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December 2013

A 20 Year-Old Got Appendicitis and This Was His Hospital Bill

A 20 year-old man came down with appendicitis in October of this year. He posted the bill on Reddit and it has gone viral. The US Health Care system is a topic of much debate, not only in the US but around the world. A lot of countries get ‘free’ health care, so needless to say, this has stirred up a lot of conversation.

via A 20 Year-Old Got Appendicitis and This Was His Hospital Bill.

As someone who is chronically ill and disabled, I’ve seen this situation more than once. Luckily I have Medicare, but that doesn’t mean my doctors won’t over charge. My mother suffered a heart attack back in 2007, and add to that unfortunate event was the fact that she was without insurance because her previous one had lapsed and we were desperately looking for one until she too could go on Medicare. Suffice it to say, even with a portion of the bill forgiven, it wasn’t enough and my parents were financially wiped out. My father, now 88, lost nearly 7 decades of savings in one fell swoop.

We like to rag on the insurance companies, and don’t get me wrong, they are in my eyes co-conspirators in the draining of this nation’s wealth. But we also have to look at the medical establishment. Yes, doctors and medical practices do face a lot of costs, especially malpractice insurance and other similar liabilities. But much, from what I’ve been told even by them, of the costs is peer-inflated. Basically, because X raised their prices, so must Y and thus one sees a chain reaction.

Besides doctors, you have hospitals and medical suppliers also charging crazy amounts. I get it, if you make a medical widget or a pill, you need to see a return on investment. But having owned stock in some medical supplier companies, and really you all should just download those freely available annual and quarterly reports these folks put out, they freely admit charging 10-to-100X the cost of something. Many pharma companies flagship products are based on research the public has already invested in.

 

The Cons and Libertarians like to talk about how we need a free market in medicine. That if the government “got out of the way,” we would see lower prices through competition. This is a major fallacy for one simple reason: the medical establishment does not believe in competition. The AMA alone controls the supply of doctors in the United States, and they are akin to an old medieval guild. In order to have a market one needs to have price transparency. You can easily find out the price on a grocery shelf for all products, and we can price compare many goods against other stores. There is no such price transparency in medicine. Hospitals only post some pricing and more often than not that information is hard to get. And of course, one cannot price shop while having a heart attack.

Maybe we do need a collapse of the medical system to rebuild it. We obviously do not have any political means of enforcing any real competition among medical providers. And we sure as heck do not have any political means of establishing something like the UK’s National Health Service, let alone Single-Payer.

Reviewing some political stances after meditating

While meditating this morning, I found myself or my mind afterwards reviewing where I was a year ago with some issues. From a year ago, on some things I’ve become far more to the left of the political spectrum (becoming more open to worker owned firms), but on some other things I’ve also moved more towards the right (especially recently with one subject that has shocked me, the Death Penalty).

In the past I’ve been more prone to classical capitalism, indeed back in 2007-09 I was closer to what many would dub an anarcho-capitalist.  But the Great Recession and some personal experiences, that hasn’t been the case. The economic upheavals rekindled some of my old Keynsianism but also opened my mind to other schools like Modern Monetary Theory and even some minor tingles of industrial democracy.

Though what I found myself shocked with, as mentioned above, was my attitude towards the Death Penalty and some other social issues. A decade or so back I was for the execution of criminals. But growing up and reading about so many cases of innocent individuals being sentenced and ending up on Death Row, my mind had changed. For the sake of even saving one innocent person, I was for scrapping the act. Death sentences in America are an expensive proposition, as our (luckily?) inefficient justice system takes years (if not decades) to execute someone. The appeals process also adds to the costs. Still, like I said, if it saved even one innocent than perhaps it was worth it.

But then I see all these stories of some really sick human beings (can they even be called that anymore?) committing acts of brutality like rape and murder and sex slavery against children and women, that one has to really ask an important question. If…without a doubt that individual is guilty, is it worth keeping them alive at the cost of the tax payer? We do not have labor camps in America, so in reality we would be warehousing these type of monsters, who probably would get better medical care than the people paying for his stay in prison!

There are other social stuff, but for now, this is all I’m going to cover. I will say though, I have been rekindling with my spirituality, and it has felt great. Now, I understand, not everyone needs to believe in God, but for some of us have a need for it. I’m still having trouble believing in Jesus, but God and just plain old spiritual immateriality like Buddhism or Taoism. It has helped me with dealing with some internal stresses and my work both on the job and in my creative ventures has improved.

Cherry picking Bible Quotes for positive intolerance

 

The Social Cons aren’t the only ones who can cherry pick Bible verses. Though mine aren’t for establishing oppression against gays or others. This isn’t an attempt at preaching any religion, just pointing out that if you’re going to use the Bible for creating intolerance, then why not intolerance against affliction and injustice?

“If there is a poor man among you, one of your brothers, in any of the towns of the land which the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart, nor close your hand to your poor brother; but you shall freely open your hand to him, and generously lend him sufficient for his need in whatever he lacks.” ~ Deuteronomy 15:7

“But if someone who is supposed to be a Christian has money enough to live well, and sees a brother in need, and won’t help him–how can God’s love be within him?” ~ 1 John 3:17