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Paying for Health Care: A Primer

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Since it looks like nationalized health care is a done deal and it appears the United States has run out of money, I have come up with a primer on paying for this wonderful plan. Wait! Someone’s got to pay? What? You think money grows on trees? It comes from the Mint, silly!  Before anyone accuses me of being anti-health care, please note that I personally don't have much in the way of health insurance. However, I will admit I do not like buying something sight unseen or paying for this nebulous service on credit. Please feel free to exchange the word “tax” for “fee,” “contribution,” or “assessment.” I personally am favoring the term “duty” as it implies a sense of altruism. Levied duties double in that if it costs more to do something, it might just change ‘bad’ behavior. A two-fer, if you will.

Ten Ways to Pay for Health Care

1. Tax cigarettes and other forms of tobacco. There’s already a tax, but tax some more, and while you’re at it, get the people coming and going, the growers and the users. A smoking habit is a one-way road to lung disease and death. Those with emphysema are straining our health services. They should pay more.

2. Make pot and recreational drugs legal, then do the same as in #1. Supposedly, marijuana is one of California’s biggest cash crops, but the state can’t cash in since it’s not legal. Might as well throw the other drugs on there, LSD, peyote, crack, meth, etc. In addition to a boatload of cash revenue, the border drug wars may die down. If we make our own, why import?

3. Increase the alcohol tax. I know, it’s already taxed, but damned if those alcoholics don’t need more attention via recovery clinics and 12-step programs. Imbibers add to the cost of health care. Duty the makers, too. If hops growers and vintners have to pay to put the product out there, it will lower the demand. You have to get the hops growers and the people who sell beer- and wine-making machines, too. There's going to be a huge backlash of people making their own.

4. Obviously, there must be a surcharge on fast food. Taxing fast food is a two-pronged approach meant to save the environment. In addition to empty calories and God-knows-what added to the offerings, I have a problem with the literal garbage emitted by fast food restaurants: the paper napkins, containers, pop cups and straws. What would Al Gore do?

5. Twinkie Tax or the Ho-Ho Assessment. All junk food must be taxed. Chips, caramel corn, candy. (Oh, the insanity of it all!) Obesity is a number one strain on our health system, leading to all sorts of problems: heart disease, diabetes, you name it. White sugar is bad!

6. Tax the raw "good" food that can be made into junk/fast food. These items include butter, eggs, milk and cacao beans, because everyone knows you need those ingredients to make a bitchin’ chocolate cake.

7. Tax the immediate air around us, which we breathe. That’s right, it’s for the CO2 emissions, although don’t tell my angel trumpet plant. I’ve been breathing on it all winter long in an attempt to revive it from death. I figure it's the next thing the government will try to co-opt.

8. Fat tax. There should be a tax on each person for undue BMI. People should be taller than their circumference, unless humans are going through some sort of evolutionary process I missed since the TV has been turned off. This would be a wonderful incentive for those who need a kick in the pants to lose weight. [raises hand] That would be me too.

9. Lazy tax. There should be an immediate excise on electronics, TVs, cell phones, computers and video games. Throw cars and motorcycles in there too; many people can walk, and if they can’t, they should. Just think, we would all be fit if we would get off our big bums and move a little. Of course, there will be a special dispensation for those who purchase a WII-Fit.

10. And finally, a 90% excise tax put on those who voted for the current health care bill or who want and support it. If you think the current health care reform bill is such a great deal, put your money where your mouth is.

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About Joanne Huspek

I write. I read. I garden. I cook. I eat. And I love to talk about all of the above.
  • At least, Joanne, you comprehend that when you haven’t got any money, you have to pay for the goodies you can’t afford somehow. Explain that to the health-care-reform-crazies, who can’t seem to cotton onto to the fact that once they’re done screaming about “free” medical care, somebody has to pay the doctor to eat. Otherwise, all those nice gentlemen (and their families) from India, Israel, Indonesia, Nigeria, Arabia and all them other places most Americans can’t find on a map will just go home.

    The insurance boys don’t have any worries. They’ll just hire thugs to shoot anyone who complains too much at the “Americare” billing office…. Oh, and what to do about all the missing doctors? Just hire Mexican illegals to work at $10 an hour. Do you think anyone will know the difference?

  • Make that Honduran illegals – I don’t want to piss off Clavos….

  • Oh boy. No “satire” label. I’m a running target.

  • Better running, Joanne, than stationary.

  • Do they still make twinkies?

  • John Wilson

    The outside cost of UHC is about $90billion per year , which we could get easily by withdrawing from Iraq, which is about half of the $192billion cost of our Occupation Armies in the mideast.

    Does anyone still believe that the Iraq occupation serves any useful American interest?

    We could pull out of Afghanistan too, since we have no real interest in the Taliban, other than that we consider them morally inferior, therefore eligible for practice bombings, etc.

    There’s also plenty fat in the $760billion defense budget, a proven waste of money.

    No new taxes needed. Just better deploy the ones we have.

  • Clavos

    I’m all for withdrawing (NOW, not in phases) from both Iraq and Afghanistan, and while we’re at it, we should withdraw ALL our occupation forces around the world: Europe, Asia, etc. Once we have them home, discharge half of them, cutting the entire DoD budget by at least 50%.

  • Joanne,

    If we roll back all the tax cuts and deregulation that have brought us all here to begin with, then your other taxes are probably good ideas.

    My idea is really putting your money where your mouth is. wouldn’t you agree?

    Or, is this satire? Because I really can’t see the humor.

  • Clavos,

    That’s a very good idea! Are you serious or being facetious?

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Joanne –

    You do realize, of course, that there are tens of millions of Americans who can’t have health insurance because of their pre-existing conditions, don’t you? My oldest son is one such American. Thank you very much, but I apologize not at all for even one word I’ve said or posted for health care reform. When it’s your family member – your child – that can’t get health insurance in America when he could in any other first-world democracy on the planet, you tend to have little patience for those who claim that health care reform will somehow bankrupt the country and surely drive us into communism.

    In other words, when you know that health care reform might well make the difference between life and death for your own child, it changes your perception quite a bit.

    That said, I wouldn’t have any problem at all with your ideas except for the obviously-sarcastic numbers 8 and 10, and putting that increased revenue towards paying for our health care reform…which – if the non-partisan CBO is to be believed – will actually more than pay for itself and decrease the deficit somewhat. Of course, such a possibility is beyond the imagination of most conservatives….

  • Glenn,

    Can I second your comment? It is very insulting to read this article, when you have a health problems in your family, and I’m sorry to read about your little boy.

    Have you written a new article yet? One that counters this one would be nice to read. I look forward to reading it if you have plans for one.

  • Glenn,

    This is so true, what you write.

    Please,don’t ever let anyone discourage you.

  • Ted

    the greater point is look at how much control over our lives the gov is going to want to exercize when they are footing the bill. except number 2 because that would be worth it.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Clavos –

    Your idea on the military sounds wonderful – in theory. As a far-left liberal moonbeam-watching liberal, I’d love to see the same thing. Problem is, you’re giving a simplistic solution to a hideously complex problem…and the judicious use of a sword would only make this particular Gordian knot much, much harder to unravel.

    But you know as well as I that nature abhors a vacuum, and for that reason we cannot – repeat, cannot – do as you suggest. Do you doubt for even one moment that our presence on the 38th parallel has prevented another Korean War (actually a continuation of the one that never officially ended)? Do you doubt for even one moment that China would not have invaded Taiwan had we not been there? Why do you think Japan tolerates our bases there?

    If – after the election this very week – Iraq turns out to be sufficiently stable, then YES, bring the troops home…but such stability can’t be determined overnight. Wait a few months to verify stability…and bring ’em home. Interestingly enough, this is precisely Obama’s timeline, isn’t it?

    The bases in Europe presently serve only one positive purpose – as a staging area to logistically support our troops in the Middle East. Once we leave Iraq, we can at least partially draw down our bases in Europe.

    Afghanistan? We’d be foolish to leave. Why? Because if we leave, Pakistan must either invade Afghanistan or allow it to be used as a staging area for al-Qaeda. The Pakistanis haven’t forgotten al-Qaeda’s offensive to try to take Islamabad last year…and neither have the planners in the Pentagon. If we leave, then we put the despotic Pakistani regime in peril…which wouldn’t be bad, except for this particular despotic regime has nuclear weapons which would then be in the control of al-Qaeda.

    Do you really want to risk that? I don’t think so.

    Furthermore, as long as we’re next door in Afghanistan, Iran will NOT consider attacking Israel. I believe I can safely state that we will not leave Afghanistan until (1) Pakistan no longer faces a serious threat from insurgents, AND (2) moderates take power in Iran.

    I suspect you knew every bit of this…but you just wanted to blow off some frustration about our deficit spending. So I figured I’d give you a link to a graph showing where most of our deficit came from.

    I wonder if you’ll take the info from the graph – which are drawn from hard-and-fast numbers, mind you – and start throwing the blame where the blame is truly due. But I doubt it.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Jeannie –

    Thanks – and I’m working on an article now. I can personally guarantee that it will tick off our conservative friends no end. It’s actually rather sad and might even seem a bit distasteful to us liberals…but a small part of us will say, “See! I knew it! I just knew it!”

  • Clavos


    When you go back to the real source of the story on the deficit (Matthew Yglesias is a poser and in this instance is just purloining another’s work), you find the breakdown of the contributors to the deficit is as follows is as follows:

    Cost of the “business cycle” (euphemism for recession): 37%

    Bush’s insane spending: 33%

    Obama’s spending: 30%

    So, it would seem that the responsibility can be more or less equally assigned to the two most recent administrations and the recession.

    Solution? Let’s get rid of the presidency — they’re all crooks and bums, anyhow.

    As to the withdrawal of our troops worldwide: I don’t care if Kim takes over S. Korea, and the Chinese are Welcome to Taiwan.

    The bases in Europe are not necessary even for staging for the Middle East. A little better logistical planning, with modern transport capabilities, would eliminate that “necessity” — and save a lot of money — ours. There are literally hundreds of wide body jets currently stored out in the deserts of the southwest, which the government could charter from their owners, thereby pumping money into our economy (as opposed to Europe’s), and putting a lot of people back to work.

  • Clavos

    I wonder if you’ll take the info from the graph – which are drawn from hard-and-fast numbers, mind you – and start throwing the blame where the blame is truly due. But I doubt it.

    See, that’s the problem with you — you make a lot of unwarranted assumptions about virtually everything you ponificate on, and most of them are erronous, as are most of your fallacious conclusions.

    In this case, you’re assuming, because you think you have me pegged as a Republican, that I won’t be willing to blame Bush the lesser for his profligate spending, and you are as usual, completely wrong. I am neither a Republican, nor a supporter of Mr. “nucular,” whom I consider to be a typical unlettered, southern redneck country bumpkin.

  • Arch Conservative

    While it’s all the rage right now to savage the insurance companies and retell sob story anecdotes about people who cannot afford their health care what we most often leave out is the fact that our own personal lifestyle choices are one of the biggest factors driving health care costs.

    The last time I checked there were no reports in the news about CEO’s from Blue Cross or Aetna holding guns to people’s heads to make them eat a second piece of pie after dinner. There are no men in suits from Harvard Pilgrim going from house to house sabotaging treadmills and other physical exercise apparatus.

    While we certainly need to keep on an eye on the insurance companies, the narrative that they are the only thing wrong with our system is ludicrous.

    Illegals, defensive medicine, tort reform, preventative medicine, lifestyle changes….

    Anyone claiming to be able improve the system by focusing solely on one aspect of it is selling something you don’t want or need.

    We don’t need more taxes on unhealthy things. We need more self restraint and more shame…..That’s right SHAME…..If you eat yourself into becoming a fat bastard whose ass takes up two seats on an airplane maybe it’s time to put down the f-ing ho hos

    If you’re a 17 year old girl and you think it’s cool that you already have a kid or two…..maybe you need a smack upside the head to knock some sense into you.

  • Ted,

    If I could Re. #13,

    How much of your personal freedom has been taken away, because you are a registered driver, a library member,or a current voter?

    This bill will begin to bring us back to sanity.

    The private insurers are, an instrument originally, used by the medical profession for billing purposes. However, somewhere down the line the insurers got really greedy and realized that they could make huge profits by, denying coverage, cherry picking, and dictating what the doctors could do in-order to provide health care. Preventative care went right out the window, and we want to bring it back.

    Please allow me say again, that the right to vote was not amended until two years after the civil rights bill passed; we have to start here.

    So, the government will not have greater control, you see I have VA single payer and there is no-one in Washington causing me any problems.

  • Glenn,

    I can’t wait! I like your writting and look forward to more.

    I’m working on something right now, although it’s not about health care. I’m not going to stop fighting for health care reform. I just have a lot to bitch about! 🙂

  • Ahem, SATIRE? Although I truly believe a whirlwind of taxes is coming down the pike to pay for this monstrosity and the other wild spending.

    Also, this is not written to be mean spirited. I myself have a pre-existing condition, and I can get health insurance. It’s costly, yes, and it doesn’t cover much, yes, and I had to sign off on my pre-existing condition for a year. We were also able to secure health insurance for our employees who wanted it who had pre-existing conditions. Yes, very expensive.

    I’m with Clavos in that the military should pull out of the Middle East. It’s not fair to the people who live there and it’s certainly not fair to our soldiers. However, if they are decommissioned once home, I imagine the unemployment would skyrocket into the 20% range or higher. MORE money out the door.

    We’re being ruled by a bunch of elitist rich politicians, both Democrat and Republican, who have one gravy boat of a health plan (for life) but can’t cut spending anywhere. The easy way is the tax highway, but that’s going to send everyone underground.

    Oh, yeah.

  • Clavos

    We’re being ruled by a bunch of elitist rich politicians, both Democrat and Republican, who have one gravy boat of a health plan (for life) but can’t cut spending anywhere. The easy way is the tax highway, but that’s going to send everyone underground.

    Quoted for Truth.

  • Boeke

    It isn’t money that fuels opposition to UHC, it’s just plain meanness.

    The numbers don’t support the anti-UHC tax arguments.

    Government intervention and control doesn’t support an anti-UHC argument.

    Americans just hate American