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The Obnoxious American Loves Hillary

Okay, I lied, I really can't stand Mrs. Clinton. It's not her voice, or her shrill demeanor (I'd like to see any woman in a debate not be shrill, they have shorter vocal chords then men do, silly). I don't even mind Hillary's pant suits. To the consternation of my diametrically opposed countrymen who are hoping this piece would be easy to refute, I hate Hillary for the best reason of all — her platform.

Let's start with the big one – universal health care. Now I recognize that our current health care system has some issues, most notably, 47 million Americans who have no health insurance, as well as the high cost of drugs, and medical mistakes. These are surely issues that need to be resolved. However is our health care system really that bad that we should be throwing the baby out with the bathwater?

Liberal pundits are quick to point out that the WHO ranks the US health care system at #37, adding that the average lifespan in the US is not the highest in the world. Mark Twain once said something about statistics, and it's just as true now as it's ever been. The WHO rankings are based on access, per capita costs, and overall health of the citizenry among other things. These metrics make sense in poorer nations, where access or per capita costs might literally be a prohibitive factor in obtaining any care at all, and where average life spans more directly correlate to the quality of care. But it doesn't translate so well when dealing with a prosperous and free nation such as the United States.

The Obnoxious American Loves HillaryIt's worth pointing out that the US per capita costs of everything from blue jeans to milk is higher than in most nations in the WHO list. As far as health of the citizenry, let's not forget that US lifestyles are not always so healthy. Our rich nation also leads in terms of diabetes and obesity – diseases brought on by our excessive lifestyles, not by a lacking health care system. Certainly our average lifespan would be longer if we had healthier diets or spent less on vices such as alcohol and tobacco. And the impact of a healthier lifestyle would be lower per capita costs of health care. But healthy lifestyles aren't fun – Americans choose an unhealthy way of life by eating too much or smoking and drinking because we can, and we pay for it. And while the quality of our healthcare system has nothing to do with these factors, the WHO ranks the US healthcare system lower as a result.

There are 47 million Americans without health insurance, and something needs to be done to close that gap. But there are ways to fix that problem without starting from scratch. Guiliani proposed moving to an individual insurance model, similar to car insurance, rather than the employer subsidized system that we have now. Others have suggested less market friendly options such as simply providing government assisted coverage for those who are without health care. Either way, this problem can be solved without placing the responsibility of our entire nations care within the inept hands of our government.

Other gripes such as high costs for drugs and care are rooted in other issues that can be resolved. Putting some sanity into the tort system so that only malpractice cases with merit can be brought against doctors, putting some fairness into the FDA process for approving drugs and giving drug makers a longer period to recoup on their intellectual property investment can all go a long way to reducing costs.

About The Obnoxious American

  • STM

    Obnoxious, you are deluded about your assessment of the US health system.

    It’s not crap because it lacks anything in materiel terms. It’s crap because it costs a fortune, is run for the most part purely as a business and denies a huge proportion of the population of your own country the right to decent health care.

    While you might think universal health care schemes are crap, I live with one that (mostly) works just fine.

    Bear in mind that it’s all free (well, I do pay tax) when reflecting on this anecdote.

    A few weeks ago, my 12-year-old daughter collapsed in the shower at 5.30am with an epileptic fit – her first.

    A paramedic in a 4WD arrived a few minutes after my wife got off the phone and stabilised her while the ambulance proper arrived.

    She was rushed up to the local hospital, triaged immediately and given a battery of x-rays, cat scans, and later, an MRI. She was never left alone for a moment.

    When she finally went to the ward, a new paediatric unit, she was placed in a room near the nurses’ station so she could be watched.

    Last week, she was back again for a few days. The same stuff happened.

    Our out-of-pocket expenses?

    Zilch.

    Which is good, because at a time like that, the last thing you want to be worrying about is your bank balance and how much your fund is going to cover.

    Like a lot of things, I say to you: just because it ain’t invented in America doesn’t mean its bad.

    Millions of people around the world with similar health systems will tell you the same thing, which means there’s a fair chance you could be wrong and they could be right.

    And having or keeping universal health care doesn’t make you a liberal.

    Look at Maggie Thatcher’s Britain, or John Howard’s Australia if you need convincing of that – two of the most conservative, right-wing governments ever to surface in a democracy.

    And you’re kidding if you mean “poorer” countries being ahead of the US on the WHO list, surely. Some of those countries have far better overall living standards and less poverty than the US. Ask yourself, seriously, how many people in America are REALLY comfortable? Have a guess at the percentage who aren’t struggling from week to week.

    A lot aren’t, I’ll grant you, just like here, but there are an awful lot who are.

  • http://musical-guru.blogspot.com/ Michael J. West

    One point I’d make, Obnoxious, in response to this:

    Hillary did vote for the war, and when the chips were down, she refused to apologize for the vote. And good for her for standing by her position. Why the brainiacs at MoveOn would want her to pull a John Kerry is beyond me but I appreciate any politician who stands by her position regardless of how popular it might be.

    I don’t buy that reasoning. There is no virtue in standing by a position that was from the start a bad, even disastrous one.

    See our own history for the example of James Buchanan, long regarded as the worst U.S. president ever. He stood for life by the position that standing idly by while his country slid towards bloody (and possibly preventable) civil war had been the right thing to do. He died certain that history would rehabilitate his presidency; he was wrong.

    The politicians I appreciate are the ones who are unafraid to admit their mistakes – especially their tremendous mistakes – and/or change their minds. As long as their minds don’t change from stump to stump, as Hillary’s seems to. I won’t be voting for her either.

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Obnoxious,

    I have to agree with Stan Denham (comment #1). The problem with the American health system is that it is expensive as all hell. Universal coverage could be accomplished by copying what we have here, or by copying what the Swedes or Aussies have. Good health is a national security issue.

    As for Billary, she can hang from a butcher hook for all I care.

  • The Obnoxious American

    #2 – She didn’t just stand by her reasoning. She did say that knowing what she knows now, she wouldn’t have voted that way. Why liberals would insist that she issue a mea culpa is self destructive sillyness.

    #1,3 – yes, it’s expensive. One sure way to make it worse it to hand the entire thing to the government and let them (us) pay for it. Ever heard about the $900 hammer?

    Further, yes, you do pay for it in taxes – quite a bit of taxes. I’d rather just deal with the costs directly via insurance. Much more fair and honest that way.

    I can give plenty of positive stories of the American health care system as well where the cost because of insurance was free or close to it. Free market systems do work, it’s just not as bad as the media makes it out to be.

    One last point, France tops the WHO list. I shudder at the thought of our economy looking anything like theirs. Talk about people being comfortable, France’s anti capitalist labor laws make it near impossible to fire anyone, so plenty of young people rioting in the streets because they simply can’t get jobs (in fact just last week). No thanks brother, I’d rather keep what we have which works.

  • Maurice®

    STM #1

    America has the richest, fattest poor in the world! If you want to see real poor people go to Marseille, France where the beggars will assault you. Growing up on welfare I never wanted for anything.

    I have worked abroad a number of times and actually had to go to a hospital in England once. I was put in a huge room with 50 other sick people! I just needed stitches but I feared I was going to end up with TB! Definitely had a 3rd world vibe going.

    I met a doctor socially one evening while in England. He mentioned he was in private practice. I asked him why anyone would pay him when they could see a doctor for free. He replied that only the poor used the National Health care and that anyone that could afford to take care of themselves hired a real doctor.

    BTW there was a band named National Health led by Dave Stewart. They pretty much sucked. I am guessing they took the name because they had something in common….

  • Maurice®

    TOA #4

    LOL! Funny you should mention France….

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Obnoxious, you assume too much and know too little about health care. But, you were bitching about Billary. We’re on the same page there. She’s a two-faced bitch who deserves to be hung from a butcher hook – not much different than your secretary of state. Rice is an incompetent bitch who deserves to be hung from a butcher hook. She’s not smart enough to be two faced – at least not in politics.

  • Clavos

    Stan sez:

    “A few weeks ago, my 12-year-old daughter collapsed in the shower at 5.30am with an epileptic fit – her first.

    A paramedic in a 4WD arrived a few minutes after my wife got off the phone and stabilised her while the ambulance proper arrived.

    She was rushed up to the local hospital, triaged immediately and given a battery of x-rays, cat scans, and later, an MRI. She was never left alone for a moment.

    When she finally went to the ward, a new paediatric unit, she was placed in a room near the nurses’ station so she could be watched.

    Last week, she was back again for a few days. The same stuff happened.

    Our out-of-pocket expenses?

    Zilch.”

    Almost the exact same chain of events happened in my household here in Miami, at about the same time.

    The only differences were:

    The seizure was suffered by my wife, not my child, but it was also HER first.

    The fire department arrived in their ambulance with a team of 4 paramedics within minutes (no more than 5 or 6); but there was no AWD vehicle first.

    My wife is disabled and a Medicare client. The cost to us was the same as Stan’s: nada.

    Here are the substantive differences between Medicare and Aussie health care:

    Medicare sent my wife (a woman who is paraplegic and can’t walk) a walker, over a year ago. For bureaucratic reasons, they won’t take it back.

    They bought her a wheelchair when she became paralyzed. Medicare paid almost $5,000.00 for it, and it took two months for it to be delivered. Meanwhile, Medicare paid the supplier to rent a wheelchair.

    I went online to the manufacturer’s website (it’s a very good site), “built” the identical same wheelchair online for a cost of $2,500.00, and was promised delivery (free) within ten working days. To this day, I think the reason my wife’s chair took two months to deliver was so that the local supplier could milk two months rent (in addition to their profit on the chair) out of Medicare. Who got the extra cost, I don’t know.

    Medicare issued my wife a bath bench (for the tub) more than two years ago. According to the invoice copies we receive, Medicare pays $15 a month rent(!) on the bench. It’s rented (as opposed to bought) by Medicare policy. Such a bench can be purchased at any medical supply house for $150.00. Do the math: So far, (because there’s no cutoff) Medicare has paid $360.00 ($180.00/yr. X 2 yrs.) for a $150.00 bench!!

    Just a couple of examples why I am leery of the Fed running a health care system.

  • The Obnoxious American

    Ruvy, thanks for the kind words. Oh wait…

    Seriously, I’m no doctor, but I know plenty about health care in the US. And I know that the current system is better than the solutions being advertised.

    I expect people to make comments about me knowing too little, without providing ANYTHING to back up that view point. It’s easy to comment on these articles, just a little more difficult to write them. Looking forward to your next column.

  • Maurice

    Obnoxious #9

    I give you credit for writing a good article that is worth reading. The paragraph that starts out with “Clintonistas” is worth reading twice.

    Good points and thanks for writing it.

  • The Obnoxious American

    Thanks Maurice, such a compliment is a rare find round these parts :>

  • http:.//ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Obnoxious,

    I’m sure you know plenty about health care in the States.

    What I was referring to was health care overseas. Perhaps the British National Health Scheme is paid for out of taxes. I wouldn’t know. Ditto for the Australian system. I wouldn’t know. Stan would, but he seems reluctant to explain it to us lowlifes born in the States.

    But the Israeli system is paid for out of premiums and administered privately, even though much of the funding for the basic basket of benefits is handled in a flow-through fashion through the National Insurance Institute through to the providers, and those premiums are set by law, not the market. There are additional supplemental plans that are sold as well, which most Israelis have, and the premiums for these are set by risk managers.

    I would add that Israel’s health care system is the best in the Middle East (not hard to do), and from what I’ve seen of it as a heart attack victim, surpasses much of what I’ve seen in the United States.

    Truly affordable health care is one of the real benefits of living here.

  • The Obnoxious American

    Yes, I was primarily speaking of the US, Canadian and British health care systems. Israel is in a class by itself as far as how it’s government runs.

    People may hate Israel, they may love Israel, but they respect the intellect and care shown by the Israelis in the way the country is run. When the skirmish with Lebanon happened a couple of years ago, the biggest surprise was that Israel wasn’t as effective as people expected – expectations were high.

    I don’t have that same level of faith in regular westernized governments. Closest allegory to the US would be Canada or the UK, which is what I focused on.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Ruvy, Stan has previously gone into some detail as to how the Australian healthcare system works. I can’t remember exactly when or where – perhaps he’d care to go over it again if he stops by this thread. As I recall, and from what you describe, it’s pretty similar to the Israeli system.

    Britons do indeed pay for their healthcare, and some other things, through taxes. It’s officially not called a tax but ‘national insurance’, and every working person pays into it as a percentage of their earnings. The money is used to fund healthcare and some other public benefits, like unemployment, welfare and state retirement pensions.

    Of course, it’s frequently not enough, and governments find themselves diverting actual tax revenue to supplement the funding for these services.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    HRC’s health care proposals are very similar to Obama’s and Edwards’s plans. So it’s misleading to single her out for health care in the way this article does.

    Yes, all three candidates’ proposals run into the issue of how to fund them. But the current health care system has massive cost and structural flaws as well, and is rapidly headed toward both fiscal and human disaster. So not doing anything is not an option.

    The tax credit/”market-based” plans the leading Republicans have proposed are heartily endorsed by the Wall St Journal editorial page, but dismissed as heartless and unworkable by many experts. They can’t both be right.

    Although GOP-ers on here won’t believe it, the NY Times ran a superb lead editorial on Sunday that analyzed the current problems really well – the causes of the spiraling costs and the potential solutions. It’s worth a read by anyone on either side of the fence.

  • The Obnoxious American

    Handy guy,

    I agree with you, the healthcare concepts are shared by other Dem candidates, and even some Republicans (shameful).

    I singled out Hillary for a number of reasons:

    - She is the mother of the US based healthcare and has credibility over all other candidates given that she is the only person ever to try and do this before. Everyone else is basically copying her in the scant hopes that will help them.

    - While other candidates have made pledges in this arena, this is central to her platform. If she wins she will be expected to pursue hillarycare. Look at her website and almost every issue refers back to universal healthcare.

    - While there are other Dem candidates, let’s be real. She is the front runner. If Obama or Edwards wins the primary, the GOP will take the whitehouse in 08 garunteed. That may sting to hear if you are a liberal that hates Hillary, but I tell no lies.

    The only way the Democratic party stands a chance of taking the white house in 2008 is with Hillary as the candidate. And even then there is a good chance she might lose. The problem is like in 2004, Dems picked a pretty bad stable of candidates to go with. That said, Hillary is way better of an option for Dems to take the general than John Kerry ever was.

  • The Obnoxious American

    With regards to your comments regarding the Wall Street Journal, with all due respect I will take their word on financial matters over emotional “experts” any day. And I assure you the WSJ edit page is anything but heartless. They just want all of us to have the same opportunities to be as rich as they are. Nothing wrong with that.

  • Dan Miller

    Many of the problems with health care in the U.S. could be ameliorated by serious tort reform. I do not think that Ms. Clinton has that on her agenda. Malpractice insurance for physicians costs a heck of a lot, in many cases between $100,000 and $200,000 per year (my numbers are a tad old; it may well be more now). Those costs are, of course, passed along to the consumer — directly or indirectly through the medical insurance premiums for which the consumer, his employer, or the Government has to pay. We tend to forget who winds up paying.

    How many medical procedures are undertaken, not because the physician thinks they are necessary, but as a shield against frivolous malpractice actions?

    Some, but far from all, of the malpractice actions faced by physicians are meritorious. With intelligent tort reform, most meritorious suits would get to a jury but many of the frivolous suits wouldn’t; juries just love to give away other peoples’ money.

    “Medical tourism” is becoming popular, because in many allegedly “third world” countries superior medical care provided by English speaking physicians is available for a fraction of what comparable care costs in the U.S. There are many reasons for this, but I suspect that the infrequency of medical malpractice suits is one of them. I recently had emergency back surgery in one of those countries (I have lived here for five years, and am not a tourist). The surgery took approximately five hours and I was in hospital for four days. My bill for everything (including an MRI, hospital room, food, follow up visits and everything else) came to $17,000; my very inexpensive health insurance paid $10,000 of that. As is customary here, my surgeon gave me not only his office phone number but his home and cell phone numbers as well, and insisted that I call if I needed something — even at 2:00 in the morning. He even drove forty minutes to come to my home one evening and check on things several days after I had been released from hospital; he had told me not to drive for a while.

    Many people here do not get this level of care. However, there are “free” social security clinics even in small communities and things like broken bones, many sicknesses, snake bites, etc are dealt with reasonably well. Patients who require more sophisticated care are transported to a nearby hospital. Need a heart transplant or cosmetic surgery? Forget it. Based on what I have seen, such care is imperfect but pretty good.

    Medical tourism is, of course, not the answer to the problems in the states. Serious tort reform is most likely part of the answer.

    Dan

  • Clavos

    Anyone else having problems posting to this thread?

  • Clavos

    “They just want all of us to have the same opportunities to be as rich as they are. Nothing wrong with that.”

    Here’s an interesting piece, written by former Tennessee Congressman Harold Ford, Jr., and published in today’s Washington Times online which advocates exactly that idea.

    Mr. Ford writes, in part:

    “To address the challenges of the middle class, Democrats should advance an agenda that aims to do something loftier than just repeal the Bush tax cuts on millionaires. It should boost incentives for average Americans to increase savings and investments, and help them participate more fully in the upside of economic growth.”

    He then outlines his ideas for achieving that worthy goal. Included among the steps he sets forth are: A flat tax for the Middle Class, permanent capital gains tax cuts, and cutting corporate tax rates to a maximum of 30%.

    Not ideas usually espoused by a Democrat, but definitely worth considering.

    I apologize for the lack of a link. I tried to put one in, but for some reason, it wasn’t accepted. The article is in today’s edition.

    A good read.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Clav, I guess you won’t know if anyone else is having problems posting to the thread, because they won’t be able to post their responses to the thread…

  • The Obnoxious American

    Clavos, I think its working for me alright.

    Dan, Totally agree, but lefties will claim that the tort costs represent only 1 or 2% of the total medical costs. Unless they ignore everything except for punitive damages, I just don’t see how it’s true.

    As you noted, malpractice raises insurance rates, to the point where in some states, it is prohibitive to even practice medicine (something about OBGYNs in Arkansaw or thereabouts). These suits have many other impacts on medicine, such as tons of extraneous testing and procedures taken solely to deal with opportunistic, meritless lawsuits, and doctors less willing to make any choice that might be risky but ultimately help the patient.

    But the left pretty much ignores this drain. I wonder what they will do when Hillary Care becomes the norm. Will taxpayers be liable for medical malpractice? Will the right to sue for malpractice (even in cases with merit) be taken away in the interest of reducing the budget deficit?

    And once we open that door, how far are we from the government making it illegal or punitive for us to eat fried foods or drink too much? They’ve already started to fine restaurants using trans fats (ignoring that those fats are used in place of even WORSE fats) and regulated smoking to be the modern era scarlet letter.

    The law of unintended consequences will be in FULL EFFECT should we enact any form of government healthcare. Meanwhile, our wallets will be drained of even more money, and we won’t be any healthier.

  • Clavos

    Good point, Doc.

    [Now, why didn't I think of that??]

  • The Obnoxious American

    I actually really like Harold Ford. I don’t get all the excitement over Obama and yet it seems no one even cares about this guy. Maybe because he is more of a centrist.

    Encouraging savings eh? I suspect a certain privatization of social security might have helped us out there…

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    [Now, why didn't I think of that??]

    Because you were having problems posting to the thread, and were so busy wondering if other people were having problems posting to the thread that you didn’t stop to realize that if other people were having problems posting to the thread they wouldn’t be able to post to the thread to let you know they were having problems posting to the thread, and it’s time for the weekend.

  • Clavos

    Oy….

  • STM

    Maurice, I appreciate you comments about Britain’s health system … except I’m not British and don’t live there. I’m in the Lucky Country (God’s Zone, Down Under).

    However, I can tell you one thing: if you have an accident in Britain and are rushed to hospital for emergency surgey, you will be operated on immediately and will receive the best of care.

    And no one asks if you’ve got private health insurance.

    Your doctor mate who said people who can afford it only see real doctors was talking about going to a GP.

    If you are in trauma, everyone goes the national health route: ambulance, operation, doctor on duty or specialist called in and paid by the government.

    And it’s all free. And no matter what they tell you, the poms love that aspect of their system.

  • The Obnoxious American

    STM:

    It’s worth noting that in the US, a private system, hospital emergency rooms can’t turn away a patient if they don’t have health insurance. So if you got shot or fell off a ladder and was rushed to the hospital, they might ask for your insurance, but if you are not covered, they still must help you.

    On the negative side, this system has been exploited by the uninsured, as they can walk into an emergency room with a cold and get treatment. This has the net effect of flooding most emergency rooms with non-emergencies. A problem for sure whose solution isn’t government run healthcare.