Everything sublime is as difficult as it is rare. Baruch Spinoza

Thursday, July 23, 2009


Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not enough to satisfy every man's greed.
Mahatma Gandhi

United Health, based right here in Minnesota, had a 155% increase in profit from one year ago. Do you need to have an IQ of 200 to get it? 

They obviously are feeling secure, as they are busily buying smaller HMO's across the country. It would seem they are confident the industry spending 1.4 million per day lobbying Congress will pay off for them. They are probably right.

I know I harp on this issue, but I have a personal stake in it. With the continuation of the historical premium increases we will not be able to afford health insurance much longer. I sit here with a broken wrist. I had my appendix removed last year. I would be in big trouble without insurance, but I'm not home free with it. There is the little matter of a high deductible, which starts all over again the next year. Year after year, we spend five figures on premiums and now for two years, the deductible on top of it. It's a fast track to being broke. Now consider that 155% increase in profit. 

This should make everyone mad. If we don't get a public option, hang on. This cannot be sustained and in the not-to-distant future there is going to be a massive crisis. We are already at critical mass. 

This leads me to something I often think about. What is wrong with Americans. Why are we so resistant to forward thinking? Why do we so smugly settle into the idea we are different, that what works for the rest of the world will never work for us. We, as a culture, are so caught up in the false idea of Rugged Individualism that we fail to see the forest for the trees.

I have concluded that as a culture we lack critical thinking. We are unable, or unwilling to extrapolate. We are very easily led by fear and simplistic language. Over the past forty-five years or so we have been conditioned to ignore our own best interests in exchange for a false premise; that if you put any restraints on business, the so-called free market, it will spell disaster for all. Allow business to operate without constraint and it will benefit everyone.

We have also been taught government is bad. Government is inefficient. Our teachers have been the anti-government conservatives in government. The people who don't believe the purpose of government is to guard the welfare of the people. The people who, when they have the power, gut federal agencies which are supposed to operate with the public welfare in mind. Remove the professionals and replace them with political hacks. De-fund the programs and agencies and then turn around to tell us, see government doesn't work. And for the most part, we believe them. Lack of critical thinking; unable to extrapolate. We don't bother to connect the dots.

The same thing is happening with the healthcare issue and it's starting to work. We aren't a stupid people, but I think our culture is mentally lazy. Therefore we always go with the easy route. Fear and simplistic language. This allows for a lazy, disengaged mind. After all, we think, this is America, the greatest nation in the world. Nothing can be wrong here. We don't want to know we have the highest infant mortality rate in all of the industrialized nations. That we have the highest mortality rate for women in childbirth. That we rank fiftieth in the world for healthiness. We pay more for our healthcare than any other country, but we receive less for it. Remember that 155% profit increase? Wonder why we are in this position? 155% increase in profit that is earned directly off our backs. During a time when people are losing their jobs, their homes and yes, their lives. Where is the outrage? 

We are lazy. I believe I can stop pondering the question in my mind now. Intellectually lazy.


Bonnie Zieman, M.Ed. said...

You go girl! So many important points made in this post! Seems several of us were inspired by Obama's press conference last night and have posted about health care today. I put a link to this post in my post - hope that is okay. If you prefer I remove the link just let me know.

Sandra said...

I am a very frustrated American Sometimes the hill seems too steep to climb.

Britwife said...

Again, I agree with you. I just don't know what we can DO about it. Isn't that sad?
Seriously, what can we do?

Sandra said...

Harry Reid just said they aren't going to get this done before the August break. "They need more time" This is code for "It isn't going to happen. I don't know what to do. For the first time I am stymied. The country came out in record numbers and kicked the conservatives in the pants, We collectively said "Change things". And in the end it is the same old story. Money has its strangle hold on so many of them that we don't count. This & Wall Street have put it fully before our eyes. We don't have a representative form of government. We have a corporation controlled government. Perhaps some of you know what that system of government is called. I do, but I know my American brethren. Calling it what it is makes people pop a cork, because we are not able to understand the real meaning, only the vitriolic sound bytes we are fed by those who know how to control us. I used to consider myself a Democrat, but not anymore.

Sandy said...

Come sit beside me PLEASE. I worked in the medical field for 22+ years, my older brother is drug rep (very successful one), one nephew sells insurance. I've said for years the heath care system is broken, flat broken. We take better care of criminals behind bars then we do hard working Americans who just can't afford insurance. Big companies are doing all sorts of underhand things to keep from paying insurance for their employees. It's disgusting. And when I try to talk about this to my co-workers (all die hard Rep that think it's un-Christian to be anything else), that we have a high mortality rate, pay more, get less, have more waste, etc. etc. etc.

People don't want to look at the facts, the facts are though we pay more health care (while Doctors and Insurance Companies get rich), we are not the healthiest country.

I keep hoping Obama gets firm like he did in the elections, he's right on so many issues; he just needs to assert himself. I want to believe.

Pop in for a visit, and we'll talk of more pleasant things.

You might enjoy a change of pace, after traveling...stop in to Sandy's Space

Sandra said...

I once wrote on an internet forum during the 2004 election to all of the right-wing, devout Christians who were taking me apart, something along the line of " If you go to your bible and cut out all of the passages where Jesus instructs you to care for the poor and weak. The disenfranchised, the widows and children. All the passages chastising the rich & powerful, you will end up with a very nice box to hold your hand gun." No one responded to me.

Obama came out right on the heels of Reid's statement reinforcing that he expects something in August.

Butternut Squash said...

I am outraged! I have lived in countries with universal health care systems that work, and in countries that have almost no health care at all, but they all treat the sick with more compassion than the health care system of the US. Thanks for the post

Sandy said...

Forgot to ask you if you wanted to exchange links? I thought I'd add you to my blog log--frequent traveler list?

Figured it'd make getting back and forth to visit easier

Alicia @ boylerpf said...

It is broken..the health care system. How to fix it I am unsure. There is so much greed and corruption in the medical & insurance fields who buy and pay for the politicians to fund them. I'm not so sure that the health care is the first step. Perhaps putting real unpaid for Americans in Washington will bring a smarter solution. Just saying....

julochka said...

this is such a good post. thoughtful and well-articulated.

what i see, having been outside of the US for a decade now, when i return for visits is a disturbing lack of common sense in addition to the lack of critical, long-term thinking that you cite. it's what makes me think i'd never live there again.

but as you say, the system as it is is not sustainable...

Sandra said...

Sandy, sure we can exchange links.

Alicia, we send people with ideals to D.C. all of the time. It's after they get there that things change. It costs a lot of money to run for reelection and lobbyists come along with cash. Before you know it, you are beholding. This is what is going on right now. 1.4 million a day is currently being spent to lobby against any kind of real reform. The industry knows if a public option is offered it will only be a matter of time before they are marginalized. Public financing of campaigns would go a long way toward fixing this, but Americans have been conditioned to resist taxation for any purpose, even when the benefit out weighs the cost.

julocka, someone was speaking on the radio last week about how the American public have been systematically dumbed down over the past twenty years. I am actually still amazed at how simple we have become and I live in the middle of it. You have no idea what it was like to be a member of the 30% walking around with terror in your eyes and wonder on your lips during the first 4 years of the Bush administration. You became a human punching bag.

Memories Of Mine said...

I knew your health care system was bad but the statistics you posted about health and maternity shocked me. I don't know enough about your system to know how it works or if you have any level of free care and what the average insurance premium costs you.

Here in Australia we have a free system, and it's often criticized for long waiting lists and level of care but it is still good. I have no health insurance, I can't afford it and paying a minimum premium and it gets me nothing extra anyway so it's not worth it. I got angry with private cover and canceled.

I did had private health insurance a few ago when I had a cervical cancer scare and had to have an operation. Private health covered my hospital stay but then so would have our public system. My post operation visits cost me $275 for 15 minute visit and my private health insurance of $200 a month didn't cover these. When I inquired about getting extra premiums to cover the cost I needed to spend an extra $75 a month to be covered and that only entitled me to a refund of $15 per visit.

Bottom line was pay an extra $75 a month to get a refund of $15 every month. I think Private Health insurance companies in Australia are also making large profits.

Sandra said...

Liss, we pay $1200/mo. with a $6500 annual deductible. Our premium has doubled since 2005. We average 25%/yr. Not sustanable.

Memories Of Mine said...

Sandra, that for that.

That is crazy no wonder why people can't afford it. That is half a monthly wage for some people in this country.

Sandra said...

It's half a monthly wage for many people here too. This is for two people, but it's a lot of money.