Saturday, August 29, 2009

Mandated Health Insurance

E-mail 7/17/09 to Congress:

I respectfully ask you to vote AGAINST ANY presently proposed health-care bills and all products of reconciliation in committee.
We have now in the United States sufficient access to health care for all people, including illegal immigrants. Present political discussion does not really involve access to healthcare. It involves a mandatory insurance program controlled by government.
In a word about insurance theory, the intent is for a pool of subscribers, who will reimburse a member in the event of a calamitous situation. Some types of insurance are justifiably mandatory, because they directly affect innocent persons. For example, a justifiable mandatory insurance is automobile liability insurance, wherein an innocent third person may be damaged and should have justifiable compensation.
Conversely, many insurances should be optional. For example, if I don't wish to carry repair insurance on my household appliances, I should be permitted to do so. Any breakdown of equipment would involve only me and my costs for repair. No one else is physically jeopardized or susceptible to financial loss.
Health insurance should fall into that same latter category. If a person wishes to assume the risk (self-insurance) of not carrying health insurance, he should be permitted to do so. It should not be a government mandate, which would be a denial of First Amendment rights.

Socializing Healthcare

E-mail 7/20/09 to Congress:

This is in reference to your July 20 Newsletter.
The so-called Healthcare Bill is in reality a socialistic mandatory insurance program. Since we all recognize it as such, we want it killed beyond recognition. Please do your utmost to take a leadership position with your Republican/Democratic associates in the House and your effect on the Senate. This country stands on the brink of socialism, in which deceptive health care will push it over the edge.
Similarly on "Deficit Tops One Trillion Dollar", we don't need discussion of the dangers. We need action. Again, take a leadership position in the house with respect to your Republican/Democratic associates to not only stop spending bills, but also withdraw funding from spending bills already passed. What has been done can also be undone.

Healthcare Costs

From 7/21/09 e-mail to Congress:

I just heard Pres. Obama's television speech on socialistic healthcare.
He wonderfully outlined all of the great benefits of the bills presently in Congress, including reducing costs.
Unfortunately, he did not specify how the cost reductions are to be attained. I suppose we have to fill in that blank based upon our own economic experience. Health-care costs are composed of payments to doctors, nurses, assistants and various other healthcare workers. A good rule of thumb is that 80% of operating costs in a service industry are for salaries and wages to employees. The remainder is usually amortization for buildings and capital equipment and hospitals, clinics and doctors offices. Another possible cost reduction might be in reducing profit. However, profit in the healthcare industry is generally minimal, which is why I have not personally invested in it.
With that background, it is clear that to reduce costs, Pres. Obama's health care program will have to clearly reduce payments to health care employees. These employees either will have to accept the reduction or change to another industries, if they can find one. The net result will be fewer employees being reimbursed less than they are now. This would not set a good tone for desiring to maximize service as they continue in their jobs.
With this decreased availability of service personnel, the only obvious answer to cost reduction is to balance it off with reduced market requirements. The market requirements are already fixed at a high level and would likely increase with the passage of socialized healthcare, because everybody likes free stuff. But, the supply won't be there. Consumers will have to be denied treatment or have it significantly postponed. Will this be a better healthcare system? I personally believe that the public presently abuses the existing healthcare system, because they are unwilling to take responsibility for their own health control, but that is somewhat immaterial because we are considering market requirements, whether morally legitimate or not.
It may be that rationing healthcare would be appropriate for the American public, but it is not the American way. American should have the opportunity to waste their money if they so choose. They can do it on gambling, drugs and alcohol, excessively lavish homes, or healthcare. It is a right of the First Amendment.
I urge you to make every effort to cooperate with your Republican/Democratic associates to defeat this proposed socialistic healthcare program, and to do so in such a way that it will be a very long time before the proposal again rears its ugly head.

Public Lethargy

I will grant that the present health care system is not perfect, but then what is. I am concerned that the government should not be in the healthcare business any more than in the automobile business or the chemical business.
I think the basic problem is that the American public is now on a fad of letting government do all the hard work, while they do all the relaxing. This lethargy has been shown historically to lead to the rise of a dictator, who then says to his subjects that they must get off their butts.
Government's role is to establish rules for a level playing field. They have already done this with antitrust laws. Government has been deficient in not enforcing such laws in just about all areas of our society.


The Socialized Health Care Plan contains aspects of euthanasia.
This was one of the Nazi principles we fought against during world war II. Our Constitution of Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of Happiness allows God and individuals to decide when their lives should end. This is not a function of government.
Kill the present Socialized Health Care Plan. It is too complex and contains many undesirable hidden aspects, such as euthanasia.
> If you want to do some tinkering with healthcare, get the government out of the business of putting taxpayer money into it. Let it stand on its own 2 feet with the support of the public. Private enterprises will always respond to those who will support them with money. If it is government, private enterprise will respond to the government, whether justifiable or not. If it is the public, private enterprise will respond to the public. Look again at Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of Happiness, and you will recognize that the complete statementr efers to the people, not to the government.

Hiding the Ball

Pres. Obama just said on television that in his Health Care Plan there is no attempt to "hide the ball".
I am sure that you already know ANY 900-page Bill is an attempt to "hide the ball". I really have difficulty reading some 300 to 400-page novels. A politician's basic activity is to talk and listen. He would have to be a genius to also have the patience to read a 900-page bill line by line.
Bills should be no longer than several pages containing the basic elements of the subjects intent. We have a Supreme Court to judge Congressional laws. If a Supreme Court makes a subsequent incorrect judgment relative to Congress's intent, Congress can modify that law with an addendum. This would not be as cumbersome as it sounds, and would be much better than voting 900-page laws which few people understand.

Reduction in Personal Liberties

A friend in Italy referred me to a New York Times article on healthcare.

The New York Times is correct. This is true not only for Americans but also Western Europeans.
Consider the "salami effect" and the "reverse salami effect". The "salami effect" is cutting off very thin slices, so that the decrease in the whole is not noticeable on a short-term basis, but the salami is consumed over a long period. The "reverse salami effect" is the periodic additions of small items, so that the individual addition's are temporarily unnoticed over the short-term. However, the total change to the whole becomes apparent and significant over a long period.
The "reverse salami effect" on healthcare involves individual addition's of small benefits, such as free mammograms, reduced pharmaceutical costs, etc. The corresponding "salami effects" are longer waiting times, inability to choose doctors, etc., which the average person can adapt to. However, all of these are a collective reduction in personal liberties, which become very significant in total.
Reduction in personal liberties is only justifiable in cases where non-control would result in direct damage to another individual or group. An example would be the requirement for an individual to stop his motor vehicle at a red light.
Reduction in personal personal liberties by government is usually based on government's desire for increasing power. The classic analogy for the voting public is the selling of one's soul to the Devil for some short-term benefit.

Big Pharma Cooperation

EIN News says, "Internal Memo Confirms Big Giveaways in White House Deal With Big Pharma. A memo obtained by the Huffington Post confirms that the White House and the pharmaceutical lobby secretly agreed to precisely the sort of wide-ranging deal that both parties have been denying over the past week. The memo, which according to a knowledgeable health care lobbyist was prepared by a person directly involved in the negotiations, lists exactly what the White House gave up, and what it got in return. It says the White House agreed to oppose any congressional efforts to use the government's leverage to bargain for lower drug prices or import drugs from Canada -- and also agreed not to pursue Medicare rebates or shift some drugs from Medicare Part B to Medicare Part D, which would cost Big Pharma billions in reduced reimbursements. (".
Shame on Big Pharma for its gullibility. Dealing with the Devil is always a bad idea. Does Big Pharma really believe that the Obama Administration will not push for lower drug prices, when there is public pressure to do so? Dictatorships are always opportunistic. When they don't have complete control, they will sacrifice what is least threatening. In this case, big Pharma will go down, if the public demands more giveaways.

Elements of a Health-Care BillHere are the elements of a properly prepared healthcare bill. Throw out everything now existing or proposed and work on

Here are the elements of a properly prepared healthcare bill. Throw out everything now existing or proposed and work on this. The single page can be expanded into about a 10-page bill. Anything in the neighborhood of 1000 pages would be ridiculous.

"With a projected $1.8 trillion deficit for 2009, several trillions more in deficits projected over the next decade, and with both Medicare and Social Security entitlement spending about to ratchet up several notches over the next 15 years as Baby Boomers become eligible for both, we are rapidly running out of other people’s money. These deficits are simply not sustainable. They are either going to result in unprecedented new taxes and inflation, or they will bankrupt us.
While we clearly need health-care reform, the last thing our country needs is a massive new health-care entitlement that will create hundreds of billions of dollars of new unfunded deficits and move us much closer to a government takeover of our health-care system. Instead, we should be trying to achieve reforms by moving in the opposite direction—toward less government control and more individual empowerment. Here are eight reforms that would greatly lower the cost of health care for everyone:

•?Remove the legal obstacles that slow the creation of high-deductible health insurance plans and health savings accounts (HSAs). The combination of high-deductible health insurance and HSAs is one solution that could solve many of our health-care problems. For example, Whole Foods Market pays 100% of the premiums for all our team members who work 30 hours or more per week (about 89% of all team members) for our high-deductible health-insurance plan. We also provide up to $1,800 per year in additional health-care dollars through deposits into employees’ Personal Wellness Accounts to spend as they choose on their own health and wellness.
Money not spent in one year rolls over to the next and grows over time. Our team members therefore spend their own health-care dollars until the annual deductible is covered (about $2,500) and the insurance plan kicks in. This creates incentives to spend the first $2,500 more carefully. Our plan’s costs are much lower than typical health insurance, while providing a very high degree of worker satisfaction.

•?Equalize the tax laws so that that employer-provided health insurance and individually owned health insurance have the same tax benefits. Now employer health insurance benefits are fully tax deductible, but individual health insurance is not. This is unfair.

•?Repeal all state laws which prevent insurance companies from competing across state lines. We should all have the legal right to purchase health insurance from any insurance company in any state and we should be able use that insurance wherever we live. Health insurance should be portable.

•?Repeal government mandates regarding what insurance companies must cover. These mandates have increased the cost of health insurance by billions of dollars. What is insured and what is not insured should be determined by individual customer preferences and not through special-interest lobbying.

•?Enact tort reform to end the ruinous lawsuits that force doctors to pay insurance costs of hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. These costs are passed back to us through much higher prices for health care.

•?Make costs transparent so that consumers understand what health-care treatments cost. How many people know the total cost of their last doctor’s visit and how that total breaks down? What other goods or services do we buy without knowing how much they will cost us?

•?Enact Medicare reform. We need to face up to the actuarial fact that Medicare is heading towards bankruptcy and enact reforms that create greater patient empowerment, choice and responsibility.

•?Finally, revise tax forms to make it easier for individuals to make a voluntary, tax-deductible donation to help the millions of people who have no insurance and aren’t covered by Medicare, Medicaid or the State Children’s Health Insurance Program.

Many promoters of health-care reform believe that people have an intrinsic ethical right to health care—to equal access to doctors, medicines and hospitals. While all of us empathize with those who are sick, how can we say that all people have more of an intrinsic right to health care than they have to food or shelter?
Health care is a service that we all need, but just like food and shelter it is best provided through voluntary and mutually beneficial market exchanges. A careful reading of both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution will not reveal any intrinsic right to health care, food or shelter. That’s because there isn’t any. This “right” has never existed in America
Even in countries like Canada and the U.K., there is no intrinsic right to health care. Rather, citizens in these countries are told by government bureaucrats what health-care treatments they are eligible to receive and when they can receive them. All countries with socialized medicine ration health care by forcing their citizens to wait in lines to receive scarce treatments.
Although Canada has a population smaller than California, 830,000 Canadians are currently waiting to be admitted to a hospital or to get treatment, according to a report last month in Investor’s Business Daily. In England, the waiting list is 1.8 million.
At Whole Foods we allow our team members to vote on what benefits they most want the company to fund. Our Canadian and British employees express their benefit preferences very clearly—they want supplemental health-care dollars that they can control and spend themselves without permission from their governments. Why would they want such additional health-care benefit dollars if they already have an “intrinsic right to health care”? The answer is clear—no such right truly exists in either Canada or the U.K.—or in any other country.

Rather than increase government spending and control, we need to address the root causes of poor health. This begins with the realization that every American adult is responsible for his or her own health.
Unfortunately many of our health-care problems are self-inflicted: two-thirds of Americans are now overweight and one-third are obese. Most of the diseases that kill us and account for about 70% of all health-care spending—heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes and obesity—are mostly preventable through proper diet, exercise, not smoking, minimal alcohol consumption and other healthy lifestyle choices.
Recent scientific and medical evidence shows that a diet consisting of foods that are plant-based, nutrient dense and low-fat will help prevent and often reverse most degenerative diseases that kill us and are expensive to treat. We should be able to live largely disease-free lives until we are well into our 90s and even past 100 years of age.

Health-care reform is very important. Whatever reforms are enacted it is essential that they be financially responsible, and that we have the freedom to choose doctors and the health-care services that best suit our own unique set of lifestyle choices. We are all responsible for our own lives and our own health. We should take that responsibility very seriously and use our freedom to make wise lifestyle choices that will protect our health. Doing so will enrich our lives and will help create a vibrant and sustainable American society.

—Mr. Mackey is co-founder and CEO of Whole Foods Market Inc.
Printed in The Wall Street Journal, page A15 "

Townhall Healthcare

At a recent town hall meeting, a college student asked Pres. Obama how private insurance companies would be able to compete with the "Government Option". I don't know that Government Option has ever been defined, but I suspect it to mean a Federal agency handling health care to the public.
Pres. Obama silver-tongued an answer, which apparently made most people very comfortable. But, he really didn't answer the question.
The proper answer is that private insurance companies can exist in competition with a government insurance operation only at the discretion of the government. Government can impose taxes, various restrictive operations, and other mandates, such that profits are not possible. Private capital then has no reason for such investment and would usually withdraw its money, thereby shutting down the businesses. This can happen with or without competition from a government insurance operation. However, with the presence of government insurance there is more reason to put private companies out of business, in order to obtain clearly direct control.
Once government has complete control of health care, prices and service will be at the discretion of its management. Pres. Obama said that he has no intention of competing with private healthcare. Giving him the benefit of the doubt, he may not have such intention at the present time. However with the scenario developed above, it seems unlikely that power-driven government management would forgo the temptation.
If the public now accepts the Government option (government insurance) in healthcare, I predict that all health insurance companies will be out of business in five years and service and/or prices will be detrimental to the public. Such autocratic control will also lead to other controls not now anticipated.

Stopping Obama's Health Care

E-mail to Congress:

Pres. Obama is burning up television with back-to-back broadcasts promoting his health care program. His silver tongued orations are intended to gain public support, which in turn will place pressure on you to accept his program.
If his program is accepted, it will allow him to put private health insurance companies out of business, ration healthcare, etc. at his discretion.
The question is do you trust him. If he has the discretion to do anything he wishes in this area, will he not do it?
If he develops a program, of which you heartily disapprove, you will not be able to do anything about it. He will veto any bill that you propose to limit his control.
The time to stop him is now.

Canadian Health Care

We have heard US Administration representatives and some members of Congress make various references to the advantages of the Canadian healthcare system.
Here are some excerpts from a recent article in The Canadian Press:
"The incoming president of the Canadian Medical Association says this country's health-care system is sick and doctors need to develop a plan to cure it."
"Dr. Anne Doig says patients are getting less than optimal care and she adds that physicians from across the country - who will gather in Saskatoon on Sunday for their annual meeting - recognize that changes must be made."
"We all agree that the system is imploding. We all agree that things are more precarious than perhaps Canadians realize," Doing said in an interview with The Canadian Press."
"Dr. Robert Ouellet, the current president of the CMA, has said there's a critical need to make Canada's health-care system patient-centred."
""(Canadians) have to understand that the system that we have right now - if it keeps on going without change - is not sustainable," said Doig."

Since the Canadians have a system of socialized medicine, perhaps we should be ultra careful to see that we don't start the same thing. However, the US Administration is trying to ram this down our throats.

US Universal Healthcare

There is no need to discuss universal healthcare in the US. We already have it. No one is turned away from a healthcare provider (hospital, clinic, Dr.) when his life is in jeopardy.
Healthcare insurance should be optional, not mandatory. Most people who have healthcare insurance are satisfied with it. There are two groups who don't have health care insurance. They are those persons who don't want it and those persons who can't afford it. Within both groups are those persons who are always looking for something "free", meaning paid for by other persons, such as the "rich".
Those persons, who don't want health insurance, should be allowed the optional freedom of not having it. They can pay for healthcare service as they require it. If they cannot pay when they require it, the cost should be borne by the community. We call this welfare, and it has been available in our society for a very long time.
Those persons who can't afford health insurance, can also use the welfare system. We consider those people "wards of the state", which has a certain stigma, as it should. When people are unable to handle the standard financial requirements of life support (food, shelter, clothing, and medical), they should be encouraged to improve their capabilities.
The federal government has no business providing healthcare insurance. We have private insurance companies to do that. Government has a role to regulate private enterprise so that it does not become monopolistic to the disadvantage of the public. With respect to insurance in general, the states have demonstrated that capability and can do so with healthcare insurance.