Damn you Andrew Sullivan

I was over at the Dish looking for something to point and laugh at, and then I end up learning something plus reading a touching story about job lock.  Damn you!

 

Or maybe I’m biased because my own insurance situation has gotten better. Here’s what’s happened in my individual case.
I stayed on my Newsweek plan via COBRA for my first year as a new business-owner…..in 2013 I had total out-of-pocket costs (premiums plus my out-of-pocket maximum of $2,500) of $20,927.08. This year, my ACA plan – a Platinum DC-based one – has a monthly premium of $1,106.33 for the two of us, with an in-network out-of-pocket maximum of $1,800 per person. My out of pocket medical costs this year will therefore be $15,075.96….

 So I’m a lot better off with Obamacare this year. I’m also buoyed by the fact that DC’s exchanges have a high number of the young and healthy in them – balancing out my aging AIDSy ass. So I’m reasonably confident my plan won’t go down the toilet any time soon, or face big hikes in premiums. And this new insurance means a lot more to me than the old one – because it cannot be taken away, even if the Dish goes belly-up.

 So Andrew got a better plan, cheaper with guaranteed protection that he can renew it.

I bet this story will be played out numerous times over the next couple of years as people attempt to convert their hobbies or sidelines into primary jobs.

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66 replies
  1. 1
    MikeJ says:

    He should really be going without insurance for ideological purity. Republican leadership said it was the right thing to do.

  2. 2
    Elizabelle says:

    Good to hear.

    I want the Republicans to end up eating the “Affordable Care Act will destroy Democratic chances in 2014” meme.

    Because they’re the ones that came up with it. They’re better at slogans than governing.

  3. 3
    J.D. Rhoades says:

    @Elizabelle:

    Well, to do that, Democratic politicians like Kay Hagan need to stop running from their votes on Obamacare and embrace them by highlighting stories like this one.

  4. 4
    MattF says:

    One of the right-wing argument against Ocare is that people will quit their jobs when they get health insurance. It’s a weird argument, coming from the ‘freedom-loving’ right– but I suspect that they just don’t want we peons to have choices.

  5. 5
    Cervantes says:

    Andrew Sullivan played no small part in killing health care reform in the early ’90s. Who knows how much better his and everyone else’s health — never mind health insurance — would have been had that reform been enacted? I hope he dies wondering. A lot of other people did.

  6. 6
    randomworker says:

    I get to retire in September. Pre-existing conditions from 30 years ago made me uninsurable on the individual market even though I was actually cured.

    Health insurance through my company retirement plan – $9,000 for two people. High deductible, narrow network.

    Health insurance through the exchange (Gold) – $7,000 for two people (no subsidy). Lower deductible, similar network.

    It’s significant and it helps tip the scales in favor of retirement. Thanks to the President and the ACA.

  7. 7

    >I bet this story will be played out numerous times over the next couple of years as people attempt to convert their hobbies or sidelines into primary jobs.

    A huge amount of personal liberation.

  8. 8
    wvng says:

    Richard, there is a story going around that people cannot buy insurance directly from insurers (not thru the exchanges) until the next enrollment period comes in. KOS just had a piece on it and Fox is flaming about it. Is this true?
    http://www.dailykos.com/story/.....until-Fall

  9. 9
    J.D. Rhoades says:

    @MattF:

    This is exactly why the party of the 1% is so frantic about blocking the ACA. How you gonna keep ’em down on the cubicle farm if the wage serfs can get health insurance elsewhere?

  10. 10
    amk says:

    @Cervantes: sully has been grifting since 90’s?

  11. 11
    mai naem says:

    Richard there’s a piece in the LA Times about the Gallup survey. I believe there’s more good news from the survey.

    http://www.latimes.com/busines.....z2z7Htn7IX

    Also, Sullivan can go screw himself. It’s always about him. The guy is such a selfish self absorbed wanker. It’s a huge pity he didn’t live in one of the southern states when he found out he was HIV+. He wouldn’t have been able to be insured unless he went on medicaid and he would have been fired from a job for being gay . That would have been his conservative paradise.

  12. 12
    MomSense says:

    I’m really happy for him and for so many other people who will have the freedom to pursue their interests, passions, and talent now that they have the piece of mind that comes with health insurance access.

    What was so frustrating about Andrew Sullivan, especially at the early stages of the debate on reform, was the stuff he was writing at the beginning of the reform debate sort of justifying not providing health care access to everyone.

  13. 13
    J.D. Rhoades says:

    @wvng:

    It’s the same doublethink that causes them to bitch about the employer mandate, then scream about tyranny when Obama uses an executive order to delay its implementation.

  14. 14
    Walker says:

    I read a few authors blogs. No matter how conservative they are, they are thrilled about ACA.

  15. 15
    Richard Mayhew says:

    @wvng: It is true. If there have been no qualifying events since the end of the open enrollment period, the individual and family insurance market is extremely limited.

    Open enrollment is a tool to get people who are currently healthy into the risk pool so that they can cross subsidize the currently unhealthy. Permament open enrollment encourages people to stay out of the risk pool until they get hit by a bus/diagnosed with cancer. Open enrollment is used for Medicare, it is used for all major employer sponsored insurance plans, it is used for all systems that are not 100% universal with automatic enrollment at birth.

    So yes, someone who decided to run naked and makes too much for Medicaid can’t get individual insurance until November 15th when the policy is effective January 1, 2015.

  16. 16
    JPL says:

    @Richard Mayhew: It’s unfortunate that a fine news organization, such as FOX, wouldn’t have mentioned this before.

    Although I’m pleased that Sullivan will not have to worry about his care, his reasons are purely personal. He could care less about the lower class.

  17. 17
    Botsplainer says:

    OT – Putin’s pet poodle, Snowjob, gets to lob him a softball about the awesome freedoms from surveillance that Russians enjoy.

    http://gawker.com/watch-edward.....1564178479

    “I’ve seen little public discussion of Russia’s policy of mass surveillance,” Snowden said. “So I’d like to ask you: Does Russia intercept, store, or analyze the communication of millions? And do you believe that simply increasing the effectiveness of law enforcement agencies can justify placing societies, rather than individual subjects, under surveillance?”

    Putin welcomed Snowden’s question, even recognizing him as a sort of colleague.

    “Mr. Snowden, you are a former spy. I used to work for an intelligence agency,” Putin said. “We can talk one professional language.”

    “First of all, our intelligence efforts are strictly regulated by our law,” he added. “You have to get the court’s permission to stalk a person. We don’t have a mass system of interception. With our law, it cannot exist. Of course, we know criminals and terrorists use technology for their criminal acts and of course the special services have to use technical means to respond to their crimes. Of course, we do some efforts like that but we do not have mass scale effort. I hope we don’t do that. We don’t have the money or the kind of devices they have in the United States. Our special services are strictly controlled by the society and the law, and are regulated by the law.”

    I guess Alexander Litvenenko was unavailable for comment, along with a host of political and artistic detainees.

    Everybody knows that true freedom is marked by white nerds being able to collect hentai porn and cat videos without there being any record of the shame.

  18. 18
    Elizabelle says:

    @JPL:

    Lower class?

    Heck, the middle class, if someone’s got pre-existing conditions or works for an employer (or is self-employed) and no company health insurance.

    And the artistic class. Richard Florida thinks they’re job creators.

  19. 19
    Matt McIrvin says:

    As usual, Andrew Sullivan changes his mind once he’s personally affected by something.

    Well, I guess I’ll take it.

  20. 20
    dmsilev says:

    @JPL: You have to admit that it’s impressive how smoothly they pivoted from “Obama is evil for extending the enrollment deadline by two weeks” to “Obama is evil for not allowing people to sign up after the deadline”.

  21. 21
    jayackroyd says:

    One of the way undersold effects of the PPACA (and more so for a better plan) is the boon it represents to entrepreneurship. It dramatically reduces the size of the bet you make on yourself.

  22. 22
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @MattF: And they’ll free up those jobs for people who really need or want them, instead of people who are just locked in to get health insurance.

    “We need more jobs” and “too many people are too lazy to work” are really contradictory statements, unless, I suppose, your reason for wanting people to work all day is primarily aesthetic or moral rather than about the economic need for the work they’re doing. But conservative rhetoric about work tends to slip from one to the other as if supply and demand were the same thing.

  23. 23
    MomSense says:

    @Richard Mayhew:

    If only our media (other than you!) spent the last few years explaining how the law actually worked and how open enrollment works so people could have made informed decisions about something as important as their health care.

  24. 24
    rikyrah says:

    uh huh

    uh huh

    Cenk Uygur Just Took $4-Million from a Conservative Source (but He’s Still a Better Liberal Than You)

    Chez Pazienza on April 16, 2014

    One of the pitfalls of running a for-profit media company that traffics almost entirely in one specific brand of political opinion is that your funding, and where it comes from, becomes especially relevant. If you spend all day espousing what you claim are strongly liberal views, then turn around and take a giant bag of money from, say, a former Republican candidate for president and governor of Louisiana who has worked against a woman’s right to choose and in favor of the Defense of Marriage Act, people might accuse you of being a bit hypocritical.

    Just a little while ago the Young Turks Network announced that it’s inked a deal to get $4-million in seed money from a group run by Buddy Roemer. With the funding comes an option that could double the take for TYT, with the whole thing being made through Roemer’s private equity fund, Roemer, Robinson, Melville & Co. Roemer himself is a pretty staunch conservative, despite having been a Democrat for many years and a late-career decision to try running for president as a member of both the Reform and Americans Elect party. In addition to his retrograde views on abortion and gay marriage, he also supported Arizona’s draconian crackdown on undocumented immigrants, is pro-torture, and is for the repeal of the ACA, saying that it amounts to government interference in healthcare. In other words, the guy is the furthest thing from a liberal.

    http://thedailybanter.com/2014.....-than-you/

  25. 25
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @MomSense: Nobody who has ever had employer-sponsored health insurance can not know how open enrollment works. That’s what steams me so much about the outrage; these folks are acting as if something completely familiar is an alien imposition. I could forgive it if none of them had ever had employer plans, but come on, it’s transparently dishonest.

  26. 26
    Cervantes says:

    @amk: If you are not familiar with what he did in the ’90s, look in this article for a few details.

  27. 27
    Cervantes says:

    @Matt McIrvin: Perhaps not entirely transparent, as it seems to take in a lot of people.

  28. 28
    Bobby Thomson says:

    @dmsilev:

    Mom: “Santa brought you a new toy truck, Johnny.”

    Johnny: “I want another one.”

    Mom: “We can’t afford that, Johnny, but if you’re good maybe Santa will bring you a new one next year.”

    Johnny: “I want it I want it I want it I want it I want it I want it I want it I want it I want it I want it I want it I want it. I’m going to break this one if you don’t get me another one!”

    Mom: “Please don’t do that Johnny. If you do you probably won’t have one until next . . . ”

    SNAP!

    Johnny: “My truck is broken! Get me a new one!”

  29. 29
    MomSense says:

    @Matt McIrvin:

    There have been so many things blamed on ObamaCare that took place long before the ACA took effect. It is terrifically convenient and people believe it because they haven’t had accurate reporting. I also think that many people who received insurance through their employers had no idea how it worked or how much it cost.

  30. 30
    Schlemizel says:

    @Cervantes:
    So SUlly follows his initial instinct which is to piss on honest efforts to make the world a better place, to bad mouth earnest people looking for solutions, to argue against human decency . . . and then, once it is too late he ‘sees the light’.

    Gee, who could have seen that coming? The asshole deserves to die alone and forgotten.

  31. 31
    Citizen_X says:

    Dear Andrew:

    You’re welcome.

    Sincerely,
    The Fifth Columnists

  32. 32
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @MomSense: I do feel sorry for people who just blundered into this, or got duped. Health insurance is counterintuitive at best, and people who have never had employer-sponsored insurance are one of the major classes of people the ACA is supposed to help. But conservative opinion columnists and Fox News talking heads? They know better.

  33. 33

    I am so not surprised, he only understands issues that affect him personally. He is obtuse about everything else.

  34. 34
    Dan says:

    In all fairness, Sully’s actually been mostly supportive of the PPACA since it first started being worked on in 2009. Yes, the way he helped torpedo Hillarycare in the ’90s was unconscionable, but he has been supportive of Obamacare, and way before he found out that he would be personally benefiting.

  35. 35
    MomSense says:

    @Matt McIrvin:

    But conservative opinion columnists and Fox News talking heads? They know better.

    Absolutely. They are paid to misinform.

  36. 36
    RedKitten says:

    $15K a year for health insurance? Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ! Man, y’all really have GOT to get single-payer.

    As an example, I pay $8993 a year in federal and provincial income tax. That covers all of the usual stuff that income tax covers, (except for my EI and my Canada Pension Plan, which are deducted separately), AND my universal health coverage, which covers all of my necessary medical expenses, except for dental and medications. I have group health insurance through my employer, and pay $400 a year in premiums, which covers 80% of all of my medications, physio, massage, dental, travel medical, etc.

    The group plan covers my family of four. I’m not sure precisely what portion of my income taxes goes towards my health coverage. But I’m guessing it isn’t a whole lot.

    Seriously, you guys are STILL getting screwed — they’re just using a little lube now so that it doesn’t hurt quite so much.

  37. 37
    Rob in CT says:

    @RedKitten:

    Quite true. The ACA is a moderate reform that leaves something to be desired. There is very little support for single-payer in this country, unfortunately. I mean, here on this blog there’s lots of support for it, but poll data suggests we’re in a small minority.

    @Citizen_X:

    Zing!

  38. 38
    Elizabelle says:

    @Rob in CT:

    I mean, here on this blog there’s lots of support for [single payer], but poll data suggests we’re in a small minority.

    And that’s a factor of education on the issue and interest.

    If you explain to people what single payer is, and what it can do, you might have a “I like the Affordable Care Act, but none of that Obamacare nonsense” that we’ve seen in recent months.

    We’ll get there.

  39. 39
    Fair Economist says:

    Note: he got a better plan than he had through employer insurance. Gee, who’d have thunk that eliminating a major overhead cost (underwriting) and forcing a relatively open and fair market would have cut prices? I think Obamacare will turn out to be a far bigger deal than the CBO has projected, because almost all small businesses and even some mediums are going to switch.

  40. 40
    Cervantes says:

    @Dan:

    In all fairness, Sully’s actually been mostly supportive of the PPACA since it first started being worked on in 2009. Yes, the way he helped torpedo Hillarycare in the ’90s was unconscionable, but he has been supportive of Obamacare, and way before he found out that he would be personally benefiting.

    Re his ostensible support for the PPACA, thanks for letting me know. In the absence of counter-evidence I am happy to take your word for it. Personally, I have not followed his writing closely for a while.

  41. 41
    Elizabelle says:

    Sully on Obamacare’s possible political advantages to Democrats:

    There’s simply no denying that the law has been rescued by an impressive post-fiasco operation that did to ACA-opponents what the Obama campaign did to the Clintons in 2008 and to Romney in 2012. Obama out-muscled the nay-sayers on the ground. I have a feeling that this has yet to fully sink in with the public, and when it does, the politics of this might change. (Since the law was pummeled at the get-go as something beyond the skills of the federal government to implement, its subsequent successful implementation would seem to me to do a lot to reverse the damage.) There are some signs that this is happening. A new Reuters/Ipsos poll finds the following:

    Nearly one-third of respondents in the online survey released on Tuesday said they prefer Democrats’ plan, policy or approach to healthcare, compared to just 18 percent for Republicans.

    This marks both an uptick in support for Democrats and a slide for Republicans since a similar poll in February.

    That’s mainly because of renewed confidence and support from previously demoralized Democrats. [Is it?] But it’s also a reflection, it seems to me, of the political vulnerability of Republicans who have failed to present a viable alternative to the law, and indeed seem set, in the eyes of most voters, merely to repeal ACA provisions that are individually popular. And this bad position is very likely to endure because of the intensity of the loathing for Obama/Obamacare among the Medicare recipients in the GOP base. It seems to me that right now, the GOP cannot offer an alternative that keeps the more popular parts of Obamacare without the air fast leaking out of their mid-term election balloon. And so by the fall, the political dynamics of this may shift some more in Obama’s direction. By 2016, that could be even more dramatic. One party – the GOP – will be offering unnerving change back to the status quo ante, and the other will be proposing incremental reform of the ACA.

  42. 42
    BubbaDave says:

    @Richard Mayhew:
    Is it like employer-based insurance in that a qualifying life event will let you enroll outside the open enrollment period? I know you mentioned moving to another state as one example in a previous post– will marriage/divorce/childbirth/adoption also count?

    (Cue Fox “News” Special: “Are illegal immigrants entering into fake marriages to give ObamaCare moochers another shot at insurance? We mislead, you explode….”)

  43. 43
    aimai says:

    @BubbaDave: Yes, the “qualifying events” are the same. Major life events (divorce, death, adoption, birth, moving) are the same.

  44. 44
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @Elizabelle: I’ll be interested to see what happens once Vermont tries it statewide. If it’s a success, other states will want to jump on the bandwagon: blue states, at least.

  45. 45
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Cervantes:

    Andrew Sullivan played no small part in killing health care reform in the early ’90s. Who knows how much better his and everyone else’s health — never mind health insurance — would have been had that reform been enacted? I hope he dies wondering. A lot of other people did.

    For once, we think alike. Andy could have had this wonderful benefit 20 years ago, but he chose otherwise — not only for himself, but for everyone else in the US. And now we’re supposed to be happy that he finally gets it?

    @RedKitten:

    It’s partly because our entire system has been so screwed up for so long that people genuinely don’t understand what it’s like to have decent insurance that won’t bankrupt them if they get sick. Believe me, in another few years, Republicans are not going to be able to keep a lid on people clamoring for improvements to Obamacare that make it more and more “socialist.”

  46. 46
    PST says:

    @Cervantes: I do read Sullivan, and I think the comment that he’s been mostly supportive of the PPACA from the gitgo is fair. This has not ordinarily been based on arguments from his own personal situation, but stories like his are important and should be told. If we want to change minds, we have to make people understand how the act serves everyone. There are folks out there without much empathy whose votes are needed to sustain and improve the PPACA. They need to feel their stake in universalish coverage, in case they ever want to retire early/start a business/get divorced, or recognize that we can all lose a job/see our business fail/get too sick to work, especially with the albatross of a pre-existing condition around our necks. So give Sullivan a break when he does the Lord’s work, which sometimes he does.

  47. 47
    Persia says:

    @MomSense: Yeah, I think we’ll be getting more and more of these stories as the ACA rollout spreads and more people realize they have choices.

  48. 48
    Mnemosyne says:

    @PST:

    So give Sullivan a break when he does the Lord’s work, which sometimes he does.

    Speaking solely for myself, I’ll give Sullivan a break when he finally admits that he was an asshole for helping to torpedo Hillarycare. He never will, of course, any more than he’ll admit he was wrong to support The Bell Curve.

  49. 49
    dollared says:

    I bet this story will be played out numerous times over the next couple of years as people =are forced to to convert their hobbies or sidelines into primary jobs.

    FIFY

  50. 50
    burnspbesq says:

    @RedKitten:

    Gee, thanks. When you figure out how to make single-payer politically possible in this country, do let us in on the secret.

  51. 51
    burnspbesq says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    he chose otherwise

    Really? All by his ownself?

    WADR, I think you’re overstating Andrew’s influence, and understating the breadth and depth of opposition to the 1993 proposals.

  52. 52
    retr2327 says:

    Getting back to the point of the original post, there’s also quite an affecting story about the effects of the ACA over on Salon. Basically, it probably saved the woman’s life (by covering a colonoscopy, which found a pre-cancer that probably would have killed her), while also saving her hundreds of dollars per month to get better coverage.

    Spread the word.

  53. 53
    JustRuss says:

    @Elizabelle:

    the law has been rescued by an impressive post-fiasco operation

    For someone who’s supposedly a supporter of the ACA, that’s some crappy framing. I’m so sick of hearing about the so-called “fiasco”. They rolled the website out way in advance of any deadlines, and when the inevitable hiccups occurred they fixed them in plenty of time for people to get registered. If that’s a fiasco, we need more of them.

    Yeah, it would have been great if the website worked flawlessly from day one, and I wish my farts smelled like waffles.

  54. 54
    Richard Mayhew says:

    @BubbaDave: Yes — qualifying life events are events where your previous insurance policy or lack thereof can change wihtout penalty outside of the typical open enrollment period.

    The bigs ones are marriage/divorce, birth/adoption of a child(ren), death of a family member, significant move (across town does not count, across state may count, across country will count)

  55. 55
    moderateindy says:

    The thing I don’t understand is why there is not more support for single payer among the business community, both big and small. It seems to be a no-brainer to simply put health care into a payroll tax paradigm, and make it truly universal. First, it would free up all kinds of people to become entrepeneurs. How many folks don’t even bother trying to start their own businesses because of the specter of losing health insurance? It seems big business would save as well, just from not having to employ people just to administrate their health care policies.
    As someone that is about to file for bankruptcy because of a catastrophic illness, I am simply green with envy over the rest of the developed world where that does not happen, of course we have the best health care system in the world, ask any Republican.

  56. 56
    Goblue72 says:

    @JustRuss: Sully is a drama queen. You should have seen his live-blog mother of all meltdowns after the Obama-Romney debate.

  57. 57
    RedKitten says:

    @burnspbesq: Sorry. I suppose my post DID come off as rather callous. I wish I did know the answer. Hell, I don’t even know how to solve the problems in my own country. Harper and his merry band of neocons have been chipping away at our social programs for years now, and then using these weakened programs as “proof” that social programs don’t work as well as privatized ones. He’s learned well from his south-of-the-border brethren. And sadly, we still don’t have a strong candidate to oppose him. Trudeau still seems way too wet behind the ears for my liking, and I know that Mulcair can’t muster the NDP votes like Layton did.

  58. 58
    Elizabelle says:

    @moderateindy:

    To say nothing of the physicians’ practices and healthcare providers that won’t have to employ a fleet of support personnel to deal with the different insurance companies.

    I guess we could end up with a Switzerland-style plan (universal coverage through regulated private insurance companies) en route to single payer.

    Anything is better than the status quo, and the ACA couldn’t price gently enough because Chief Bastard John Roberts threw Medicaid expansion back to the states, as a political gambit.

  59. 59
    Elizabelle says:

    @RedKitten:

    Good to see you here, Redkitten.

  60. 60
    kc says:

    @RedKitten:

    Seriously, you guys are STILL getting screwed — they’re just using a little lube now so that it doesn’t hurt quite so much.

    Yep.

  61. 61
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @moderateindy: “Job lock” was good for big corporations that could swing generous health benefits. In a world in which it was difficult or impossible to get decent health insurance without a job, employees had a major incentive to stick with their employers regardless of how they were compensated or treated otherwise.

    (At least superficially. It may be that it wasn’t actually so good for their productivity for disaffected employees to hang on until fired.)

    Now, most employer-based plans are probably still better than the exchange plans, by design. But the ACA might actually blunt that advantage to such a degree that many firms simply opt out and let their employees use the exchanges, and in that case single-payer is probably even better for them.

    Health insurance costs are a killer for small businesses, though, and they ought to be celebrating any move in the direction of public health insurance.

  62. 62
    RedKitten says:

    @Elizabelle: Thanks! I’d been away much too long. Busy with kidlets and all that. Today is quiet, so I thought I’d pop by. :)

  63. 63
    dmhlt says:

    For goodness’ sake – just GIVE UP your JUVENILE obsession with bashing Andrew Sullivan.

    It’s beyond wearing thin – and it’s really tacky!

  64. 64
    mclaren says:

    So I’m reasonably confident my plan won’t go down the toilet any time soon, or face big hikes in premiums.

    Then Andrew Sullivan is an ignorant fool.

    The underlying cost of medical care continues to skyrocket at dizzying rates.

    The best guide to how President Obama’s historic health-care legislation will reshape the nation’s medical marketplace and fiscal future is the pioneering model in Massachusetts. The Bay State’s reform program started in late 2006, and it shares virtually all the major features of the new federal plan.

    Both programs greatly expand Medicaid coverage for low-earners, and provide heavily subsidized policies for a broad swath of the middle class. They tightly restrict the range of premiums for customers of different ages and medical conditions; they bar insurers from charging older patients, or even couch potatoes who abuse their health, anywhere near their actual cost. Both plans impose a long list of expensive benefits insurers must provide whether patients want to pay for them or not, ranging in Massachusetts from in-vitro fertilization to chiropractic services.

    At the same time the plans offer lavish subsidies that swell the demand for health care, they do nothing to increase the supply of medical services in a market suffering from shortages of everything from family doctors to nurses to hospital beds. Two years after enacting health-care reform to rein in costs, Massachusetts strengthened “certificate of need laws” that prevent hospitals and other providers from competing with high-cost, entrenched suppliers. The state now requires that ambulatory surgical centers and outpatient treatment facilities get permission from regulators before they can enter the market. Their rivals invariably lobby the regulators to block competition, and usually win.

    Thirty-six states, from Florida to Georgia to Washington, have similar price-inflating laws on the books. The Obama bill does nothing to eliminate regulations that effectively cartelize the market.

    The combination of heavily subsidized demand and tight, over-regulated supply is a textbook formula for perpetuating the big, chronic price increases that bedevil today’s health-care system.

    Source: “5 painful health care lessons from Massachusetts,” 15 June 2010, CNN Money.

    In order to keep pace with the cost of medical care, insurance companies must raise health insurance premiums. The only way to avoid that is to slow the rate of increase of the cost of healthcare in America, and for 70 years, nothing anyone has tried has succeeded in doing that.

    Take a look at “The hidden surcharge Americans pay for hospital errors.”

    It turns out that hospital medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the United States.

    No one is doing anything about this because the corrupt monopolistic cartel known as the AMA prevents doctors from being fired no matter how grossly incompetent they are, no matter how often they show up to work drunk or how often high on narcotics.

    I dated a nurse for a while. She informed me that every hospital has a doctor known as a “007” — licensed to kill. A physician so incompetent or alcoholic or addicted that other physicians steer their relatives away from him. Naturally, the AMA does nothing about these known incompetent doctors — they’re free to kill patients with impunity, and raise medical costs through the roof in the process.

    Not to mention the huge role the AMA played in killing Harry Truman’s proposed single-payer nationalized health care system in 1948, the massive effort they made in funding Ronald Reagan’s “Operation Coffee Cup” effort to kill medicare, and the way the AMA artificially restricts admission to U.S. medical schools in order to jack up U.S. doctors’ salaries far above those of other countries.

    Greg Mankiw features the chart below on physicians’ salaries in the U.S. vs. various European countries and Canada, showing that MDs in the U.S. make about $200,000, which is between 2 and 5 times as much as doctors make in other countries. How do we explain the significantly higher physician salaries in the U.S.?

    One explanation is the restriction on the number of medical schools, and the subsequent restriction on the number of medical students, and ultimately the number of physicians. Consider the difference between law schools and medical schools.

    In 1963, there were only 135 law schools in the U.S. (data here), and now there are 200, which is almost a 50% increase over the last 45 years in the number of U.S. law schools. Unfortunately, we’ve witnessed exactly the opposite trend in the number of medical schools. There are 130 medical schools in the U.S. (data here), which is 22% fewer than the number of medical schools 100 years ago (166 medical schools, source), even though the U.S. population has increased by 300%. Consider also that the number of medical students in the U.S. has remained constant at 67,000 for at least the period between 1994 and 2005, according to this report, and perhaps much longer.

    Source: “The medical cartel: why are MD salaries so high?” Mark. J. Perry, 24 June 2009.

  65. 65
    mclaren says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Believe me, in another few years, Republicans are not going to be able to keep a lid on people clamoring for improvements to Obamacare that make it more and more “soshulist.”

    No, so-called “Democrats” like you will keep a lid on people clamoring for improvements to Obamacare that make it more and more “soshulist” — by demonizing people like me who keep publicly urging significant improvements in the ACA and meaningful reform of the broken American health care system by screaming insults and lies and character assassination. Anyone who calls for nationalizing big pharma and letting government scientists develop new drugs and then sell them at cost to the public is “off his meds.” Anyone who points out that the ACA just kicks the price-increase in U.S. health care down the road is “ranting and raving” and “insane.”

    So-called “Democrats” like Mnemosyne are the greatest friends the giant medical cartels and corrupt monopolies and bribe-taking physicians have in America. Mnemosyne never met a bribe or a kickback or an anti-competitive restraint of trade by a giant big pharma drugmaker or medical devicemaker or corrupt doctor or hospital or imaging clinic she didn’t like.

    What has received far less scrutiny is the collusion operating underneath this system. The regional “networks” that hospitals and their allied physicians form to negotiate with insurers often exclude competitors and lock in exorbitant prices that are passed on as premiums.

    Keith Smith, an anesthesiologist and co-founder of the Oklahoma Surgery Center in Oklahoma City, posts his surgery center’s prices online, a rarity in the industry. But he points to the “preferred provider organizations,” or PPOs, that he contends have morphed into medical cartels that make deals with insurers to monopolize care in their region.

    “My prices at my facility are most of the time 70 percent to 80 percent less than the same procedure across town at a not-for-profit hospital,” Smith said. “Yet Blue Cross and any number of insurance companies are not the least bit interested in contracting with me. And we’re not fly-by-night. We’ve been in business 13 years and have the top physicians in the city. All I know is something smells.”

    Don Crane, chief executive of the California Association of Physician Groups, which represents medical groups reimbursed by managed-care policies, blamed much of providers’ high costs on the fee-for-service system, which he says encourages doctors and hospitals to spend more, and on paltry reimbursement rates from government programs.

    But a report last month by Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley found extensive evidence of anti-competitive behavior among providers, including huge price disparities that bear no relation to anything except market power. Special pricing pacts and other forms of collusive behavior were “pervasive,” the report said.

    Source: “Experts warn of medical industry cartels’ power,” San Francisco Chroncle, 21 February 2010.

    Counting down to the latest frenzied ragegasm by Mnemosyne et al. in response to my citation of documented facts in…3…2…1…

  66. 66
    Sondra says:

    @RedKitten:
    Your’s is a great deal, but if Andrew does have Aids then his Dr. bills and medications are probably much higher than the average healthy person.

    Because the ACA was passed in 2009, when I turned 65 in 2012, long before the sign up period began, I remained on my corporate health insurance plan with only a tiny increase in cost. Prior to the ACA I would have been tossed out just for having that fateful birthday.

    So as a retired person I was really sweating what would have happened to me if the ACA had never been passed. In that very same year I had spinal surgery that cost $83,000. I’m totally recovered but I would have been ruined financially without insurance: or I’d be crippled in pain.

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