Hard Truth Week in Review – Health Care Whining Edition

September 27, 2009 by  
Filed under Blog

Our local paper ran yet another article featuring the stories of those who do not have health care insurance. The reporter undercuts the merits of the story by including the whinings of this woman who says she can’t afford health insurance. First, she quits her $85,000/year job and chooses not to continue her insurance coverage.  She whines about that. Then she learns that when you quit your job in a bad economy, you may have trouble finding another one. Check. She whines about that. Finally, she lands another job at $60k/year and once again chooses not to purchase health insurance. Check. She whines about that also.

This story – like many others like it – fails to tell the readers what the whiners are spending their money on. Car payments? Gym memberships? Vacations? Nothing about those categories. One can reasonably assume that at least some of these folks with decent jobs and incomes place health insurance well down their list of spending priorities.

Speaking of unanswered questions, I see that Michael Moore is making the rounds promoting his latest movie, this one an attack on capitalism itself. I saw him on Larry King, complaining about how the wealthiest 1% in our country control too much of the money. I have to credit King for immediately asking “well, that 1% would include you wouldn’t it?”  All Moore could stammer in response was “well my movies have done well but I’m not sure I’m in the top 1%.”  Let’s not split hairs, Moore. Why aren’t you purging yourself of those nasty capitalist profits?  When Mr. Hypocrite starts distributing his movie earnings to the bottom 99%, Mr. ToughMoneyLove will buy a ticket. Heck, if Moore would donate just his cheeseburger allowance it would make someone very happy.

Now for some other good reads you might find interesting:

Back in the summer, All Financial Matters published an exhaustive list of personal finance how-to’s, including a couple of mine. I neglected to mention it then so now would be a good time for you to review some of those timeless gems.

The Money Musings blog published some stats about those who are living paycheck to paycheck. In 2009, those barely making it stand at 69%.  Pathetic. I’m thinking that a closer analysis of that 69% would show that a high number of them are victims of their own poor choices and skewed priorities. Unfortunately, those in the majority tend to think that they are the normal ones. Not in this case.

Money Ning published an excellent post on the important distinction between building wealth and planning for retirement income. This fundamental concept is at the root of the Failsafe Retirement System and retirement income blog I started last week.

Finally, for a slight diversion, the PsyBlog published a short piece on how long it takes to form a habit. Since a lot of personal finance is about forming good money habits, it’s nice to know that there is some science behind the process.

Enjoy your week and thanks for reading.


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27 Responses to “Hard Truth Week in Review – Health Care Whining Edition”
  1. MasterPo says:

    Moore is an ass. Pure and simple. Give me 10 minutes interviewing him and I’ll have him whining like a baby (if he doesn’t walk out first. :-) ).

  2. lurker carl says:

    Only 20% of the working population saves more than $100 per month? Wow, that is one tough figure to swallow.

  3. Rick Beagle says:

    Michael Moore makes a good deal of money off his movies, but insofar as I have been able to tell, he hasn’t overtly lied or encouraged violence against others? So we blast the left guy because he has a different opinion than you, and you continue let the racist vulgar buffoons on the right walk by without so much as a peep? I may not agree with Michael Moore, but I have no problem with him making money without resorting to harming the planet, people or inciting violence. Thus far you have made snide remarks about Jimmy Carter (arguably one of the nicest and most respected men on the planet), President Obama, Al Gore, Dr. Paul Krugman, and now Michael Moore? Is there anyone on the Left that you have any respect for TML? Anything at all in the Liberal agenda that you find compelling or useful?

    As to the fool that you describe in your Health Care segment, don’t let one fool convince you the whole thing is a crock, because as much as it would comfort your myopic view, she does NOT represent the majority. And no matter how many times you say it, Health Care reform is a good idea. If you weren’t so busy drinking the koolaid and actually paid attention to the fiscal elements of the discussion, you would find the Liberals have the empirical data on their side. The Right just have buzz words and a passion for voting against their own self interests (puzzling bit of ineptitude there).

    Peace.
    Rick Beagle

  4. Snowy Heron says:

    I live in the Washington DC area and yesterday’s Washington Post had a similar article about people worried about health insurance. One woman mentioned in the article chose not to buy her own insurance after her employer decided that they could no longer afford to provide it. And just a few weeks later she has a heart attack and has $15,000 in medical bills that it takes her 5 years to repay. All I could think was, if she had the money to repay those bills, didn’t she also have the money to buy her own health insurance??? But she chose not to, and now she is whining about the fact that her poor decision making caused her all these problems. Of course, the article didn’t put it that way. The Washington Post is all for Obamacare.

  5. Jason says:

    I don’t think it is really an issue of “left” or “right.” I think it is more an issue of responsibility. Allowing a person, business, or whatever to profit from their choices is fine. It is equally as fine as allowing those same entities to fail.

    No one is saying the system isn’t broken. No one would argue that our healthcare system is not flawed. No one would argue that many of our systems are not flawed.

    The arguement comes really when trying to evaluate the fixes to these problems. I think that is when it becomes imperative to decide who is ultimately responsible for the problems and act accordingly.

    That being said, I think blindly deciding which side is better because they have a plan is not the best action. Coming up with the best plan is the best action.

  6. Rick Beagle says:

    “That being said, I think blindly deciding which side is better because they have a plan is not the best action. Coming up with the best plan is the best action.”

    I remember when Ted Kennedy first talked about socialized medical care in his failed Presidential bid. How many more years of inaction do we have to tolerate before we get the best plan? And exactly who determines what exactly is the best plan?

    The evil “liberals” are concerned about the people, and the “good” conservatives are worried about their money (or rather the insurance companies that are bribing them… oh sorry lobbying them).

    The empirical data was true thirty years ago, and it still is, so why aren’t we doing something about it? Once again, the infamous conservative baby boomers failure of action under the dreams of gold painted in tax relief and deficit spending has suddenly blossomed into “justified fiscal concern” over the ideas put forward toward fixing our healthcare crisis. At what point do we realize they are and have been a bunch of fools?

    Oh, but Rick they aren’t fools, they are just sharing their concerns! What concerns I say? The rest of the world has managed to fix this problem with the exception of third world countries quite nicely (even Canada has better health care), but nooo, you fools think the rest of the world is full of idiots and ONLY the twenty percent American right wingers have it right. Same with Global Warming….

    What would it take for some sliver of doubt to break through?
    Peace.
    Rick Beagle

  7. MasterPo says:

    Rick,

    So let’s take your thesis that we have “been a bunch of fools”.

    So whose going to fix the problem? The very government that grew fat off this whole thing in the first place?! Can you give me just ONE example of a great job that government did, swooping into to a troubled industry (and I do NOT believe health care/insurance is a troubled industry! But liberals and democrats must have their demons!), solved the problem quickly and cost efficiently, then got out?

    Never happens like that.

    And while you’re at it: Please illustrate to me how the government is going to provide total healthcare to all people, all tests/procedures/labs/hospitals/doctors/specialist/equipment/medicines/etc, with no limits ever, regardless of the patient’s age/current health/other health issues/chances for medical succes, and *then* do it cheaper and more effectively as we have now?

    Can I have some of what you’re smoking?

  8. Rick Beagle says:

    Oh yeah, the government can’t do anything right excuse. Let me see if I can think of anything that the government has done over the last couple of hundred years that actually worked out pretty well….
    American Revolution
    Great Depression.
    World War 2.
    Welfare.
    Social Security.
    Medicare.
    Roads.
    Police.
    Highways.
    FEMA
    CIA
    FBI
    NAVY
    ARMY
    Marines
    Air Force
    etc.

    The government isn’t perfect, and despite your rhetoric to the contrary, I have no illusions on that point. However, your logic fails when you take a look at the breadth of our government’s successes both currently and historically. I repeat MasterPo, the empirical data is there and continuing to do nothing because of some ill-conceived belief in our government’s inability to accomplish anything is just fool-hardy.

    The fact is, our government is made up of us. If we chose to do better, then we will. If we continue to treat our government like some sort of twisted football game, then only the sponsors win.

    And right now, your inability to imagine something better makes you an easy mark for those that would not benefit from the US providing world class medical care to all of its people.

    Peace.
    Rick Beagle

  9. lurker carl says:

    I can imagine something better but I don’t have faith that our government will provide it.

    For instance, a purely governmental enterprise like the Motor Vehicle Administration whose basic function is to title/register vehicles and license drivers in order to collect taxes and fees from those owners and operators. It’s a very simple operation yet most states have difficulty performing it with efficiency.

    I dare say that legal and governmental pressures are the basic reasons for the ever increasing cost of health care. Tort lawyers, Medicaid and Medicare have pushed prices farther and faster than necessary.

    Our government is not actually made up of “us” nor does it represent “our” interests. Professional politicians, their civil servant staffs and a huge lobby group holding fistfuls of money comprise the policy making portion of government. The bulk of government (the part that is made up of “us”) upholds the mandates created by the political machine but has as little say as the rest of the population as how those mandates are administered.

    I seriously doubt that the political machine will create a useful and efficient health insurance program for the general population that would be better than the current private and public insurance system. Change, in and of itself, is no guarantee of a better result.

  10. Rick Beagle says:

    “I dare say that legal and governmental pressures are the basic reasons for the ever increasing cost of health care. Tort lawyers, Medicaid and Medicare have pushed prices farther and faster than necessary.”

    Empirical data shows this to be a false belief. In other words its fiction.

    “Our government is not actually made up of “us” nor does it represent “our” interests. Professional politicians, their civil servant staffs and a huge lobby group holding fistfuls of money comprise the policy making portion of government. The bulk of government (the part that is made up of “us”) upholds the mandates created by the political machine but has as little say as the rest of the population as how those mandates are administered.”

    This is a lazy defeatist attitude. If YOUR representatives do NOT represent you, vote the fools out of office.

    “I seriously doubt that the political machine will create a useful and efficient health insurance program for the general population that would be better than the current private and public insurance system. Change, in and of itself, is no guarantee of a better result.”

    Two things, Americans can do anything if we put our mind to it. And second, its not like we don’t have other examples in the world to look at and model ourselves after. The trailblazing has already been done, and all we have to do is pick the solution that makes the most sense for us and do it.

    The hard part isn’t the doing, it’s convincing people like you to quit voting against your own self-interests. This has been going on for over thirty years, isn’t it time we did SOMETHING?

    On a more personal note, what exactly is the political legacy of the baby boomers who came to power in the 80′s? Besides deficit spending, dismantling of our social services, and padding the wallets of the elites – what did you folks do to help America? You have an opportunity to create something positive that generations will look back on in wonder, but you are too busy with your own selfishness and will to fail that you can’t even muster the courage to confront our problems.

    Sigh. I weep for the ineptitude of my parents and their generation.
    Peace.
    Rick Beagle

  11. Rick Beagle says:

    Here is the baby boomer’s and right wing legacy in video for you:

    http://abclocal.go.com/ktrk/story?section=news/local&id=7034143

    It’s not a liberal site, it is reality.

  12. kitty says:

    ““I dare say that legal and governmental pressures are the basic reasons for the ever increasing cost of health care. Tort lawyers, Medicaid and Medicare have pushed prices farther and faster than necessary.”

    Empirical data shows this to be a false belief. In other words its fiction.”

    Frankly, IMHO both of these statements are wrong.

    There are many reasons for high health care costs most having nothing to do with either political party. And yes, lawsuits are contributing too – I am not sure which data Rick read, but most doctors admit to doing what they call “defensive testing” – ordering unnecessary tests to rule out 1/1000000 chance of something (when sometimes the long term risk of the test itself is higher) so that they wouldn’t be sued for missing something. Plus, malpractice insurance is in part passed on to consumers as cost – nope, I have no evidence, but it’s logical to think this way. But this is only one factor.

    For the most part though the cost is driven up by a number of factors that have nothing to do with politics – new expensive technology, new expensive drugs, public demand for tests (necessary or not), people living longer, end-of-life care using modern technology. Even preventive medicine is expensive. People think that it’ll save money, but most of those who say it don’t understand epidemiology and little concepts called Number Needed to Treat and Number Needed to Screen (I strongly suggest you look it up, as well as statistics related to most common tests or preventive drugs, you can choose your favorite screening test and look up “recommendations and rationale” on USPSTF for details or search for your favorite drug e.g. statin and NNT). Talking about drugs – a lot more people are now taking them. The guidelines for many conditions got stricter, so more and more numbers that were normal before aren’t now. Most people over 50 are on one drug or another. There are lots of kids, for example, taking drugs for ADHD. Regardless of whether or not it’s needed – in many cases it helps people, but certain things are overprescribed – all of these factors drive the cost up.

    I’ll refrain from commenting on health care: I don’t have time to read the actual proposals not with my working during the day and taking care of sick mother in the evenings, and I like to have at least some information before I form an opinion.

  13. Rick Beagle says:

    Kitty,

    I am sorry to hear about your mother, and I hope that she get’s better soon.

    As to the research you would need to do, there are other countries already doing this. Matter of fact, all industrial nations with the exception of ours has something in place. Again, are we so arrogant that we think the rest of the world and our own people are wrong on this issue? What does it take to convince you?

    Please check out the video link I have provided, and tell me that this isn’t shameful?

    Peace.
    Rick Beagle

  14. MasterPo says:

    You are actually sighting Social Security, Welfare, Medicare, roads&bridges, and FEMA (among other things) as examples of great achievements of successful government programs and processes?!?!?!

    ROTFLMAO!!!!!

    That’s a good one even for you!! :-)

  15. kitty says:

    Master Po, Rick, about Medicare. Master Po cites Medicare as something that government doesn’t manage well because it has money problems. Rick cites Medicare as an example of government-provided care that covers all the treatment that people need, including most expensive cancer treatment.

    I think Medicare nicely illustrates why it is so difficult to cover everything for everyone, and why it’s not possible to provide health coverage for everyone without some form of rationing – something Americans (and that probably includes you, me, and every poster here) would never want. Regardless of Medicare money problems, people love it for ourselves or our loved ones. It would pay for best cancer treatment (especially if you buy supplement insurance), most expensive drugs, tests, futile end-of-life care. But this is also the main reason it has money problems. Sure, there is some waste there as well as fraud; there are some savings – it has the power to dictate how much it’ll pay to doctors and hospitals. But I would bet a lot of money on is that the main reason it has problems is that it covers everything. But would you want to sacrifice access to best treatment for you mother or grandmother or yourself even if it can only buy you a few months on the average (the key here is “average” – some lucky people may still gain years)? I certainly wouldn’t – I just took my mother to a famous cancer center this week, and I do know statistics; but I am not willing to sacrifice the chance that my mother would be one of the lucky (very) few who respond to one treatment or the other and gain more than a couple of months or at least gain slightly better quality of life. At least we do have living wills that spell out DNR.

    Rick, I will watch your video at some point, I can’t turn on sound on my computer at the moment. But even without watching it, I’d agree with you that there are many problems in the US and some people can’t afford health care while some insured cannot afford co-insurance if they have a really serious illness; our businesses pay a lot for insurance and this makes our job seekers less competitive even with Canadian workers. I’d also agree that there already is some form of rationing in that insurance companies do deny payments in some cases – this may be justified in some cases but not others.

    At the same time there are problems in other countries as well. There is rationing there and lotteries for access to expensive drugs – if you google, you’d probably find a number of examples when NHS denied access to one drug or the other. Here is one example – http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1552256/Thousands-losing-sight-in-NHS-postcode-lottery.html
    In Canada people have to wait sometimes for months for necessary surgery.
    Additionally, in Europe people pay about half of their income in taxes; the economy there is worse than in the US and the unemployment there has always been much higher. As to Germany – my cousin tells me some people in their government are actually talking about switching to American system….

    There is also less screening in Europe – PSA for example is not recommended, and mammograms only start at 50 and are done once every few years. Now, this may not be a bad thing – there is no real evidence that the US way is better – if you look at per population numbers which is really the most reliable statistics here as it is not affected by either lead time bias or overdiagnosis bias, but do you really think anybody in the US would agree to less screening?

    Statistics can be pretty misleading on both sides of the argument, by the way. Some of the statistics that shows that things are better in Europe is messed up too. For example, one of most cited numbers to show how bad things are in the US is child mortality. But the US includes very small premies who die shortly after birth in this statistics whereas other countries don’t. Once adjusted for this, the US numbers aren’t that bad.

    I seem to be talking on both sides of the argument – because I see good and bad points on both sides. But this shows the complexity of the whole thing. We all want affordable health care that pays for everything. But this may not be possible. I don’t know the best way, and I have serious doubts that whatever plan the government has is workable; I am also afraid, that what we currently have may have to be cut in future by the insurance companies and our employers. So I see different sides of the argument, but I also understand the problems and difficulties.

  16. Terry Pratt says:

    My monthly income is under $1,000. I’m not going to whine about that, I’ll just ask TML how much he expects me to pay for insurance.

    Just curious.

  17. Terry Pratt says:

    lurker carl says:

    Only 20% of the working population saves more than $100 per month? Wow, that is one tough figure to swallow.

    So let me ask the lurker, how much does he expect me to save per month on income under $1,000?

    Just curious.

  18. Terry Pratt says:

    Snowy Heron says:

    And just a few weeks later she has a heart attack and has $15,000 in medical bills that it takes her 5 years to repay. All I could think was, if she had the money to repay those bills, didn’t she also have the money to buy her own health insurance???
    ————————————————————————–

    If she paid the entire $15,000 over 5 years, that’s $250 per month.

    Do you think she could have obtained health insurance for $250 per month?

  19. Terry: With an income under $1000/month, I expect you to pay $20 for health insurance. I am OK with giving you a subsidy for the rest.

  20. lurker carl says:

    “So let me ask the lurker, how much does he expect me to save per month on income under $1,000?”

    Terry, I have no expectations on anyone’s ability or desire to save money. I was surprized that the overwhelming majority of Americans save little to nothing from their paychecks.

    But since you asked my opinion about your specific situation, here it is – you can not save money when you make so little. Again, I offer you a solution. Acquire and hone a variety of marketable skills that people will gladly pay you considerably more than $1000 per month to perform.

    • Rick Beagle says:

      The Dem from Florida said it much more eloquently, the Right’s plan is for you to die, and die quickly. At $1000 a month, you aren’t worth their time, or effort.

      Which is where liberals and conservatives differ.
      Conservatives don’t know what to do with people like you, other than to tell you that you are a failure, and dismiss any concerns you might have. You simply do not have a net worth that is “worthy” of their attention.

      They won’t admit it publicly, but they think you are a loser, who should work harder to get a better job. You should get more education, training, or whatever, so that you can acquire a larger paycheck and thereby become a “real person” in their eyes. They don’t know how you should do this, they just know you should.

      Greed before people might as well be the motto of the Right.

      Liberals think people should be first, because everyone has value.
      Peace.
      Rick Beagle

      • lurker carl says:

        Egads, Rick. It must be the full moon.

        • Rick Beagle says:

          Lurker Carl,

          Take a read at all of the comments on here and tell me I don’t have a bead on the Right’s mentality? Of course you are too polite (cough cowards) to admit it…. Money before people is your motto, and has been the hallmark of both the conservative and Republican brand since the ’80s.

          Putting it out there without the usual dressings should make you ponder whether that really ought to be your beliefs.

          Mull that over for a bit.
          Rick Beagle

          • Lurker Carl says:

            Rick,

            Since you asked for my opinion, here it is.

            This is a personal finance blog, I assume the primary focus here would be about personal finance. Money. There are already plenty of blogs that cater to politics. I sincerely doubt anyone’s basic views on anything are actually altered by internet discussions.

            Casual participation here is not an accurate window into my persona. But you are free to believe whatever you desire. If thinking my motto is “money before people” makes you happy, so be it.

            When your ideologies don’t not mesh with those expressed here, you casually hurl insults and innuendos to paint misleading caricatures of huge segments of the population – both on the political left and right. Closing with “peace” reeks of insincerity. Such behavior make your arguments appear bitter and hollow.

            Your ramblings give readers a bead on your mentality, nothing else.

            Lurker Carl

          • Rick Beagle says:

            This is a personal finance blog with rather overt political and social comments sprinkled throughout.

            You proclaim that my comments are snide and oft reek of insults, but somehow comments from people like yourself, MasterPo and even TML somehow escape your notice? This isn’t Fox and if you say something inane, then expect to be called out for it. What is wrong with asking you to back up your assertions with a tad bit of thinking? No, you would rather cower behind a sound bite provided by your favorite shows than actually provide anything even remotely substantive?

            The problem with the Right is that they have forgotten how to think, and how to reason. They gravitate toward echo chambers and seem ill suited when confronted with their own moral and mental ineptitude. Which is not to say that the right are stupid, but rather lazy when it comes to their views of late. And justifiably so, when those poorly held views put real people at risk, and ignore real problem, then they should be called to account for those views.

            You, however, are uncomfortable because I have pinched a nerve that you know is true, but are unwilling to acknowledge (even to yourself I would suspect). Specifically, you are okay with people suffering and dying as long as the money keeps rolling in. And any delusion that this isn’t you is refuted handily by those views you continue to express on these pages. Don’t like that particular view of yourself? Then make a change.

            If you are going to disagree over something as substantial as healthcare at least acknowledge the cost of your beliefs is measured in human suffering and lives lost. Be willing to look at those third world mobile hospitals that have to provide care in this country and understand that your views perpetuate this nightmare. But you can’t even acknowledge your own culpability, and withdraw into that cowards shell of yours screaming “the evil liberal is berating all of us”.

            Look around you, spoiled little baby boomers are throwing tantrums everywhere you look, and you would have the audacity to whine that I’m hurting your feelings?

            Money can be made without harming others – why is that so difficult a concept to understand? Let’s go for an advanced lesson, we can and should prioritize things above money! You do it in your own lives, so why can’t you find the political fortitude to extend that thinking into our culture and our politics?

            You can’t, and that truly is sad.

            Peace.
            Rick Beagle

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