Saturday, April 3, 2010

Healthcare Example

This got me fired up this morning. For those that don't see what I may infrequently post on facebook, I've put the article here and my response. This was posted by a former high school classmate with the following comment. My response is at the bottom.

Former classmate: "Oh Tea Partiers and other healthcare reform opponents, what do you have to say about this? "

10-Day-Old Baby Denied Health Care CoverageBy Melissa Newton FORT WORTH (CBS 11 / TXA 21) ―

Houston Tracy is just 10 days old, but the little boy has already lived through trying times."He was born with what's called transposition of the great arteries." his father, Doug Tracy said. "It's heart wrenching; I hated it."The congenital heart defect causes the two major vessels that carry blood away from the heart to become switched.It's a condition rarely detected before birth."My whole pregnancy was simple, it was easy, no complications, doctor visits were great," Houston's mother, Kim Tracy said. "Perfect sonograms, great little pictures and then, he wasn't perfect."The baby was rushed to Cook Children's Medical Center in Fort Worth where he had life-saving surgery."He's doing really good," his mother said with a smile, "he's a little tough guy."While baby Houston is fighting for recovery, his parents found themselves in another battle: Fighting the insurance company, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas.The Tracy's are both small business owners and do not carry health insurance for themselves. They do carry insurance on their two other children and tried to get insurance for Houston, but they found out Wednesday his coverage was denied."They kept saying it's preexisting, it's preexisting, but I don't know how it can be preexisting on a baby that was just born." his father said. "If it's mandated that everyone have health insurance, than how can one be denied?"Blue Cross and Blue Shield can't comment on the family's situation, but did comment about the health care reform law, and how it may affect coverage."We will work closely with our customers to keep them informed of any changes that may result from the new law," said Margaret Jarvis, the company's Senior Manager of Media Relations. "We will continue to review the bill's requirements on our business and their respective time frames to ensure full compliance."While the Tracys said they'll do whatever it takes for their baby, they have no idea at what cost.A "Houston Samuel Tracy" fund is set up at Bank of America to help the family cover medical costs.

My response:
What do you want to hear? Most private individual insurance policies offer de-facto coverage to babies born from an insured mother. The baby's mother CHOSE to NOT have her own insurance, which meant her baby wasn't automatically covered at birth. Sounds like the mother's fault. By choosing to not have coverage for themselves, they denied their ... See Morebaby automatic coverage, and took the risk that if their baby were born with a health issue, it wouldn't be eligible for its own new coverage. The article, and you, of course, fail to mention this very important fact. Health insurance (not health CARE) is a risk-based service provided by companies that have to run sustainable businesses. If insurance companies are forced to cover everyone that asks for coverage, their costs would overwhelm their income and they'll go bankrupt, which of course denies coverage for EVERYONE. It is immensely sad that this baby was born with a defect, but in this world things happen that are expensive, many that are out of our control. When those things happen, it is the person's responsibility, along with the beneficence of fellow citizens, to bear these costs. (Use this publicity to set up a fund where the public can donate to cover the costs of care for this child). It is not the role of the government to FORCE everyone to bear the costs of the private matters of others.

A final note. At the end of the article is information about a fund that indeed has been set up to help the family pay for the medical expenses. This is how it ought to work. We live in a free country where we ought to be free to help (or not help) when situations like this happen.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Businesses React to Rising Cost of ObamaCare: They're Cutting Benefits

This is from a ticker so I'm not posting the link because won't be active for long, but I didn't make this up. These examples are coming from the Wall Street Journal.

Remember the part in the ObamaCare pitch when they said if you like your
current healthcare, it won't change?

Turns out it might.

Companies are already announcing that their healthcare premium costs are going through the roof. Some are responding by firing people. Some are cutting
benefits. And some are presumably eating it.
But costs they are a-rising.

A few examples from the WSJ:-- Caterpillar said it would cost the
company at least $100 million more in the first year alone.-- Medical device
maker Medtronic warned that new taxes on its products could force it to lay off
a thousand workers.-- Verizon announced to employees that it will likely have to
cut healthcare benefits to offset the new costs.

So, people who like your employer-provided health insurance, get ready to pay more or get less.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Empire in Decline

I'm very behind on things that are important, however, I found this article especially interesting, because the guy talking is a hedge fund manager. Yet, he has a very liberal arts/classically educated take on what the health bill means for the USA.

I can't remember if it was Plato or Aristotle, I think Plato, but I'm not sure if it was in the Republic, but at some point he mentions that societies that are becoming weaker will inevitably have many doctors, a trend in this country and the modern world completely aside from the health bill.

The point of the guy in the article is that many doctors, coupled with the 'demand' for universal healthcare, is a sign that the people are relying more and more on the state to take care of them, which of course is a sign of weakness. I say 'demand' because I'm not convinced that greater than 50% of the population wanted this bill, especially given that it supposedly will provide health coverage to only around 10% of the population (and even that number is highly questionable) while costing EVERYONE ELSE in much greater proportion.

I find the health bill and what it means troubling not just with a financial and socialistic perspective, but also a greater politically philosophical one (which does tie to the socialistic perspective, I know). Universal health coverage, with a deep dependence on government, is a concept fundamentally tied to Utopian ideas, which are stupid (and I don't say that flippantly) and ultimately represent an impossible reality. Yet in many ways those ideas are at the root of any liberal, whether they realize it or not.

Health Care Law Signals US Empire Decline?

The passage of the health care law shows that the US empire is declining because it illustrates the fact that people expect the state to take care of them, David Murrin, the co-founder of Emergent Asset Management hedge fund manager, told CNBC.
On Tuesday, US President Barack Obama signed into law health care legislation that expands health coverage for the poor, imposes new taxes on the rich and forbids insurance practices such as refusing coverage to those with pre-existing conditions.
In their expansionary phase, empires force people to go out, seek risks and fend for themselves, Murrin said, reminding of the dismantling of the British empire after the war, when the National Health Service, which ensures universal health coverage in Britain, was created.
"This (empire decline) is actually a dead-set course that societies get into and it will happen very quickly I'm afraid," he told "Squawk Box Europe."
"As you start to build a system it becomes cohesive because of its success... the fractures in the American system I think are more apparent than ever," Murrin added.
China's rise will be much faster than most people anticipate as the country's military prowess increases, he said.
"We all know there's going to be a change, the surprise will be the pace of that change," Murrin said, noting that "all empires when they decline they underestimate their challengers."
The peak for commodities will be reached somewhere between 2020 and 2025 and it's the period before that that must be watched, as China seems much more willing to take risks than Western countries, he predicted.
- Watch the full interview with David Murrin above.
"You have a lot more males in China then you do in the west," he said, noting that 56 percent of the Chinese society was male, because of the country's policies to control population and because of traditions which value males more than females.
"What that means is that they're far more risk-oriented than a society in the West...if you look at conflict and your ability to risk your males in conflict," Murrin explained.
China has started to innovate and has worked out what the West's weaknesses are so it can overtake developed countries, he added.
The country is investing heavily in Africa, which Murrin calls a "huge opportunity" because it has the best demographics in the world and a big resource pool.
"I think Africa, as a generic theme, is the hottest thing in town," he said.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Deficit

This is a great article. I have been intending to post on the dangers of the borrowing that the U.S. is doing, but just haven't done it. This will serve as (a much better than what I could produce, probably) substitute for now.

Conservative politics have traditionally meant reduced spending (I know it didn't work that way with Bush) and liberal politics generally advocate bigger government and more spending, and so its hard to believe that the budget will get anywhere near balanced (as Obama hope to get with the commission mentioned at the end of the article) while Democrats are in power, unless there is a large increase in taxes. This is incredibly serious and threatens our standard of living as Americans in the least, and threatens our entire government and way of life at worst.

The federal budget deficit has long since graduated from nuisance to
headache to pressing national concern. Now, however, it has become so large and
persistent that it is time to start thinking of it as something else entirely: a
national-security threat.
The budget plan released Monday illustrates why
this escalation is warranted. The numbers are mind-numbing: a $1.6 trillion
deficit this year, $1.3 trillion next year, $8.5 trillion for the next 10 years
combined—and that assumes Congress enacts President Barack Obama's proposals to
start bringing it down, and that the proposals work.
These numbers are often
discussed as an economic and domestic problem. But it's time to start thinking
of the ramifications for America's ability to continue playing its traditional
global role.
The U.S. government this year will borrow one of every three
dollars it spends, with many of those funds coming from foreign countries. That
weakens America's standing and its freedom to act; strengthens China and other
world powers; puts long-term defense spending at risk; undermines the power of
the American system as a model for developing countries; and reduces the aura of
power that has been a great intangible asset for presidents for more than a
"We've reached a point now where there's an intimate link between
our solvency and our national security," says Richard Haass, president of the
Council on Foreign Relations and a senior national-security adviser in both the
first and second Bush presidencies. "What's so discouraging is that our domestic
politics don't seem to be up to the challenge."
Consider just four of the
ways that budget deficits also threaten American's national security:
• They
make America vulnerable to foreign pressures.
The U.S. has about $7.5
trillion in accumulated debt held by the public, about half of that in the hands
of investors abroad.
That means America's government is dependent on the
largesse of foreign creditors and subject to the whims of international
financial markets. A foreign government, through the actions of its central
bank, could put pressure on the U.S. in a way its military never could. Even
under a more benign scenario, a debt-ridden U.S. is vulnerable to a run on the
American dollar that begins abroad.
Either way, Mr. Haass says, "it reduces
our independence."
• Chinese power is growing as a result.
A lot of the
deficit is being financed by China, which is selling the U.S. many billions of
dollars of manufactured goods, then lending the accumulated dollars back to the
U.S. The IOUs are stacking up in Beijing.
So far this has been a mutually
beneficial arrangement, but it is slowly increasing Chinese leverage over
American consumers and the American government. At some point, the U.S. may have
to bend its policies before either an implicit or explicit Chinese threat to
stop the merry-go-round.
Just this weekend, for example, the U.S. angered
China by agreeing to sell Taiwan $6.4 billion in arms. At some point, will the
U.S. face economic servitude to China that would make such a policy decision
• Long-term national-security budgets are put at risk.
year, thanks in some measure to continuing high costs from wars in Iraq and
Afghanistan, the U.S. will spend a once-unthinkable $688 billion on defense.
(Before the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, by contrast, the figure was closer to $300
Staggering as the defense outlays are, the deficit is twice as
large. The much smaller budgets for the rest of America's international
operations—diplomacy, assistance for friendly nations—are dwarfed even more
dramatically by the deficit.
These national-security budgets have been
largely sacrosanct in the era of terrorism. But unless the deficit arc changes,
they will come under pressure for cuts.
• The American model is being
undermined before the rest of the world.
This is the great intangible impact
of yawning budget deficits. The image of an invincible America had two large
effects over the last century or so. First, it made other countries listen when
Washington talked. And second, it often—not always, of course, but often—made
other peoples and leaders yearn to be like America.
Sometimes that produced
jealousy and resentment among leaders, but often it drew to the top of foreign
lands leaders who admired the U.S. and wanted their countries to emulate it.
Such leaders are good allies.
The Obama administration has pledged to create
a bipartisan commission charged with balancing the budget, except for interest
payments, by 2015. The damage deficits can do to America's world standing is a
good reason to hope the commission works.