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Health Care in America

James A. Watkins is an entrepreneur, musician, and a writer with four non-fiction books and hundreds of magazine articles read by millions.

Health Care in America

Health care in America is the subject of much debate. On one side are folks who favor socialized health care because they see major problems with the current system of health care in the United States. 

On the other side are people who want to repeal Obamacare because they are wary of socialized health care. They have legitimate reasons beyond the invectives hurled their way by social liberals such as "You don't care about poor people!" 

Health care in America does have shortcomings. We will take a look at the symptoms, the causes, and the prescriptions.



Socialized Health Care

Socialized health care is in essence redistribution of wealth. Under this scheme everyone, rich or poor, will have the same level of health care in the United States. If anyone can afford to go to Mayo Clinic, everybody should be able to with socialized health care. For this to be available to all people in the United States will require redistribution of wealth through progressive taxation. In other words, the fifty percent of our citizens who pay income tax must foot the health care bill for everybody.

One of the chief ideas of Obamacare is to use medicine to achieve "social justice." To do this, doctors will need to consider more than the needs of the patient in front of them. They will need to consider if the value of their time, these tests, this medicine, and that procedure, would be better spent on someone else—someone else in a "protected group" let's say, that deserves affirmative action medical care to make up for past medical discrimination. Or someone who is simply younger and in better overall health.

One of the architects of Obamacare, Dr. David Blumenthal said: "government controls on health care spending are associated with longer waits for elective procedures and reduced availability of new and expensive treatments and devices."

Another of the chief architects of Obamacare (Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel) complains that health care in America is more expensive than in countries with socialized health care because "Hospital rooms in the United States offer more privacy. . . . [and] physician's offices are typically more conveniently located and have parking nearby and more attractive waiting rooms."

The best health care in America is very expensive. There is probably not enough of it to go around for all people to have it even under socialized health care. The only way to "level" health care so that it is the same experience for everyone is to eliminate the top tiers.

Some health care in America is decidedly limited. For instance, there are only so many livers available for those people in need of transplants. This, and other problems—such as who gets the limited number of beds at Mayo Clinic—is currently solved primarily by who has been the most successful at living their life—who has amassed the most wealth. This is part of what is so upsetting to the "social justice" crowd; they do not believe a successful person should receive better health care in America than a bum. It's not "fair."

Repeal Obamacare

The effort to repeal Obamacare is supported by those who believe that to grant government control over health care in America is to accept a huge loss of individual liberty—the freedom to make our own decisions about our health care. Socialized health care gives government the power to decide who lives and who dies.

The fear is that this power may one day be wielded to reward or punish citizens according to their political views, as it has been historically in every Socialist country. We catch a glimpse of this when we see the health care advisor to President Obama, Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, explain in 2008 how support was to be drummed up for Obamacare: "every favor to a constituency should be linked to support for the health care reform agenda. If the automakers want a bailout, then they and their suppliers have to agree to support and lobby for the administration's health care reform."

The only way the government can control health care costs is to ration care. It can try to reduce salaries for doctors and nurses, but this leads to the loss of talented people, who may choose other lines of work instead of medicine. Government can slash what it will pay for medicine and procedures, but this will reduce capital investment in research and development—the one area of health care in America where we unquestionably lead the world today—because we still have a semblance of a free market system that rewards innovation.

Socialized health care will mean that 100 million Americans will be forced to give up their health insurance—which they are overwhelmingly satisfied with—and lose the relationships they have established with their current doctors.

The most precious asset your family has is its health. Do you want to make informed decisions about your health care or do you want a bureaucrat to do it for you? Government control has sinister implications, such as in regard to euthanasia. Suppose the government decides every American is required to have a certain vaccination that you disagree with; or a certain mind-numbing pill? Or that every male child should be on Ritalin?

I saw on the news some time ago a story about an arrest warrant issued for parents who did not want chemotherapy for their son—a chilling violation of American freedom. Some doctors do not believe in chemotherapy—it can kill you. Do you want a bureaucrat to decide that you, or your children, must have government mandated chemo or radiation or surgery—or that you may not have it?



Central Planning

Those who wish to repeal Obamacare are also concerned about the fact that health care in America represents 17 per cent of the entire economy. To give government total control over this sector appears to align with the failed political ideology known as Central Planning.

Is there anything in your life you think would be better run by government bureaucrats? For most of us, the answer is a laughable "No." Obamacare will create over 100 new bureaucracies employing hundreds of thousands of pencil pushers who contribute nothing to National Wealth. Governments do not create wealth—citizens do, and they do much better the less the government interferes.

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Central Planning is the centerpiece of Marxism. It is used to give government complete power over the lives of its citizens. Central Planning has been implemented in the Soviet Union and other communist nations. The result has always been horrendous failure, that robs people of all incentive to be productive, efficient and innovative.

Central planning produces a miserable standard of living everywhere it is installed. Even the "poor" in America live far better than did 95 percent of the citizens of every Socialist regime—the exception being the 5 percent who were in the government.

What Social Liberals want—what they always want—is to make citizens dependent upon the government teet because this creates a permanent electoral constituency for them.

The message this conveys to people is that there is no need to make anything out of yourself and contribute to society, the government will provide everything you need regardless. There is no need to study in school; read great books; learn a trade or skill that is beneficial to your community; behave as an upright citizen; work hard at your job; save money for a rainy day: government programs will take care of you with the sweat off the brow of other people.



Medicare and Medicaid

To the Left in America, the solution to any problem is: more government. But the chief cause of the problems we have with the health care system in the United States is that the government got involved in the first place.

Medicare and Medicaid are the culprits that will cause our federal budget to double to 40 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (the value of all goods and services produced) of America in the future.

Does anybody recall hearing about the health care crisis we had in the 1950s? There wasn't one. But the Left had a near monopoly on government power in the 1960s, which it used to enact Medicaid and Medicare. Medicare and Medicaid were supposed to cost the taxpayers $4B a year. Fraud and waste in these programs run about $100B every year.

The cost for Medicare and Medicaid is now over $600B per annum, with unfunded future liabilities of $80,000,000,000,000. That is how successful the government has been so far, in managing just a portion of America's health care. So what does the Left say? We need more, much more!

One solution is to get the government out of health care altogether by privatizing Medicare and Medicaid. We need to go to a free market solution with patients and doctors in control—no government middleman.

Americans on Medicare and Medicaid are constantly subjected to unnecessary tests (which are invasive, painful and dangerous) and unneeded surgeries. And the results in patients lives are often undesirable.

This is not the fault of greedy doctors as social liberals would have you believe. It is primarily because the government will pay for any test or surgery ordered, and to do as many as possible reduces the odds of a doctor facing a malpractice suit.

We need tort reform to eliminate most malpractice suits. Doctors practice—there are no guaranteed outcomes. There should be no suing doctors unless they are willfully negligent with malice and forethought. The cost of malpractice insurance is astronomical today.

Many of these unnecessary procedures are over-priced as well. That is because the government sets the prices for half of all health care spending in America today. There are more than a million prices set by the government for medical care in the United States. Some prices are set too high, resulting in a surplus of those services; some are set too low, resulting in a shortage of those services. That is what happens when the state interferes with the free market.

Our health care in America is run by huge bureaucracies, with the usual bureaucratic problems of fraud, waste, and exorbitant administrative overhead. Medicare rules alone are 133,000 pages in length. The so-called private sector of health care in America is better termed the regulated sector.

To receive government reimbursement for health care services, health care providers must play by rules imposed by the bureaucracy. Insurance companies are burdened with thousands of state and federal mandates, regarding what services they must supply. HMOs are also heavily regulated and are in fact creations of the U.S. Congress by virtue of the HMO Act of 1973.

Centralized governmental control of health care has spawned dissatisfied patients; restricted access; huge numbers of uninsured people; unacceptable numbers of medical mistakes; a lack of information technology; and upwardly spiraling costs. These issues are exacerbated by our growing reliance on the government to pay for health care services.

A big problem with Medicaid is that it is jointly funded by the states and the federal government. The feds set the minimum requirements for the program, but the sky is the limit for states—they decide what coverages to provide. This means a state politician can promise anything to the people of his state, knowing the federal government is required to foot half the bill. Obviously, this is a formula for states to try and outdo each other and expand what is covered.

Fraud and waste run rampant. The New York Times reports that Medicaid is "so huge, so complex and so lightly policed, that it is easily exploited." Since our entire system of health care in America is only 60 times larger than Medicaid maybe we should put that same bureaucracy in charge of the whole enchilada. What harm could it do?

The FBI reports that 3 to 10 percent of all expenditures for health care in the United States are fraudulent. That is exactly why your car or home insurance companies include a deductible that you must pay for each claim. They know that with a deductible in place, fraud goes way down.

A study in 2005 of the New York state Medicaid program found that hospitals purposefully admit more Medicaid patients, keep them longer, and run more tests and procedures on Medicaid recipients than necessary, simply to increase billings to the taxpayers, and improve their bottom line.

The fraudulent billings uncovered in this study include ten Medicaid patients who totaled 800 emergency room visits in one year—55 of them for headaches; 73 claims for people who were dead; claims for Viagra that was then sold on the black market; one dentist who billed for 1,000 procedures in a single day; and over a billion dollars for "speech therapy" in New York City alone.



Why Does Health Care Cost so much in America?

Don't we all notice the price of technology steadily comes down unless it is medical technology? That's because the government doesn't set the prices of computers, cell phones, and plasma television sets. In most commodities consumers exercise value judgment about the dollars they spend; and this causes goods and services to become better and cheaper.

Health care is currently one of the few industries not properly influenced by market dynamics. The essence of the problem is that the consumers (the patients) are not the buyers. They do not possess the financial leverage, which consumers have in almost every other sector of our economy, because they do not pay the bills.

Health care has been wrongly insulated from competition that brings about higher productivity and lower cost. When there is a commercial market in health care, prices react much as they do in any industry. The lesson of nearly four hundred years of free market capitalism is clear: We should expect to get more choices of higher quality and falling prices if the government will stay out of health care.

The government spends 46 percent of every dollar spent for health care in America. 31 percent of people with health insurance obtain it through the government.




According to the law in America, health care workers cannot be forced to participate in the killings of unborn babies. There is a lawsuit pending now that alleges this "right of conscience" is sometimes violated. A Catholic nurse, Catherina Cezon-Decarlo, was told she could lose her job or even her license to practice nursing if she refused to assist with the killing of a 22-week-old unborn child.

The right of conscience is under assault in American health care. In 2007, the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynocologists declared that health care providers may not exercise their right of conscience if it might "constitute an imposition of religious or moral beliefs on patients."

32 percent of health care professionals who believe in God report that they have been pressured to be involved in procedures they object to on ethical, moral, or religious grounds. 20 percent of medical students who believe in God say they have decided against a career in obstetrics or gynecology because of perceived pressures to participate in abortions. Are we saying you can't deliver babies unless you are willing to kill them too?

President Obama said last year that he considers "reproductive care" (boy am I sick of that term), which means abortion, to be essential care that should be covered by Obamacare.

But 71 percent of Americans are opposed to abortion being paid for with their tax dollars—making them accomplices in murder—and the same percentage do not think health insurance should cover the slaughter of human beings in the womb, the womb in which nature places them to be protected by their mothers.

If proponents of death for the unborn have their way, a multitude of pro-life people will leave the medical field. 87 percent of Americans think it important that right to conscience remain in place for health care professionals—of whom 95 percent say they will quit the health care field if forced to violate their consciences.

Apparently health care associations disagree with individual right to conscience. The American Medical Association's position has become that doctors "must concede moral authority to the legal system." I think NAZI doctors were told exactly the same thing before they began their experiments on victims of the Holocaust.

The American Nurses Association goes along: "It's the patient's right to make decisions on care based on their beliefs, not the health care provider's beliefs."

In the New England Journal of Medicine we find these audacious words: "Qualms about abortion? Do not practice women's health."

So if we ban all moral people from the health care field, where do moral people go for health care? 88 percent of American adults surveyed say it is important that they share a similar moral view as their health care providers.



Socialized Medicine

Regardless of whether they have health care insurance or not, women in America today have mammograms more often, their breast cancer is detected sooner, their breast cancer is treated faster, and their survival rate is higher, than women in countries with socialized health care.

In Canada, cardiac procedures are restricted for those over 65 to save on costs—exactly when patients might need them most.

Under socialized health care in England, health care is rationed using a formula called QALYS (quality adjusted life years). If you need a treatment, first the cost is divided by the number of years you are likely to benefit. The older you are the more likely the treatment will be denied, so that precious government funds can be put to better use treating younger patients. And as British health official Michael Rawlins explains: "If we spend a lot of money on a few patients, we have less money to spend on everyone else."

Countries with socialized health care must and do ration CT scans and MRIs; and they have far longer wait times for all health care treatments. As the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada said: "Access to a waiting list is not access to health care." (This in reference to the one year waiting list for hip replacements in Canada.)

The pushers of socialized health care who are advising President Obama believe that America needs to slow down the development and use of new medical technology—to save money. It is true that two-thirds of the increased costs of health care are the result of American medical innovations.

Of course, these innovations save many lives. In the last thirty years health care innovations in America have decreased your chances of dying from a heart attack by 33 percent; and your chance of dying from a stroke by 50 percent.

Solutions to the Problems of Medical Care in America

Patients should pay cash for ordinary health care services; pay substantial deductibles when they use insurance; and have full health care insurance only for catastrophic illnesses and unexpected accidents. People should be able to buy this insurance nationwide from the Geico lizard. It works for all other kinds of insurance.

The Left will claim that nobody will serve the poor if this happens. That is nonsense. In America, we should have learned by now, that—if the government will get out of the way—supply ALWAYS rises up to meet demand.

Someone like Walmart might get into the medical business. Decry that if you want but truthfully, Walmart has been the greatest innovation for the poor since bread. If we eliminate the government acting as middleman, the free market will deliver the best possible medical care for an affordable price; absent the red-tape and bureaucratic meddling.

Whenever an industry becomes mired in special-interest rules, deregulation is the answer. America has successfully deregulated trucking, airlines, the phone system, and power generation. In every case, dire predictions of chaos did not come true, and the public benefited greatly.

The federal tax code discriminates against people who buy their own health insurance, and has since 1943, by making you pay with after-tax dollars unless you get your insurance through your employer.

Insurance should be portable. It should be sold across state lines. Insurance should be disconnected from our employment. We should not be forced to buy policies that include in vitro fertilization and obesity treatment if we don't want to. There are 2,000 health care benefits that are mandated by the government that drive insurance costs up by an estimated 35 percent.

9.7 million of the uninsured are illegal aliens. 14 million people qualify for government programs, but haven't bothered to sign up. 18 million Americans are working and making enough to buy insurance through their employers but choose not to (half of those make over $75,000 a year; the other half make over $50,000).

The true number of poor without health insurance because they can't afford it is 8 million people, but they still get medical treatment. It is against federal law to deny them treatment at any hospital in the United States.

Interestingly enough, you can be legally denied access to a hospital in many countries with socialized health care because their hospitals are overcrowded and they have a shortage of doctors. Many doctors in countries with socialized health care have quit the field due to low pay, or immigrated to another country where they can get paid better. Doctors in countries with socialized health care also go on strike to protest low pay scales, leading to obvious health care crises.

We need to end mandates about what health care insurance must cover so that plans may be customized for individuals. People should have the freedom to buy a bare bones policy if that is what they want. And payments for private health insurance should be tax deductible.

The question here is our liberty. Big government has the power to oppress the people. Small government does not. Government has recently moved into our banking, insurance, and manufacturing industries in a major way. We have evidence of how well it works out when government sticks its big head in the private sector: witness the mortgage business.

The $787B stimulus package proves that government is corrupt—87 percent of those funds were doled out in congressional districts that voted for the current president. Do we want health care in America to become a tool of political patronage?

Obamacare will clearly take the decision about who gets a knee replacement away from people and their doctors, and give it to bureaucrats. You may be told you're too old for a colon cancer test. The British socialized health care system makes such decisions every day.

Money will likely be channeled away from the elderly and more toward community services provided by ACORN-like organizations. Everything involving government is politicized. Is that how you want health care in America to be? If the government is doing the deciding, then having political connections or political power will be what matters to the sick or injured. This is not a health care system for a free people. It is socialized health care for chattels of the state.

"Never let a good crisis go to waste" is the mantra of the Left—meaning—never let a chance to grab control over people's freedom, to enhance your own power, go to waste.

The Left wants redistribution of wealth through progressive taxation; and the power over every aspect of your life through central planning.

There are many Americans who are out to repeal Obamacare. Our Declaration of Independence and Constitution have provided us with a set of governing principles intended to leave us a nation of individuals both politically free and morally responsible.


James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on February 12, 2019:

Brad Masters ~ Thank you for taking the time to read my article. I very much appreciate your thoughtful insights. You enlightened me about Polio being the last disease cured, and that the creation of the FDA may hamper the cure of disease. Fascinating. I was not aware of this.

Brad on January 02, 2019:


Healthcare today as it was always is about insurance coverage, but that doesn't improve the quality of healthcare. Nor does it help to cure or even effectively treat diseases.

The last major disease that was cured was Polio and that was before Congress gave the FDA the job to monitor the drug companies. And while the FDA was doing that job, no cures for major diseases were found.

There is no way that any existing plan will find cures as the drug companies find more ways to profit.


James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on March 30, 2017:

Healthexplorer! Thank you very much for taking the time to read my article and offer your wise words of wisdom. Well said!

Healthexplorer on March 05, 2013:

Health care system was good earlier and now it has been changed abruptly. It is due to the wrong policies, new reforms and basic changes in the corruption level. In America I think doctors and health makers are just looting away the savings of a victim. If one is not under the influence of any lawyer then he or she is going to meet alone his expenses. It is relatively a very demise thing that has happened to the system.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on February 12, 2013:

paul baker--- Thank you!! Thank you very much! :D

paul baker on February 10, 2013:



James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on September 08, 2012:

bankscottage— Thank you very much for taking the time to read my article. I appreciate immensely that you shared this article with your friends, family, and acquaintances.

I love this that you wrote: "Most people do not understand that health insurance is not healthcare. As the Canadian judge pointed out, access to a waiting list is not healthcare. Healthcare is provided by doctors, nurses, hospitals, dentists, etc."

Well said.

You wrote: "If we progress to a socialized medicine system, we will quickly evolve into 2 (or more) levels of care. The lowest level provided under the socialized medicine system and higher levels provided to those that can pay (unless of course the government outlaws these levels of care)."

Your parenthetical there is in fact enforced in many countries with national health care that make it illegal for you to BUY better health care. This reveals their true motivation: as socialists, they want everyone to have the SAME—or EQUAL—health care EVEN if it IS 90% worse. It is not about the quality of health care; it is about the equality of health care. The Soviet Communists did not care that people had enough to eat; they only cared that nobody had MORE to eat than anyone else (except the 5% who were the elite leaders, of course).

I totally agree with your analysis of the lack of "personal responsibility in preventing health issues." As long as the government removes "Moral Hazard" we will find vast numbers of people who live and behave irresponsibly.

I am grateful to you for the Voted up and Interesting as well. Welcome to the HubPages Community! :D

Mark Shulkosky from Pennsylvania on September 03, 2012:

Even though this Hub was written 3 years ago, it is amazing how relevant it is today.

Most people do not understand that health insurance is not healthcare. As the Canadian judge pointed out, access to a waiting list is not healthcare.

Healthcare is provided by doctors, nurses, hospitals, dentists, etc. If government dictates payments to healthcare providers, and if these payments are driven down too low, there will be fewer healthcare providers to provide the care under your health insurance.

If we progress to a socialized medicine system, we will quickly evolve into 2 (or more) levels of care. The lowest level provided under the socialized medicine system and higher levels provided to those that can pay (unless of course the government outlaws these levels of care).

Absent in almost every discussion about healthcare and health insurance is the role of the patient. Not just in regard to having some skin in the game as far as making payments or treatment decisions but more importantly, in the role of personal responsibility in preventing health issues. Many patients want to take no responsibility for the effects their actions (or lack thereof) have on their own personal health and, in some cases (smoking), in the health of others around them. The American population is becoming morbidly obese, with a rather high use of alcohol, drugs, and tobacco and an overall lack of exercise. Certainly many medical conditions are out of many patient's control (a woman with breast cancer did not bring that upon herself). But, in many cases, we expect to do whatever we want and/or live a "reckless" lifestyle and still expect the healthcare system to snatch us from the jaws of death and still not have to pay for it.

Voted up, interesting and shared.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on October 07, 2011:— You are most welcome, my dear friend. I surely appreciate the rated up and awesome! Gosh, I am humbly grateful to receive your gracious accolades.

I cannot help but feel that Obamacare is simply yet another scheme to "level" all Americans by making sure that the successful people in our society do not receive benefit from their achievments versus those who are less than successful in the way they have chosen to live their lives. from upstate, NY on October 06, 2011:

Rated up and awesome! You have a real talent for giving clarity to important issues. It hard to argue with your air-tight logic but i'm sure some will try! Thank you for getting the simple message out that government redistribution schemes and gimmicks called by any name no matter how clevely repackaged and presented will never and can never work period, end of story!-WBA

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 31, 2010:

tinaweha— You are most welcome. I saw a poll that up to a third of doctors say they will quit the profession if socialized medicine goes through. And as many as 50% of young people planning to go into medicine polled say they will change their major. This will present a crisis that will surely lead to rationing of health care. And the rationing will surely some day be doled out to those who have the "politically correct" government ideology.

Thank you for coming! I appreciate your excellent comments.

Tina Boomerina from Seattle (and the world) on December 31, 2010:

Thank you so much for this article. I used to be married to a doctor and I followed socialized medicine arguments for years. Doctors in the states will quit before they will work those terrible hours for low wages. Most people would never want the job of being a doctor if they knew how hard it really is.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on September 03, 2010:

Randy Anderson— Welcome to HubPages. I surely agree with you. Thank you taking the time to read my work. I appreciate your comments. Great to see you here!

Randy Anderson on September 03, 2010:

My thoughts are hoping Repubs soon use repeal of "O" care on their platform, sure to offend the other half of public opinion.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on October 28, 2009:

SirDent— Thank you so much for your ongoing encouragement, my brother. I appreciate you!

SirDent on October 28, 2009:

You better watch out for the twilight zone. I am glad you enjoyed your trip.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on October 26, 2009:

SirDent— It was amazing! I stood on ground where Abraham, Elijah, David, Solomon, Jesus and the Apostles stood. I will be writing about it soon after I get the photos from the group. There were 16 of us traveling together. I'm still in the twilight zone. Maybe it's jet lag. :D

SirDent on October 26, 2009:

I figured you were gone somewhere. How was the trip?

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on October 26, 2009:

SirDent— Sorry it took me so long to see your comment. I just got home from two weeks in Israel. I read this article and I agree with the critics—both the "religious fundamentalists" and the Orwellians. Thanks for sharing the link with us, brother.

SirDent on October 15, 2009:

Noticed a headline on the MSN homepage and thought I would share the link here. It is very interesting indeed.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on October 13, 2009:

SirDent— Welcome my old friend. It is always a pleasure to see your face in my threads. Yes, the Mark of the Beast will follow. Stay tuned. Thank you for your comments.

SirDent on October 13, 2009:

Not sure how I missed this hub before James. Nothing I can say to add to it. Everything has already been spoken long ago.

Rev 13:16 And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads:

Rev 13:17 And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.

Control of the people must come first.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on October 13, 2009:

bdecourcey09— I appreciate your comments. I suppose everyone sees through the lens of their own experience. I had a company for 14 years and we provided health insurance for all of our employees and never once did we have coverage denied for anyone. I don't know about $100,000 an hour, but whatever the CEOs make, I don't think they make as much as entertainers and athletes. I don't think insurance companies claim to be non-profit. Oh contraire! Every company in America is for profit. That is what capitalism is all about. But you have to perform to make profit. That's why many businesses fail.

I thank you for reading and leaving your insightful comments. Welcome to HubPages.

bdecourcey09 from Forida on October 13, 2009:

The government isn't some separate entity. We elect them, they represent us. They are held responsible by the people.

Health insurance is great when you aren't denied coverage. Why do Health Insurance companies like Blue Cross Blue Shield deny coverage to patients while the CEO makes 100,000 an hour?

I think that a total free market, as in everyone pay their own bills would be the only way the prices of medical care could ever come down, but obviously this will never happen. Even if everyone had health insurance they could still be denied treatment if the insurance company decided they don't want to pay for it. There is no perfect solution when insurance companies are only in the business of profiting even when they claim to be non-profit. As for Walmart...they buy Life Insurance Policie s on their employees and name themselves as the beneficiaries...l don't think they'd be interested in providing these employees with health care that would lengthen their lives..sometimes you need to do a little more research.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on September 24, 2009:

Freedomvoice— I agree with every word you said. And I am grateful you chose this thread to make your statement.

I agree especially that there are plenty of ways for people to take care of themselves when they get sick. It's all right there on the internet. I haven't been to a doctor in 12 years. I didn't know how to set a broken collarbone. :)

It is all about control and power. You are so right on. It's an honor to meet someone as wise and learned as you. And I will go read your Hub right now. Thanks very much for coming by.

Freedomvoice on September 24, 2009:

You need to read my hub about how the Government will take you over to the point you will not be able to breathe. I had rather eat bread and branch water then to have some elected dumb person telling me where I can see the Dr. and what can be done. Folks you are sadly mistaken when you think this are free. You see the price you pay for Medicare on your paychecks now? Well it will triple at least when this goes into effect. Then you will pay over 50% of your paycheck for healthcare. I'm poor too. I have no cable or satellite TV. I have rabbit ears. I have dial up at $100. I make less than $23,000.00 a year but I doctor myself. I use herbs potions and go on the internet looking for potions. I don't get yearly exams, etc. I pay all my Dr. bills and refuse treatments that I can do without. Educate yourself on how to cure yourself. I've had bronchitis for two weeks and used Vicks salve, sugar, lemon, honey, vinegar, etc. To get myself well. I have faired just as well as someone that paid $900.00 for antibiotics, breathing treatments, etc. You can do for self. If the government gets this bill passed you will be paying insurance premiums through your IRS taxes. You will be told how to eat, breath, and sleep. Do you want to do for self or have the government in your everyday life taxing your sugar, grease (oil), carbs and anything else they can slap a tax on to get the money to run these new layers of government to control you? There is Medicaid, Medicare, and all kinds of aid that could be extended to cover you. Government is using this to control you. Wake up before it is too late.

Go read:

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on August 10, 2009:

Kebennett1— I have bookmarked your Hub on health care and the one on the "Death of Democracy." I will read both of them today.

We need far less government, not more. Seeing the terrible mess they have made of Medicare and Medicaid should give us a clue. They admit to a 15% fraud rate! Both of these programs should be abolished or at the least privatized.

Thank you for your always wise words.

Kebennett1 from San Bernardino County, California on August 09, 2009:

James, I couldn't agree with you more. The Government taking over the health care system is a BAD idea! Health-Care is BIG business. The Government is in the mess it is in financially because they DO NOT KNOW HOW to run a business! So you are right, they will ration health-care! Many people will not get the care they need because it is expensive treatment, such as Cancer treatment, AIDS treatment, organ transplants, etc... This is exactly why they are going to be REQUIRING counseling about signing a DNR and encouraging Euthanasia. There are a lot of hidden disasters in it! READ MY HUB IT!

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on August 09, 2009:


That is a very interesting and factual article. Thank you. The Hoover Institute does fine work. I agree with your views on this subject (and others!). :D

I think the worm has turned. Thanks for visiting and leaving your always wise words.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on August 09, 2009:

Just to read something good about what is RIGHT with American health care check this out:

Hopefully our legislators will connect with many of the people they represent so that when they go back to Congress after the August recess, they will be better able to do their job of "representing" the people who sent them there.

I think that the tide is turning and people are beginning to realize the economics of providing "free" health care to everyone may be more than we can manage at the moment.

Better to fix what we have in place and bring down the costs. And we can certainly do that if cool heads prevail.

Open competition for insurance companies across state lines! And why not for all, home as well as health? If the risks were spread out across larger numbers, the dollar amounts would generally fall. (That is after all, what the idea of a government system would do.)

Many of the states impacted with much more illegal immigration (for example) are affected much more adversely when it comes to paying for the ER visits that everyone (insured or not) can access.

What a mess! Hope we get this right!

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on June 22, 2009:

Anytime, Connie. You are welcome. au revoir!

Connie Smith from Tampa Bay, Florida on June 21, 2009:

Thanks for your understanding, James, and your appreciation.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on June 21, 2009:

Connie— I didn't take it personally.  Not at all.  You are a very nice Lady. 

It is within the realm of possibility that it could be nationalized now and privatized later.  But not many government programs go away once they are started. 

In 2007, more people moved out of Florida than moved in for the first time in history.  I remember when UHaul and Ryder paid people to drive those trucks back up north some more folks could use them to come this way.  The middle of the country seems to be getting a lot of new residents these days and for some good reasons. 

All of your thoughts are of quality.  We have to sort this out somehow.  I don't think the government should have more power.  I want it to have less.  Thank you for your fine contributions to the thread.  I appreciate you.

Connie Smith from Tampa Bay, Florida on June 21, 2009:

I hope that you didn't take my remarks personally, James. I think I came on stronger than I intended. I just get disgusted that so much falls on the middle class while the rich don't have to worry and the poor gets everything for free. I have one daughter who has to pay big time everytime she needs to take her kids to the doctor (because she can't afford the healthcare premiums) and one who gets it all for free (because she hasn't ever learned to work hard for anything). Uncle Sam is getting ready to shell out big bucks for the c-section delivery of my next grandson, making it easier to have a baby than it should be.

Since we already have socialized medicine for the poor, how can we fix that so that the government is not burdened with staggering Medicaid bills and the middle class can enjoy some peace of mind in life? Let us say that if the government did start an insurance program to provide healthcare for all that made insurance affordable for the middle class, is it unreasonable to assume that at some point it might be privatized like some services are that used to be government controlled?

Under the circumstances, I think Florida has done a decent job of taking on Citizens (the state controlled homeowners insurance for those who aren't familiar with it). I haven't been in Florida much for the past year, but as a currently licensed Florida Realtor for the past 6 years, I never heard many complaints about the services of Citizens, only the whole mess in general. For ourselves, we started out years ago with JUA (pre-Citizens) and quite soon ended up with a private company as we were rotated out. Admittedly, I know very little about the financial end of that operation, so am not sure if it is solvent or relies greatly on the state for its continued existence. I do know that Floridians were at least paying a competitive rate into it and not getting it for free or paying extra so that others were not getting it for free.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on June 21, 2009:

bernie1936— I have never heard a story about a broken neck that was "boring." -:)

No, your commentary sheds light on several big parts of the problem.  Waste, fraud, too much paperwork, unnecessary surgeries, unneeded tests, duplications in coverages . . . but anybody who thinks, "I know!  Let's have a massive Federal Bureaucracy take over!"  Well, lest I say anything unkind I'd best not say anything at all.  Let's just say, I'm agin it. :D

Thanks very much for adding new information to the thread that is enlightening.

bernie1936 on June 21, 2009:

For 17 years I worked for a major Aerospace company. The employer paid for my insurance, over $200.00 a week as shown on my paycheck. I asked the employer not to pay for that insurance (Kaiser) because I was already insured through my wife's union employer (also Kaiser insurance). I was told that the premiums are a must because the more employees are covered the more the premiums get lowered. So Kaiser collected 2 premiums but used only my wife's for my coverage. BTW I never got any double Kaiser cards. This is similar of what James is saying about some of his employees were already covered. Last year my niece came to visit from Europe. She showed me her medical coverage card which is good in the whole European Union. I said WOW! She responded, not to bank on it. If your sickness is not life threatening, forget it unless you want to stay in line for a couple of days. There is no real solution for healthcare. The European system and the US system are broken. Last week I went to have a physical check up. I'm on medicare. I paid my $25.00 fee (Kaiser). While I was there 2 people walked in. One suffered from a cold and the other had some back pain. Both had no insurance and paid nothing. Both were treated for free. Is that right? My wife and I are on medicare. We both pay the required $2,313.60 Total ($96.40 a month) plus an additional premium of $1,836.00 (per year) to Kaiser. 2 years ago I fell from a water tank and broke my neck. The cost of the surgery was $114,000. One week in the hospital (2 titanium rods and 8 screws in my neck). I paid a total of $500.00. I'm not complaining. So here you have it. Bits and pieces on health care. Kind of boring?

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on June 21, 2009:

Connie Smith— I see your point about problems that do exist with auto and home insurance.  I have heard of these difficulties and should have thought that through more clearly. (Of course, being a Floridian, my state is a special case after the hurricanes of 2004? nearly wiped out all the insurance companies—but most states don't have that problem.  It is we who chose to live here in the path of hurricanes after all.  Imagine insuring Pompeii!)

As an employer, I provided insurance for all of my 144 employees and their families, too, if they would pay 50% of the bill.  At one time I paid 100% and only stopped because I found out quite a few of them (in aviation) already had military insurance; or had insurance through their spouses but heck as long as it was free everybody signed up. The 50-50 deal worked very well.  in 14 years I never had a single disgruntled employee because of his insurance.

While our Founding Fathers were not clairvoyant, true, they knew from history that the world is always changing.  The founding documents are designed for grownups to deal with life—not to have the government shelter them from it.  They knew this: if the government is your daddy he is going to tell you what to do.

I don't have any money.  Unless $80 qualifies as having a lot of money.

You are right in what you say and I agree with most of it.  We do need a better system.  Thank you for your thoughtful commentary.  I'll have to do some more thinking. 

Connie Smith from Tampa Bay, Florida on June 20, 2009:

I have to disagree with you on several accounts (though I am still a fan :) ).  First of all, car and home owners insurance are big problems for many people.  Haven't you ever heard of people paying for car insurance for years (and years), having two accidents within a short period (one may not even be their fault, but the other driver had none) and losing coverage?  It happens all the time.  How about your little brother who had insurance, got laid off, sold his car (so cancelled his insurance), then found a job, bought a new car a year later -- after taking the bus for a while.  Guess what?  He is now going to have to get 'high risk' insurance because he had a 'lapse' in coverage (and it doesn't matter if it is the same company or another).  How about the way that auto coverage is tied to your credit score? There are so many problems with auto insurance that it deserves its own hub, obviously.

Homeowners insurance in Florida is a nightmare.   I started out paying $700 a year in 1996 and was paying $3,400 a year when I sold my home last year -- in spite of the fact that no hurricanes had ever come through my town and done any sort of real damage.  I stupidly filed an insurance claim for water damage in 2001 and got a check for $1,000.  When my insurance company went under in 2005 (paying $1,300 at the time because I had voluntarily raised my coverage as my home value went up) I had to find a new company.  That is when it went up to $3,200 (even more for the next year).  Not only that, I couldn't get coverage for water damage anymore (over one $1,000 claim 6 years before)!  Though my old insurance company 'went under' they soon came back and offered me new insurance for a hefty increase of approximately what I was paying with my new company.  I knew then why they had 'gone under.'  Making the insurance companies richer is not the answer. 

You made a very valid point about insurance spreading the catastrophic costs around.  I don't see why we can't do the same thing, only with, say, medicaid.  When you think of all the people who don't have insurance because they can't afford the $800 a month for family coverage, just how much would it cost if we all had to pay something based on our incomes?  We would all be putting money in the pot instead of just some of us.  I personally have Tricare (military insurance), so I am grateful that I don't have to worry about myself, by the way.  

As an employer, did you want to hire full time employees and pay their insurance or did you want part timers so you wouldn't have to?  Haven't you noticed how so many companies work their people only 35 hours a week so they aren't 'full time?'    Right now, as I see it, rich people and poor people have health insurance.  Who does that leave with none?  The hard working middle class are the ones who need it.  The only silver lining is that if there is a catastrophic illness by the family provider, they will then get it because they are now poor (and homeless).  None of that makes sense at all. 

Talking about our founding fathers in conjunction with something that didn't even exist then doesn't make sense either.  Back in 1776, though there were a few hospitals in existence, most people relied on home care from their country doctor (and didn't live long if they were really sick).  There was no chemo, triple by-pass surgeries, transplants or expensive medications to buy.  These are all modern issues that have to be dealt with differently.  If our founding fathers had an inkling of the mess that would be modern medicine, I am sure that it would have been included. 

Lastly, you bring up the fact about what would happen if Americans were asked to have vaccinations that they don't agree with and that it might be required under a new plan.  Well, have you ever tried to get a child in school who WASN'T vaccinated?  It is not happening because Americans are ALREADY required to be vaccinated.  This includes pre-school and day care centers as well. 

Though I agree that everyone would start running to the doctor for every sniffle unless checked, these issues do have answers and together, I believe that we could really come up with the right solution.  Even if I personally came up with it, I doubt anyone would listen, but collectively, there is a solution and it is of course, a non-partisan one.  This issue affects every American in some way.  If rich, by paying more, if poor by getting less. 

It sounds like you have a bit of money even if your company just went under (btw, sorry to hear that).  Still, think of this scenario:  You have a job making $400 a week (that is a lot more than minimum wage at $10 an hour).  After taxes, of course, it is more like $340.  Yet, your rent is $500 a month (not very good housing for that!) and your babysitter is $100 a week.  That sure doesn't leave much left over for anything else.  Yesterday, you developed a severe migraine and had to stay home from work.  Thankfully, you have medicine on hand for that emergency, yet your employer (who doesn't provide health insurance and is not required to) insists on a doctor's note before you can come back.  This kind of crap happens all the time.  So guess what?  You lose your job.  People who work deserve health insurance in whatever way they can get it, yet the middle class is actually penalized for working.  It doesn't make sense at all.  I don't care if it is the left or the right who fixes it, just somebody, please fix it!

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on June 20, 2009:

bernie1936— Thank you for providing the wisdom of experience.  I appreciate your visit and comment.  I am going to check out some of your Hubs.  I liked your profile page.

bernie1936 on June 20, 2009:

I do not care for socialized medicine. I lived it in Europe. My relatives over there have to buy additional insurance to get better coverage. You have no choice on many health issues. My sister in law was denied a wanted specialist. She went privately and had to pay the bill by herself.The bureaucracy is enormous.

What we need is affordable insurance. The insurance companies are greedy and control the whole issue. Good luck Obama!

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on June 20, 2009:

Eaglekiwi— You are so funny!  I didn't catch it the first time—I'm a little slow—what you said about Homeland Security had already given you a physical!  ROFLMAO (I always wanted to use that one—now seems as good a time as any.)

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on June 20, 2009:

Eaglekiwi— What hospitals have to do, since they do not turn away anyone, and half the people don't pay them, is bill double to everybody, hoping what they collect from the half who do pay covers all the patients they treated.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on June 20, 2009:

Peggy W— Thank you very much for reading and your excellent commentary.

I agree with you that the whole malpractice thing is way out of hand. That has increased the cost of health care more than anything else. I say, limit lawyer fees to 5% of the amount collected. And, no awards unless there was willful negligence. And you really hit home with your remarks about family doctors. Medicare and Medicaid set the prices—the insurance companies just follow suit. And the prices set only pay well for specialists. Therefore, the number of General Practitioners is plummeting. And that is a shame because your GP is the one who should actually know you and what he has seen you for before and so on and so forth. It is messed up, but not in the way that going commie will help. Health care will be rationed. The government will decide who lives and dies. And how did the government select which car dealerships to close??? By which ones gave the current administration contributions and which ones didn't. That is how your political affiliation will someday decide if you get that new liver or not. Damn, why don't people wake up!?

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on June 20, 2009:

According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, per capita income has increased every year for the past 10 years, with an annual average of 5.2% gains for the past 4 years.

Another study in 2006, the US Income Mobility Study showed economic growth resulted in rising incomes for most taxpayers over the period from 1996 to 2005. Median incomes of all taxpayers increased by 24 percent after adjusting for inflation. The real incomes of two-thirds of all taxpayers increased over this period.  In addition, the median incomes of those initially in the lower income groups INCREASED MORE than the median incomes of those initially in the higher income groups.

The 2006 economic survey also found that households in the top two income quintiles, those with an annual household income exceeding $60,000, had  two income earners while those in the lower quintiles (2nd and middle quintile) had median of only one income earner per household. Household type is strongly correlated with household income. MARRIED COUPLES are disproportionately represented in the upper two quintiles, compared to the general population of households.

Not surprisingly the lowest income group was composed of those households headed by individuals younger than 24, followed by those headed by persons over the age of 75. [But this is only WAGES—many of those over 75 have savings, property, etc. and don't work; or work part time just for fun.]

The surest way to get into the lowest quintiles is out of wedlock children # 1 and divorce # 2.  Not because of some bad Republican bogeyman somewhere.  Jesus said, "What you reap you shall sow."  We should not even think about guaranteeing OUTCOMES regardless of behavior.  That will finish the job of ruining our country. 

Eaglekiwi from New Zealand on June 20, 2009:

I want to understand how the Politics for healthcare work in the U.S ,but too late I was caught out. No Insurance ( no income) no proof of no income,so ineligible for a 'free health clinic".....( even though many of their customers were driving in with cadilacs and pretty well dressed. I had bused and walked 2miles) be told sorry you are not poor enough ....( or couldn't prove it)apparently if you have food stamps etc ,thats ok , you get free health care???

10 mins away ,pleased to be out of the hot midday sun, finally I was seen nearby hospital) and professionally diagnosed,x-rayed,consulted ,script and bill for $810.00!!!-total time incl waiting one hour???

Damn its circus time and I feel like a clown with asthma. My brother bragged ,hell girl ,would have cost you $25 back home,what's up with that ?

Actually Im going to send the bill to Pres.Obama, since I already paid hundreds for a physical to homeland security ,and he told us all that he was going to take care of me, yes he did. Thankyou for your hub , will take me 2 reads to digest. Hey best Insurance , the Govt new plan sounds good? ( I think)

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on June 20, 2009:

Had no idea when I started reading this that I would be here so long. Well argued counterpoints and this topic hits a nerve with everyone because health care (when needed) is something that cannot be lightly brushed aside. Life and death at either end with everything in between...

I LOVE your suggestion of people paying for the minor stuff and only using insurance for serious things. This one idea alone would clear out the waiting rooms of hospitals and clinics as people would go back to treating the minor ailments as they did back in the 50's and earlier. Do people REALLY have to clog up emergency rooms when they have the sniffles?

A cap on amounts awarded in lawsuits for malpractice would go a LONG way towards helping. One reason now why so many tests are ordered is to rule out the possibility that every "i" was dotted and every "t" crossed just to prepare for a defense in case of lawsuits. The medical folks also have to pay those high malpractice premiums which we, the patients, subsidize by our payments along with insurance payments.

If the lawyers did not get big fat checks from the ridicously high award amounts, they also would not be so quick to encourage lawsuits.

Just tackling a small piece of this huge problem with this remark as you can tell.

Back in the 50's.......people did go to their family doctors for treatments and those doctors knew their patients for the most part as members of the community in which they lived. Payment may have been in cash, but also could have been in chickens or garden produce. The doctors became doctors because they cared to help people...not just make money.

Housecalls made them more familiar with the people under their care.

A family doctor that came to the house when my baby brother had pneumonia actually took turns in holding him upright in the steam filled kitchen.

Amazing considering how far our system has changed since insurance and HMOs have come into practice. Now if one gets 5 minutes with a doctor after waiting an hour or two in the waiting room...that's about it.

Have to go now but thanks for this great hub.

Iðunn on June 20, 2009:

social and economic mobility and opportunities are decreasing though.  yes, there are also life cycles and those have great effect on people moving up and down in the quintiles from young earner to family member to retired, but this last 30 years or so, there has been a trend to less mobility with a sharp decrease over the Bush II years. 

ok, I didn't stop.  :p


it is a great hub though, certainly leads to interesting conversation. :)

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on June 20, 2009:

Iðunn  Maybe I will ;)

One last thing, about those quintiles.  Rarely do people stay in them.  They are fluid.  People move up and people move down according to the decisions they make and their behaviors they choose—and luck.  The bottom 20% includes only 3% who have been in there more than a few years.  The top 20% changes every year.  Fortunes change.  Many, many people have gone from top 20 to bottom 20 and vice versa.  There's rags to riches; and riches to rags. 

Iðunn on June 20, 2009:

I think we both agree insurance is a huge part of the problem.  I still think access to health care is implied.  hehe.  And Ireland, the new American principles based economy, was/is running into the same problem the recent U.K. changes led to, greater divide between the rich and the poor with all the profit going to the top 20% the next 20% holding steady and the bottom quintiles all losing ground.

However, that said, you've made some good arguments too on the problems with beaucratic control. 

Quite stimulating, thanks for debating with me.  Feel free to come fuss with me in my socialistic Hubs anytime.  :D

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on June 20, 2009:

"We have high poverty rates for a non third world country, high infant mortality and our overall mortality is lowering while our quality of life is also diminishing."

This is easily explained by the difference in demographics.  And I won't say anymore about that for fear of stepping on anybody's "self-esteem."

Europe is dying.  No nation or civilization has ever, in human history, recovered from a birth rate as low as 1.3.  Ireland has been a success precisely because of their embrace of capitalism; along with Eastern European nations.

"I disagree that a more equitable distribution of wealth quells incentive"

From 1917 to 1989 the two big nations tried this experiment: the US and the USSR.  One was an incredible success the other a horrible failure.  I would have hoped this experiment would have settled this debate.  But, maybe not.

"Do you agree or disagree that 'life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness' also includes healthcare"

Of course not.  They had doctors in 1789.   If our Founding Fathers—the wisest group of men to ever appear on earth in the same place at the same time—thought so, they would have said so.  They would have said, "and free health care for all."  But of course, they didn't.  They knew that if the government is to take care of you, one must surrender the very freedoms they fought for.  If the government is going to take care of you from womb to tomb, they are in charge of your life.  No, our Founding fathers were for Liberty and Freedom.  Not for government domination of its citizens. 

Lastly, I do not dispute we have a problem.  The problem is the government, through Medicare and Medicaid screwed up the free market system; health insurance should be "insurance" for serious illness and accidents; it should not be tied to your employer; it should not be restricted state by state—you should be able to buy it from national insurance companies and these companies should not make decisions for us; sure they can send out an adjuster to ensure against fraud but that's all.  All decisions should be between you and your doctor and based on outcomes not on how many tests and procedures they can dream up to try on you. 

Do you have any problem with your car insurance? Finding it, buying it, getting your car repaired if you have a wreck? Who has problems with homeowners insurance? This is the proper use of insurance—spreading the risk of the unforeseen event that a single insured cannot cope with financially. It should not be for routine maintenance. That should be the responsibility of each sovereign person.

Iðunn on June 20, 2009:

I like you too and I quite enjoy respectful debate. You are certainly entitled to your opinion and I appreciate your respect for my right of opinion as well.

Frankly socialism works. I disagree that a more equitable distrubution of wealth quells incentive. People in social democracies are just as ambitious and most work and enjoy it. Look at any of the Scandanavian countries, Ireland, Germany, even France and U.K. though less so now for U.K. since "new labour" borrowed off the U.S. style capitalism and caved into their right.

Specifically to health care, we are not anywhere near the top ten. We have high poverty rates for a non third world country, high infant mortality and our overall mortality is lowering while our quality of life is also diminishing. In almost every area of decent, civilized countries measured for health care, we lag way behind.

Health care can't be left 'for profit'. People have intrinsic value. I'm not any kind of social darwinist. Do you agree or disagree that 'life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness' also includes healthcare because if people die from easily preventable illnesses for want of health care, I believe they are being deprived of their constitutional rights.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on June 20, 2009:

Iðunn Thank you for your contrary contribution to the conversation. If Einstein said this, I assure you it was before Socialism was tried. Before it was tried, it sounded like a great idea. Hey, let's just take everything we've got and give everybody an equal piece of it! That is still a great sounding idea. We know now that it is contrary to human nature. The most successful experiments with it—Western Europe—are moribund economies with dying populations.

What great invention has come out Western Europe since they instituted socialism? It stifles incentive. Why do better? They'll just take the fruits of your labor away from you anyway. Why not work as little as possible? Daddy government will take care of you. The greatest experiments with these ideas—attenuated Marxism—has been the USSR and China. China was dead economically until the went away from socialism. The USSR, well unless you are into Potemkin Villages, I shouldn't have to comment on I hope.

But that's all I have room to say now. And you are entitled to your opinion. I like you. I think you are a nice lady with a good heart.

Iðunn on June 20, 2009:

I thumbed you up because it's a well written and thoughtful piece and accurate in many ways, however I disagree strongly with your opinion. Private investors looking to make a profit decide health care now, the government, even if it were to be the deciding factor (and that's propaganda and simply not true) couldn't possibly do any worse.

Even Einstein wrote that the most efficient economic method for distributing scarce goods was socialism.

However, what Obama is proposing isn't that left wing nor is it intended to replace private insurance. The intent is to pick up the medical of those who cannot be insured in a capitalist society for "profit" and people will be given a choice, much like Canada. They can opt in or opt out and at different levels.

My opinion, our country is long overdue for this legislation.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on June 19, 2009:

advisor4qb— It surely sounds as if you have had a rough time with the hodge podge system we have erected. I have talked to a lot of old timers and have never found anyone who had any of these problems in the 1950s. They knew a doctor; they paid him in cash if they were able; he helped them anyway if they couldn't pay. Government interference then came into play. At least, that is how it looks to me. I know it is hard to deal with insurance companies for health care. They are too involved in the process. I wish the best for you and your family. I am sorry you have had such a tough time. Hopefully, the system will change for the better. Thank you for reading and adding a concrete experience to the discussion that is sobering.

advisor4qb from On New Footing on June 19, 2009:

I have to say the picture at the end was really cute (what not to wear to the ER). With ups and downs in my life, I have had no insurance, had Medicaid, and had health insurance before AND after deductibles were met.

I almost was not able to get the surgery I had in November due to insurance reasons.

My children were approved for Medicaid last month, which would have covered a doctor visit I had paid for, but the doctor refused to refund my money and bill Medicaid, even though it would have helped me tremendously. He KNOWS I am living on my own with three kids!

My daughter had a major injury last year, and the insurance we had was catastrophic in coverage. This was a catastrophy, to be sure, but they gave us a hard time. Every time we would schedule something with a new doctor, the insurance company would not properly verify the coverage, and I would actually have to trick them by calling them myself on three way with the doctor's office staff listening in.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on June 18, 2009:

Izzetl— Thank you for the compliment!  And your commentary is exemplary!  Not much I can add as you said it all, and so well.  Thanks for visiting my Hub!

L Izett from The Great Northwest on June 18, 2009:

WOW! Awesome hub. I love your example of 'Johnny'- that's exactly how I view it. Government control, expecially over the healthcare system, is dangerous. I am fine with my insurance, but I am frustrated that I pay for health insurance while people I know are working the system and getting care for free. In essence, I am paying for their care as well.

My bill for having a baby was about $5,000 out of my pocket, but my friend had hers for free because she didn't have insurance- she could have opted for it on her husband's workplace coverage, but she didn't want to if she could get it for free. What irritated me the most was she got first class service and tons of freebies (including a $300 electric breast pump)aside from the 'free' baby, while I was given the bare minimum- no freebies. This example reflects your point about the 'Johnny' example. There are bugs in the current system for sure, but I believe people ARE reaching too far to the left for the solution.

Thanks again for a thought-provoking hub, which I will come back to read again after I locate the New Yorker article you mentioned.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on June 15, 2009:

I'll answer this one tomorrow when I'm sober.  But your commentary is thought provoking and deserves an intelligent response.  I agree with most of what you say—but maybe not for why you are saying it.  The individual circumstances are rough and tough.  I am looking at the macro, as in—how did it get to be this way in the first place?  Paying for procedures instead of OUTCOMES?

To me, there the rub lies.

Insurance Agent in AZ on June 15, 2009:

If 72% of Americans with insurance are satisfied with their coverage, I would ask: Have those people had serious illnesses which gave them the opportunity to experience how "good" their coverage actually is? It's when people get sick that they realize how good or bad their insurance plans are. I refer you to the recent study that concluded that over 50% of bankruptcies are the result of illnesses - and many of those people had insurance.

And what are the stats for how seniors feel about Medicare? I work mainly with Medicare Supplements, Part D and Medicare Advantage and I think most seniors are happy with Medicare.

Your take on the New Yorker article is amazingly different from mine. I thought the most important point of that article was that health care is a for-profit business and doctors are in business to make money - as are corporations that run hospitals and labs offering expensive tests. As a result, many doctors take advantage of the Medicare "fee-for-service" system and make money off of low-income patients who may or may not need the excessive amount of tests and medical treatments the doctors order.

The private Medicare plans (Medicare Advantage) were supposed to control costs through HMOs, but under Bush, they expanded into "private-fee-for-service" which resulted in Medicare paying out 12% more per person in private plans than those under "Original Medicare". This defeated the original purpose of privatizing Medicare - to save money.

Scaring people with cries of "socialized medicine" and "rationing" is a cruel joke. Private insurance companies require people to use doctors in their contracted networks and they do decide who gets care and who doesn't. At the same time they make millions - no, billions of dollars in profits and the current system is a burden for American companies as well as the American government.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on June 14, 2009:

mulberry1— Wow!  This is a dynamite commentary.  I thank you for the fine contribution to the thread here.  I am not  fan of the insurance companies, either.  What I propose is that for routine health care; checkups, Johnny has a fever; Suzy has a skin rash; Billy has the crabs—that we see a clinic and pay them in cash.  And insurance is still there but on the model of home or car insurance.  I rarely hear anybody complaining about their car insurance or their homeowners policy.  Because it works!  And why it works is that it applies insurance in its natural setting, which is: spreading the risk of catastrophe amongst the greatest number.  Our health insurance would only be for a wreck or a fire.  A serious injury or disease.  Not to use "insurance" for a checkup.  Some would immediately say, how could people afford it?  Getting rid of the middle man for most health problems saves money and gives us a closer relationship with our medical providers.  The cost of insurance goes way down. 

Christine Mulberry on June 14, 2009:

I share many of your concerns.  On the other hand, I don't feel much better about leaving my healthcare in the hands of private insurance companies. They are a non-value added deal. They employ untold numbers of employees and other costs, yet do absolutely nothing to provide or improve healthcare. They have no concern for our welfare, and we have no recourse. They take our money and dole it out based on their whim. We don't even have the ability to boot them from office. Private insurance has also increased red tape and costs, we are now far too dependent upon them. I agree that unnecessary testing and procedures need to go away and providers need to be responsible. No doubt. On the other hand I'm not sure I want to incentivize providers based primarily on cutting back on care. This sometimes happens with disaster as the result.  I'm not disagreeing with you really, just stating that the current system (even outside of Medicare/Medicaid) really STINKS. Some providers don't have our best interests at heart and I believe absolutely NO insurer does. How to fix a broken system with an unnecessary, costly, and now very wealthy and powerful third party inserted/entrenched into it, is quite the dilema. I guess really I'm playing devils advocate a bit...who do I trust more, an elected official or a greedy private third party? I think one is simply more familiar to us but not better, cheaper, or anything else.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on June 13, 2009:

Why, SEM Pro, far be it from me to question your credibility.  I just wanted to see the evidence in its own context.  I did not doubt you for a second.  :D

I think we have oversold the American Dream.  It just can't happen for 300 million people.  And if it does, each one of them will have to have the personal intitiative to develop something the world needs.  I am not unempathetic.  I know a lot of poor people.  I have a second cousin, who the last time I saw her, all 250 pounds of her, she was bragging to me how she was going to get SSI for life because one leg is shorter than the other.  She is 23 and plans a life of never working.

But I have traveled and I can tell you that if a 250 pound American with air conditioning, refrigeration, indoor plumbing, a city sewer system, a telephone, a computer, an internet connection, a car, a DVD player, a TV, electricity itself for goodness sakes—were to tell a really poor person . . . let's say one about 80 pounds of skin on bones living on the street in Calcutta in cardboard box trying desperately to catch a rat for dinner; as maybe one million human beings do in that city today—they would not only laugh, they would probably be damned angry.  There is no poverty here in the real context of the world we live in. 

That's all I'm going to say about that. :)

SEM Pro from North America on June 13, 2009:

Looking for the exact figure and irrefutable source again? Thought my credibility was no longer in question having been rescued by LondonGirl LOL

Yes, here in Atl our current "American Status" seems to be in full force. Being a large city in the south, naturally it had its share of homeless and less than affluent population. Katrina hit and it felt like everyone who had nothing left, headed here (as did the majority of developers). Then the economy weakened, more headed to "the big city". The abundant population of already "hard hit" and desperate grew. Mismanagement of the city's funds became public info. as fire departments and police stations had to cut back or close. The main hospital was also in such serious dept...a county's education accreditation was taken away...the 6,000 sq ft houses all the developers built lie like ghost towns...

I might need to write an actual hub detailing the specifics with links. Suffice-it-to-say, 6 months ago when statistics started cropping up "500,000 more lost their jobs this month" etc., the consequences became equally apparent. Unless in a mall, might as well close up shop because they'd be broken into every night - not for cash, but for T-shirts and running shoes (or anything else that could be used or sold). Daily reports of what heightened stress creates with family members killing each other, mothers being set on fire...

Again, let me consider putting it altogether in a hub when I return but for the purposes of your subject matter here, of those who have been counted (which normally actually excludes the homeless)

Approximately 1.6 million Georgians don't have health insurance today. More than one in three Georgians (2.9 million) were without health insurance for all or part of the two year period from 2007-2008. 42.2% of African-Americans and 66.2% of Latinos in Georgia were uninsured for all or part of the period between 2007 and 2008. Over 95% of adult Georgians without health insurance were either employed or actively looking for work. 78.7% were working full or part time...

And on and on... Don't know if an accurate figure is possible for how many are homeless - most hide like rats until the middle of the night and sorry James, as much hub material as it would provide, I'm not heading out nightly for a month to find and count them - I probably wouldn't be alive to complete the hub. Desperation can bring out the worse... "Millions homeless" - undoubtedly. Anyone around LA care to chime in?

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on June 13, 2009:

Millions homeless?

SEM Pro from North America on June 13, 2009:

I love you LondonGirl - thank you! I knew it was a shocking figure I'd have to get amnesia to forget but when I can't quote the source right off the bat, I tend to be conservative. Appreciate the post!

Added fuel for how broken it is right James!? With all said, you may understand why it's worth being able to tap the Canadian system as a citizen. Even with US insurance, catastrophes can and are wiping peoples' lifetime retirement plans, homes etc. That's also added fuel for your logic that if it was kept just for such catastrophic necessities, as with other insurances, this wouldn't be happening.

Considering all the procedures they're capable of doing these days, the question of "where would the line be for that" comes into play. Bottom line: I tremendously respect your understanding of how healthcare is indeed diminishing our liberty. Most who have insurance, don't piece together how much their own costs are rising with the additional services health facilities have to provide to those without insurance. This, to a degree explains why it costs so much more if one doesn't have ins. because there's no point suing trying to get blood from a stone. The facilities would love everyone who doesn't have it to simply go elsewhere. With their lobbying clout, they will soon be sure to create a law that no longer allows the requirement of serving non-insurers - rather than the simple laws they've implemented to make sure they don't have to insure anyone who might cost them (pre-existing).

The way it's now heading, the rich will be covered even to replace such vital organs as their heart etc. and the poor will die from unavoidable catastrophes or continue to join the multitude of homeless. With millions homeless, everyone's liberty of life is at stake - as is becoming very evident here in ATL. Broken indeed...

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on June 12, 2009:

LondonGirl— That is amazing! Thank you for researching this. I had no idea this might be the case. hmmm . . .

LondonGirl from London on June 12, 2009:

"This year, an estimated 1.5 million Americans will declare bankruptcy. Many people may chalk up that misfortune to overspending or a lavish lifestyle, but a new study suggests that more than 60% of people who go bankrupt are actually capsized by medical bills.

Bankruptcies due to medical bills increased by nearly 50% in a six-year period, from 46% in 2001 to 62% in 2007, and most of those who filed for bankruptcy were middle-class, well-educated homeowners, according to a report that will be published in the August issue of The American Journal of Medicine."

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on June 12, 2009:

HA! I imagine so! No more house calls for you!

SEM Pro from North America on June 12, 2009:

He decided to get out in the 60s at the first sign of government intervention LOL

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on June 12, 2009:

SEM Pro— You have not been the least bit offensive. Your comments are passionate and that alone qualifies them for a fair hearing. But your comments are sharp; and that is good. I don't like the bandaid approach either. I think surgery is required. Where is Marcus Welby MD when you need him?

SEM Pro from North America on June 12, 2009:

Well now, that might take some serious research because it was a figure quoted on CSpan about 8/9 months ago as they grueled the economists. If I weren't heading out of town, I'd go the extra mile to answer that but...

I haven't meant to be offensive as adamently as I feel about the whole darn thing being a mess. I think if we discuss enough, we might just be inspired enough to make a difference, or clear enough to express ourselves with an organization of folks who are. My only point is that the politicians seem to be trying to decide what bandaid to put on this gaping wound, and I'd rather we tackle the source with serious surgical precision - somehow.

I keep "speaking" here because your thoughts are so well laid out James(and no I won't make the same subliminal slip *wink*) and the ones I've been espousing for decades. But, how do we get from where we are - back to those cherished free market values? I simply don't think bandaids on the syptoms will help at this juncture.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on June 12, 2009:

SEM Pro— So, we meet again! This 50% of foreclosures due to medical bills is something new to me. From whence does that information come? JC

I appreciate your readership and commentary. Maybe bgpappa can sort it out for us. :)

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on June 12, 2009:

bgpappa— I agree with you that some regulation is required.  I am not sure 133,000 pages might not be a bit of overkill.  I think the deregulation of many industries has been very beneficial.  I site a few examples above.  In what "many" industry has deregulation failed?  What were the horrible consequences suffered by Americans because of free market capitalism? 

Thank you for your comments.  You are a clear thinker and you articulate your thoughts well.  Always welcome here.

SEM Pro from North America on June 12, 2009:

So true bgpappa! As an entrepreneur, my enthusiasm for free market is much greater than any resemblance to socialism but the system is indeed broken. All the wishing it were different or an idealistic approach to what it should be won't get us from where we are, to where we need to go and eventually be.

Right now, I'd simply LOVE to have even close to the same coverage as the multitude of "public servants" get for free. Unfortunately, they are the ones who haven't a clue what it's like to be without - despite the statistics that over 50% of the current foreclosures are due to catastrophic health care costs (not having signed a mortgage dreamily unaware). Another unfortunate aspect is that the lobbyists for all parties, and the political pockets they fill who will ultimately determine the outcome, are also broken. I too look forward to your upcoming article.

bgpappa from Sacramento, California on June 11, 2009:

Trust me, I am a liberal, not a communist, but do believe that government should regulate some things.  Healthcare is one of them.  Trust me, Obama does not want to nationalize the healthcare system.  I do.

But I am also a realist.  I too believe in the market, but believe in reasonable regulation.  Deregulation has failed in many sectors of the economy.  I understand the argument that the free market should govern all, but unchecked it has horrible consequences that are usually paid by the taxpayer in the end. 

As always, enjoy an articulate debate where both sides bring something to the table.  Just wish the folks on Washington on both sides would do the same.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on June 11, 2009:

bgpappa— Don't go pinko commie on me now! :D

I appreciate the visit and the compliment. I can't wait to see your Hub on the topic.  We'll see what happens.  I think any commodity works best with a free market, but that's just me . . . and Adam Smith (Wealth of Nations) . . . and Friedrich Hayek (The Road to Serfdom) . . . and Milton Friedman (A Monetary History of the United States).  It could be that BHO is smarter than these fellers, but I wouldn't bet on it.  

In the end, I'll have no say.  But I do like talking about it because I am concerned about the loss of Liberty.  Thank you for piling on—er, I'm sorry, I meant chiming in!  :D



bgpappa from Sacramento, California on June 11, 2009:

Well written and thoughtful analysis.

So of course I disargree. Medicare and Medicaid are more efficient than private insurance in terms of overhead. Secondly, nobody is talking about socialized medicine. Nobody is going to force everyone into medicare and medicaid. The plan simply calls for a choice. Private Insurance will still have a say.

I refer you to articles written by Londongirl on how the British Healthcare system works. It is a first hand account. Doesn't say it is perfect, but it works. Obama does not want to go that far.

I pay for private insurance. My premiums are outrageous, as are the co-pays. And the fact of the matter is I am not getting what I am paying for. If it were a meal I would send it back.

There is a middle ground. Obama is pushing a moderate approach. The liberals will try to pull him left(er). The Republcans will just say no. The system is broken, even if you are insured. What is the alternative? Where is the conservative plan to fix the system?

But as I said, well written article and a lively debate. Sure to be more to come (especially when I finish my pinko commie healthcare article in a few days)

Great job.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on June 11, 2009:

sneakorocksolid— You are welcome. I appreciate your gracious compliments. Thank you.

sneakorocksolid on June 11, 2009:

Hey James thanks for your comments you're obviously a kind and thoughtful person. I don't disagree with you or anybody else we have to be open to a creative idea that would best suit our nation. We are a very smart and inovative country we can figure this out, I know we can.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on June 11, 2009:

HA! HA!  I guess not!  That's funny. Thanks.  Lord knows, we need a laugh around here.

Yea, "Doctor saws off wrong foot" gets a lot more press.

LondonGirl from London on June 11, 2009:

I think you are right, James, in that the horror stories are the ones that make the media. After all, "women has minor operation on foot, all goes well" isn't very exciting as a headline!

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on June 11, 2009:

Amanda Severn— That is shameful.  I have never heard of such a thing from anyone I actually know—and I know plenty of poor people.  The poor people I know are given the best medical treatment in the world regardless of ability to pay.  The hospital just takes it on the chin.  I live a few blocks from one of the finer hospitals, Florida Hospital, and have a friend on the board.  They turn no one away who needs help.  So when I hear these tragic stories, I don't understand them. 

In my POV it is not an insurance company problem.  Anything I can think of in the States is better provided, with less waste and fraud, by a for-profit entity than a bureaucracy.  Which makes perfect sense philosophically.  The problem is insurance is bound to states—ironic, because states are ignored in most things by the Feds; and that insurance is not portable if you leave your employer.  There is no problem here with any other kind of insurance because all other kinds the insurance companies compete nationwide with each other for the customers and have far less overhead from cumbersome regulatory paperwork requirements.

Thank you for your fine comments. I had no idea people were so happy with the NHS over there. That is not what we hear here. It could be that on both sides of the pond only the horror stories make it through. There may be people here who don't THINK they can go to the hospital without money. If so, they are mistaken.

Amanda Severn from UK on June 11, 2009:

James, just corresponding with the comments on this hub must be keeping you busy! As you know, I've written on this subject myself here on HubPages, and it's certainly a hot topic for debate.

Being from the UK, i can only say how absolutely relieved I am not to be dealing with the tortuous health-care issues that so many Americans have raised here on HubPages. I think that Mighty Mom hit the nail on the head when she placed the Insurance Companies at the heart of the matter. Even if the USA were to dismantle the link between employers and healthcare insurance, there would still be a huge raft of people unable to get insurance on the basis of pre-existing conditions etc.

One of the earlier comments mentioned the case of a cancer patient who could not afford care, and went without. That's shameful in a modern society.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on June 11, 2009:

This chart is amazing.  When I see photos of people from the Middle East, they rarely look fat to me.  hmmm . . . I need to reassess.  And why is Mexico in there?  I mean, I always hear that they are sneaking across the border because they are poverty stricken.  In my mind's eye, I tend to equate people who are starving with skinny folks.  But most of the fat here are the poor, not the rich.  Most of the rich and middle class work out and look great.  Confusing.  Must be all that corn syrup in their diet. Thanks for the info.  I'm going to read you HUbs today. Promise.

LondonGirl from London on June 11, 2009: - major countries only, and the USA is 4th

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on June 10, 2009:

LondonGirl— I am looking at 78.7 versus 78.06 on

You may have more accurate data; that was the easiest thing to find quickly. 

I will read your health care hubs.  I have them bookmarked.  I've been trying to catch up on my comments first. 

There are 4 fatter countries?  uh oh!  I am looking this up . . . I see a chart with the US ninth fattest!  But all the others are like, the Cook Islands—hardly anybody there! 

You have done your homework, that's for sure.  Thanks again for bringing some concreteness to the abstraction. 

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on June 10, 2009:

sneakorocksolid— I appreciate your personal situation.  Thank you for sharing your feelings on the subject.  Something has to be done, for sure.  I am in favor getting the government out of the picture; eliminating health inurance by employers; making the purchase of health insurance a national thing—as I mentioned, something you can buy and take with you no matter where you work or where you move (from GEICO, or State Farm, or Nationwide, et al.).  I truly believe the free market system works. But that is far from what we have.  To go the other way; to give politicians and bureaucrats control over our bodies and our children's bodies—is an incredible loss of Liberty and the thought of it makes me want to read Aldous Huxley again. 

I do not expect everybody to agree. But at least we are talking about it and learning from each other. Thanks for visiting.


James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on June 10, 2009:

LondonGirl—It sounds as if you are sold on your system over there and I am glad it is working well.  I wish everyone good health.  The health care here is outstanding as well but it just costs the country too much and with the baby boomers retiring the future obligations are enormous and virtually unfundable. 

Thank you for setting us straight on the UK setup.  I love the UK.  That's our mother country you know. :D 

Your comments are excellent and I appreciate you posting them here.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on June 10, 2009:

LondonGirl—I cannot refute your numbers.  Unfortunately, there are serious social and cultural problems over here directly related to these numbers and irrelevant to the quality of health care itself. 

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on June 10, 2009:

SEM Pro— Thank you for reading my Hub, your kind opening words, and for joining the conversation. 

You are so right about the malpractice problem.  Unless intentional mistreatment is involved, I would abolish it.  Pharmaceutical companies . . . I am ambivalent about them.  I know pills are pushed way too much by the doctors.  I know many like to point out the cost per pill looks really low but they always leave out the millions in Research & Development invested before a drug can come to market. 

I fully agree with you that Greed is a full-blown pandemic here.  But it is a lot harder to be greedy without a third party paying the bills.  In a free market, two hospitals can setup across the street from each other and I can shop prices before deciding where I spend my money—and they have to react accordingly.  Fixing prices is against the principles of Adam Smith, one of the key founders of what used to be our free market economy.  Most people have no idea how much they are spending on medical care—they never see the bills, except for their co-pays. 

But you are right: the blame game has played out.  Solutions are required.  My solution is a totally free market system. 

Walmart?  My jury is out on that one.  I can see harm they have done to American suppliers.  I can see products being made available to the masses as never before.  That may take a different Hub! :D

Your comments are not only wise they are deep.  Thank you for making them.


James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on June 10, 2009:

Opinion Duck—I, too, have heard many horror stories but the several folks who live in the UK have all roundly defended their system so, they should know better than anybody how it is.  Europe, of course, is much more conditioned to accept socialism of all types compared to the US.  It strikes me as Anti-American, which come to think of it, much of western Europe is, too. I provided a link in the heart of my Hub to dozens of articles from the UK and Canada about the waiting lists and rationing of health care that goes on there.  

I know people personally who are Canadians, that are very dissatisfied and come to the US for treatment.  But, I heard from one lady, that she goes TO Canada for treatment. 

You made many powerful and true statements in your comprehensive commentary.  I will say the infection rate in our hospitals is bad.  And the hospital errors are huge—181,000 serious errors last year.  Again, though, the government programs will pay them again and again to fix their "comebacks"; unlike any other business where warranty work costs the supplier, thereby reducing comebacks. 

And, you are right on again that the government payment system makes it unprofitable to be a General Practitioner, and therefore their numbers are dwindling.  Only specialists make big money because that is what the government has decided—not the people.  That is what is most un-American about this bureaucratic approach.  They make 100,000 laws (regulations) that are never voted on by our representatives in Congress. That ain't how it is supposed to be in the USA.  This was put into place gradually by "progressives" who, in their own literature, say they must implement through bureaucracy what would never be accepted by a free Republic and its free citizenry. 

Your knowledge  and comments are awesome.  I am so glad you visited.

LondonGirl from London on June 10, 2009:

"LondonGirl is correct that the life expectancy is 2 months higher in the UK. If I may put this delicately . . . they have a more homogenized society. Not to mention, the best predictor of poor health is obesity and I believe America is the most obese nation on earth. So, while technically correct, I don't think the health system has much credit to latch onto with this point. "

It's a year and two months, 14 months, not 2 months difference.

Also, and I could direct you to another of my hubs on this subject were I not modest and self-deprecating (ed. What?!), America is only the 4th fattest country in the world, beaten by more obese places (-:

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on June 10, 2009:

Justin Martyr— LondonGirl is correct that the life expectancy is 2 months higher in the UK.  If I may put this delicately . . . they have a more homogenized society.  Not to mention, the best predictor of poor health is obesity and I believe America is the most obese nation on earth.  So, while technically correct, I don't think the health system has much credit to latch onto with this point. 

I appreciate you for taking the time to read my Hub and leave your comments. Nice zeal too! :-)

sneakorocksolid on June 10, 2009:

James I hope you have a family and their all well. I do and I have health insurance. It does a good job of offsetting the cost but its still real expensive and we have consider all options.If I didn't have it and I had sick kid that needed help I would overwelmed with fear. If I became Ill and no insurance and the treatment would financially ruin us I wouldn't let them treat me. National Health may not be the answer but this doesn't work. Have you seen the new hospitals and medical facillities being built? C'mon! We have to get a handle on this!

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on June 10, 2009:

LondonGirl—I thought that 1.5 looked on the low side. :D

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on June 10, 2009:

LondonGirl— You are right.  There is massive inefficiency and fraud going on here.  I see you have Hubs on the system over there.  I haven't read them  yet, but I am eager to do so, to get an insider's view. 

"I think you are worrying unnecessarily"

I hope so.  But not long ago Catholic Adoption Services began closing down after helping place thousands of unfortunate orphans because the current administration forced them to adopt to gays—in direct violation of their religion.  And there is a lot of chatter now that Catholic hospitals are next.  That they will forced to participate in abortions or lose the ability to accept Medicaid and Medicare.  But, if you are correct, it is much ado about nothing.

Regarding political views, this power is being wielded now by our government as they decide who gets home mortgage relief and what car dealerships close. These decisions are made in secret by "czars" appointed by the President and not accountable to Congress—and therefore to the People. They already, early on, smell of political favoritism.

Thank you for your fine comments and for coming by to read my Hub.

LondonGirl from London on June 10, 2009:

"This is absolute baloney!!! Where did you get these numbers might I ask?

These numbers are highly suspect and might come from groups that are pro socialized medicine."

Which numbers? The % of GDP? You came up with the horrifying 17% USA figure yourself.

Figures for life expectancy, and infant mortality, come from "The World in Figures 2009" published by The Economist, a right-wing, free-market publication which uses countries' own statistics where they are reliable.

Infant mortality - the UK is in 20th place in the world, the USA doesn't make the top 30. Overall life expectancy - 79.5 in the UK, 78.2 in the USA.

40 countries have a higher life expectancy that the USA, including Cuba, Puerto Rico, Costa Rica and Chile.

LondonGirl from London on June 10, 2009:

" I suspect that LG and others have no personal experience with the system."

Your suspicions are entirely wrong. I was born in an NHS District General Hospital, have been registered with an NHS GP since I was born, and had my own son in an NHS hospital in London nearly 4 years ago.

SEM Pro from North America on June 10, 2009:

James – another outstanding hub that invites lengthy conversation. Wonderful job, great points. You were right, very controversial. I am deeply moved and thus, I speak:

I agree whole-heartedly that the government should not have gotten involved. Much has changed since the 50s though.

The New Yorker blames the greedy doctors, you blame the greedy government, LMom blames the greedy insurance companies, and if I were to point a finger, I would blame the greedy attorneys, the majority of who are in the U.S. seeking malpractice suits primarily if they can create a loophole yielding a phenomenal pay-out. The next person could come along and blame the greedy pharmaceutical companies whose lobbyists are about as powerful as those of the insurance industry (which Opinion Duck just did during our storm).

We can go around endlessly in the same vicious circle with potential solutions if we continue to focus merely on the symptoms rather than the cause. As an example, I will decry WalMart that started with Sam establishing a foundation on “American made products”, mushrooming with the influence of mass buying power and lauded for the tremendous number of Americans they employed. Sam died and the greedy children took over using their inherited buying power to screw American suppliers by refusing any non-consignment orders even for produce so the suppliers/farmers have to eat the loss. They also now buy the cheapest possible products available globally and utilize the “loophole” of employing at barely less than “full time” so they have to neither pay a decent wage nor offer any benefits.

We saw the global economy topple like dominos as the greedy American financiers sailed away on their multi-million dollar yachts, having first extricated their multi-billions into offshore/Swiss, tax free accounts.

I could go on, giving detailed facts for each intricately intertwined “symptom”, including but not limited to the crumbling Canadian healthcare system because most qualified practitioners began feeling it was unfair to earn a mere reasonable living when a loophole to secure U.S. citizenship could yield them multi-million dollar incomes.

The incompetent Chrysler execs greedily took our money with one hand and exorbitant ‘paychecks’ with the other, singing the same tune: “We refuse to let the government limit our income! This is Marxism – be on our side people, you could be next!”

I agree with you in that the answer is not to give more power to our government. No private industry would survive with their ridiculous laws of not being able to fire incompetent employees. Venezuela tried and look at their state of affairs! However, I disagree that any amount of analyzing, blaming, or changing mere symptoms will lead to a solution. If we look at the bigger picture to find that common destructive thread woven through each individual, industry and aspect of the problem we can see the actual cause - greed. Unfortunately, as deeply as this cause has infected our entire society and system, I believe our only hope for healing is the implementation of restrictive laws – intentionally excluding loopholes.

Opinion Duck on June 10, 2009:

The words that I get from my friends and others that live in GB and Canada is that NHS is like Kaiser Permente on downers. It takes for ever to get a treatment once you can get in for diagnosis. Even the British Television shows make fun of the NHS.

I have heard that it takes around two years to get a knee replacement or hip replacement.

On the Canadian NHS, a friend of mine married a Canadian Citizen and they moved to New London , Canada. They had to hire an attorney so that she could partake of the Canadian benefits. Now they are both going back to the United States because the Canadian Health System will kill them by not treating them in a timely or even competent manner.

It seems to me that until you really use the medical insurance, whether private or public, you really don't know its quality of service. I suspect that LG and others have no personal experience with the system.

The current US paid for Health Insurance system is a disaster and yet it would look good compared to having it nationalized. In essence, the health insurance companies practice medicine without a license. They with-hold test and procedures of their insurers. That should be the responsibility of the doctor and not the insurance company.

The problems of the US healthcare is rooted in the government giving power to the FDA, drug companies, health insurance companies and allowing free medical services to illegal aliens, and medicare, just to name a few.

For example, we have not had any major medical cures since the Polio Vaccine in 1955. Drug companies don't strive for finding cures, they strive for finding lifelong treatments.

FDA approved drugs are not much safer that drugs given out in say Mexico. These approved drugs have caused the deaths of tens of thousands of people over time. The explosion of medical specialists has caused more problems with patients than it has helped. The reason for that is no one really cares about the whole person, the person is really just a multitude of billable parts. As soon as a billing item is detected, the real medical diagnosis is stopped. Then it is just treatment and billing until the patient recovers, hits another major billing issue or dies.

Hospitals harbor some of the worlds most dangerous and lethal bacteria. Going to a hospital with one malady only to develop another hospital born malady is another healthcare problem.

My point is that the current non NHS is already bad enough, but it would be much worse run directly by the government.