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News Health care or cap'n trade CO2?

  1. May 7, 2009 #1
    What decision to make?

    http://thehill.com/leading-the-news...to-shelve-climate-change-bill-2009-05-06.html

    James Hansen, NASA climatologist has an outspoken opinion about cap and trade:

    Temple of doom

    So what would save more lives? reforming health care or cap and trade CO2?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. May 7, 2009 #2

    turbo

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    Reforming health care is the BIG one and it needs to be done. Despite the whining of the insurance companies and the lies spread by the neo-cons, universal health care coverage will benefit us all. It will allow at-risk people to receive preventative care currently denied them, and control conditions before they are serious enough to require ER visits. In addition, universal health care will take a huge burden off businesses. Years back, businesses (urged on by unions and by competition for labor in the case of non-union shops) started offering health insurance coverage to their employees and their families at rates lower than the individuals could get. Now the cost of the insurances has exploded, and companies are trying to get out of those agreements without losing their work-forces. Universal health insurance would remove one of the most nagging (and fastest-growing) labor expenses. It would also help put companies with international markets on a more level playing field with their foreign competitors. For instance, all but one of Maine's large saw-mills has shut down in the recession and housing bust. Still, truckloads of logs go to Canada every day, and truckloads of finished lumber return. How can the Canadian sawmills remain profitable? In part, it may be because they don't have to purchase and administer health-insurance plans for their employees, reducing their overhead. Right-wingers rant about "socialism" whenever universal health coverage is mentioned, as if the US (by joining the rest of the industrialized world) is sliding into communism or worse.
     
  4. May 7, 2009 #3

    mgb_phys

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    But they and their employees pay more tax making them uncompetitive with their lower taxed ( ie. subsidized) US competitors (at least that's what the politicians up here were claiming!)

    The big advantage of the US system is that you can reduce pay and conditions. Here's a pay cut - don't like it you can leave. Of course your kid's medical problems will be a pre-existing condition at your next employer and not covered so 'do as we say or the kid gets it'.
     
  5. May 7, 2009 #4

    turbo

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    I don't buy that mgb_phys, unless you have some pretty serious graft and corruption somewhere between the tax collections and the expenditures.

    http://www.nchc.org/facts/cost.shtml [Broken]

    In fact, I read recently that even though the US has so many millions of uninsured, we spend 30% more than EU countries per capita on health care.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  6. May 7, 2009 #5

    chemisttree

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    Where is your information regarding the high cost of healthcare as it applies to the cost of a board foot of lumber. If you actually do an analysis you will find that the cost of health care is a vanishingly small component of the cost of that board foot of lumber.

    Isn't is more likely that the reason that Canada can outcompete US lumber companies is because http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States-Canada_softwood_lumber_dispute" [Broken]

    Health care costs? Gimme a break!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  7. May 7, 2009 #6

    turbo

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    Let's see what the Big 3 automakers AND the UAW had to say about the value of the Canadian health-care system in regard to the viability of their Canadian plants.

    http://www.house.gov/mcdermott/sp051215a.shtml [Broken]
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  8. May 7, 2009 #7

    mgb_phys

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    A national health care system isn't an advantage because it's a subsidy - it's just vastly cheaper because of scale efficencies.
    I pay around $50/month for healthcare in Canada + whatever proportion of my taxes go to health. I paid several times that in the US just to upgrade my work HMO to whatever the better scheme was called.
    I do remember that my single doctor visit in the US resulted in months of bills, rebates, queries, letters and starements.
     
  9. May 7, 2009 #8
    Any evidence of insurance companies whining?

    They benefit from all the regulation by gov't forcing people to pay for insurance provisions they don't want or need (because Dems think they "should have it").

    And we're expected to believe that insurance companies just hate it when people are forced to buy more insurance coverage than they would otherwise buy voluntarily. Poor, poor insurance companies.

    Gimme a break.
     
  10. May 7, 2009 #9

    turbo

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    Not only that. Insurance companies all enforce their own coding standards, and when a small private practice gets denied coverage for a covered procedure because the coding wasn't perfect, they either have to re-code, and resubmit, hoping to get paid another month or so down the line, eat the cost, or go back on their own patients to recover "denied coverage" costs. This is a HUGE drain on private practices. The primary money-making strategies for large insurers are outright denial of claims or interminable delays in paying claims.
     
  11. May 7, 2009 #10
    Generalizations like this benefit those companies that fraudulently deny claims, while hurting "good" insurance companies, and the consumers of both.
     
  12. May 7, 2009 #11

    chemisttree

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    Wow, you found a business that wants to shift one of it's expenses onto the backs of the US citizens. Gee, it must be true.

    The cost of health care per car at GM is $1,525 (2004 data) while that for Toyota in the US is only $201. The cost of retirees benefits is the culprit. Recently GM has cut the healthcare retirement benefit and may eventually eliminate it. If that happens and universal health care is enacted, everyone else will pay for their benefits. An increasingly small part of our population (those that work) will be saddled with that and all of the other debt we are incurring. It will be too much for those workers and deficit spending will skyrocket even higher.

    There's no end to this ponzi scheme.
     
  13. May 7, 2009 #12
    I don't see it as "pick one", I see it as "what do we do first?". Given what the Congress has to work with it really just does not seem believable that they can get to both of these two things this year.

    And it makes sense to do health care first, because the economic downturn both means (1) more people will be having trouble affording their health care and (2) industrial output and thus carbon output will be down naturally for the duration of the recession.

    In fact I think it will actually be easier to pass cap and trade if they get health care addressed first-- Congress will have more leeway to act if they can present themselves to the public as having sensible priorities, and conservative Democrats will be easier to pressure once activist resources are freed up from working on health care.
     
  14. May 7, 2009 #13

    turbo

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    I was the Network Administrator for a very large (by Maine's standards) ophthalmic practice with offices and treatment centers in 5 cities and some smaller towns, and I can assure you that ALL health insurance companies use denial/delay of claims to pad their profits. The denial/delay is automatic and very cheap on their part, and trying to get past their obstructionism is very costly to medical practices. Trying to streamline the coding, electronic resubmission, and accounting and reduce the aging of receivables (accounting jargon) was my most valuable day-to-day contribution to that large practice. Health-care in the US would be a lot cheaper if the insurance companies payed claims that they had agreed to, and didn't tie up untold man-hours chasing them for well-documented treatments.
     
  15. May 7, 2009 #14
    Well, then it must be ALL insurance companies, except all the ones I have ever dealt with.

    Your "assurance" just doesn't outweigh my direct knowledge to the contrary from personal experience, experience of friends and family members, and general knowledge of the subject.

    Have you considered that if denies/delays are common with a particular practice that the problem is with that practice? Since the problem is obviously not universal with other practices around the country.
     
  16. May 7, 2009 #15

    turbo

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    The highest-paid non-professionals in medical practices are coding specialists. Any idea why? If they understand the coding requirements (very arcane!) of all the insurance plans that the practice honors AND they can code treatments accurately much of the time, the insurance companies don't bounce as many claims and the practice gets paid fairly promptly with fewer partial payments or denials. And it is ALL insurance companies. If the claim trips any flag, now matter how minor, it is denied. The coding specialists for the practice then have to figure out what flagged the claim, re-code, and re-submit and hope for payment. This is a huge industry that can be eliminated by the establishment of a single-payer system with a single set of coding requirements. If you have not worked in a medical practice on the business side, you have no idea how much the insurance companies cost Americans.

    Let's say that you run a health insurance company, and by denying or delaying claims you can capture and invest a "float" of several billions of dollars to invest at your will. Do you pay valid claims promptly or do you throw up enough roadblocks to maintain and increase the size of your float until you start losing "participating practices"? I think you're smart enough to answer that. Most people don't see it in action enough to estimate the magnitude of the drag it causes on private practices and on health care in general. I have seen it first hand, and it is ugly.
     
  17. May 7, 2009 #16
    Al68, it sounds like you are discussing claims being denied from the customer's perspective, whereas turbo-1 is speaking from the medical practice's perspective. It also sounds like turbo-1 is alleging that the customer's perspective would be unreliable, since there would be frequent payment denials which the customer would never even be aware of because the medical practice would handle them internally. Is this about right?
     
  18. May 7, 2009 #17
    Nope.
     
  19. May 7, 2009 #18

    turbo

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    This is exactly right. The very last resort of a medical practice is to go back on the patient for collections. They will typically try at least 1-2 rounds of re-coding and re-submission to try to get paid, and if the insurance company still denies payment, and they are looking at receivables that are now aged 90 days or so (considered high-risk or uncollectable by banks) the practices have to try to fall back on the patients for payments. Like any other businesses that have unexpected expenses (surgical retinal laser dies at an inconvenient time) high-tech medical practices need to keep their receivables in a healthy (no more than 60-day aging in most cases) situation to maintain their lines of credit with the local banks in case they need big $$$ fast. As the network administrator, it was my job not only to keep stuff running smoothly, but to keep the coding, claim submissions, accounting functions running as smoothly as could be. It was a really hot-seat job.

    People who listen to politicians' and lobbyist hacks' sound-bites have no idea how big and expensive the problem really is.
     
  20. May 7, 2009 #19
    ...nope that is not an accurate summary of your position, or nope you don't agree with turbo-1's position? I am just trying to make sure I understand what you are trying to say.
     
  21. May 7, 2009 #20
    Well, you are mixing together two different issues. Now you're just claiming that all insurance companies delay claims that have something wrong with them (flags) as any (respectable) insurance company would do.

    Obviously I would prefer to buy insurance from a company that doesn't pay a claim until they know it's legit. The more people that believe that all insurance companies are the same, the more likely it is for some companies to fraudulently deny claims, since the blame is spread around. When people believe that, there is no reason for a company to care about their reputation for prompt payment.

    And the idea that this practice as a whole would increase insurance company profits as a whole is just a gross misunderstanding of free market economics.
     
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