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News Items that might help with LTEs
6 years ago
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Post snippets of news articles related to health care issues in this topic.  Be sure to provide the link to the original article.

Forgive me, but...
6 years ago

what are LTEs?

LTEs =
6 years ago

Letters to the Editor  *sorry*

Underinsured Americans: Cost to you
6 years ago

As the recession shrinks health care coverage for more households, experts warn of a double-whammy on all consumers.


NEW YORK ( -- Americans already shouldering the cost of millions of people without health insurance should brace for a double-whammy: a surge in the number of the "underinsured," or consumers who have some but not enough coverage.


The problem, according to health care industry experts, is that the government and those with employer-based plans will have to pick up the tab as more Americans are unable to pay their entire medical bill.


As the recession puts a bigger strain on consumers' wallets, many underinsured Americans either can't or won't pay the high deductibles and co-pays for treatment they receive in hospitals and emergency rooms.


By one estimate, 25 million Americans can't afford to cover the gap between what their insurance covers and their medical bills demand.


The issue shows the steep challenge faced by President Obama and other Washington leaders vowing to put the health care system on a course for long-term fiscal viability. On Thursday, the president is convening 150 experts, advocates and lawmakers for a "summit" to debate options.


Many people without adequate insurance are also delaying or forgoing medical care until it becomes an absolute emergency, said Dr. David Chin, managing partner of consulting firm PricewaterhouseCooper's Global Healthcare Research Institute.


By law, hospitals have to treat all emergency admission regardless of insurance.

"If the underinsured can't pay the bills, the hospital either writes it off as bad debt or shifts the cost to its charity care program," said John Pickering, principal and consulting actuary with consulting firm Milliman Inc.


Increasingly, hospitals are shifting costs to "those who can pay," said Wynn Bailey, partner and health care expert with consulting firm AT Kearney. "That's the government, private insurers and the self-insured."


Bailey said hospitals are negotiating higher treatment rates with insurance companies to offset the bad debt.


In turn, commercial insurance providers are charging higher premiums to their clients, both businesses and individuals, to cover their cost increases. As businesses struggle their employee health care costs, they are shifting a higher percentage of overall premiums to their workers, charging higher deductibles, or encouraging greater use of generic drugs.


"It's a vicious cycle," said Pickering.


Bailey said he wouldn't be surprised if people with employer-based health insurance have to pay 5% to 10% more for their coverage over the next year or two.


Not tracked by government

One reason the exponential growth in underinsured Americans hasn't made headlines is because this group isn't yet tracked by the government, explained Sara Collins, economist and assistant vice president with health policy research group The Commonwealth Fund.


"It's harder to define the underinsured," Collins said.


The Commonwealth Fund defines underinsured as those who incur high out-of-pocket costs - excluding premiums - relative to their income, despite having coverage all year.


Using that measure in consumer surveys, Collins' firm estimates that 25 million adults under age 65 were underinsured in 2007.


More importantly, Collins pointed out that the number of underinsured increased 60% from 2003 to 2007. That compares with a 5.1% increase in the number of uninsured Americans - to about 46 million - over the same period, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.


"The 25 million [number] can still be an underestimate," Collins said.

What's also troubling, she said, is that the ranks of the underinsured are spreading across income levels and have seen the most rapid increases lately in middle-income households earning between $40,000 to $60,000.


Obama's plans

Meanwhile, Obama has made health care reform a top priority, detailing a dramatic overhaul of the system in his budget outline last week.


Some of Obama's initiatives will provide short-term relief to both the uninsured and underinsured.


Specifically, the government will provide a 65% subsidy to businesses who continue Cobra premiums for laid off employees for a period of 9 months.

"But what happens after that period?" said Bailey. "Many people are wary about finding another job in a year in this economy."


Longer term, Obama last month extended the Children's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act which renews and expands health coverage by an additional 3 million children, to 11 million children.


Investments in health care technology will eliminate unnecessary costs and prevent duplicative care, Bailey said.


Also, in his budget, Obama proposed a 10-year health care reserve fund of $630 billion to "bring down costs and expand coverage."


Bailey has reservations.

That $630 billion "sounds like a lot of money. But total health care consumption this year is expected to be about $2 tri

Health Care Coverage Issues on COUNTERSPIN
6 years ago

There was a great segment on COUNTERSPIN (news show produced by Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, or FAIR) aired today:


"This week on CounterSpin: Obama's health care reform plans are being called 'backdoor socialism' by some, while others say it looks like too much of the same. But how good a job are the press doing in parsing those competing definitions and explaining what's on the table? We'll hear from health policy expert Ellen Shaffer of the Center for Policy Analysis."


The show is archived here:


6 years ago


Here is Health Insurance Company CEO Salaries from 2005 (can't seem to find more recent figures) and the total from the previous 5 Years. IT IS IMPOSSIBLE to have true Universal Health CARE when CEOs  like these are involved in this.


  • United Health Group
    CEO: William W McGuire
    2005: 124.8 mil
    5-year: 342 mil
  • Aetna
    CEO: John Rowe
    2005: 22.1 mil
    5-year:57.8 mil
  • Cigna
    CEO: H. Edward Hanway
    2005:13.3 mil
    5-year:62.8 mil
  • McKesson
    CEO: John Hammergen
    2005: 13.4 mil
    5-year:31.2 mil
  • WellPoint
    CEO: Larry Glasscock
    2005: 23 mil
    5-year: 46.8 mil



This post was modified from its original form on 07 Mar, 20:24
I loved this comment I read today
6 years ago

"When people say we aren't going to get single payer in one step they believe they are being realistic, but respectfully, that is one of the major reasons why we won't. If you don't go for the thing you want---ever, you won't ever get it. We in America have never even tried to get single payer largely because the common wisdom says we aren't going to get there in one step. Everyone knows what needs to be done but the most difficult lot of naysayers are those who capitulate in advance by saying it can't be done. Nelson Mandela once said: "It always seems impossible until it is done."


"No, the way the world works is that if you don't strive to get to where you want to go you never get there. People need to quit outsmarting themselves in the political strategy department. When people don't support single payer vocally then the timid leaders we elect don't feel obligated to support it either. If they don't support it, then the larger public doesn't even hear about it unless it is some right wing reactionary talking about how you'll have to wait 2 years to get a check up and you won't be able to choose your own doctor.


"What is behind all of this defeatism in advance? The truth is that there are powerful interests who will oppose even the slightest reforms. Those interests will throw just as many resources into beating whatever "compromise" the capitulation squads come up with as they would put toward defeating the change we need which is single payer. Why do so many smart people not understand that conceding the battle in advance guarantees defeat? Half a loaf is no good anymore folks. This is not just the only opportunity we're going to have for a long time it is the last opoprtunity we will have to create a humane and civilized health care system that is not dominated by the pursuit of profit at the expense of human health. The time has come to fight for single payer not something that in some distant unknown future might possibly if we're lucky one day get us a single payer system. That certainly is not how the world works in matters such as this.


"Imagine if Lincoln had made the Emancipation Proclamation good only for slaves over a certain age. Wouldn't have had quite the same effect would it? Woudl have eventually led to emancipation for all? Who knows, but it would have been morally wrong and would not have solved the problem would it? People need to buck up and do what is right for once and fighting for single payer is probably the most important thing we can do for ourselves and our country other than make sure we do what's necessary to reverse global warming which will put an end to humans and their health concerns entirely.



"We have had 40 years of compromise in advance and whathas it gotten us other than a new depression in an imperialist state that can't provide a decent living or education to all it's citizens and which refuses to provide health care to them."


Posted by oleeb



More recent financial info
6 years ago

Your post reminds me of a quote James came across yesterday, went something like...

"Our greatest risk is not that we will aim to high and miss, but rather that we will aim to low, and succeed."

Now, that financial info, sorry I don't have a source for it...



1. UnitedHealth Group -- $ 4.654 BILLION. UnitedHealth Group owns Oxford, PacifiCare, IBA, AmeriChoice, Evercare, Ovations, MAMSI and Ingenix, a healthcare data company

2. WellPoint -- $ 3.345 BILLION. Wellpoint owns BLUES across the US, including Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Wisconsin, Empire HealthChoice Assurance, Healthy Alliance, and many others

3. Aetna Inc. -- $ 1.831 BILLION

4. CIGNA Corp -- $ 1.115 BILLION

5. Humana Inc. -- $ 834 million

6. Coventry Health Care -- $626 million. Coventry owns Altius, Carelink, Group Health Plan, HealthAmerica, OmniCare, WellPath, others

7. Health Net -- $ 194 million


• Ronald A. Williams, Chair/ CEO, Aetna Inc., $23,045,834
• H. Edward Hanway, Chair/ CEO, Cigna Corp, $30.16 million
• David B. Snow, Jr, Chair/ CEO, Medco Health, $21.76 million
• Michael B. MCallister, CEO, Humana Inc, $20.06 million
• Stephen J. Hemsley, CEO, UnitedHealth Group, $13,164,529
• Angela F. Braly, President/ CEO, Wellpoint, $9,094,771
• Dale B. Wolf, CEO, Coventry Health Care, $20.86 million
• Jay M. Gellert, President/ CEO, Health Net, $16.65 million
• William C. Van Faasen, Chairman, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, $3 million plus $16.4 million in retirement benefits
• Charlie Baker, President/ CEO, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, $1.5 million
• James Roosevelt, Jr., CEO, Tufts Associated Health Plans, $1.3 million
• Raymond McCaskey, CEO, Health Care Service Corp (Blue Cross Blue Shield), $10.3 million
• Daniel P. McCartney, CEO, Healthcare Services Group, Inc, $ 1,061,513
• Daniel Loepp, CEO, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, $1,657,555
• Todd S. Farha, CEO, WellCare Health Plans, $5,270,825
• Michael F. Neidorff, CEO, Centene Corp, $8,750,751
• Daniel Loepp, CEO, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, $1,657,555
• Todd S. Farha, CEO, WellCare Health Plans, $5,270,825
• Michael F. Neidorff, CEO, Centene Corp, $8,750,751


Sickening, literally. Consider the health care that money could have purchased.

Phantoms In The Snow: Canadians’ Use Of Health Care Services In The United States
6 years ago

Steven J. Katz, Karen Cardiff, Marina Pascali, Morris L. Barer and Robert G. Evans


PROLOGUE: Over the past three decades, particularly during periodswhen the U.S. Congress has flirted with the enactment of nationalhealth insurance legislation, the provincial health insuranceplans of Canada have been a subject of fascination to many Americans.What caught their attention was the system’s universalcoverage; its lower costs; and its public, nonprofit administration.The pluralistic U.S. system, considerably more costly and innovative,stands in many ways in sharp contrast to its Canadian counterpart.What has remained a constant in the dialogue between the countriesis that their respective systems have remained subjects of condemnationor praise, depending on one’s perspective.


Throughoutthe 1990s, opponents of the Canadian system gained considerablepolitical traction in the United States by pointing to Canada’smethods of rationing, its facility shortages, and its waitinglists for certain services. These same opponents also arguedthat "refugees" of Canada’s single-payer system routinelycame across the border seeking necessary medical care not availableat home because of either lack of resources or prohibitivelylong queues.

This paper by Steven Katz and colleagues depictsthis popular perception as more myth than reality, as the numberof Canadians routinely coming across the border seeking healthcare appears to be relatively small, indeed infinitesimal whencompared with the amount of care provided by their own system.Katz is an associate professor in the Departments of Medicineand Health Policy and Management at the University of Michigan.Karen Cardiff is a research associate at the University of BritishColumbia’s Centre for Health Services and Policy Research.Also at the University of British Columbia are Morris Barer,professor and director at the Centre for Health Services andPolicy Research’s Department of Health Care and Epidemiology,and Robert Evans, professor at the Centre for Health Servicesand Policy Research’s Department of Economics. MarinaPascali is a Dallas-based health care consultant.




One Site with links to lots of articles and studies
6 years ago

Found this through someone elses comment on a blog:


The site is not very attractive, but this page list a LOT of articles, studies and polls and is pro single payer

Read other good LTEs
6 years ago

The PHNP site generally has some great op ed and letters to the editor that have been published - great for inspiration:


Six Conservative Myths About Health Care
6 years ago

This is from July 2008, but thought it would still be helfpul to have it linked here.

Health Insurance You Can Trust
6 years ago
Health Insurance You Can Trust
Deepak Bhargav Executive Director of the Center for Community Change Posted: May 28, 2009 03:44 PM

Americans Deserve a Public Health Insurance Option.


Most Americans fear private health insurance companies won't be there for them when they get sick. As the debate heats up, it's really clear that a strong public health insurance plan must be a no-compromise element of any health care reform package. According to the Harris Poll only 7% of people judge private health insurance companies to be "honest and trustworthy." Trust in private health plans ranks above tobacco (2%) and oil companies (4%) but below hospitals (31%) and banks (21%).


People have a lot of reason to be suspicious about whether private insurance will cover them when they fall ill. A report from the American Cancer Society and Kaiser Family Foundation showed that despite having private health insurance, cancer patients are running up large debts, filing for personal bankruptcy, and even delaying or forgoing treatment because they can't afford care.


This is one of the reasons why a Lake Research poll found that a whopping 73% of voters want everyone to have a choice of a public health insurance plan while only 15% want everyone to have private insurance.

An accessible public plan is critically needed for Americans who want an option they can be confident will be there when they need it. Consider the story of Kathleen:


Kathleen, 46, is uninsured and has been denied coverage in the individual market because she has symptoms of leukemia. She lives in Florida, where the high-risk pool is not accepting new beneficiaries. She remains uninsured and has not had the necessary tests to confirm her diagnosis. "I have lost all faith in physicians and the health care system," Kathleen says. "No one is doing anything to help me."

A group in Washington State has recently filed a law suit against high promising but non-delivering insurance companies. "It's a significant problem. People think they are covered and turns out they aren't," said Joshua Welter, of Washington Community Action Network, a grass-roots organization supporting issues such as health-care reform. One of the people who was a victim is Ruth:


Ruth Bjorklund had an emergency hospitalization and later brain surgery. When she was hospitalized, Mrs. Bjorklund thought she had health insurance that met all the requirements under state law. But when the bills started coming in, she realized Nationwide was paying only a minimal amount of her expenses. Now she's more than $135,000 in debt. "I have a master's degree, and I got duped," said Bjorklund. "A lot of people were sold this plan. Hundreds of them. And it's wrong."

A Harvard study found that 50 percent of all bankruptcy filings were partly the result of medical expenses. Every 30 seconds in the United States someone files for bankruptcy in the aftermath of a serious health problem. Consider the plight of David:


David had to stop working as a truck driver after he was diagnosed with kidney cancer and has since been struggling to pay for COBRA during the two-year Medicare waiting period. His wife, Gloria, is his full-time caregiver and cannot work outside the home, and the couple has had to use much of their savings and borrow from friends and family to pay for their COBRA premiums. David cashed in his 401K at a 24 percent loss so that they will be able to continue to pay the COBRA premium until he is eligible for Medicare. Gloria tried to apply for Medicaid, but she learned that their income is too high. "There is not any help for people like us. We are not considered poor enough, but we don't have the money to pay it on our own," Gloria says.

The case for a public option is simple. People need insurance they can trust. They need insurance they can afford and public insurance has a better track record than private insurance when it comes to reigning in costs while preserving access. Without a public plan we will continue to lack a benchmark which to force improvements in private plans. Americans want public and private insurance competing side by side so that they can choose the best option for themselves and their families.


Single-Payer Talking Points & Why Mandate Plans Won't Work
6 years ago

1. Americans are afraid that they can't afford to get sick.

2. A majority of physicians (59 percent), and an even higher proportion of Americans (62% or more) support single payer national health insurance or "Medicare for all". In spite of this, all we are hearing about today are mandate plans that would require everyone to buy the same private insurance that is already failing us.

3. These mandate proposals won't work, either to expand coverage or to contain costs.

4. These mandate plans will add hundreds of billions of dollars to the nation's health care costs

5. As long as we continue to rely on private for-profit insurers, universal coverage will be unaffordable.

6. Every other industrialized country has some form of universal health care.

7. We have an American system that works. It's Medicare.

8. A single payer "Medicare for All" System is embodied in H.R. 676, sponsored by Rep. John Conyers and 92 other Members of Congress.

9. The growth in health care costs must be addressed if any proposal is to succeed.

10. Single payer Medicare for All is the right answer


6 years ago

Baucus Tells Single-Payer Advocates No


It's time for Harry Reid to throw Baucus the hell out of that committee chairmanship and we should be telling our senators to do it!!


Or maybe, Baucus is taking the bad cop fall for what all the other senators are getting paid good money by lobbyists to all do-- sell out the American people and over 50 million uninsured for the insurance companies-- the jackals ripping apart the carcass of a dying America. That's right. It's dying. If the founders saw what the congress has turned into, the corporations are allowed to define policy and laws, they wouldn't roll over in their graves, they'd rise up out of them.


They can's so it is WE who must rise up. The other day, I was at a demonstration FOR single payer health care, in front of the CIGNA building, in Philly. Over 100 people protested. A few students asked me to take their picture with one of the leaders. Instead of reciting, "Say cheese," to get them smile, I said, "say f*ck Baucus." It got me a great picture.


It's time we all say that. He has to go, along with the total BS attitude towards single payer that the democrats have been showing a nation that wants it now.

Totally Agree
6 years ago

Baucus just made me more determined.


Take Action on Single Payer Healthcare Reform EVERY DAY!
6 years ago

We need to bombard the White House and Senator Kennedy’s office with CALLS, Faxes and Emails for Single Payer.


1. ASK President Obama to support Single Payer reform. Tell him it’s what the country wants and needs. We can’t afford not to have single-payer reform!



CALL AND FAX: Phone: Comments: 202-456-1111;
Switchboard: 202-456-1414; FAX: 202-456-2461

2. Call, Fax, and Email Senator Kennedy's office and insist that he put SINGLE-PAYER healthcare reform on the table. Object to forcing all Americans to buy health insurance. You can email him here: and

Fax him here:

FAX Senator Kennedy's Washington office: 202-224-2417

FAX Senator Kennedy's Massachusetts office: 617-565-3183

3. ASK your Senators to co-sponsor S 703, The American Health Security Act.

ASK your Representative to co-sponsor HR 676, The United States National Health Insurance Act. (75 Representatives have signed on as co-sponsors so far).

You can find your legislators’ contact information here:

For more information on both bills:

This post was modified from its original form on 03 Jun, 21:53

This post was modified from its original form on 03 Jun, 21:54
Medical bills underlie 60 percent of U.S. bankruptcies: study
6 years ago

Note it in News Here:




WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Medical bills are behind more than 60 percent of U.S. personal bankruptcies, U.S. researchers reported Thursday in a report they said demonstrates that healthcare reform is on the wrong track.


More than 75 percent of these bankrupt families had health insurance but still were overwhelmed by their medical debts, the team at Harvard Law School, Harvard Medical School and Ohio University reported in the American Journal of Medicine.


"Unless you're Warren Buffett, your family is just one serious illness away from bankruptcy," Harvard's Dr. David Himmelstein, an advocate for a single-payer health insurance program for the United States, said in a statement.


"For middle-class Americans, health insurance offers little protection," he added.


The United States is embarking on an overhaul of its healthcare system, now a patchwork of public programs such as Medicare for the elderly and disabled and employer-sponsored health insurance that leaves 15 percent of the population with no coverage.


The researchers and some consumer advocates said the study showed the proposals under the most serious consideration are unlikely to help many Americans. They are pressing for a so-called single payer plan, in which one agency, usually the government, coordinates health coverage.


"Expanding private insurance and calling it health reform will fail to prevent financial catastrophe for hundreds of thousands of Americans every year," Dr. Sidney Wolfe of the Health Research Group at Public Citizen said in a statement.


About 170 million people get health insurance through an employer but President Barack Obama says soaring healthcare costs hurt the economy and force businesses to drop medical insurance for their workers.


"Nationally, a quarter of firms cancel coverage immediately when an employee suffers a disabling illness; another quarter do so within a year," the report reads.


Obama told Congress Wednesday he was open to making mandatory health insurance part of the overhaul.


Neither Congress nor Obama are considering the kind of single-payer plan advocated by Public Citizen, Himmelstein and his colleague Dr. Steffie Woolhandler.


"We need to rethink health reform," Woolhandler said. "Covering the uninsured isn't enough.


"Only single-payer national health insurance can make universal, comprehensive coverage affordable by saving the hundreds of billions we now waste on insurance overhead and bureaucracy."


The researchers studied 2,134 random families who filed for bankruptcy between January and April in 2007, before the current recession began.

They used public bankruptcy court records and surveyed 1,032 people by telephone.


"Using a conservative definition, 62.1 percent of all bankruptcies in 2007 were medical; 92 percent of these medical debtors had medical debts over $5,000, or 10 percent of pretax family income," the researchers wrote.


"Most medical debtors were well-educated, owned homes and had middle-class occupations."


The researchers, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, said the share of bankruptcies that could be blamed on medical problems rose by 50 percent from 2001 to 2007.


Patients with multiple sclerosis paid a mean of $34,167 out of pocket in 2007, diabetics paid $26,971, and those with injuries paid $25,096, the researchers found.

Single-Payer Health Insurance Stops Insurer Waste, Windfall Profits, Saves Consumers Money
6 years ago

The House Oversight Committee issued a report documenting $95 Billion in past and potential health care waste and windfall profits, as well as 15,000 unnecessary deaths that single payer health care and state regulatory improvements could have eliminated.



  • Waste from Medicare Part D Switch to Private Insurers: $75 billion. Unlike traditional Medicare, which is run directly by the government, the new Medicare Part D prescription drug program depends on private insurers to provide drug coverage to Medicare beneficiaries. A report released by the Committee in October 2007 found that the use of private insurers to deliver Medicare drug coverage is driving up costs and producing only limited savings on drug prices. The report found that taxpayers and Medicare Part D beneficiaries could have saved almost $15 billion in 2007 — and could save more than $75 billion over the next five years — by reducing administrative expenses and drug prices.14
  • Drug Expenses for Dual Eligible Beneficiaries: $3.7 billion. With the advent of Medicare Part D, individuals who are dual eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid began to receive prescription drugs under the Medicare Part D drug program rather than Medicaid. A report released by the Committee in July 2008 shows that the switch produced a windfall of $3.7 billion dollars to drug manufacturers for the first two years of the Medicare Part D program. 15
  • Failure to Implement of Hospital Best Practices: $1 billion. The Committee issued a report in September 2008 on hospital-associated infections. Committee investigators analyzed responses from state hospital associations to ascertain which of them have implemented simple proven practices to prevent central-line-associated bloodstream infections, one of the most prevalent causes of hospital-associated infections. Only 14 states have agreed to these best practices. If the remaining states were to adopt the practices, more than 15,000 lives and $1 billion could be saved annually.16





Debunking Canadian health care myths
6 years ago


As America comes to grips with the reality that changes are desperately needed within its health care infrastructure, it might prove useful to first debunk some myths about the Canadian system.


Myth: Taxes in Canada are extremely high, mostly because of national health care.

In actuality, taxes are nearly equal on both sides of the border. Overall, Canada's taxes are slightly higher than those in the U.S. However, Canadians are afforded many benefits for their tax dollars, even beyond health care (e.g., tax credits, family allowance, cheaper higher education), so the end result is a wash. At the end of the day, the average after-tax income of Canadian workers is equal to about 82 percent of their gross pay. In the U.S., that average is 81.9 percent.


Myth: Canada's health care system is a cumbersome bureaucracy.


The U.S. has the most bureaucratic health care system in the world. More than 31 percent of every dollar spent on health care in the U.S. goes to paperwork, overhead, CEO salaries, profits, etc. The provincial single-payer system in Canada operates with just a 1 percent overhead. Think about it. It is not necessary to spend a huge amount of money to decide who gets care and who doesn't when everybody is covered.


Myth: The Canadian system is significantly more expensive than that of the U.S.

Ten percent of Canada's GDP is spent on health care for 100 percent of the population. The U.S. spends 17 percent of its GDP but 15 percent of its population has no coverage whatsoever and millions of others have inadequate coverage. In essence, the U.S. system is considerably more expensive than Canada's. Part of the reason for this is uninsured and underinsured people in the U.S. still get sick and eventually seek care. People who cannot afford care wait until advanced stages of an illness to see a doctor and then do so through emergency rooms, which cost considerably more than primary care services.

What the American taxpayer may not realize is that such care costs about $45 billion per year, and someone has to pay it. This is why insurance premiums increase every year for insured patients while co-pays and deductibles also rise rapidly.


Myth: Canada's government decides who gets health care and when they get it.

While HMOs and other private medical insurers in the U.S. do indeed make such decisions, the only people in Canada to do so are physicians. In Canada, the government has absolutely no say in who gets care or how they get it. Medical decisions are left entirely up to doctors, as they should be.

There are no requirements for pre-authorization whatsoever. If your family doctor says you need an MRI, you get one. In the U.S., if an insurance administrator says you are not getting an MRI, you don't get one no matter what your doctor thinks — unless, of course, you have the money to cover the cost.


Myth: There are long waits for care, which compromise access to care.

There are no waits for urgent or primary care in Canada. There are reasonable waits for most specialists' care, and much longer waits for elective surgery. Yes, there are those instances where a patient can wait up to a month for radiation therapy for breast cancer or prostate cancer, for example. However, the wait has nothing to do with money per se, but everything to do with the lack of radiation therapists. Despite such waits, however, it is noteworthy that Canada boasts lower incident and mortality rates than the U.S. for all cancers combined, according to the U.S. Cancer Statistics Working Group and the Canadian Cancer Society. Moreover, fewer Canadians (11.3 percent) than Americans (14.4 percent) admit unmet health care needs.


Myth: Canadians are paying out of pocket to come to the U.S. for medical care.

Most patients who come from Canada to the U.S. for health care are those whose costs are covered by the Canadian governments. If a Canadian goes outside of the country to get services that are deemed medically necessary, not experimental, and are not available at home for whatever reason (e.g., shortage or absence of high tech medical equipment; a longer wait for service than is medically prudent; or lack of physician expertise), the provincial government where you live fully funds your care. Those patients who do come to the U.S. for care and pay out of pocket are those who perceive their care to be more urgent than it likely is.


Myth: Canada is a socialized health care system in which the government runs hospitals and where doctors work for the government.

Princeton University health economist Uwe Reinhardt says single-payer systems are not "socialized medicine" but "social insurance" systems because doctors work in the private sector while their pay comes from a public source. Most physicians in Canada are self-employed. They are not employees of the government nor are they accountable to the government. Doctors are accountable to their patients only. More than 90 percent of physicians in Canada are paid on a fee-for-service basis. Claims are submitted to a single provincial health care plan for reimbursement, whereas in the U.S., claims are submitted to a multitude of insurance providers. Moreover, Canadian hospitals are controlled by private boards and/or regional health authorities rather than being part of or run by the government.


Myth: There aren't enough doctors in Canada.

From a purely statistical standpoint, there are enough ph

June 10, 2009 Large Majority Backs Major Overhaul of Health Care
6 years ago

The latest Diageo/Hotline Poll finds that 62% of voters support "the President enacting a major overhaul of the U.S. health care system," with 38% of voters strongly supporting a major overhaul.

Specifically, one-third (35%) of Republican voters, 64% of Independent voters, and 87% of Democratic voters support a major overhaul of health care.

Among age groups, while a majority all age groups support reforming health care, senior citizens age 65+ are the least supportive, with 56% of them supporting reform. Likewise, a majority of income categories support reform, but those earning $100K+ in annual income are the least supportive, with 58% supporting reform.

6 years ago
Health Care Reform Is About Choices Some people would rather keep things as they are. Some people would rather live in an America with a health care system ranked 37th in the world. Some people would rather America spend twice as much in GDP per capita for health care than industrialized countries with national systems. Some people would rather pay more and get less.
6 years ago
The Latest Public Option Bamboozle, and How to Recognize the Real Thing - Whatever it's called - public option or chopped liver - it has to be able to squeeze Pharma, Insurance, and the rest of the medical-industrial complex. And the more likely it is to squeeze them, the more they'll fight it. And the greater the opposition from Republicans, and from Dems who either believe any bill has to have some Republican support or who have sold themselves out to the medical biggies.
6 years ago
Health Care and Poverty -- A Vicious Cycle - The more than 10 million adolescents who currently live in low-income families are not just denied life's little luxuries. Many of these children are unable to see a dentist because their families don't have insurance, and their parents can't take time off from work to spend the whole day waiting at the public health facility. Many of them have poor vision but do not get glasses since their families don't have insurance for vision care. Many of these children are malnourished.
It's on your kitchen table
6 years ago

Medical Bills to Congress

In the past few days, our allies in Congress have made serious gains in health care reform. But one thing is still uncertain -  whether we'll see a strong, immediate public health insurance option.

President Obama last week indicated that, in order to keep insurance companies "honest" and reduce costs, we must provide Americans with the option of a public health insurance plan.

Now it's time to convince Congress; and the strongest proof that our current health care system is broken is probably sitting on your kitchen table - your medical bills.

What are you spending on health care? Generate your own medical bill online, and send it to Congress:

Today, the Senate is working on a plan for health care reform. The public health insurance option needs to be a part of it because it does three things:

  • Lowers costs for individuals and families by competing side-by-side with private insurance plans
  • Sets high standards for quality and accessibility that other plans will strive to meet
  • Gives Americans more choice in their coverage by offering an affordable alternative to over-priced plans
Congress needs to understand what we're paying for health care. Use our tool to generate a medical bill and send it to your Senators:

After 80 years, we finally have the solution to this health care crisis in our sights. Thanks for joining us in our summer-long sprint to the finish line.

Dr. L. Toni Lewis
SEIU Healthcare

This post was modified from its original form on 13 Jun, 7:53
6 years ago

Medicare for All (Single-Payer) Reform Would Be Major Stimulus for Economy 2.6 Million New Jobs,$317 Billion in Business Revenue

First-of-Its Kind Study: Medicare for All (Single-Payer) Reform Would Be Major Stimulus for Economy 2.6 Million New Jobs,$317 Billion in Business Revenue, $100 Billion in Wages
6 years ago

Can't Work? Need Health Care? Take a Number

Disabled workers have to wait two years to get Medicare benefits
6 years ago

"An Economically Created Health Care Disaster"
- Everyone knows that getting the insurance industry out of healthcare would give you better healthcare delivery and cost you less, but conservatives oppose the plan will save you money.

6 years ago
The Pompous or the Populists: Who Will Win the Healthcare Debate?

By Donna Smith, community organizer and legislative advocate 


You'd think after eight long and ugly years listening to pompous and wealthy officials slam their versions of social hatred down our gullets, we'd have sent those folks packing for good on January 20, 2009. You'd think as we debate healthcare reform for this nation, we'd have left the arrogance and the flaunting of greed back in the pre-Wall Street bailout days of summer 2008. And you'd think in the People's House, the United States House of Representatives, we'd at least have stood up and said that every single American is deserving of and yes, entitled to, healthcare and protected from going broke in the process of getting care when ill.

You'd think.

Read More


6 years ago
  • marlena-machol.gif 

    26-Year-old Daughter Died Because She Feared Medical Cost

    "After my husband lost his job of 13 years due to outsourcing, we had to leave California," remembers Marlena Machol of Silver City, N.M.. "Our daughter Elizabeth decided to stay at her job in California. Although her employers had promised to look into employee health insurance, they had not done so yet, so we told her if she had to go to the doctor we would pay for it.

  • "We had been sending a payment to the doctor every month, trying to stay ahead of her health needs, while paying hundreds every month to an insurance company for a policy for us. Some months later, Elizabeth said she'd been awfully tired, but attributed it to a recent move, long hours at work, and her cat Bert waking her up. I told her she ought to go to the doctor, but she didn't want to cost us if she didn't have to. I made her promise to go if she didn't feel better soon.
6 years ago

Congressional Hearing on Single-Payer...the Debate Begins


With an unusual overflow crowd of more than 200 people, the House Education and Labor Committee, sub-committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions heard testimony from Geri Jenkins, RN, co-president of CNA/NNOC, during its historic convening of an official hearing on single payer healthcare reform yesterday. Jenkins provided members with the RNs' perspective on the failings so rampant in healthcare delivery today and how a single payer system would address those failings.

Nurses, doctors, and patient advocates have long demanded such a hearing and debate, for the simple reason that there is no logic by which you can defend our current system—and political expediency is not a sufficient answer to ignore the strengths of the best solution to our healthcare crisis.  

Yesterday's hearing marked an important start to this debate and in the words of Chairman Andrews "This is the beginning of the conversation, not the end."  Which is wonderful, because as Nurse Jenkins said, "People talk about evidence based practice, we need evidence based policy."

Read More


6 years ago

"Despite calls upon the insurance industry to get out of the tobacco business by physicians and others, insurers continue to put their profits above people's health," said Wesley Boyd, the new report's lead author and a faculty member of Harvard Medical School. "It's clear their top priority is making money, not safe-guarding people's well-being."

The report found that seven health and life-insurance companies in both the United States and overseas have nearly $4.5 billion invested in companies whose affiliates produce cigarettes, cigars and chewing tobacco.

"Although investing in tobacco while selling life or health insurance may seem self-defeating, insurance firms have figured out ways to profit from both," Boyd said. "Insurers exclude smokers from coverage or, more commonly, charge them higher premiums. Insurers profit -- and smokers lose -- twice over."


6 years ago

Fraud cost Medicare 65 billion a year. Medicare is 15% of all health care. At 100%, fraud would be over 400 billion a year. Insurance companies don't make 400 billion a year...

6 years ago

Doctors want it. Patients want it. Businesses want it. Americans want it. Only insurance companies, drug companies, and bought-and-paid-for-politicians don't want it.

Why is that?

6 years ago

Health Administration Responsibility Project

HMO Executive Salaries
Reprinted from FAMILIES USA

The HMOs complain that any increase in their costs of treating patients will require them to raise premiums, making them too costly, and causing many to go without insurance.


Are their budgets really so spare that they couldn't absorb any cost increases without raising premiums?


For a start, we might look at the amount of premium dollars removed from patient care by being paid to executives.



You decide how much room there is for savings.


6 years ago

What our President is proposing to cut will occur over a ten year period.


The current cost of health-care in the USA is two Trillion per year.


Universal Coverage encourages disease-prevention and early care preventing disease complication and management


Early care can be done in an ambulatory (out of hospital) setting a lot cheaper.


Universal coverage will discourage emergency-room care for non-emergencies issues.


Universal coverage will eliminate delayed care which is expensive.


Eliminating redundancies - over-treatment, under-treatment and inappropriate treatment should shave a big chunk of money - really big! As per a Rand study this forms 60% of current care.



6 years ago


This is a nice little ad for Medicare For All that Mike Farrell and Dr. Jess did. We really need to find a way to saturate the airwaves with it. As Lambert says, "So, we could be pragmatic and go with what works, or we could experiment with some cobbled-together Rube Goldberg public-private partnership thing, like the Village consultants and the lobbyists want, so the insurance companies can keep collecting fees for denying us care. Gee, let me take a minute to think..."

6 years ago

Medicare for All (Single-Payer) Reform Would Be Major Stimulus for Economy 2.6 Million New 
First-of-Its Kind Study: Medicare for All (Single-Payer) Reform Would Be Major Stimulus for Economy 2.6 Million New Jobs,$317 Billion in Business Revenue, $100 Billion in Wage

6 years ago

Read the letters to NY Times medical tourism here:

I love the guy who went to Switzerland and saved money and enjoyed gourmet meals and visits from his surgeon. Switzerland, of all places, one of the most expensive places on earth for most things and Americans go there to save money - on health care!!

Cheez, people, surely you can see something is wrong!!


6 years ago

If only there could be a national referendum on the health care problem!

Single payer is the answer.

6 years ago

Private insurers do not want a public option because they admit they cannot compete. They just want to protect their private, government sanctioned, pork supply.

6 years ago

Does Healthcare need reform?

6 years ago

According to recent polls, 65% of Americans want a singlepayer system for healthcare and the elimination of the private insurance middlemen.
Considering the fact that American businesses can't compete with foreign businesses because of rising healthcare costs, we either get a singlepayer system or our economy will continue to sink as jobs continue to be lost.
America wants a singlepayer system and nothing else can stem the rising costs of healthcare.

It's time the Republican Party gets out of the way or is left back in the 19th century, where it has always belonged.

6 years ago

Study after study shows a real public healthcare option will end profitcare as we know it.

That's why the AMA and the enemy are so de ad set against it.

The Beginning of the End of Private Health Insurance
How Obama's public health insurance option will quickly evolve into the only option

The End of Private Health Insurance
When government 'competes,' guess who always wins?


6 years ago

The beginning of funding for a single payer plan is already in place.

Employers, employees and private plan subscribers are already paying regular payments to the private plans.

What we need to do is establish an "Event Horizon". On a specified date, say January 1, 2010, The assests of all of the private plans will be frozen.

The funds currently being paid into them will be redirected to a USA Health Care Trust Fund.

Hire the best and the brightest to form a USA Health Care Trust Fund Administration with wages at the standard GSA Salary levels used by the Medicare/Medicaid Administrations.

Raise the Medicare portion of the FICA from 2.9% to 3.5%.

After 1 year any excess funds that individuals or companies have paid into the Trust would be refunded, on pro rata basis.

The assests of the private plans will be liquidated and after all "Golden Parachutes",  severance pay and liabilities have been distributed the remaining funds will be distributed to investors.

I am not and do not profess to be an expert in the field of accounting but this makes sense to me.

I have read posts from some very knowledgable people in these posts and hope that one or more of you can refine it to make it workable

Health Insurance Insider to Testify Before Senate
6 years ago
Health Insurance Insider to Testify Before Senate
by John Stauber

Media Advisory for June 24, 2009:


Contact: Page Metcalf, Center for Media and Democracy
Phone: (608) 260-9713
Email: editor AT

Former Executive Warns Congress: Don't Be Fooled by For-Profit Industry's Misleading Campaign

Washington, DC -- Wendell Potter, a former health insurance industry insider, will testify before the full Senate Commerce Committee on Wednesday June 24, 2009 at 2:30 p.m. EST, exposing the health insurance industry's resistance to needed health care reform.

Mr. Potter spent more than 20 years as a public relations executive for two large health insurers - Cigna and Humana - but left the industry after witnessing practices he felt harmed American health care consumers.

Read the rest of this item

6 years ago

Health Care Reform : New HELP Bill Covers 97 Percent Of Americans, Costs $600 Billion

So health care reform WITH a public option would cost $400 billion less than reform WITHOUT a public option. Seems pretty clear which way we should go.
6 years ago

BREAKING NEWS : Obama Gets Ally for Health Care Plan: Wal-Mart

Wal-Mart is the latest in a line of traditionally Republican-leaning businesses to embrace key portions of President Barack Obama's bid to overhaul health care, a trend that could complicate opponents' efforts to build a united front when Congress ramps u
6 years ago


Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, told Bloomberg's Al Hunt today that he thinks the odds of passing health care reform this year are "very, very good."


And yet, he keeps tweeting messages that suggest he's not exactly committed to meaningful reform.

6 years ago

From: "Health care system and health care reform in Germany"

This is the official website of the Ministry of Health and Social Matters in Germany


"However, a health care system is not a "normal" market. After all, it places even more importance on care standards and service quality than other sectors do. Here, too, Germany scores high on quite a few counts:

* It is far easier to obtain out-of-hours medical attention here than in most other countries and, very importantly, this is so regardless of income or insurance status.

* Wait times for hospital care ... are shorter here than elsewhere.

Also, no such thing as "Preconditions" exists in Germany!


"Universal coverage

From now on, all citizens in Germany will enjoy health insurance coverage. From 1st January 2009, and for the first time in German social history, all residents are obliged to take out health insurance unless they are otherwise covered. Persons who had lost their insurance cover must return to their most recent insurer. This applies to the statutory and the private insurance system alike. "

Addendum: If someone cannot pay for his own health insurance (minimum wages apply), the state pays the premiums. This is a legalized RIGHT for citizens of Germany!

Don't opt for less, Americans! Don't let them tell you, it can't be done - because it can!

If we can, then you can, too. YES, YOU CAN!


6 years ago


US Politics & Gov't  (tags: congress, corruption, dishonesty, democrats, ethics, lies, healthcare, healthcare, obama, socialsecurity )


Jill- 33 minutes ago -


What does UnitedHealth Group CEO Stephen Hemsley have to lose if Congress passes real healthcare reform this year? Well, for starters, his nearly three quarters of a billion dollars in unexercised stock options might lose a few pennies on the dollar.
H.R. 676
6 years ago

Reminiscent of the MSM black-out of coverage of certain candidates in the 2008 election . . . there IS a healthcare reform option other than NO REFORM or Obamacare!

A Few More Thoughts About Single-Payer and Medicare

US Politics & Gov't  (tags: HR676, single payer healthcare )

- 46 seconds ago -

This is a case where Obama and the Democrats have whored themselves out to the greedy industry that is causing all the problems, and are pushing a plan that is worse than nothing. We should all be working to kill this whole thing and start over with HR676.
6 years ago

This Society Ain't Big Enough for Both of Us!

GREAT read!  Here are some excerpts:


" . . . The other countries which have single-payer health care systems are anything but “socialist.” In most cases, they have more robust economies than we do, when measured in terms of quality of life for the average citizen. Unencumbered by the idiosyncratic American habit of marrying health insurance to employment, the businesses in Canada and the European nations are free to focus their resources on production. Under a single payer system, entrepreneurship is more strongly encouraged, because bright and creative people are not obligated to stay in a job just to maintain their insurance. erAd(2,PaginationPage,3);


A system for providing adequate and timely health care to all members of society is as important a part of the infrastructure as maintaining a system for responding to house fires or criminal attacks. Which is to say, decrying a single-payer health care system as “socialism” makes as little sense as ranting about the “socialist” fire and police departments. Carrying on about “socialism” and “government takeovers” is emotional dummy talk. The cold reality is that corporate interests took over our health care system long ago. It is time to use our government—the one that is of, for and by the people—to take it back.


This September, the Congress will take up for debate and vote H.R. 676, the “Medicare for All” bill by John Conyers of Michigan. This bill would reign in the out of control inflation of medical costs while at long last providing coverage to all Americans. The bill can be read in summary or in its entirety at Contact your congressional representative and ask them to sign on as a co-sponsor for H.R. 676. We can have a more cost effective and humane health care system in the United States, and we can even have it sooner rather than later. But we aren't going to get it without demanding it.



6 years ago

At Netroots, Howard Dean says exluding single-payer was a mistake


This morning, Howard Dean spoke to the crowd at Netroots Nation ‘09 to address health care reform. Unsurprisingly, Dean’s talk consisted mostly of touting the Democratic 'public option' plan for health care and talking points bloggers should repeat to push that compromise plan through Congress.


Now, there are lots of single-payer fans at Netroots. Outside the convention center in Pittsburgh, a number of protesters have been carrying signs promoting John Conyers’ (D-Mich) single-payer bill, HR 676. Inside, many of the bloggers and advocates I’ve spoken with have expressed their preference for single-payer over the Democrats’ proposed half-measures.


So it’s no surprise that when Dean confessed that he thinks single-payer should not have been off the table and that the Democrats’ proposal should have been a single-payer plan, the conference hall lit up with applause. Of course, should have/could have/would have only goes so far.


Single-payer still needs your support.

Urge your Congress member to support HR 676 today!

This post was modified from its original form on 14 Aug, 16:35
6 years ago
Public Option on Life Support? Can Single-Payer September Vote Resusitate Debate For Real Healthcare Reform?


Posted by 26Dems

Aug. 14, 2009


President Obama has been calling for Congress to enact a strong public option to rally nationwide support for meaningful healthcare reform through Organizing For America and presidential town halls.Because so much media attention has recently focused on the wild town hall riots intended to drown out public health reform debate, the public has a vague understanding and unawareness of the status of public option in Congress, and even less understanding about how Medicare works.The American people deserve a real debate on what contributes to the rising costs of health care and how Medicare is structured. It's time to do the math! Investigative journalist Greg Palastreminds us that Big Pharma really didn't promise to cut costs; "they just said that over ten years, they will reduce the amount at which they would otherwise raise drug prices." Palast used government figures to determine the percent "savings" Big Pharma promised:


"I checked out the government's health stats (at, put fresh batteries in my calculator and totted up US spending on prescription drugs projected by the government for the next ten years. It added up to $3.6 trillion."


In other words, Obama's big deal with Big Pharma saves $80 billion out of a total $3.6 trillion. That's 2%.


Many have been reassured that a bill Congress has been working on still contains a robust public option and are urging members of Congress to support it. But members of Congress aren't saying what the public option will offer. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, in a recent Arizona Daily Star articlehas indicated that there are 5 bills working their way through Congress. She said that it is too soon to settle on a health reform plan that would spell out who will be eligible for the public option, what type of coverage will be offered, and what it will cost. Much emphasis has been placed on choice-- that people will be able to choose to stay with their private plan if they like it or choose access to a public plan.The public option was originally conceived as a Medicare-for-all, or single payer public option that would eliminate co-pays, deductibles and coinsurance. When Congress recessed, what you might not realize is that congressional committees have already compromised away the heart of the public option in bills awaiting a September vote ceding the advantage to the powerful insurance interests that are spending huge sums of $1.4 million a day to "kill" the public option not to create a better health care system but to keep on increasing their profits at public expense.




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