May 17·edited May 17Liked by Bill Astore

Bill, last Sunday at 1.00am in the night this 75-year-old New Zealander had a medical emergency.

I called 111, and the free St. Johns ambulance showed up within 5-minutes.

The wonderfully trained young lady did a full series of tests in the brand-new Mercedes ambulance with all the modern gadgets. Including an EKG. My blood pressure was 240/120. Stroke territory.

She wired this to the hospital using her modem.

I was rushed to the hospital, and by 4.00am had the full gamut of tests done. Includer MRI

I was treated for 4-days in a new wing of the hospital - wired to God only knows what.

Treated for high blood pressure, and discharged after 4-days.

The hospital drove me home. Faxed my (3) new drugs to my pharmacy. Who delivered them to my home free of Charge.

The Social Worker went to the supermarket for me and stocked up my groceries.

This morning the doctor called me at home - to enquire how I was doing.

The Social service lady visited to see if I needed anything else.

The only paperwork - tell them my name at the hospital - I come up on their computer.

The only cost = $0.00

Is this why I retired back to New Zealand, my country of birth?

America is a rich country. You could have this also. It's just a matter of priorities.

EDIT: Btw, I had equal service in my working life in Seattle. But I was a highly paid professional. My healthcare was provided by my company as part of my compensation package. An enormous cost to my company - one of the reasons American companies are not competitive on the World Market.

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only thing more imminently dangerous to life and limb is war machines bought for profit.

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HEALTH CARE FOR PROFIT - GOTTA' GO! We need REAL medical care in this country. Please support the new MEDICARE FOR ALL proposal and don't let pharmaceutical and insurance company lobbyists get in your way.

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I've been reading about Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and he is very concerned abut health care. He would not renig on a pledge to work for Medicare for all, like Biden. Much of what is out there about RFKjr. is dishonest reporting because he was opposed to many of the gov't operations put forth on the whole covid situation. He is not opposed to vaccines and has had all his children vaccinated, he is opposed to vaccines that have not been thoroughly vetted for harm to the human body, and has written a NYT bestseller about it. Yes, it was a best seller despite the fact that the NYT and other rags REFUSED to review it!! How about them apples? The DNC is doing its best to discredit this brave man, and I hope all your readers Bill will not let them do that.

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The Colonel smells a rat with the American health care system. He is correct. Unfortunately, he never identifies the culprit (hint: it's not profits) and his solution would be perfect for the Soviet Union (hint: bankrupt and defunct).

The reason why our health care is so expensive is the same reason our education system is so expensive: heavy government involvement. It is no coincidence that the cost of a college education began to rise dramatically at the same time the government started guaranteeing student loans. When you increase the demand for a product, be it health care or education, all other things being equal, the price will rise.

How do you increase the demand for a college education? You make tons of money available for it. How do you increase the demand for health care? You make it "free." Economist Milton Friedman identified four types of spending:

1) You spend your own money on yourself.

2) You spend your own money on someone else.

3) You spend someone else's money on yourself.

4)You spend someone else's money on someone else.

Which type of spending results in the most efficiency? You guessed it, number one. Why? Because when you are spending your own money you pay attention to quality AND price. What if someone else (like an insurance company) is paying for it (category 3)? If someone else was buying your dinner would you choose a grilled cheese sandwich or filet mignon? Most people would choose the latter. When you have health insurance and your doctor says you need a colonoscopy do you ask how much it will cost? No, you ask who is the best gastroenterologist. Filet mignon.

The result is massive price inflation. I am a health care provider (optometrist). Maybe one out of twenty of my patients pays cash. The rest have insurance. Older patients have Medicare, indigent patients have medicaid, working patients have some vision care plan. Often patients don't know exactly what insurance they have. Who has to figure that out? We do. My staff spends a lot of time helping patients figure out who will pay, what will be their copay, calling the insurance company to verify coverage, filing insurance claims, refiling denied claims, etc. Then if we miscalculated or the insurance company does not pay as expected, we must send the patient a bill. Occasionally the patient will not pay. We send another bill. Are you getting a sense of how much time our office spends explaining to patients how their insurance works, filing the claims, following up on claims, and billing when insurance does not pay? These costs are passed along to the patient. What if the patient paid cash instead? Yes, I could provide the same level of service at a lower cost. But, if I take Medicare (which I must to stay in business) by law I cannot charge a private pay patient less than I charge Medicare. The result is that people who pay cash must pay more than they otherwise would.

Why does every patient and their dog have health insurance? It all started back during WWII. The Franklin Roosevelt administration decided to impose wage caps during the war. Because many working age workers were off fighting a war there was a shortage of workers. FDR's solution? Cap wages. Because employers could not longer compete for workers by raising wages, they began giving benefits instead. One of those benefits was to provide workers with health insurance rather than increased wages. After the war the link between employment and health insurance was not broken (the government offered tax incentives to employers) and remains to this day. It is one of the many permanent distortions in the economy imposed by wars. Another permanent distortion is the withholding tax. Uncle Sam could not wait until the end of the year to extort your money; he needed it now.

What is the result of this link between health insurance and employment? If you lose your job you lose your health insurance. This is all thanks to the government policy during WWII. The bottom line to all this is that people now expect their health care costs to be paid by someone else. This is a recipe for price inflation and that is exactly the result.

The price inflation in health care is all the result of government involvement either though providing health insurance (Medicare/Medicaid), by providing tax incentives to employers to provide health insurance, or by excessive regulations (for example: you can't sell health insurance across state lines). In other words, the free market has not been allowed to operate due to government interference. And what is the solution the Colonel has offered? More government interference.

No, no, no! This shows a complete ignorance of economics. The way you fix price inflation is to put the spending back in the hands of the patient. How? Stop taking a good part of their paycheck out and sending it to insurance companies and give it to the worker instead. Now they have more money for unexpected expenses like health care. Health care insurance would still have a role; people would still need a catastrophic plan to pay for big ticket items like cancer or heart surgery. But catastrophic insurance would cost a lot less and the savings could be used to pay cash for minor expenses, such as broken arms or root canals. Yes, the price of root canals would plunge if people were paying cash.

What have we done here? We have moved the spending from category 3 (you spending other peoples money on yourself) to category 1 (you spending money on yourself). This is a recipe for price DEFLATION. A real world example is LASIK eye surgery. This surgery can correct the vision of many patients so that the need for glasses is either greatly reduced or eliminated. Since the surgery was first introduced about 20 years ago the quality of the surgery has improved and price has been reduced (especially inflation adjusted). How is that possible? Doesn't the cost of health care constantly rise? Not if you interject the free market. You see (pun intended), LASIK is not covered by insurance. People pay cash for the procedure. Market forces have been allowed to do their magic by increasing quality and decreasing cost. The same force could work with the whole of health care if the government would get out of the way. But it won't. And the politicians (like Bernie Sanders) will say that free market capitalism has failed. They will convince the economic illiterate (like the Colonel) that MORE government involvement is the cure. Now you know better.

p.s. Another example of the free market capping costs is breast augmentation surgery. You can call around a get a price for it because it is not covered by health insurance; it is much more affordable than surgeries covered by insurance. Don't try that with gall bladder surgery. Exception: The Surgery Center of Oklahoma. They don't take insurance and they give you the complete cost of the surgery, anesthesia, supplies, etc. up front. Complete transparency. That's why in the Obamacare bill the hospital lobby made damn sure no more clinics like it could be created. Canadians, with their "free" health care, frequent the clinic and pay cash willingly before they die.

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Could not agree more on all counts, Bill. And yes, Biden, like Obama, absolutely let us down on healthcare.

A friend is a patient of an ophthalmologist at the world-[in]famous Cleveland Clinic, and his doctor relayed that the rule there is 7 patients per hour, including exam and write-up. How scary is THAT??

[BTW, I did draft my latest blog post before reading yours!]

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Nice ad in the Times, by the way, Bill. What does something like that set you people back?

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Got a question for You, Bill.

Are Americans "increasingly sick, obese, depressed, tense, even suicidal" BECAUSE of this nation's Health Care system? Or because of something else? Does this nation's interaction with the rest of the Planet since 9/11 and its response and reaction to The COVID Event have anything to do with it?

[Note: One could also add "addicted to drugs, booze, and/or the internet/social media, prone to random acts of violence by crazies, common criminals, and/or cops, and other specific indicators of Americans' physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health deterioration and decline, and thus this nation's demise."]

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Hey, Bill, you made the papers: https://consortiumnews.com/2023/05/18/us-national-security-experts-call-for-peace-in-ukraine How does it feel to be a national security expert?

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“Well, how CONVENIENT…,” as The Church Lady would have once put it. [An intro to The Church Lady is at https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=366567245330309 ]


by Tara Copp and Lolita C. Baldor / AP 051923

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Pentagon has overestimated the value of the weapons it has sent to Ukraine by at least $3 billion — an accounting error that could be a boon for the war effort because it will allow the Defense Department to send more weapons now without asking Congress for more money.

The acknowledgment Thursday comes at a time when Pentagon is under increased pressure by Congress to show accountability for the billions of dollars it has sent in weapons, ammunition and equipment to Ukraine and as some lawmakers question whether that level of support should continue.

It also could free up more money for critical weapons as Ukraine is on the verge of a much anticipated counteroffensive — which will require as much military aid as they can get. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has previously said the offensive was delayed because they did not yet have everything they needed.

Continued at https://apnews.com/article/ukraine-costs-war-russia-weapons-884a9eefe32eee9ec611771cfe2a4642

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One of the most important aspects of this whole issue of a national, universal health care system in America is that it raises some questions that very few Americans ~ including particularly their “leaders” in government, those “leaders” owners and operators/commanders and controllers in America’s Ruling Political Class, and those “leaders’” and their bosses’ media ~ have given serious thought to:

~ 1. What is the purpose and function of government? Is it to meet the Human social and economic Needs and/or to satisfy the Human social and economic Wants of the population? Or is it to protect the Human Rights of that population, and to facilitate the fulfillment of the Human Responsibilities of that population? Which leads immediately to…

~ 2. Is Health Care a Human Right? Or is it a Human Need and Want? The same question could be asked about Education, Employment, Housing, Economic Security in the face of old age, illness or injury, and/or unemployment, Leisure, access to the Internet, etc . Which leads ultimately to one of, if not The most important questions that nobody is asking…

~ 3. What is the difference between Human Needs and Human Wants, on the one hand, and Human Rights and Responsibilities, on the other?

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The single most important question that needs to be asked of and answered by proponents of a national, universal health care system in America is: “Who is going to pay for it, and how?”

Paying for such a system will require either: 1] an increase in federal taxes; or 2] a decrease in federal spending in some area outside of health care; or 3] some combination of both. A fourth alternative is to not worry about who is going to pay for it and how, and simply pile the new expenditures on to America’s current $31.8 trillion national, sovereign Debt, and its $187.6 trillion in Unfunded Liabilities [Social Security, Medicare Parts A, B, and D, Federal Debt held by the Public, and Federal Employee and Veterans Benefits]. Source: https://usdebtclock.org/ .

An obvious candidate for a reduction in spending as a way to pay for universal health care is, of course, America’s national “defense” and “surveillance/security/safety” budgets. What does anybody reading this figure that the odds are of that happening any time soon, what with Cold War II getting hotter every day?

If sufficient federal program budgets aren’t cut, then which individuals, families, organizations, and institutions will have to pay increased taxes to make up the shortfall, so as to keep the Debt and Unfunded Liabilities from increasing even more than they already are?

These are the sort of questions that our “leaders” ~ the elected politicians, entrenched bureaucrats, and anointed appointees ~ do not like to be asked, let alone be required to answer. But at some point, they will be asked because they must be; even if none of those folks have an answer.

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