Krugman on the candidates’ health care policies.

Krugman on McCain’s healthcare plan vs. Obama’s:
Health Care Destruction
Skipping to the punchline:

I agree: the McCain plan would do for health care what deregulation has done for banking. And I’m terrified.

Jumping back:

Barack Obama offers incremental reform: regulation of insurers to prevent discrimination against the less healthy, subsidies to help lower-income families buy insurance, and public insurance plans that compete with the private sector. His plan falls short of universal coverage, but it would sharply reduce the number of uninsured.

Better than nothing.

via Atrios.

Daily Roundup, tragic.

Tragic first – we need a real national health system to help prevent crap like this:
When staying alive means going bankrupt

LOMPOC, Calif. – Kathleen Aldrich, financially ruined by two bouts with ovarian cancer, is not who you might assume she is.

She raised three kids as a single mom. She worked hard for years. She had good jobs. She paid her bills. She lived in a nice house and drove a nice car. She had a decent credit rating. She had health insurance.

Now she has a record of bankruptcy and is the embodiment of the fear that nags at millions of U.S. families: that they are but one medical calamity away from losing everything. Like Aldrich, they — and perhaps you — could be.

The meat of the story isn’t captured by the intro though – to sum up, basically, she got screwed over by the combination of insurance companies and doctors not coordinating well, and by switching insurance during treatment. I’m reminded of my own “unpaid medical bill” situation, where the *bleep*ing hospital in Colorado, and (slightly less *bleeping*) HIP were unwilling to talk to get the bill paid. Much smaller bill, but the hospital was still in essentially the same position of throwing the bill to collections and refusing to deal with it.

Sicko, and an interesting article…

I saw Sicko over the weekend, and thought it was an excellent, if thoroughly depressing, film. I thought it was an excellent piece of polemic for those of us who basically agreed with him. It’s much harder me to tell what impact it would have for those who don’t already agree that the US health care system is fundamentally broken… or for those who think that moving things to a more laissez-faire free market is the solution.

I’d be curious what other folks think.

On a board I read, someone posted the link to this article where an EM physician responds to the film. The person posted it as a disagreement, but while he does take Moore to task for issues he doesn’t address, by and large I think it’s more of a valuable addendum:

Article is at: I Treat the Patients Michael Moore Forgot

In order to keep the length of my quoting reasonable, let me grab the part from the middle where I think he and Moore basically are saying the same thing:

Many Americans oppose a single-payer health care system. My support of this initiative has grown from witnessing inequities daily through years in an emergency room.

I hear the concern about such a system; people worry that they won’t get what they need, that the government will ration health care. But in fact, that’s exactly what we have right now. It’s just a little more subtle, a form of rationing that’s based on a person’s ability to endure hours of anxiety in the ER, to wait for the next medical appointment, to afford high-quality insurance.

So how can we have a public discussion about this subject? This country has limited resources to devote to health care. But it also is saddled with an inefficient health care system that gives advantages to the privileged and well-off while ignoring preventive care and abandoning those most in need.

And in a separate note, Marie found a response from Kaiser Permanente to the film:
Kaiser Permanente’s Prominent Role in American Health Care Reform

In this context, Kaiser Permanente’s portrayal in a new movie, “Sicko,” must be corrected. While Kaiser Permanente has always (and will always) welcome new voices to the incredibly important discussion of health care reform, Kaiser Permanente’s 8.7 million members, the communities Kaiser Permanente serves, and the country as a whole, deserve to hear facts that should help clear up misconceptions created by the movie.

What is wrong with for-profit healthcare? The basic premise.

A great diary on the US health care problem on DailyKos: For-profit healthcare: The ultimate triumph of insanity
(I’m going to skip to the punchline)

Let me end by explaining what in Wall Street speak an “improved” medical-loss ratio means for you and me.

The medical-loss ratio is improved for them by cutting the amount of premium revenues spent on patient care for us. Every dollar that is spent on our healthcare goes against the bottom line. It is bad for Aetna and bad for Wall Street when money is spent on our healthcare.

To the for-profit insurance industry, are not human beings. We are losses. We are not Americans. We are not patients. We are not sick people. Your life and mine are losses.

This system is beyond redemption and beyond repair.

Go read the whole thing.

Bah humbug, part 2: Bush wants to take away employer-based health insurance

I’m just apalled by the health care situation in this country. It’s pretty rare that political issues hit home to me quite so obviously, but we need some kind of real single-payer national healthcare system now. Or, since the “right now” part has already expired while writing this, as soon as bloody possible.

A little over a month ago, I sat through our company’s open enrollment presentation discussing the benefit change for next year. Not many changes, and Guidewire has good benefits (just BTW, in case one of my readers is looking for a job. It’s a cool place to work.) That said, a big part of the presentation was talking about the combination of “High-deductible health plan” and a “Health (Medical?) Savings Account”.

Those seemed like a very broken way of providing health insurance to me, and inspired me to start a post which, until now, I’ve never finished; indeed, my original intent – arguing for single payer, will have to wait. But meanwhile I wanted to share the following news story with you in additional evidence that Bush’s goal, and that of the Republican legislators who were until recently in power, was to “reform” the employer based health care system out of commission completely.

Check this out: (Emphasis below is mine, quoting is selective, and I recommend reading the whole article.)
Bush Insurance Plan Gets Cold Reception

“Under the guise of tax breaks, the president is pursuing a policy designed to destroy the employer-based health care system through which 160 million people receive coverage,” the lawmaker said.

[The proposal] includes a trade-off. Contributions from employers toward health insurance would begin to be treated as taxable income. At the same time, a standard deduction for taxpayers with health insurance would be set at $15,000 for families and $7,500 for individuals

Giving a tax break to individuals who pay for their own health insurance, rather than only allowing it if it’s above 7.5% of total income seems only fair to me… after all, those of us who get it through our employers do so through either the employer paying for it untaxed or through a “cafeteria plan” pre-tax deduction. The fair way to allow people to deduct individually paid health insurance would be to do so through one of those special deductions that is separate from one’s regular, itemized deductions (as is done right now with student loan interest.)

Instead, what seems to be being proposed is just plain stupid. Fortunately, I think it is (as noted elsewhere in the article) a non-starter with a Democratic congress, but then again… didn’t the whole health savings account crap start under Clinton? Assuming that the Democratic party is on the right side of this issue ignores just how big a tent the Democratic party is, and how bad the Hillarycare proposal was (I vaguely recall my far-left friends/family calling it “corporate welfare for big insurance companies” at the time.)

If that’s not bad enough, we’ve also got the total fiasco that Governor Schwartzenegger (sp?) is proposing here in California. I’ve not been following that as well as I should, but I’ve been apalled by what I’ve heard so far (how, for example, will the individual requirement to carry health insurance be enforced? Filling the jails?) Calitics has had a good bit of coverage that I need to catch up on.

More to come on this issue, I hope.

Addendum: Here’s a link to the whitehouse fact sheet on the president’s actual proposal. Also mcjoan at Dailykos discusses this further, although with a rather different read on what the proposal means.