Wednesday, February 01, 2006

 

They say . . .

. . . my post op support group looks like this:

Picture 4

Jeebus! Does anyone know a doctor who does prostrate transplants?

Monday, January 30, 2006

 

A Gleason score of 3+4=7

Shit fuck shit fuck goddam shit fuck shit muthafuck goddam fuck shit fuck shit fuck goddam shit fuck shit muthafuck goddam fuck shit damn damn damn shit fuck shit fuck goddam shit damn fuck shit muthafuck damn goddam fuck shit!

Sorry . . . if you know what the title of this post means, you know why we had to get that out of our system.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

 

HSAs: The old bait-n-switch

Speaking as one CEO to others, here's the advice that that Stevan Garcia (CEO of United Health Care) offers on how to work the shell game on on employees, via the Feb. 2006 issue of Columbus C.E.O. magazine:
[HSAs] can reduce an employer's cost, though employees may bear a higher share of individual health care costs.

[. . . ]

[An HSA] can be part of a long-term strategy that replaces traditional coverage completely. Employee and employer expectations need to shift . . .

[. . . ]

The key to success is educating employees so they understand that this is not a cost-shifting program, but a benefit to all.
So, just lie. The key, apparently, is just to be convincing when you lie about how the HSA isn't really about about shifting the cost or abandoning the traditional health insurance plan. But, hey, when you're speaking to other CEOs, why not be honest?

Social Security privatization and HSAs are two sides of the same coin, and they are both based on fleecing the middle class, the poor and the elderly.

 

Starting to get answer to torture question

A while back, we asked what we hoped was a just a 'thought game' to extrapolate the Bush administration's logic:
Here's the question we'd love to ask Cheney: "If it was necessary, would you also be willing to do 'what is necessary' (i.e., torture) to KSM's children or wife, assuming he has any?"
Damn, just when we though we might be one step ahead of Cheney, we find out he is one step ahead of us.
U.S. forces in Iraq, in two instances described in military documents, took custody of the wives of men believed to be insurgents in an apparent attempt to pressure the suspects into giving themselves up.

Both incidents occurred in 2004. In one, members of a shadowy military task force seized a mother who had three young children, still nursing the youngest, "in order to leverage" her husband's surrender, according to an account by a civilian Defense Intelligence Agency intelligence officer.
The timing of this story feels to us like its meant to soften us up for another shoe to drop. Any bettors on how long it will be before we see some actual wife/kids torture documentation? Is someone finally ballsy enough to officially fess up to what were in the prison photos that they didn't want us to see.

 

The HSA scam

We have some experience with the whole Healthcare Savings Account/Medical Savings Account deal because some of the convervative caucus in the Statehouse in 1997 tried - and thankfully failed - to foist this upon state employees as an "alternative" to their traditional health care insurance plan.

Now, hopefully, most progressives grasp that this HSA stuff is a horrible idea for the consumer. Making health insurance an individual's problem - even the savviest individuals - has many consequences, all of which are bad in the long run because triggers a phenomenon called "adverse selection," provides dubious savings to employers, robs consumers of the ability to share (pool) risk and eliminates their capacity to utilize the bargaining power of group purchasing.

Take this case in point that we found in our files (no link available) regarding an HSA/MSA experiment in Ada County, Idaho, as reporterd by the Labor Research Associates's Economic Notes:
The experience of one county employee, Terry Johnson, the county's personnel chief, is instructive. According to Employee Relations Weekly, the county contributed $1,100 to Johnson's account and offered an indemnity health insurance plan that covered 100% of his health care costs - after a $2,000 deductible. Early in the year, Johnson broke his ankle and had to pay $900 out of his own pocket before he could touch the $1,100. And, since the injury happened before the county's monthly payments had built up in his accounty, Johnson had to front even more than $900 in medical bills and wait for reimbursement.

Meanwhile, the exodus of Johnson and other health workers out of the county's traditional health insurance plan prompted the insurance company to threated to raise premiums by 15% if the county kept the medical savings account. That would have meant an additional $328,000 in premiums, according to Johnson, while the county saved only $39,000 in premiums on the 150 workers who chose the option of high-deductible insurance with [a] medical savings account.

This is a case study in the economic of saolidarity. Pooling risk and purchasing powere lowers costs and can maximize the health care bang for the buck. Offering health people the supposed opportunity to save money and control their medical destiny will continue to tap into the deep springs of American individualism. But in this case, both the individual and the group got burned.
This, in fact, would have been the case had the State of Ohio been forced to offer HSAs/MSAs to its employees. Discussions and economic modeling showed that what was experienced in Ada County, Idaho would have been duplicated in Ohio on a much grander - and more disasterous - scale.

Nevertheless, despite the potential for elusive savings, there is a strong pitch to get the American business community on board. We'll have more on this in subsequent posts.

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