Alex Blaze

You can do it, Pumpy

Filed By Alex Blaze | July 02, 2009 9:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: Barack Obama, charles gibson, health care reform, medical care, public option, question, single payer, socialized medicine, underinsured, uninsured

Lots of health care odds-n-ends in this post. I can't bring you comprehensive coverage on this site since covering even one topic is hard enough for a blogger (for continuous coverage, I suggest Ezra Klein). But I can pass along videos, fun facts, and horror stories I find. Lots more after the jump, but here's Stephen Colbert's take on health care to start.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Commonsense Health Care Reform Infomercial
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorJeff Goldblum

Speaking of which, how many of you all watched that ABC special last week about health care? I tuned in for like the first 20 minutes, but then got bored out of my mind with the fact that all the questions posed to the center-left plan Obama's pushing for were from the right and generally poorly informed. I would have liked to have seen someone question him on why single-payer isn't being offered, etc., but I guess ABC felt they needed to be the Republicans who weren't in the room.

But I did read about this question afterwards:

GIBSON: But let me ask a basic question, which may sound silly and naive. But we've got 46 million people who are uninsured in this country.

OBAMA: Right.

GIBSON: And one of your goals, one of the goals of health care reform is to get those 46 million people insured.

OBAMA: Right.

GIBSON: We only have X number of doctors in the country. If you add 46 million people to the insurance rolls, you can't get an appointment now, Mr. President. How are you going to get an appointment then, when there's 46 more million people competing for that doctor's time?

I'll say it before and I'll say it again: one of the best things the fiscal right ever did in the 20th century was to turn media operations into a show put on by over-paid celebrities. It reduced good journalism as access became more important than truth, and it shifted all the media folks' opinions to favor whatever wealthy people want, since they're sure to represent themselves.

Seriously, 46 million people are uninsured, and a guy like Charlie Gibson is worried that if they get insurance he might have to share a doctor with the riff-raff? What a dick.

This needs to get more coverage:

In an update to their landmark 2001 study on medical bankruptcy, researchers at Harvard University have concluded that medical debt contributed to 62 percent of U.S. personal bankruptcies in 2007 -- 78 percent of bankruptcy filers burdened by healthcare expenses had health insurance but "still were overwhelmed by their medical debt":

For 92% of the medically bankrupt, high medical bills directly contributed to their bankruptcy. Many families with continuous coverage found themselves under-insured, responsible for thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket costs. Others had private coverage but lost it when they became too sick to work. Nationally, a quarter of firms cancel coverage immediately when an employee suffers a disabling illness; another quarter do so within a year. Income loss due to illness also was common, but nearly always coupled with high medical bills.

"The proportion of all bankruptcies attributable to medical problems has increased by 50%" since 2001, and is likely to grow even higher once the economic climate of 2008 is considered. Nationally, the percentage of Americans "under the age of 65 with employer sponsored insurance declined to less than 63 percent in 2007, from more than 67 percent in 1999," and employers are now reporting that they plan to shift more health costs to employees.

Earlier this week, a new study published in Health Affairs concluded that "the 161 million Americans with employer-sponsored health insurance are facing substantial increases in out-of-pocket (OOP) costs." In 2007, "adults with employer coverage faced an average of $729 annually in OOP costs for medical services," a "34 percent increase from 2004. In fact, between 2000 and 2006, premiums for family coverage grew 6.4 times more quickly than workers' earnings and average worker's share of family health insurance premiums nearly doubled from 2000 to 2007.

The point is: it's not just those 46 million uninsured people who should be worried. It's most of everyone else, who's underinsured. These people think they have great insurance... until something bad happens.

78% of people who file for bankruptcy at least in part due to medical bills have insurance. That should make anyone who thinks they're well-covered stop and think.

Someone's proposing a health care strike on the 6th of July. It could help get attention to this issue so that it stops being covered as "the left wants a public option" and turns into "Americans in general want a public option." Which is, you know, the truth.

On this site, I've posted a lot about how I'm opposed to the "just do something!" brand of queer activism. It's painful to even have to argue in favor of doing something good instead of just doing something, but there are enough loud voices in the community (like, say, Wayne Besen) who think that their actions can never have a negative consequence or just don't care if they do.

If you want to read the health care version of why just doing something isn't enough, Jonathan Cohn took on the policy aspects and Ezra Klein responded to the political aspects this week.

Blue America PAC, which was started by liberal bloggers, has a grassroots campaign to get these ads on the air. They're directed at Arkansas Senator Blanche Lincoln, since she's a Democrats who has come out against the public option. They made 3 and want people to vote on which is the best (and to help contribute to getting one on the air), so stop by their site after you've watched them. Their ads are a lot like what you'd expect from bloggers: quick, to-the-point, and are directly appealing to nonpolitical types' understanding of politics (which is a lot more than condescending DC political consultants give them credit for).

Here's some bonus Stephen, on Stonewall.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
The Word - Stonewalling
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorJeff Goldblum

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Wayne Besen | July 2, 2009 1:03 PM

Well, Alex, at least doing something beats your school of doing nothing. Except for substandard writing, with lots of carping, you haven't accomplished very much. Indeed, the only reason they hire you is because you work for peanuts. After reading your excrutiating, long winded columns, I can see why your writing career has failed to gain much traction.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | July 4, 2009 12:39 AM

Wayne I am going to visit your site to understand your viewpoints but it is kind of below the belt to dismiss another person's writing out of hand.

It is spelled "excruciating."

I have kidded Alex about the length of his posts and he has totally disagreed with my ideas too. I have questioned some of his source material and he has called me insane :) Generally I know if I want to read the full piece within two paragraphs and I don't comment as much as once, but Alex has prepared an enviable amount of content and has not been afraid to back up his ideas. I respect that and his usual ability to be much thicker skinned than I.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | July 6, 2009 9:38 AM

A comment from Mr. Besen above is missing wherein he misspelled "excruciating." I presume that it was interpreted to be a TOS violation.

Wayne Besen | July 2, 2009 4:01 PM

Ever notice how Blaze begins half his columns by wrting: "I wasn't going to write about this...but I am compelled to do so Etc".

This is a cheap literary device used by people who can't write. Of course, Alex planned to write about the given topic all along.

There are schools to help with people who are not born with the gift but fancy themselves writers. I suggest enrolling for the Fall semester before you embarrass yourself any further. As a wise teacher once taught me, it is never too late to learn.

I'm going to pass on taking writing advice from someone whose writing career has centered around seeing a homophobe in a gay bar over a decade ago and who evidently can't even read the opening paragraph to this post.

What I am going to say is that I've never seen anyone take on the mantle of a "gay rights activist" who was so obviously involved only for stroking his own ego. JFLAG was right about you, as well as the litany of actual gay rights activists who emailed me off the record: your work is for yourself and yourself alone. Is it any surprise that you check Google Alerts for your name each morning?

I would add that you're completely unable to discuss anything substantively, which explains why you resort to bullying every time someone presses you on an issue. The first time I ever mentioned you on a post on a site you don't even read I was simply discussing the substance of one of your actions, and you responded with personal invectives and a complete ignorance of the very basic issues being addressed.

If you want to join a discussion, fine. But you don't seem to like discussion, or thoughts, or ideas all that much. Which is really too bad, because it's 2009 and the days of someone ostensibly acting on behalf of millions of others for his own personal gain are over. Sorry, the internet exists, it's democratic, and you'd do better to engage than showing the less mature side of your personality whenever you disagree with someone.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | July 3, 2009 1:10 AM

Not seeing the show I read Gibson's question as a wakeup call to the need for additional doctors and qualified nurses. There is a real shortage. The days of five minute appointments and calling it "preventative care" are totally bogus.

The bankruptcy laws bite people in more ways than you may at first think. When I rented apartments I had prospective tenants who had bankruptcies and they were often health care related. How many people are forced into paying more for less of a home through this? I suspect many.

Having had to sue for health care coverage when I paid the premium I know that the present system is stacked against the consumer and certainly overdue for single payer. Now, will I gladly take a step toward single payer in the meantime? Yes, if it reduces the problem.

With world pandemics we will pay a high price one way or another, but if we are expecting the states to provide this when they are broke themselves we are dreaming.