insurance, he also has a family (!). He, like 100% of you out there, will not risk some money-grubbing lawyer coming in to sue him for everything he’s got and leave him and his family on the street because Mr. Smith got a viral infection and was in “dire agony” because he had to use kleenex to blow his nose for a day. So we have to order tests and obtain images, probably more than necessary in many doctor’s opinions, but they have to be done.

    The bottom line is if doctors didn’t have to practice defensive medicine in fear of some frivilous lawsuit, they could do what’s best for the patient with the patient in mind. Instead, they have to do what’s best for the patient with the lawyers in mind. This leads to more tests -> increased costs -> insurance companies don’t want to pay -> 1.5 million dollar bills.

  98. Nemesis_Enforcer says:

    Well I can explain exactly why prices billed and paid are so different. I worked for a large Ca. Healthcare company. I saw bills everyday where the bill was for 6,000 and we paid 1,100, it was the contracted rate we had with the hospital. When the health ins. companies sign a contract with the hospitals and medical groups both sides decide what they can afford to pay and accept for payment. The prices you see on your bill for huge amounts are the amounts they charge people without health ins, its the non-contracted rate.

    An example of it was when I had surgery on my knee because I tore several ligaments and muscles completely off the bone. The bill the Hospital sent was about 65,000. The contracted rate was 7,600, we sent a check for 7,580 to the hospital and I paid $20 as my co-pay. The rest is written off because it was above the contracted rate. It was funny to look at my own bills and see exactly how much the hospital inflated thier prices. It is presented in a way to make you glad you have insurance, even though most people could negotiate the price down to the contracted rate if they didn’t have health insurance.

  99. spinachdip says:

    @trollkiller: You’re new to the whole scientific method thing, I can tell. You’ll get the hang of it soon enough, don’t worry!

  100. trollkiller says:

    @johnva: Are we spending more total or more per person?

  101. trollkiller says:

    @spinachdip: I understand scientific method, schools don’t. Read a science text book from any middle or highschool and they show theory as fact.

  102. Ass_Cobra says:

    For anyone that would like to bash universal healthcare please read the following report:

    [assets.opencrs.com]

    It compares the cost of healthcare in the US with the cost in 29 other OECD countries. It also compares healthcare outcomes. The short and sweet of it is that in the US we spend roughly 15% of our GDP on healthcare. The median of all countries in the study is 8.8%. Yes that’s right we spend nearly 2X as much as a percentage of GDP than the average industrialized country.

    It also compares healthcare outcomes across different treatment patterns and guess what the US is either average or below average in the results in almost all cases. So in the US we spend twice as much to get what would be considered average service. If this doesn’t scream it’s broken to you, I have no idea what will.

    The issue with healthcare is that it is not a consumer good or service. It is complex, there is a large information assymetry and no one wants to take chances that they are wrong or cheaping out if they don’t have to. This distorts the choices that people make when consuming healthcare. I’m not saying people can’t be responsible for their own healthcare, I’m saying that it’s far too easy for people to be taken advantage of and the normal form of recourse a consumer has to express displeasure (vote with your wallet) really doesn’t exist. There is little evidence that a nationalized system of healthcare leads to either more expense or poorer health outcomes. In fact the evidence is to the contrary. Free markets are good for allocating goods and services that market participants can readily value. Healthcare is not one of those and is therefore a poor free market good.

  103. Ass_Cobra says:

    @trollkiller:

    Just to make it clear we spend more in absolute dollars per person and more as a percentage of per capita GDP by a factor of almost 2 than the average industrialized country. Seriously.

  104. johnva says:

    @trollkiller: We spend almost double as much per capita. And actually even our government spends more per citizen on healthcare than does the government of Canada. And yet we get way less for it. I’m going by the WHO figures, which you can easily find via Google. We’re not getting our money’s worth. Our system is broken and inefficient. We have the worst of both a government-run and privatized system.

  105. mr_jrdn says:

    @Indecision: I don’t know where you live, but I would suggest that you take population density into account before you compare specific medical procedures. I’m guessing you live in a well populated city in America? Newfoundland is about 400000km. sq. and has about half a million people. Where as most cities in the USA have about the same (or much larger) population in a much smaller space. The wait time in this situation probably occurred due to making travel arrangements and appointments. I’m sure if the guy wanted to travel to Toronto he could have had an MRI within a couple of hours of getting to the city.

    @trollkiller: Or maybe Canada doesn’t wander the globe with a huge army like the school bully pissing people off. Even so, the UK has excellent healthcare and has still managed to keep a strong military. Maybe research next time before posting?

  106. trollkiller says:

    @mr_jrdn: Canada does not have to police the world, we do. Hey someone has to do it, might as well be us.

  107. mr_jrdn says:

    @trollkiller: Who said the world needed policing?

  108. Parting says:

    @ad8bc: Ha, ha! Only option… Look at Afghanistan. In 1970, for Soviet Union. And Vietnam, for USA. Skip to 2007. USA has Afghanistan AND Iraq (and already future Albania – for terrorrism). And Russia has Chechnya. Some governments never learn.

    There is always a choice, and violence never solved much. This money is better invested in citizens of it’s country. Charity should begin at home. Once own problems fixed, lead by example. Not by sending kids to war.

  109. Parting says:

    @trollkiller: More per person.

  110. trollkiller says:

    @mr_jrdn:If you enjoy your way of life I hope that you would say the world needs policing.

    We have interests all over the globe, things that directly and indirectly effect our physical and economic security. We sat back during the first part of WWII as an isolationist country and it cost us a lot more good men to overcome what could have been done earlier.

    Being proactive is always better than being reactive.

  111. Parting says:

    @mr_jrdn: Canada just content to rebuild whatever US forces blew up.
    @trollkiller: And world does not want USA policing. USA screwed up so many times during policing, that no one trusts them any more. It’s like government repeats same mistakes over and over again. Hypocrisy seems at its peak now, politicians ignore allies and back stab old partners.

    And every time ”policed” countries turn against US. Look at Afghanistan, that’s becoming an opium platform for the world, or Vietnam, that still dislikes US military. And look historically : talibans would never have seized power, if it wasn’t for US intervention on monarchy reigning in the region.

  112. morganlh85 says:

    WHY won’t anyone DO something about this type of nonsense!?!?!

  113. morganlh85 says:

    @Indecision: Meanwhile, if the same thing happened to me (and I were a man…) I would simply have to have a farewell party for myself, since I have no insurance and can’t afford any of the procedures you noted in your post.

    I’d rather have SOME type of treatment in a month than no treatment at all.

  114. Elviswasntmyhero says:

    “We live in a great country that has got the best healthcare system in the world, and we need to keep it that way.”

    (George Bush, June 2003)

  115. trollkiller says:

    @chouchou: I would continue the argument but I think we have thread jacked enough. Feel free to contact me.

  116. Elviswasntmyhero says:

    Expensive and divisive: how America is losing patience with a failing system

  117. Elviswasntmyhero says:

    If link fails, story here: [www.guardian.co.uk],,2167671,00.html

  118. trollkiller says:

    @Elviswasntmyhero: both links failed

  119. mr_jrdn says:

    @trollkiller: Agreed, foreign policy and military budgets are getting pretty far off topic.

  120. jamar0303 says:

    @trollkiller: I actually go to a private school. And I go to school in China, not America. Classes are mostly taught in English, though. So, in total, it’s a different situation than in America. My economics teacher’s still an American immigrant to Canada, though (with things as they are now it’s no wonder why he did it).

  121. trollkiller says:

    @jamar0303: Are you Chinese? I will admit I have not seen Sicko as I am not a Michael Moore fan. The last Michael Moore movie I saw was full of statistical junk. Turned me off to seeing anything by him.

  122. Jon Parker says:

    @trollkiller: Good grief. Trust me, if you think that’s a good argument, you not only need science classes, you need English classes.

  123. jamar0303 says:

    @trollkiller: I am, but I have a US passport. I’m considering changing it to Canadian or NZ (for reasons not related to my in-class viewing of Sicko- watching Sicko in Economics class just cemented my resolve).

  124. spinachdip says:

    @morganlh85: Because people refuse to accept a more effective AND cost efficient system because it’s OMG SOCIALIZED MEDICINE!!!!!

    In this country, moreso than other industrialized nations, ideology and cult of personality trump pragmatism and human decency.

  125. trollkiller says:

    @Jon Parker: Good grief. Trust me, if you think that’s a good argument, you not only need science classes, you need English classes.

    Not sure what post of mine you are replying to but if it is the evolution post I will explain further.

    If you pick up a middle school or high school science book you will see that evolution theory evidence is presented as fact.

    Let me give you an example. When I went to school it was taught as FACT that Neanderthal man was a human ancestor. It was taught that we evolved from them. Now evidence suggests that human and Neanderthal lived at the same time in the same areas. Evidence now suggests that we did not evolve from them. What we were taught was WRONG. We were also taught as FACT that dinosaurs were cold blooded reptiles. Evidence now points to some being warm blooded and avian.

    My son is like most 10 year olds, he loves dinosaurs. He can give you more information then you would ever care to listen to. He also understands the difference between a proved fact and a theory. When he tells you about a certain dinosaur he will preface his information with “scientists BELIEVE” or “evidence suggests”.

    Hopefully you now understand what I mean by evolution facts being disproved or changed. My children are taught not to take unproved scientific “facts” as facts. They are taught to reason and to understand that all the evidence is not in, so today’s “fact” may not be tomorrow’s “fact”.

    If you have anymore comments on evolution or home school feel free to contact me. I won’t answer anymore in this thread because it is off topic.

  126. trollkiller says:

    @spinachdip: What can you say? Americans are an independent people. We don’t like Govt. running our lives AND we don’t like charity. Regular Americans look down on welfare. Socialized medicine is welfare as far as middle America is concerned.

  127. spinachdip says:

    @trollkiller: Thanks for illustrating what I mean by ideology trumping common sense.

    Apparently, people of middle America are so independent minded that they’re willing to pay more than citizens of any other industrialized nation, both through taxes and to the private sector, for third-world standard service that they may not even receive.

    Yet, according to you, these independent minded people who are willing to sacrifice their own health even when affordable care is demonstrably attainable, have no problem ignoring their “I don’t want no gumbint in’erferin’ with mah life” mantra when they drive on socialized roads, have their streets protected by a government funded police force, depend on pinko commie fire fighters, see criminals tried by a government-backed court system, and wash their dishes with government water. So you’re saying that they’re not only short-sighted ideologs, they’re also hypocrites.

    Though of course, you could argue that all the stuff I listed are truly essential services that would be grossly inadequate or inefficient when left to private enterprises. You know, like healthcare.

  128. trollkiller says:

    @spinachdip: I would argue the things you listed are local and state government not federal.

    In the areas that the Federal govt. does provide with refunding, it uses the money as a sword to make sure the states fall in lock step with the Federal govt.

    Example would be highway funds, lower the speed limit or no money for you. Speed limits, drinking age etc. are State issues, not Federal issues.

    (refunding is NOT a typo, the government does not provide any funding, it redistributes tax money received from its citizens)

    I would say they are long-sighted ideologs. The Federal government exists to do the things that state and local govt. can’t do. Things like provide for a common defense, treaties, print money, etc. [www.usconstitution.net] You may argue that socialized health care falls under the “promote the general welfare” but that was not the meaning of welfare when the Constitution was written.

    Unlike most countries, our United States of America consists of independent states, each with its own constitution. The states are not puppet governments but independent governments that answer to the people in their states. (at least that is how it is supposed to work)

    If the people of my State feel the need for socialized health care then we can approach our representatives for it. I see no great rush by the states to move to socialized health care. That tells me the people do not want it.

    Even if you disagree with it, the people own the government not the other way around. The Federal govt. needs to keep its dirty paws out of what is clearly a state issue.

  129. spinachdip says:

    @trollkiller: I see we’re moving the goalposts now.

  130. trollkiller says:

    @spinachdip: Please explain.

  131. Ass_Cobra says:

    @trollkiller:

    It’s not that hard. You’re now making at an issue between federal and local government, not an issue that socialized medicine is welfare versus essential service.

    Fun fact for you, since you list “printing money” as one of the functions of the federal government, and you exclude medical service from the framers’ thoughts when the constitution was written. The federal government did not print money until 12 years after the civil war. It’s a true fact. Google the “Free Banking Era” for a cite.

  132. gibbersome says:

    @aaydemi:

    Good, I’m a medical student as well. You’ve made an important point that malpractice insurance has led to defensive medicine and therein lies part of the problem. Yet, I would be hesitant to claim that this is the major reasons why health care costs are so high. Simply stated, insurance companies are run like businesses, even if the number of suits were to halve tomorrow, the insurance agencies would try to keep their premiums as high as competitively possible. Secondly, pharma and administrative costs take the biggest piece of the pie.

    At one hospital I did my rounds, the doctors’ average cost (skill, labor) amounted to 11%, while hospital’s malpractice budget received 6%. Where did the other 81% go. Hint: around 60% went directly to pharma companies.

    Furthermore, more hospitals in this country are going bankrupt than making enormous profits. Do a little research and ask around, see how your local hospital is doing.