The Price of Ignorance: American Healthcare Costs

Procuring and paying for healthcare in the U.S. is an exercise more opaque and yes, potentially even more expensive than buying a new car. Ever try and get a firm price for healthcare services? You’ll find that no one can give a total price and guarantee that’s what you’ll be charged.

We have a system of revenue generation not healthcare. Your doctor in modern America is an employee and has little to no control over his office. And doctor’s fees it turns out are only a small part of the total cost.

Adding insult to injury our non-system of healthcare is set up to charge the neediest the most.…..unless they are fortunate enough to have insurance of some type (Obamacare policies, Medicare, Medicaid or private coverage). In the wealthiest (maybe) country on earth we have a system of health care revenue that charges those with the least, the most.

Medicynical Note: I’m an elderly retired M.D. and am well covered by insurance. This year so far my Medicare/Medicare Advantage policy was billed $5,954 for services. Because they have agreements with providers they paid only $2,210.34 for the services with me paying a very modest $10/visit co-pay. Not a bad deal if you have the coverage.

If I were one of the un-insured the providers would charge the entire $5,954……ironically or perhaps by design charging those least able to pay, the most. It’s really an absurd way of paying for health care and is the only such faux health care system/revenue generation system in the industrialized world.

Health care costs in the U.S> are among the leading causes of bankruptcy. Such bankruptcies are unknown in other parts of the world.

Religion: I’ve Never Understood….. Superstition

Religious beliefs conflicting with civil society is a constant issue in today’s Supreme Court mediated America. This court has found that guns everywhere is a desirable part of society; created unequal citizenship rights favoring the wealthy and corporations; and endorsed the supremity of religious belief over rationality as the controlling force in American life. I don’t get it.

Sure, in broad strokes religious belief creates cliques (closed clubs if you will) in society that mutually support each other; it offers a set of rules for life, many based on common sense, but also many solely on medieval beliefs and ‘thou shaltism”, not rationality. I’ll never understand why.

Medicynical Note: In the case of Maplewood (I once liver there) I have no idea if there was a significant transgression of “rights” but am more concerned by the global somewhat disproportionate response to what appears to be at worst a very minor “transgression”.

Where I end up is that we are forced to tolerate religious idiosyncrasies such as the Hijab but we really don’t have to adopt the beliefs behind them…… More here https://scottaaronson.blog/?p=6088

COVID: Washington Vs Texas……..Gov. Abbott Failed and Thousands Died

During the COVID epidemic Washington State has tried to follow science and encouraged mask utilization, social isolation and vaccination. In Texas on the other hand the governor ignored science and undermined all disease control efforts.

WASHINGTON

Washington State population: 7,170,00

Covid Cases: 695,999

% fully vaccinated 10/2021: 72%

Covid deaths in Washington: 8,234

Expected deaths in Washington at Texas rate: 16,581

Texas

Texas Population. 29,145,000

Texas Covid Cases: 4,156,000

% fully vacccinated Oct 15, 2021: 52%

Covid deaths in Texas: 67,400

Expected deaths in Texas at Washington State rate= 33,470

Medicynical Note: In Texas if precautions had been taken and vaccination encouraged to the extent of Washington, the number of deaths in Texas could have been halved.

In Texas thousands of people died from the state government’s poor judgment and politicization of a life threatening medical problem

And………..thousands died.

Ted Cruz: The New Voice of ……..Ignorance

Medicynical Note: Ted Cruz’s mind is a little like an empty room–nothing at all useful there. Remember Ted became a Trump loyalist even after Trump criticized his “deeply” held religious beliefs; his wife’s looks; his qualifications to run for office (birther-ed him); and even called Cruz a liar who had done nothing for Texas. Now Cruz a Texas politico who knows nothing and hold nothing sacred has the nerve to criticize Australian COVID rules.

And guess what, the Australians are not having it:

Liability and Covid…..who bears the costs

I read three articles this morning that raised concerns about liability and COVID. It’s inevitable in a litigious society that this will become an issue.

The first article concerned a State Trooper who died from COVID. It was disclosed that he had not received a COVID vaccination but was at work until he became ill. Who would be liable if they developed COVID after exposure to this guy?

The second article involved public employees in Washington State resisting the mandate for vaccination. Who would be liable if they were allowed to resist the mandate and infected colleagues or others who they met in the course of their work?

The third article points out that the vaccine mandate is working. The vaccine proved to be safe is assuring vital institutions a protected work force going into the third winter of the epidemic. And perhaps more vitally it limits their risk of facing suits regarding negligence if a person was thought to have acquired COVID in a hospital setting.

Medicynical Note: There are strong arguments for vaccination. It is safe and appears to offer almost complete protection against fatal COVID infections. Breakthroughs cases appear to be in the immunocompromised and the debilitated elderly.

With a safe and effective intervention it could be posited that an employer was negligent and liable in allowing customers (patient or other workplace contacts) to be exposed to a sometimes fatal disease. The mandates protect more than the vulnerable individuals, they protect their employers and their contacts.

In a related thought, the insurance industry denies or charges more for insurance coverage for people at increased risk. Perhaps as an another incentive to vaccinate, private and government insurers should provide only limited medical cost coverage to those refusing to protect themselves. As my conservative friends point out there are consequences to bad behavior.

Why We Pay More (Drugs)? Because We Let Them

Last week, we learned that Merck is planning to charge Americans 40 times its cost for a Covid drug whose development was subsidized by the American government. The situation spotlights two sets of facts that have also gone largely unmentioned in the legislative debate over whether to let Medicare negotiate for lower drug prices.”

“Fact one: Americans are facing not merely expensive drugs, but prices that are examples of outright profiteering.”

“Fact two: in many cases, the medicines we are being gouged on are those that we the public already paid for.”

Medicynical note: It’s safe to say that we, in the U.S., pay more for medications than any other country in the world. We consider newly developed medications akin to new inventions and offer generation long monopoly like patents, having ceded our financial interests to the companies in the 80’s and 90’s.

Drug companies are not part of the health care community. In fact they care more about revenue and the exhorbitant pay of their executives and the price of their stock (stockholders wealth) than the health and well being of their customers.

They benefit from a system fixed in their favor. They do this in part by financially supporting numerous congress people to forestall congressional oversight and then charge U.S. customers whatever they wish–no discounts to offset previous taxpayer support and no negotiation with their largest customer (Medicare) to assure reasonable pricing and profits on U.S. sales.

In fact, we pay more than any other locale in the world because we let them charge us more. Do we have any right to complain?

https://arstechnica.com/science/2021/10/mercks-thor-inspired-covid-treatment-hammered-for-700-price-a-46x-markup/

Yes, It Was an Coup Attempt by Donald Trump

For the first time in history a sitting president attempted to undermine the U.S. Government in what can only be described as an coup by judicial fiat.

The Republican Party previously used the Supreme Court to undermine the majority of voters in the 2000 presidential election by not allowing a complete count of votes in Florida. Depending on one’s point of view this was perhaps a misuse of the judiciary but not quite a coup.

So perhaps having more or less succeeded in subverting an election once, Trump, having lost the election, with the support of some in his party, considered overturning the will of a several million voter majority. He circulated false accusations of massive vote fraud, accusations disproved by courts every place the issue was raise. In spite of this he schemed with partisan lawyers in his Department of Justice to find a way to overturn the valid election results.

Fortunately his attempts failed. Make no mistake it was the first attempted Coup d’Etat in U.S. history.

And Yes it was a Coup attempt.…..

Ivermectin……doesn’t cure COVID. In Case You Wondered

From the Nobel site about the 2015 award for Medicine: “William C. Campbell and Satoshi Ōmura discovered a new drug, Avermectin, the derivatives of which have radically lowered the incidence of River Blindness and Lymphatic Filariasis, as well as showing efficacy against an expanding number of other parasitic diseases. Tu Youyou discovered Artemisinin, a drug that has significantly reduced the mortality rates for patients suffering from Malaria.”

“These two discoveries have provided humankind with powerful new means to combat these debilitating diseases that affect hundreds of millions of people. annually. The consequences in terms of improved human health and reduced suffering are immeasurable.”

The drug was a major advance in the treatment of parasitic diseases not viral illnesses.

While there has been some activity in lab experiments, studies in humans show no convincing anti-viral disease activity.

Unfortunately many of the human studies have been plagued with poor design and evidence of manipulation of results.

Campaigners for the drug point to a number of scientific studies and often claim this evidence is being ignored or covered up. But a review by a group of independent scientists has cast serious doubt on that body of research.”
“The BBC can reveal that more than a third of 26 major trials of the drug for use on Covid have serious errors or signs of potential fraud. None of the rest show convincing evidence of ivermectin’s effectiveness.”
“Dr Kyle Sheldrick, one of the group investigating the studies, said they had not found “a single clinical trial” claiming to show that ivermectin prevented Covid deaths that did not contain “either obvious signs of fabrication or errors so critical they invalidate the study”.”

The Selling of American Veterans…….healthcare information

In a country that values capital accrual before all else we should not be too surprised when business types try to leverage their relationship with power into……….you guessed it……..revenue.

In this case Mar-a-Lago cronies of former president Trump tried to gain access to VA patients confidential medical records to help big Pharma and other so-called health care related companies sell their products to injured and sick veterans. Everyone makes money at the expense of the U.S. government and in many cases the veteran’s themselves.

From Informed Comment

Medicynical Note: In the U.S. there is no healthcare system, rather there is a very well developed revenue generating system. It’s goal is revenue generation not improved health care outcomes. It’s the money stupid.

McConnell’s Citizens United: Send Money …. but Stay out of Politics

U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell lashed out at corporate America on Monday, warning CEOs to stay out of the debate over a new voting law in Georgia that has been criticized as restricting votes among minorities and the poor. “

The grotesque pseudo-democracy of the United States was again on full display this week as republicans did their utmost to “fix” future elections in their favor. Given the go ahead by the see-no-evil Supreme Court they gerrymander wherever possible and make voting more time consuming and difficult for their political opponents. And now, threaten corporations who oppose their efforts.

Medicynical note: After losing the popular vote again, Republicans try to fix their unpopularity problem by disenfranchising their political opposition. Cynical, dishonest and corrupt.