Monday, March 22, 2010



We all know what this will be about.

But where to begin?

I think a good way to start would be an interesting overview of 18 Health Care myths debunked by blogger Firedoglake, presented to you in a handy Scribd. format I found over at Legal Insurrection. Unfortunately the Scrib. thing don't seem to work so well on our blog, so check it out yourself over at William A. Jacobson's blog.

Oh yes... Firedoglake is no frothing at the mouth Glenn Beck acolyte... it's a leftwing blog... :

...A middle class family of four making $66,370 will be forced to pay $5,243 per year for insurance. After basic necessities, this leaves them with $8,307 in discretionary income — out of which they would have to cover clothing, credit card and other debt, child care and education costs, in addition to $5,882 in annual out-of-pocket medical expenses for which families will be responsible. Many families who are already struggling to get by would be better off saving the $5,243 in insurance costs and paying their medical expenses directly, rather than being forced to by coverage they can’t afford the co-pays on.

In addition, there is already a booming movement across the country to challenge the mandate. Thirty-three states already have bills moving through their houses, and the Idaho governor was the first to sign it into law yesterday. In Virginia it passed through both a Democratic House and Senate, and the governor will sign it soon. It will be on the ballot in Arizona in 2010, and is headed in that direction for many more. Republican senators like Dick Lugar are already asking their state attorney generals to challenge it. There are two GOP think tanks actively helping states in their efforts, and there is a booming messaging infrastructure that covers it beat-by-beat....

People visiting this blog may often get the impression that I idolize and/or idealize the United States. Let me respond that, though I indeed think there's much to admire across the pound, I never bought into too rosy views of the land of the free. Over here, we are being slapped in the face every other day with stories of Americans ending dead in the gutter because they couldn't afford health care.

I do see thru the nonsense but I am willing to buy that for certain categories of Americans who deserve better, affordable health care and affordable health care insurance remain out of reach.

I think that the current system, which apparently consists of a smorgasbord of public and private initiatives, is far from ideal. How else can it be explained that the results that are obtained with a budget of give and take 16% of the US's GNP - AFAIK the highest percentage spent on healthcare by any country on earth - still leave much to be desired. At the same time I also think that if the system needs an overhaul, the result should be something better. And, as far as I have been able to investigate the (summary of the summary of the) bill, that is not the case.

In my country, small risks (a visit to the doctor for a flu, a visit to the dentist, etc...) are covered by what we call a mutualiteit. It's an organization that collects collective contributions and then redistributes as needed. You pay a fixed amount a year depending on your income, you get back in case you are sick and have to go to the doctor and the pharmacy. Are you often ill, it won't cost you too much to see a medic or pay for (simple) medication. Are you healthy all the time, well okay, you get back less than you put in but for God's sake, congratulate yourself on your luck and robust health.

Hospitals are clustered in cupola organizations, very much like private enterprises can have daughter companies. The cupola organizations, which are "vzw's" (non profit organizations) get paid by the state via the RIZIV (Rijksinstituut voor Ziekte- en Invaliditeitsverzekering - State's Institute for Sick and Invalidity Insurance). So while most hospitals do not belong to the private sector, their personnel aren't state employees either. There are, of course, a number of private clinics specializing in, e.g., dermatology or other "niche markets".

the University Clinic near Gent

For the "grave risks" however, you' better take care of yourself. Key is, get a hospitalization insurance early and remain a good customer (i.e. don't break too many legs). It will be less easy for the insurance company to throw you out once you reach a certain age. Personally, since about five years I have a hospitalization insurance which costs me about 355 EUR/year and covers a lot.

All in all the Belgian system works fairly well, and there are gazillions of testimonies from expats living here to prove it. A couple of years back, there was even a UK programme shipping British patients to Belgian hospitals because they could receive care here far quicker and better than in the notorious British NHS. Two weeks back, my wife's gynaecologist identified a little but unpleasant problem for which an urgent operation was needed. The day after she was operated at 10am. She was back home by 6pm. I haven't received the bill yet, but I'm confident it will be a very reasonable amount.

I see nothing of this all in the new US Health Reform Bill, only an encroaching state that will determine who gets what treatment and when. I can imagine that an army of bureaucrats will be needed to man a bazillion of desks, not necessarily with added value for the treatment of Joe Clutterbucks ulcer - quite the contrary. There's nothing of this all in Belgium. In my country, the state finances the whole shebang but leaves the actual medics and nurses otherwise pretty much alone. Heck, even as the hospitals are officially non profits, there IS a degree of competition among them, as patients often drive farther upon hearing doctor so and so in the clinic in town X or Y is better at this and that, and operation this and that is cheaper in hospital so and so. And there is NO state dorkasaurus official telling the patient he has to go to this or that particular hospital. I actually wonder why our Belgian media are fainting over "Obama's historic achievement" when a child can see that the stinker of a system he's putting down the throats of 300 million plus Americans is so radically different from ours. Oh wait, no. I don't wonder. Belgian whorenalists and opinion makers are still all spasms when they think of their big hero.

No, Americans are screwed, again. I will no longer bother to tell you that, after all I have been telling it ever since I determined, during 30 seconds in 2004, that an upcoming politician by the name of Barack Hussein Obama was the Mother of all Frauds. The last word is for Mark Steyn - he says it so much better than me:

Well, it seems to be in the bag now. I try to be a sunny the-glass-is-one-sixteenth-full kinda guy, but it's hard to overestimate the magnitude of what the Democrats have accomplished. Whatever is in the bill is an intermediate stage: As the graph posted earlier shows, the governmentalization of health care will accelerate, private insurers will no longer be free to be "insurers" in any meaningful sense of that term (ie, evaluators of risk), and once that's clear we'll be on the fast track to Obama's desired destination of single payer as a fait accomplis.

If Barack Obama does nothing else in his term in office, this will make him one of the most consequential presidents in history. It's a huge transformative event in Americans' view of themselves and of the role of government. You can say, oh, well, the polls show most people opposed to it, but, if that mattered, the Dems wouldn't be doing what they're doing. Their bet is that it can't be undone, and that over time, as I've been saying for years now, governmentalized health care not only changes the relationship of the citizen to the state but the very character of the people. As I wrote in NR recently, there's plenty of evidence to support that from Britain, Canada, and elsewhere.

More prosaically, it's also unaffordable. That's why one of the first things that middle-rank powers abandon once they go down this road is a global military capability. If you take the view that the U.S. is an imperialist aggressor, congratulations: You can cease worrying. But, if you think that America has been the ultimate guarantor of the post-war global order, it's less cheery. Five years from now, just as in Canada and Europe two generations ago, we'll be getting used to announcements of defense cuts to prop up the unsustainable costs of big government at home. And, as the superpower retrenches, America's enemies will be quick to scent opportunity.

Longer wait times, fewer doctors, more bureaucracy, massive IRS expansion, explosive debt, the end of the Pax Americana, and global Armageddon. Must try to look on the bright side . . .

My advice to Americans? Consider your current government an enemy. In November, beat those who are chasing your country down a perilous path. And make it a bloody business.


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