The Cost of Higher Education rose Twice as Much as Health Care Costs

Posted by PITHOCRATES - August 31st, 2013

Week in Review

It’s bad enough that higher education is programming our kids to become good liberals.  But their getting rich in the process is just rubbing salt into the wound (see College Costs Surge 500% in U.S. Since 1985: Chart of the Day by Michelle Jamrisko & Ilan Kolet posted 8/26/2013 on Bloomberg).

The cost of higher education has surged more than 500 percent since 1985, illustrating why there have been renewed calls for change from both political parties.

The CHART OF THE DAY shows that tuition expenses have increased 538 percent in the 28-year period, compared with a 286 percent jump in medical costs and a 121 percent gain in the consumer price index. The ballooning charges have generated swelling demand for educational loans while threatening to make college unaffordable for domestic and international students.

What expenses does a college have?  There are shelters (i.e., buildings) where students sit and learn.  But shelter costs rose nowhere near the amount going to college did.  So it’s not the buildings.  So what else do colleges have?  That tuition pays for?  Excluding books and living expenses that are above and beyond tuition expenses?  Well, the only other thing they really have are people.

College administrators and college professors.  If the high tuition costs are not due the costs of the buildings on the college campus then we must be paying the people too much.  In pay and benefits.  So let’s crunch some numbers.

The average annual cost for a 4-year public college is about $18,000 (see The Average Cost of a U.S. College Education posted 8/24/2010 in US News and World Repot).  Based on a typical enrollment of 40,000 students that comes to an annual college revenue of $720,000,000.  If the college has $1.5 billion in debt on its books for capital improvements on average at 6% that comes to an annual interest expense of $90 million.  Let’s assume they retire $50 million in debt every year.  And their operating costs (everything else but pay and benefits for administrators and professors) are, say, $25 million.  Subtracting all this from the annual tuition revenue leaves $555 million for pay and benefits each year.  Assuming a professor/administrator for each 20 students that gives us 900 professors/administrators.  Dividing this into that $555 million gives us about $617,000 per professor/administrator annually.

This is just a rough estimate but it does give you an idea about the amount of money we’re talking about here.  Not all professors are making $617,000 but if you’re tenured you’re living well.  Very well.  And administrators typically live far better than tenured professors.  This is what students are going in debt for.  To give a privileged few a life others can only dream about.  Worse, a lot of these students who graduate have an unmarketable degree.  In an economy where employers are looking for people with math and science skills people with degrees in romantic languages or gender studies will not fare well.  But the people who sold them those degrees will be doing very well.  This is why we have a student loan debt problem.  Students took on enormous debt for a degree they can’t use.

Everyone loves to complain about the high cost of health care.  And demand that government do something about it.  Well, they did.  They gave us Obamacare.  Which promises to squeeze hospitals and doctors.  To make them do more for less.  Obamacare is so bad that it is causing some doctors to retire early.  Just so they don’t have to deal with it.  Yet the cost of college has gone up at twice the rate of health care costs.  But where is the outcry over that?  Where are the people demanding that government do something?   To squeeze those universities, professors and administrators?  Why should they get rich at providing education.  If doctors shouldn’t get rich saving lives why should educators be allowed to get rich selling unmarketable degrees?  Just why is it educators can get away with being the greediest of the greedy and escape government scrutiny?

Because they teach their students to be good liberals, that’s why.  And this is so valuable to Democrats that they are willing to raise the taxes on their constituents as much as it takes.  Because without the programming higher education provides few would vote Democrat.

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Obamacare may cause up to 65,000 Needless Deaths based on what’s happening in the NHS

Posted by PITHOCRATES - July 14th, 2013

Week in Review

The problem with national health care is simple economics.  Supply and demand.  Things that cost more are in lower demand.  Things that cost less are in higher demand.  And free things are over consumed.

In Britain they have the NHS.  The National Health Service.  It’s not health insurance.  Like Obamacare is.  It is health care funded by the taxpayers.  What they designed Obamacare to become.  After causing businesses to drop costly mandated health insurance for their employers.  And making it near impossible for private health insurers to remain in the insurance business.  Once they meet these objectives then the government can transform Obamacare more into something like the NHS.  Where people get ‘free’ health care.  Paid for not by private insurance policies.  But from the tax revenue of the federal government.  Where they can over consume all the free health care they can get their hands on.  Such as demanding antibiotics every time they get the sniffles.

Sounds good to some.  Primarily to those who don’t have health insurance.  Because they choose not to pay for it.  Why?  Because it is so expensive.  And it’s so expensive because health insurance is no longer insurance.  Because it covers almost everything.  Instead of just the large, unexpected, catastrophic expenses.  The things insurance used to pay for.  While we paid for checkups and routine doctor visits out of pocket.  So we paid for the little things that we could expect and budget for.  While buying insurance for the things we could not expect or budget for.  And the system worked.  It kept costs under control because we were paying for most of what we were receiving.  Creating a direct relationship between the services we received and the money we spent.  Which introduced market forces into the equation.  But ever since health insurance became an employee benefit there have been fewer and fewer market forces in the equation.  Which has lead to the explosion in health care costs.

Nationalizing health care only removes market force from the equation further.  Which will, of course, raise costs.  As there will be nothing to keep health providers efficient while maintaining high standards of quality.  For if their customers aren’t paying them they don’t have to please their customers with efficiency or high quality care.  They just have to meet the minimum state requirements.  And keep asking the government for more money.  Until the government has no money to give.

And as a large health bureaucracy develops things become more impersonal.  More machine like.  Where patients are units of input.  That have to be processed according to strict bureaucratic guidelines.  Not necessarily what’s best for the patient.  The amount of paperwork rises.  And health care providers spend more time pushing paper than interacting with units of input.  Patients.  People at the hospital must bow to the distant health care authority.  Often following rules and regulations that don’t make sense all of the time.  Frustrating them.  And making them apathetic in their jobs.

Then efficiencies fall.  And costs rise.  Health care providers are forced to do more with less.  Spreading their limited resources over more and more patients.  Unable to provide high quality to everyone they do just the minimum for everyone.  While their apathy turns to indifference to their patients’ wellbeing.  You create an environment like this eventually over time you get this (see ‘Up To 13,000 Needless Deaths’ In NHS Hospitals posted 7/14/2013 on Sky News).

Up to 13,000 people may have died needlessly in NHS hospitals since 2005, according to a report to be published in the coming days…

The report, to be released on Tuesday, will criticise care standards and management failures, fuelling concerns about a problem with the NHS’s culture where whistleblowers are afraid to speak out and regulators often fail to do their job…

Sir Bruce examined not just mortality rates, but measurements including infection levels, the number of patients suffering from preventable and potentially fatal signs of neglect, and the numbers harmed by so-called “never events” such as operations on the wrong part of the body, or surgical instruments left inside a patient.

National health care will eventually poison the greatest assets of the health care system.  Its people.  Taking a good system and making it bad over time.  And you know it’s bad when ‘surgical instruments left inside a patient’ is a metric they track.  Apparently because it happens so often that it is something that they can count.

So take a good look.  This is national health care.  The ultimate destination of Obamacare.  Which will kill some 65,000 people over 8 years (the U.S. has about five times the population of Britain so they will have five times the number of needless deaths).  That comes to about 8,125 a year.  Which isn’t that far below the national homicide rate.  Imagine that.  Raising deaths in our health care system to near the national homicide rate.  That’s what we can expect with Obamacare.  As our health care system struggles to do more with less.  Overwhelming our heath care providers.  And making them grow ever more apathetic.  Just like they have in Britain.

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Cost of Health Insurance

Posted by PITHOCRATES - May 27th, 2013

Economics 101

Making Health Insurance a Fringe Benefit removed Market Forces from the Equation

The reason why health insurance is so expensive is because it is not insurance anymore.  It’s more of a welfare program.  Where other people pay.  Whereas insurance mitigates financial risk.  People pay a small premium to insure against a large financial loss.  They may pay $250/year to insure something that may cost $25,000 to replace.  For something they may own for 10 years.  Because they would rather spend $250 each year (for a total of $2,500 over those 10 years) than have to replace it by paying another $25,000 should something happen.  Insurance reduces the amount of money you can lose.  In this case the greatest financial loss is reduced from $25,000 down to $2,500.  This is insurance.

Health insurance used to be like this.  When we paid for it ourselves.  But things changed when it became an employee benefit.  Where we no longer saw the true cost of that insurance.  This happened during World War II.  As FDR put in wage caps.  Why?  With all the men in the military and wartime production through the roof there was a shortage of labor.  And the last thing FDR wanted on top of the inflation they were causing by printing so much money to pay for the war was wage inflation.  Hence the wage caps.  But the problem with wage caps is that employers could not entice the best workers to come work for them by offering them higher wages.  So to entice the best workers to come work for them and get around FDR’s wage caps employers began offering fringe benefits.

This is the cause of all our health care woes today.  Making health insurance a fringe benefit.  For it removed market forces from the equation.  People receiving the benefit had no idea what the benefit cost.  And did not care.  Which wasn’t a problem at first.  But then the Sixties came around.  And women stopped having as many babies.  Causing the population to start getting older.  Worse (from the perspective of paying for health insurance), people were beginning to live longer.  So when a person retired from a company they lived a long retirement.  So companies who offered these generous fringe benefits began to suffer under the cost of them.  Between pensions and health care costs retirees were costing some companies more than their active workers.  Because they were living so long into retirement.  (Just as these long retirements are straining Social Security and Medicare).  And modern medicine just keeps pulling them back from the brink of death.  Prolonging this crushing financial burden.

Health Insurance is more Expensive than it once was because it now Pays for Routine Medical Expenses

Compounding this problem is how health insurance is no longer insurance.  Instead of a small premium insuring against a large financial loss people expect health insurance to pay for everything.  And get righteously indignant whenever they have to pay anything out of pocket.  From a prescription co-pay.  To a small co-pay at a doctor’s office.  This is not paying a small premium to insure against a large financial loss.  This is demanding a free ride.  If health insurance was actually insurance it would look something like this:

Health Insurance Cost - Insurance

This assumes a health group with 100 participants.  Of this 100 five people suffer a serious accident in one year.  Incurring a large and unexpected hospital expense of $6,000 each.  While three people suffer a serious illness that same year.  Incurring a large and unexpected hospital expense of $4,500 each.  The total for these large and unexpected costs is $43,500.  If we divide this over the 100 members of the group that comes to an annual health insurance premium of $435 each.  Or $36.25/month.  Or $8.37/week.  Which isn’t much.  If you were one of those suffering a serious accident you didn’t have your personal finances wiped out by an unexpected $6,000 hospital bill.  Instead you only paid a manageable and budgeted $435 each year.  In other words, spending $435 saved $5,565.  Not a bad deal.  This is insurance.  Because it only paid for the unexpected.  Not our routine health care expenses that we should pay out of pocket.  If we add these routine expenses into the health insurance formula we can see how they increase the cost of health insurance.

Health Insurance Cost - Welfare

Assume each person consume $750 in routine medical costs.  For office visits.  Allergy shots.  Vaccinations for the children.  Flu shots.  Seeing the doctor when you have a cold.  Annual checkups.  Physicals.  Cancer screening.  Prescriptions.  Etc.  Those things that can be reasonably expected each year.  When our health insurance policies pay for these routine medical expenses note the large increase in the annual insurance policy premium.  Going from $435 to $1,185.  An increase of 172%.  Everyone will pay $1,185.  Whether they consume $750 in medical costs or not.  Also, of the three things health insurance pays for (serious accidents, serious illnesses and routine medical) routine medical is the biggest of the three.  Explaining why health insurance is now so much more expensive than it needs to be.

It was the Pension and Health care Costs of Retirees that Bankrupted General Motors

This is why it is better to pay out of pocket for these routine costs.  Because if you’re really healthy one year and never see the doctor you will not consume $750 in medical costs.  So if you normally pay these out of pocket but don’t you would only spend $435 that year for real health insurance.  Not the $1,185 that pays for everything.  Whether you use it or not.  This is where market forces come in.  Instead of paying for a costly doctor’s visit when you have a cold you may just buy some over the counter cold medicine from the drugstore.  This is how we behave when we pay for stuff.  But when you introduce a third party it alters our behavior.

“Whether you use it or not.”  When people can get something more for no extra money they are going to take it.  Like going for seconds and thirds at an all-you-can-eat buffet.  It doesn’t cost anything more for the second and third plate.  In fact people will feel cheated if they don’t go for plates 2 and 3.  Because all-you-can-it is pretty expensive if you only eat one plate.  Because that one price pays for 2, 3, even 4 plates.  If you can eat that much.  It’s this mentality that causes people to go to the doctor when they have the sniffles.  So they can get ‘free’ antibiotics.  Because it doesn’t cost anything more.  Since their health insurance is already paying for it.

But it does cost more to those who are paying for it.  A lot more.  So much more that small business owners can’t afford to provide health insurance for their employees.  Because to do so would require that they greatly increase their selling price.  Which they can’t do and expect to stay in business.  Because the market sets the price.  Not them.  It’s up to them to figure out how to sell at a price the people will pay.  And if they raise it too high to pay for health insurance for their employees the people will stop buying from them.  Putting them out of business.  Even bigger businesses struggle with this.  For it was the pension and health care costs of retirees that bankrupted General Motors.  Which was one of those companies that started offering health insurance as a benefit during World War II.  Giving us all our health care woes today.

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Long Wait Times for Doctor Appointments in UK sends People to the Emergency Rooms Instead

Posted by PITHOCRATES - May 25th, 2013

Week in Review

If you go to some American emergency rooms you could wait to see a doctor for hours.  Unless you’re close to death.  If so then you get to go to the front of the line.  While the less lucky who aren’t as close to death have to wait.  Two, three sometimes even four hours in some cases.  Because that’s how backed up an American emergency room can be.  Why?  Because we don’t have national health care.  And not everyone can afford health insurance.  Something Obamacare was going to fix.  By providing health care to everyone.  So the uninsured no longer back up our emergency rooms.  Just like in other countries with national health care.  Such as Britain (see Can no one force GPs to do their job properly? by Sandra Parsons posted 5/22/2013 on the Daily Mail).

Last week, a friend, a senior doctor in a busy A&E, found herself dealing with a young woman suffering from a urinary tract infection.

While this was undoubtedly painful and potentially dangerous, it was neither an accident nor an emergency.

So why, my harassed doctor friend asked her, hadn’t she gone to see her GP instead?

The patient replied she’d dialled the number over and over again without getting through and, in the end, she went to the surgery to ask for an appointment. The earliest slot, she was told, was ten days’ time. It was at that point she’d gone to A&E instead.

She tried to make an appointment with her doctor but she couldn’t get someone to answer the phone to make an appointment for her.  So she went there in person.  And they basically said, “Okay, I see you’re in terrible pain.  We should take a look at you as soon as possible.  I’ll pencil you in for a rush appointment.  So go home, get some rest and we’ll see you sometime after two weeks to take care of your unbearable pain.  Just hope it doesn’t go septic before then.  NEXT!”

This is national health care.  As done by Britain’s esteemed National Health Service (NHS).  The same NHS they poured accolades all over in the opening ceremonies of the 2012 Olympic Games.  That one.  The treasure of the United Kingdom.  What the left says we should have here.  And it is their fervent hope that Obamacare will evolve into something very much like the NHS.  Because they say that will make health care better.  And keep people from using the emergency rooms for routine medical care because they don’t have health insurance.  Only it’s not working in Britain.  Where people are still going to the emergency room (A/E in Britain) for routine medical care.

An aberration? Far from it: this woman is one of tens of thousands who are turning up at the doors of A&E because they can’t get an appointment with their doctors. The costs involved are huge…

So emergency doctors — highly trained professionals who know how to save your life when you’re having a heart attack or have been in a horrific road accident — find themselves treating minor cuts and chest infections…

Tomorrow, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt is due to make a speech criticising GPs for failures that include not knowing their patients’ names and hiving off out-of-hours care to outside agencies. He will also highlight the fact that admissions at A&E departments have soared as a result.

Quite rightly, he lays the blame for this on the changes Labour made to GP contracts nine years ago, which allowed GPs to opt out of night calls and rewarded them for complying with targets rather than for treating patients as individuals…

So it’s hardly surprising patients all over the country have decided they’ve had enough and are bypassing their GPs in favour of their local A&E

What he should be telling us is what action he is taking to ensure that all GPs start doing their jobs properly.

That means making night and weekend calls, the way they used to. It means ensuring that we can all make an appointment for tomorrow or the next day — not next week — or turn up and wait if we’re seriously worried. (Yes, I know a few sterling surgeries do operate like this — but too many don’t.)

It also means that when we walk through the surgery door we should not feel we’re an unwelcome interruption in the surgery’s busy day, but that we’ll be listened to and taken seriously.

The most junior A&E doctor seems to be able to achieve this on a fraction of GPs’ generous pay and with far less sleep. Why can’t GPs?

Not knowing their patients’ names?  Working banking hours?  Say what you want about the American health care system before Obamacare at least our doctors knew our names.  And worked in walk-in emergency clinics after hours.  They weren’t quite an emergency room.  But if you had the flu they could do everything for you short of hospitalization.  Including writing a prescription for you that you could pick up at any number of 24-hour pharmacies.  This was the ‘broken system’ that was in crisis that the left said we had to fix with Obamacare.  So we can have something more like the NHS.  Which sounds worse than the broken system we supposedly had.

Note the comment about their generous pay.  This kind of talk must send shivers down the spines of American doctors.  For as the government takes more control of health care and begins to rein in those high health care costs guess how they’re going to do that?  Cutting that generous pay of doctors.  Because no one should be profiting on the sickness of others.  No.  Under Obamacare doctors should answer to a higher calling.  To serve his fellow man.  Not for the money but for the satisfaction of a job well done.  Yeah, that’ll encourage high school graduates everywhere to go into great debt and work a 90 hour week so they, too, can serve their fellow man.

Americans can’t even graduate enough people with math and science degrees.  So American corporation have to rely on foreigners to fill some high-paying high-tech positions.  Are they going to do the same with our medical care because fewer American students will want to go through that Hell just to earn the wages of a UAW assembly line worker?  When it’s a lot easier and less costly to be a UAW assembly line worker?

Could this be the problem they’re having in the NHS?  That they’re not paying their doctors enough to encourage others to enter the profession leading to a shortage of doctors?  Forcing people to the emergency room because they just don’t have enough doctors to see patients in the doctor’s office?  You hear all the time about how we have to pay our federal employees fat salaries and give them generous benefit packages to compete with jobs in the private sector (though few jobs in the private sector enjoy the pay and benefit packages a federal job offers).  But if a doctor makes that kind of money something is wrong with that.  Because no one should profit on the sickness of others.  But a federal worker with a far easier job paid with tax dollars?  They have no problem with these people earning what a doctor earns.  Or at least what a doctor once earned.  Before Obamacare.

Once the government starts paying doctors there will be a push to unionize them.  And then everything will change.  Then the government will want to pay them more.  Cut their working hours.  Hire more doctors.  All of which will require massive new taxes.  While giving an expanding government a powerful new ally.  And a huge source of new political donations.  As they’ll collect a piece of the union dues the newly unionized doctors will pay.  And America will never be the same again.  If you worried about the IRS targeting conservatives just imagine the special treatment conservatives will get in a health care system controlled by liberal Democrats.  Of course, a non-partisan health care system would never base a treatment decision on one’s politics.  Just because the government used the IRS to target conservatives doesn’t mean they will use a national health care system to do the same.

When President Reagan was shot he joked while being wheeled into the operating room, “I hope you guys are Republicans.”  The joke broke the tension and the doctors laughed.  Then one said, “Mr. President, today we are all Republicans.”  They then went about saving the president’s life.  In the future it might be wise to ask instead, “Gee, I sure hope you guys are all Democrats.”  Just to be safe.

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FT169: “College is more about making Democrat voters than giving students marketable skills.” —Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - May 10th, 2013

Fundamental Truth

Another Big Reason why College Tuition has been Soaring is because of Public Sector Unions

College tuition is rising.  With increases greater than the rate of inflation.  With some tuition costs growing greater than costs in health care.  There are many reasons for this.  Unlike private sector business colleges cannot produce more with less.  That is, they cannot use productivity gains to educate more students with fewer professors.  Auto manufacturers can use robots to replace people on the assembly line.  Reducing wage, pension and health care costs.  The biggest costs that go into a car.

Universities are big campuses with lots of buildings that basically do one thing.  Sit students down in front of a professor.  This hasn’t change since the first days of higher education.  The only things that have changed are the buildings are a lot nicer.  And university employees all have better pay, pensions and health care than they used to have.  Which is why tuition costs keep rising.  For universities, unlike auto manufacturers, can’t speed up their assembly lines by using robots instead of people.  But it’s not only the auto manufacturers and the universities that have high labor, pension and health care costs.

Another big reason why university tuition has been soaring is because of public sector unions.  Who have negotiated some extremely generous union contracts.  Cities and states everywhere are drowning under the costs of their labor, pension and health care costs.  Forcing them to cut back spending elsewhere to pay for those generous public sector union contracts.  So they’re cutting back on their subsidies for higher education.  And what the state cuts the universities just tack on to the student’s tuition bill.

Universities lure High School Kids into College with Promises of a Big Paycheck for an Easy Degree

Today’s tuition costs will saddle a student with the kind of debt that can pay for a house.  A very big house.  One of those McMansions.  Depending on where you go to college.  Which is all well and fine if a student gets a high-paying job after graduating.  Sadly, though, a lot aren’t.  A lot are taking jobs that they could have gotten out of high school.  Without that massive student loan debt.  Debt they will be paying for a long, long time.  Making it very difficult for them to buy a house and start a family.  And the reason for this is too many students are taking degrees with no market value in a high-tech economy.

Today’s businesses are looking for people with a strong science and math background.  For this is what businesses in a high-tech economy need.  Not people with degrees in anthropology.  Philosophy.  Women’s studies.  Art history.  Comparative literature.  Communication.  Or a myriad of other degrees that a business just can’t use.  Yet our universities are selling these degrees.  Telling their prospective students who don’t want the heavy math load a science and engineering degree requires that these other degrees are just as good.  And that they, too, can have that big paycheck.  Just like engineers and chemists and doctors and physicists.  All they need is a student loan.  And the world can be their oyster.

So these kids starting their adult lives start that life by making one of the worst decisions of their lives.  Because they really want to go to college.  For the fun.  Universities lure these high school kids into higher education.  Appealing to them as adults.  Who can live away from home out from under the judgmental eyes of their parents.  For on a college campus there is a lot of fun to be had.  Sex.  Drugs.  Alcohol.  And health services.  Such as birth control and access to abortion services.  For all the consequence-free fun a high school graduate could ever ask for.  This is the bait.  And all they have to do to have all of that grownup fun is to borrow enormous sums of money that they will probably never be able to pay back.

Liberals say You should Never Rush to Judgment, Especially if we can’t Blame Conservatives

For the universities, though, it’s not just the money.  For their curriculum is the product of those Sixties’ radicals.  Who tried to overthrow capitalism.  And replace it with communism.  As they were never able to incite the workers’ revolt in the United States they changed tack.  And continued their revolution from the inside.  By becoming college professors.  Who eventually got tenure.  And went on to write the curriculum.  Basically an anti-capitalist, America is responsible for all the world’s problems and an anti-religious/anti-tradition curriculum.  Hence the socially liberal campus where anything goes.  And those college degrees that have no market value.  That advanced a relentless attack on capitalism and business.  And made their students eschew American greatness.

This curriculum has helped President Obama win reelection despite a horrific economic record.  And a brutal attack on the American mission in Benghazi.  The result of a failed foreign policy that tried to make nice with America’s enemies.  Who have been trying—and at times succeeding—to kill Americans.  The Fort Hood shooting by a radical Islamist.  The underwear bomber (failed Islamist plot).  The Times Square bomber (failed Islamist plot).  As well as other smaller and lesser known incidents.  Both successful and failed Islamist plots.  Then Benghazi.  And the death of 4 Americans.  Despite earlier witnessing an increase of anti-Western violence in the city.  A resurgent al Qaeda.  And an anniversary date holy to radical Islam.  9/11.  The U.S. mission in Benghazi requested additional security.  The Obama administration denied it as it would not fit the 2012 campaign meme.  ‘Osama bin Laden is dead.  And General Motors is alive.’  President Obama had won the War on Terror with the killing of bin Laden.  Therefore, they couldn’t have a terrorist attack in Benghazi before the 2012 election.  So the Obama administration made up the story about an anti-Islamic YouTube video that led to a spontaneous protest in front of the U.S. mission.  A protest that naturally got out of hand when the people pulled RPGs and mortars out of their pockets and started a military assault on the American compound.

The Obama administration then started to disseminate the lie.  They sent Secretary Rice to the Sunday morning television shows with severely edited talking points to downplay any role of radical Islam.  Then President Obama and Secretary Clinton made numerous public statements denouncing that YouTube video.  Even made a video to air in Pakistan.  And the mainstream media, the product of that anti-capitalist, America is responsible for all the world’s problems and anti-religious/anti-tradition curriculum never questioned anything.  They just dutifully carried the administration’s water.  And now that signs of a cover-up are coming out the administration is saying the only reason why they made any edits to those talking points was to prevent anyone from rushing to judgment.  Something they say we should never do.  Especially if we can’t blame conservatives.  Or Christians.  Like they did with the YouTube video that proved to be a red herring.  And as they—and their friends in the mainstream media—have rushed to judgment in the past.  By quickly blaming radical conservatives for every other massacre.  Only to see it turn out to be someone who wasn’t a conservative.  But a radical Islamist(s) instead.  Or someone suffering from mental illness.

Of course this wouldn’t be possible without higher education.  Where college is more about making Democrat voters than giving students marketable skills.  One could even blame those deaths in Benghazi on that anti-capitalist, America is responsible for all the world’s problems and anti-religious/anti-tradition curriculum.  (As well as being the reason why these kids can’t find any high-paying jobs; the vote for anti-business Democrat candidates whose policies discourage economic growth.)  Because protecting Americans in Benghazi would have been bad for the Democrats in 2012.  So perhaps we should be addressing the high cost of higher education.  And follow the example of the automotive industry.  By producing more graduates with fewer professors.  And put an end to the liberal Shangri la of the college campus.  By replacing the bulk of higher education with online studies.  For if a 15-year old girl can make medical decisions about the morning after pill by reading the contents of the packaging without consulting a doctor or parent then she can get her higher education online.  Without all the fun.  Or student loan debt.

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The Canadians are Cutting Doctors’ Medicare Reimbursements due to the Costs of an Aging Population

Posted by PITHOCRATES - May 5th, 2013

Week in Review

The United Kingdom has national health care.  Which is struggling to meet the demands of an aging population.  And is currently working on cutting their health care spending by £20 billion ($31.8 billion) to help stretch their limited resources meet the demands of their aging population.

Canada has private health care providers but a single-payer system.  So it’s not quite national health care.  But it is somewhat universal.  And something the proponents of Obamacare would settle for if they can’t get national health care.  But like the UK the Canadians are struggling to meet the demands of an aging population (see ‘Future of health care’ hangs on medicare talks posted 5/3/2013 on CBC News).

More than 200 doctors have voted in favour of supporting a lawsuit against the provincial government over medicare cuts, says the head of the New Brunswick Medical Society.

The doctors, who gathered for an emergency meeting in Fredericton on Friday to discuss the matter, were unanimous, other than one abstention, said president Dr. Robert Desjardins…

Desjardins said doctors are still willing to help Health Minister Ted Flemming find ways to cut $20 million from the health budget, but first things first.

“First and foremost importance is respect of the actual signed agreement,” said Desjardins.

“There’s not much of an incentive to discus the future of medicare when there’s no plan on the table and the signed agreement isn’t respected. So from there, what are we talking about?”

In March, the government announced plans to cut funding for doctors who bill medicare for each service by $18.8 million to $425 million and to cap that amount for two years.

The medical society, which represents about 1,700 doctors, contends that violates a fee agreement that expires next March.

Cutting doctors’ Medicare reimbursements?  That’s how Obamacare plans on bringing down health care costs in the United States.  Guess cutting doctors’ Medicare reimbursements isn’t the panacea they thought it would be.  As Canadian doctors actually want pay commensurate with their education, skill and experience.  Imagine that.

Becoming a doctor isn’t easy.  That’s why few people in the population become doctors.  And why countries that don’t pay their doctors well have doctor shortages.  Like they often do in countries with national health care.  Or in countries with a single-payer system.  Who look to break contracts to pay their doctors less.  To help stretch their limited resources meet the demands of their aging population.

Just something to look forward to under Obamacare.  People will at first praise the government for punishing those who choose to make a profit off of other people’s suffering.  But when doctors start leaving the profession and these people have to wait months for an appointment because of the doctor shortage they will long for a return to the old days.  When we had the finest health care system in the world.  And doctors got rich for being the best in the world.  How it once was.  Before Obamacare.

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Women with Breast Cancer suffer higher Death Rates in Britain’s National Health Service

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 2nd, 2013

Week in Review

The whole push for Obamacare was to provide quality care for all Americans.  Not just those who could afford it.  Health care was going to be classless.  There would be true equality.  No one would receive any better care than anyone else.  Because health care is not a privilege.  It’s a right.  Or so the proponents of national health care say.  And why they supported Obamacare.  A waypoint on the path to true universal care.  Where everyone gets the best health care whenever they need it.  Just like in Britain.  Whose National Health Service (NHS) is what those in America want Obamacare to evolve into.  So health care in America will be just as good as health care in Britain (see British women ‘dying quicker of breast cancer than elsewhere’ by Stephen Adams posted 3/1/2013 on The Telegraph).

Academics at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine found the proportion of women in the UK surviving at least three years after being diagnosed was 87 to 89 percent, which was similar to Denmark.

In Australia, Canada, Norway and Sweden three-year survival was 91 to 94 per cent for the period examined, between 2000 and 2007…

In Britain only 28 per cent made it to three years, but in Sweden 42 per cent did…

Dr Sarah Walters, lead author, said: “We should now investigate whether the treatment of women with later-stage breast cancer meets international standards. There is particular concern that this is not the case, especially for older women”.

Sara Hiom from Cancer Research UK, which helped with the study, said: “We need to investigate the possibility that fewer women with later stage breast cancer in the UK receive the best treatment for their circumstances…”

“The NHS is also working to ensure all patients are treated as individuals and receive care that meets their healthcare needs whatever their age or condition.”

National health care is great.  As long as you’re not old.  For those old people are very costly to treat.  Because they’re living longer into retirement.  Consuming ever more health care dollars (or British pounds) for a few months more of life.  If Britain wants to get their health care costs under control they could save a lot by not treating some of these highest consumers of health care.  Putting some of them, instead, on the Liverpool Care Pathway.  Where doctors can withdraw treatment to let terminal ill patients die with dignity.  While saving precious health care dollars/pounds for use elsewhere.  Cold and callous, yes, but it is happening.

They don’t call the Liverpool Care Pathway a death panel.  But it is one.  Especially when some people are placed on the pathway without consulting with the person’s family first.  Something to look forward to as Obamacare evolves more into a national health care system.  As well as higher death rates for women with breast cancer.  Where there will be more equality.  As we lower the quality of care for everyone by trying to do more with less.  As health care costs soar due to aging populations.  People living longer into retirement.  And tax revenues fall due to aging populations.  Fewer people entering the workforce to pay for those living longer into retirement.  Leaving death panels as one of the few ways for governments to cut costs.

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Will Obamacare reverse the Decline in the Growth Rate of Health Care Spending?

Posted by PITHOCRATES - February 17th, 2013

Week in Review

Believe it or not the rate of health care spending has been falling since 2002.  Thanks to the innovation of free markets (see Health Care Cost Inflation Is Slowing, But Obamacare Could Change That by James Pethokoukis, American Enterprise Institute, posted 2/16/2013 on Business Insider).

The rate of health care spending has been falling since 2002. AEI’s J.D. Kleinke points to some factors which are likely responsible: a) lots of breakthrough drugs from the 1980s and 1990s became widely available in generic form in the 2000s; b) health insurance plans became more diverse, giving consumers more choice, such as health savings accounts; c) the IT and networking revolution has improved disease management.

To sum up: Innovation — both in technology and products and processes — has slowed the rise in health care costs. Is the ACA and its expanded government intrusion into the sector likely to sustain and accelerate innovation or retard it?

Hmmm, does more government intrusion accelerate or retard innovation.  The U.S. Postal Service is going broke.  But UPS, FedEx, DHL, etc., aren’t.  People hate going to the Department of Motor Vehicles to renew their driver’s license as it can take an hour or more.  But you can go into a crowded Starbucks and leave 10 minutes later with a custom-made espresso-based drink.  While having enjoyed pleasant conversation with the baristas while you waited those 10 minutes.  Health savings accounts are bringing down health care costs in the private sector.  While Medicare is headed for bankruptcy.  People are saving for their retirement using things like 401(k)s.  While Social Security is headed for bankruptcy.  Hmmm.

Clearly the innovation is in the private sector.  As it appears the less government intrudes the better and more enjoyable things are.  So Obamacare will NOT sustain or accelerate innovation.  But retard it instead.

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Obamacare to Penalize Hospitals for Readmitting Sick People

Posted by PITHOCRATES - December 1st, 2012

Week in Review

Now that we passed Obamacare we’re starting to find out what was in that bill.  Which, according to Nancy Pelosi, was the only way for us to find out what was in it.  By voting blindly for it.  Then wait for them to implement it.  They’re doing that now.  And some of the things that we’re learning are in the bill are a little scary (see Hospitals Face Pressure From Medicare to Avert Readmissions (from the New York Times) by JORDAN RAU posted 11/26/2012 on The New York Times).

Medicare last month began levying financial penalties against 2,217 hospitals it says have had too many readmissions. Of those hospitals, 307 will receive the maximum punishment, a 1 percent reduction in Medicare’s regular payments for every patient over the next year, federal records show.

One of those is Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis, which will lose $2 million this year. Dr. John Lynch, the chief medical officer, said Barnes-Jewish could absorb that loss this year, but “over time, if the penalties accumulate, it will probably take resources away from other key patient programs.”

The crackdown on readmissions is at the vanguard of the Affordable Care Act’s effort to eliminate unnecessary care and curb Medicare’s growing spending, which reached $556 billion this year. Hospital inpatient costs make up a quarter of that spending and are projected to grow by more than 4 percent annually in coming years, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

There are two ways to look at this.  The government’s way.  Keeping those greedy hospitals from readmitting patients just to bill the government more.  Or the patients’ way.  Seeing Obamacare forcing hospitals not to readmit sick people.  Which would be basically the same as telling them to go and die.  It’s not called a death panel.  But someone in the hospital will have to decide whether to readmit the patient and suffer financial consequences.  Or please the government and not readmit these people.  Which, of course, would be a decision probably resulting in death for these patients.  Not the warm and cuddly Obamacare they told us about.  But it would be the only way the government could reduce health care costs.  Simply refusing to give people medical care.  For death is cheaper in the long run than hospitalization.  Something no doubt the government bureaucrats have factored in their Obamacare.

Medicare’s tough love is not going over well everywhere. Academic medical centers are complaining that the penalties do not take into account the extra challenges posed by extremely sick and low-income patients. For these people, getting medicine and follow-up care can be a struggle…

Various studies, including one commissioned by Medicare, have found that the hospitals with the most poor and African-American patients tended to have higher readmission rates than hospitals with more affluent and Caucasian patients…

Some researchers fear the Medicare penalties are so steep, they will distract hospitals from other pressing issues, like reducing infections and surgical mistakes and ensuring patients’ needs are met promptly. “It should not be our top priority,” said Dr. Ashish Jha, a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health who has studied readmissions. “If you think of all the things in the Affordable Care Act, this is the one that has the biggest penalties, and that’s just crazy.”

Interesting.  Not only does Obamacare use death as a cost-cutting means it also will discriminate against the poor and minorities.  While at the same time making hospitals less safe as money will go to the government in fines instead of combating infections and preventing surgical mistakes.

Death panels and less safe hospitals.  Funny, I don’t recall them telling us this is what they were giving us Obamacare.  Then again, if they told the truth they probably wouldn’t have gotten the votes.  So health care will get incredibly worse.  These policies and our aging population will accelerate our once quality health care system to something akin to what we could find in a third world country.

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National Health Care Budget Deficits force Hospital Closures in Wales

Posted by PITHOCRATES - July 21st, 2012

Week in Review

People have the misperception that a national health care system provides quality health care to everyone for free.  But health care is not free.  Someone has to pay for it.  In the United Kingdom that’s the taxpayer.  And when they can’t raise enough in taxes to close budget deficits they have to cut costs.  Close hospitals.  And make people travel farther for their health care needs (see Betsi Cadwaladr proposals: Flint and Blaenau Ffestiniog hospitals may shut posted 7/19/2012 on BBC News Wales).

Two community hospitals could close and minor injury accident departments may shut at others under a major health service shake-up in north Wales…

Among the areas under scrutiny are older people’s mental health services, neonatal intensive care and vascular and major arterial surgery.

The board is the first in Wales to outline plans for balancing the books.

It predicts a gap of £64.6m, the second highest in Wales…

Speaking before the meeting at St Asaph, Christine Evans, chair of patient watchdog Betsi Cadwaladr Community Health Council, said: “The local communities will be very upset.”

The UK, like the US, has an aging population.  And that’s a fact.  There are fewer people entering the workforce than are leaving it.  And those who are leaving the workforce tend to consume most of the health care services.  So you have a huge transfer of wealth from the working young to the retired seniors.  But because there are so many more of those retired seniors it is difficult to tax the working young enough to pay for them.  And if they can’t generate the tax revenue they have little choice but to cut costs.  Such as closing hospitals and minor injury departments.  And there’s probably more to come.

In the U.S. the private health insurers were vigilant in controlling health care costs.  For they were the only ones who were.  Doctors are reluctant to order tests that aren’t absolutely necessary because health insurers may not reimburse them.  And if they have a relationship with their patient, which most of them have, they don’t want their patient to get stuck with the bill.  So they won’t order a test if it’s not absolutely necessary.  Unless the patient insists.  People hate the insurance companies for this.  But one thing the private health insurance companies never did was close hospitals.

This is the future of Obamacare.  Health care will still cost.  Someone will still have to pay for it.  So they will do like they do in the UK.  Raise taxes.  Transfer wealth.  And then close hospitals when all of that fails to close budget deficits.  It’s just the nature of a national health care system treating an aging population.  With about 5 times the population of the UK those budget deficits will probably be about 5 times worse under Obamacare.  With 5 times the hospital closures.  Making the local communities about 5 times as upset.

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