Ordinary American questions for-profit health care

I’m not surprised this interview with an “Occupy Wall St” protester didn’t air on Fox, but I am surprised that it leaked:

That bit at the end?

“I think, myself, as well as many other people, would like to see a little but more economic justice or social justice — Jesus stuff — as far as feeding the poor, health care for the sick. You know, I find it really entertaining that people like to hold the Bill of Rights up while they’re screaming at gay soldiers, but they just can’t wrap their heads around the idea that a for-profit healthcare system doesn’t work. So, let’s just look at it like this, if we want the president to do more, let’s talk to him on a level that actually reaches people, instead of asking for his birth certificate and wasting time with total nonsense like Solyndra.”

If you relied on their national media, you’d almost forget that such Americans still existed.

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32 responses to “Ordinary American questions for-profit health care

  1. Splatterbottom

    For profit medicine is theft. Doctors should be forced to work for whatever the government says is a fair wage.

    And the Solyndra scandal is nonsense. Nothing to see here. Half a billion dollars of public money pissed down the drain on a Green Jobs program run by an Obama donor is chickenfeed. Nonsense I say. The FBI investigators should be called off and the executives should keep on pleading the fifth and refusing to testify to congress.

    The lesson Solyndra has for Australia is to invest more in Green jobs.

  2. And the horse you rode in on SB…

    That comment deserves nothing more…

  3. On second thoughts…

    It does deserve some discussion…

    Individuals who use political donations to receive Government subsidies for bad business practices deserve what they get.

    Apologies for the inflammatory comment… I should have known that you were being deliberately provocative.

  4. narcoticmusing

    We have not-for profit healthcare in Australia that works very well without forcing doctors to work at ‘whatever government thinks is a fair price’… considering the experience here and other countries that have either a non-profit only health system (as in some jurisdictions in Australia) or a dual system (as in other jursidictions in Australia).

    And, I hate to point it out, but for-profit medicine can equate to theft due to the conflict of interest around profit vs quality of care.

    Although, I’d like to know what the for profit advocates think is a fair price? At the moment, we have the problem of the suppliers dictating the price, which is an issue as it over inflates the value (because they artificially restrict supply).

  5. jordanrastrick

    …can equate to theft..

    Theft is theft. Intellectual property violation is not, nor are taxes, nor is this.

    the conflict of interest around profit vs quality of care.

    I happen to think Australian style health systems work a lot better in practice than American ones, and also that people should have an entitlement to a certain basic level of care from society.

    But your argument narc seems to apply generically to really any for profit enterprise at all. Surely by this logic there is a conflict of interest between a farmer’s profit motive and the quality of food she grows for you? Of course, in reality, there is some tension, but actually those interests are quite closely aligned.

  6. Splatterbottom

    Australia has a mixed system of health care, combining public and private providers. This seems to work tolerably well. A friend who works in mental health thinks medicare is an abomination because it causes overuse by people who pay nothing to for services, diverting funds away from areas like mental health where the patients have less clout at the ballot box.

    Not-for-profit health care can produce its own failures as the Canadian system amply demonstrates. The poor wait forever and wealthy leftist politicians famously fly down to the US for expensive private treatment.

  7. narcoticmusing

    Jordan – when the issue is the cost between a kerosene bath or using more staff and appropriate people to clean someone, I think you’ll find that cost motive comes into sharp focus.

    SB there are certainly issues like this, particularly with less sexy conditions. Indeed, the over utilisation of hospitals in Australia is the primary reason for the cost increases outstripping CPI and population growth by miles. Nevertheless, we still pay less per capita for healthcare that is relatively universal compared to the US who pay more poor person but only a select few have any access.

  8. wealthy leftist politicians famously fly down to the US for expensive private treatment

    Politicians, plural? As in more than one?

  9. Splatterbottom

    Chretien definitely took a secret trip. As did one Quebec premier. I’m pretty sure there were others.

  10. narcoticmusing

    Equal access will never be achieved when there are people wealthy enough to leave the jurisdiciton. But high levels of access, such as that achieved in Australia, should be a matter of pride despite that there are still clear areas for improvement

  11. Splatterbottom

    Narcotic, I agree that the current public/private system we have works quite well. It has been of great benefit to my immediate family. I would prefer that to a strictly not-for-profit system.

  12. Chretien definitely took a secret trip. As did one Quebec premier. I’m pretty sure there were others.

    Still, well short of an epidemic, apparently. I don’t have a problem with people spending their own money to travel internationally to access the best treatment available, assuming they can afford it.

  13. Splatterbottom

    Funnily enough Buns, Chretien went to elaborate lengths to hide what he was doing. Presumably on the basis that if his government monopoly health system was any good he wouldn’t be sneaking of to the US for treatment.

  14. narcoticmusing

    Presumably on the basis that if his government monopoly health system was any good he wouldn’t be sneaking of to the US for treatment. Or perhaps he was just not adding to the burden? Isn’t that the rationale given for using private systems all the time? Why would it be different? Isn’t that why you access the private system? It isn’t only due to quality – there are massive quality issues with the private system (particularly due to lack of experience vis the constant through-put of a public hospital).

    The evidence suggests that Chretien didn’t go to the US because his ‘government monopoly health system’ is poor – because it out performs the US against almost every measure. Indeed, pretty much every OECD jurisdiction does on pretty much every measure, including cost. Health expenditure is over $7k per capita in the US, but just under $4k per capita in Canada ($3.3k per capita in Australia) with Canada getting way better results across the board, including being no 2 for ‘long healthy life’ – the US came last. Notably Australia came first (woo we’re no 1!) This shows that the evil left conspiracy of universal health care is actually CHEAPER while simultaneously being more effective than a full private, for profit system.

  15. Funnily enough Buns, Chretien went to elaborate lengths to hide what he was doing. Presumably on the basis that if his government monopoly health system was any good he wouldn’t be sneaking of to the US for treatment.

    I don’t presume that, but then I don’t view every single thing through a prism of obsessive hatred of leftists as you do, SB.

    My view would be that whether or not there is a “government monopoly health system”, there may be times when the best available health care for a particular condition lies overseas. I expect that if I or my wife or a child of ours required treatment for a serious condition and we were advised that the best treatment was available in country X, then we would probably go there and avail ourselves of that, subject to being able to afford it. And I imagine most people would do the same.

  16. Of course, SB’s Chretien “example” is countered by the thousands upon thousands of ordinary Americans sneaking up to Canada for affordable medicine.

    Maybe the super rich in America do have access to high quality healthcare. The problem is that the vast majority of Americans do not.

  17. Perhaps everyone could concentrate less on the health care and more on the social justice (you know – the ‘jesus stuff’) aspect of things.

    Things like looking out for poor – providing at least the equivalent of a minimum income for those who are out of work, a route to sustainable employment to those who have not had one available to them beforehand.

    Certainly of those offered a hand of assistance there will be a handful who take advantage of it – does that mean it should not be offered at all?

    For those of a biblical mind I offer Hebrews 10:1 – if you are really a Christian is it not your duty to help those less fortunate than yourself? They may not adhere to the laws of Moses but they are still worthy of salvation.

  18. Splatterbottom

    Jeremy: “Of course, SB’s Chretien “example” is countered by the thousands upon thousands of ordinary Americans sneaking up to Canada for affordable medicine.”

    That shows that there are problems in both systems – access to drugs in the US and access to medical care in Canada. I would prefer our system to either of those. Making our system entirely not-for-profit will not improve it.

    Shane you need to work out what it is to help people. This is where bleeding-hearts get it hopelessly wrong. First we had communism, the complete not-for-profit economy. All that did was to bring poverty misery and death to tens of millions. Most of this has fallen away but many lefties still have a soft spot for Castro and that narcissistic murderer Che. Lefties like that fat ugly multi-millionaire Michael Moore for example.

    These days the socialism is softer and the outcome slightly less deleterious than before. Now we have 25% of households dependent on welfare as their main source of income. It is hard to say that generational underclass ghettos help anyone.

    Also their is a tendency around these parts for contemptible know-it-all up-themselves lefties to lecture Christians on Christianity. It is none of their fucking business.

  19. narcoticmusing

    America’s model is utterly broken. High cost for low gain. This is across the board, not just health care. Private for-profit co’s have made an industry out of ripping off the taxpayer* making several hundred % profit, meanwhile, the richest country in the world has the highest starvation rate of any developed nation – mainly because no other developed nation has a significant starvation rate except the US (most are anomalies, meanwhile the US has thousands). Measures of happiness for countries show that the closer the gap between rich and poor, the happier the population. Considering that, the riots in the UK for example are a bit of a no brainer – some very bloody unhappy people. I don’t pretend that the USSR or China are models of success, and I am an advocate of personal property ownership, but I contend that neither extreme works.
    *(one should note with concern that this is increasingly common in Australia with the joke that is public private partnerships which translate to abdicate responsibility and outsource risk in return for the worst value for money possible).

    Ironic, that if I am lecturing Christians on Christianity my free speech should be limited, despite the only apparent crime I commit being pointing out what Jesus said and wanting some form of reconciliation to observed behaviour. But if someone was to demonise another on their race and lie about them, that is suddenly oppression and censorship. The cognitive dissonance of many Christian (indeed most religious) groups is astounding. I am well versed on Christianity and have paid my dues to be entitled to comment, as scathingly as I wish, on it. The main reason I don’t comment on other religions isn’t that I pick on Christianity per se, but because i do not have as intimate an understanding of it and the messed up way a beautiful message of love and peace is turned into hate.

    I agree with you that generational ghettos help no one – but this is more the inadequacy of the welfare rather than the provision of it. The amount given is not enough to really live on (presumably to encourage people to work) but it is not enough to assist people to get work. Charity is lacking in Australia – I do not agree that people should be assisted from tax alone, that is an extreme that is not sustainable – nevertheless, the charity only system in the US is the other extreme and does not come close to providing pathways back into work, rather it attempts to keep people poor.

  20. Splatterbottom

    Narcotic, I’m not trying to limit your free speech at all, and you know it. One good thing about free speech is that it lets wankers and weirdos to strut their stuff for all to see. (And BTW I am not putting you in either of those categories.)

    I agree entirely with you about PPPs.

    As to welfare, the first duty of governments is to provide a system that allows all who want to work to do so. Just giving people money is a cop-out and more importantly it is destructive of the recipient in the long term.

  21. Narcotic, I’m not trying to limit your free speech at all, and you know it.

    Yes, it’s none of your fucking business, narc, but by all means have your say about it. Thanks for clearing that up, SB.

    Also their is a tendency around these parts for contemptible know-it-all up-themselves lefties to lecture Christians on Christianity.

    Which lefties are you referring to?

  22. Splatterbottom

    Buns you are completely free to say what you like, and people free to tell you to shove it, or not, as they please. No doubt rational people will elect the former.

    You can trawl through this blog if you really want to know names and dates. I’m not doing your research for you.

  23. You can trawl through this blog if you really want to know names and dates. I’m not doing your research for you.

    Thanks but I won’t do that, because (a) I don’t recall anyone here “lecturing” Christians about Christianity, and (b) I ultimately don’t care that much either way. I’m just thinking it’s kind of gutless to abuse inhabitants of this blog without saying who you’re referring to.

  24. Splatterbottom

    Buns you could start by scrolling up this thread a little.

  25. narcoticmusing

    <em? Narcotic, I’m not trying to limit your free speech at all

    I didn’t think you were – I didn’t think your remark was pointed at me, I was merely commenting on your comment :) Which is, that I think Christians – not individuals mind you – but organisations claiming to represent Christians and Christian values are fair game. While I won’t use the ‘my taxes subsidise them’ line (although don’t you love me dropping it in there?) I think if they put themselves out there, criticising my values based on their belief system – I have the right to exercise my critical literacy and call bullshit when I see it. I don’t believe you need to have been a drug addict to know it damages you. I don’t believe you need to be a Christian to comment on Christianity.

  26. Splatterbottom

    Narcotic, my view is that religious beliefs are personal, and don’t belong in public debate. I don’t use them as a basis for argument because I don’t think they are persuasive to people who don’t share them.

    Further, I don’t see the role of the state as implementing any particular religious belief system. It is rather maximising liberty for all. In this way all irrational belief systems can co-exist so long as they respect the liberty of others.

    Given that I don’t think it is rational or relevant for people to use their own religious beliefs in public debate it follows that I don’t support people who don’t even follow a particular religion doing so. Besides there is a grubby presumption about such behaviour.

  27. narcoticmusing

    Fair, well articulated point SB. Indeed the Australian Constitution agrees with the view you’ve articulated, unfortunately in practice many groups have found other heads of power to achieve the same ends under a fiction of not enforcing/supporting religion of a State. An example is the taxation exemptions given to religious organisations for no other reason than being religious. I have no issue with them having exemptions if they demonstrate they are beneveolent, like any other charity or PBI has to.

    Thus, tor the most part I agree with you, but the reality is that religious groups do use their often substantial influence to shift agendas and change laws that do reduce my and my fellow citizens liberty – as such, I question their rationale and their submission. Most of the time, their submission is on the public record and as such, I will critique it with the same standard I would any other rationale for limiting (or expanding for that matter) liberty.

  28. Splatterbottom

    Narcotic: “An example is the taxation exemptions given to religious organisations for no other reason than being religious. I have no issue with them having exemptions if they demonstrate they are beneveolent, like any other charity or PBI has to.”

    Not all tax exempts are benevolent. We afford tax-free status to organisations which promote sports, culture and recreation. The better comparison is that atheist groups usually miss out unless they are qualify under another head. Interestingly Scientologists made the cut.

  29. @SB [general] Ok, my quoting a bible verse (as a non-religous person) was probably trite and I apologise for that. Given that the three Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) seem to have a significant influence on political thought in the US and in current international affairs it would make sense to study and try to understand them. I have done this to the best of my ability – without becoming fully immersed in them I cannot understand as well as those that are but that does not diminish my opinion.

    @SB [6 October, 2011 at 9:49 am]

    SB: “Shane you need to work out what it is to help people. This is where bleeding-hearts get it hopelessly wrong. First we had communism, the complete not-for-profit economy. All that did was to bring poverty misery and death to tens of millions. Most of this has fallen away but many lefties still have a soft spot for Castro and that narcissistic murderer Che. Lefties like that fat ugly multi-millionaire Michael Moore for example.”

    What I intended to convey was that it was the social responsibility (regardless of religion) of people to try and help others worse off than themselves. This doesn’t mean you should invite asylum seekers into your house or provide free food nights every friday for the homeless.

    Engaging with your local community (directly or through another organisation whether it be religious or not) is a good start. This could also be via voting for your taxes to be used to provide minimum levels of healthcare or income assistance for those unable (or even unwilling) to provide for themselves. Those very few that are very unwilling still have children and if you are unhappy about your funds going to the parents at least consider it may help their children escape from the poverty loop.

    As for the reference to so-called ‘lefty icons’ – most modern ‘lefties’ (and ‘righties’ for that matter) would not have a clue who the people you mentioned are apart from their names and career highlights. ‘Che’ would probably be the most recognisable and only due to the number of posters and T-Shirts bearing his image. Oh, and you forgot to mention Batista, Pinochet and Mussolini – all of which where in favour of government control of most aspects of society but were happy to cede economic control to large corporations in return for suitable economic returns.

    You seem to imply that bleeding-hearts implies socialism – they do not. I want to help those that are less better off than myself but I do not want to subsidise everything or create a communist society. I simply think there are people who can accomplish greater things than what would be generally available to them with a helping hand. You and I may have had the benefit of parents who were willing and able to make sacrifices that put us where we are – there are many others who did not have that opportunity.

    SB: “These days the socialism is softer and the outcome slightly less deleterious than before. Now we have 25% of households dependent on welfare as their main source of income. It is hard to say that generational underclass ghettos help anyone.”

    There are many reasons why so many people are dependent on welfare – part of it is very possibly related to the ‘ease’ of accessing such payments (certainly a component of the population is happy with that). Another thing to consider is that perhaps a number of people cannot pull themselves or their descendents out of the rut because the current system is biased against them. If, when applying for a job, you as a public school educated, TAFE graduate are competing against someone who went to a private school and have a degree from a credited university who do you think is going to come off worst?

    I’m not asking for preferential treatment – I’m just asking for equal treatment. Regardless of background a person who passes the entry exams should have equal opportunity to enter tertiary education – if that involves some tax payer funding so be it.

    SB: “Also their is a tendency around these parts for contemptible know-it-all up-themselves lefties to lecture Christians on Christianity. It is none of their fucking business.”

    Covered this in the first paragraph. I am a little dissapointed with the assumption that ‘lefties’ cannot be Christians though. Continuing in the tone you have set – we ‘know-it-all’ (read the Bible cover to cover – both the ‘Good News’ and ‘King James’ versions along with a number of commentaries), ‘up-themselves’ (decided to form my own opinion rather than listen to one dictated to me from on high by a Pope, Pastor or other religious leader), ‘leftie’ (prefer to believe that people failing themselves and those around them is part of human nature and sometimes a little help is all that is needed to get them back on their feet) who should mind their own fucking business – not exactly a great way to convince people that religion (and more specifically – your religion) is the best way to get things back on track.

  30. Splatterbottom

    Shane: “Engaging with your local community (directly or through another organisation whether it be religious or not) is a good start. “

    Agreed.

    “This could also be via voting for your taxes to be used to provide minimum levels of healthcare or income assistance for those unable (or even unwilling) to provide for themselves. Those very few that are very unwilling still have children and if you are unhappy about your funds going to the parents at least consider it may help their children escape from the poverty loop.”

    The empirical question here is whether it actually does help other than in the very short term. Surely there must be a better way?

    “Oh, and you forgot to mention Batista, Pinochet and Mussolini”

    These three do not enjoy any popular support. Let me know next time you see a Baptista T-shirt or when Michael Moore makes a movie praising any of them.

    “You and I may have had the benefit of parents who were willing and able to make sacrifices that put us where we are – there are many others who did not have that opportunity.”

    And the best advice you can give them is to take responsibility for their own lives. Much worse is to tell them that it is all society’s fault or someone else’s fault, give them some money and walk away smugly satisfied. That is arrogant, demeaning and stupid. It is easy enough to look at how disadvantaged groups have got out from under great adversity – taking responsibility for their own situation, hard work, education, and a willingness to become part of society. That doesn’t mean that the rest of society can be indifferent to their situation, but it should be careful not to do things which are ultimately counter-productive.

    “I’m not asking for preferential treatment – I’m just asking for equal treatment. Regardless of background a person who passes the entry exams should have equal opportunity to enter tertiary education – if that involves some tax payer funding so be it.”

    Isn’t that the way it works, basically. Entry is based on exams. You can get credit for extenuating circumstances. It is fairly easy to come in after a few years if you missed or bombed the HSC but can produce a reasonable story as to why. The government subsidises your education but you have to pay them back when you start earning. That sounds like a fair deal.

  31. SBI would prefer our system to either of those. Making our system entirely not-for-profit will not improve it.

    A sentiment most here probably share SB.

    Does this mean I can correctly infer that you broadly agree that the US would benefit from the introduction of a public health system (run, of course, in conjunction with a for-profit one)?

    I tend to think that it works for us so why not for them.

  32. Splatterbottom

    Mondo, I think the US needs to draw together the major health systems (Medicare, Medicaid, Congressional and Military) under a common system that treats beneficiaries equally and extend that system to everyone.

    In addition there should be a private option to encourage further development of new and improved services. This benefits everyone, even us, by having wealthy people effectively fund R&D.

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