Monday, August 27, 2007

Stuffing the ballot box.

A proposition: If the Yes votes should somehow outnumber the No votes, I'll put up another gratuitous cats and sex post for y'all. Vote early and often.

13 comments:

Keifus said...

Those fucking cats!

If I paid 25% higher income taxes for that, it'd be about 5% of my income (currently witheld taxes are about 20% of it). My family medical coverage costs about 7% of my pre-tax income. It'd be nice to pay less to cover these four people.

(Individual coverage would be about 3%. So your guy wins if his numbers mean anything.)

If it were insurance for just me, it'd be closer to a wash either way.

fpoxk: you heard of chicken pox?

hipparchia said...

my coverage [just me, no family], depending on the year and the plan, was 20-25% of my pretax income and was slightly more than my rent + utilities combined.

if i had guaranteed health care, all that i needed, with my doctor instead of some corporate lackey deciding what was appropriate treatment, i'd gladly pay that amount again.

we're evidently not as fortunate here as you are. the single people here that i know are easily paying ~$1200+ per year, just in premiums, with their employers picking up about half the tab. at least some of them are high-deductible plans too, so if they get sick it's going to hit them pretty hard in the bank account.

Steve Bates said...

Keifus, I'm self-employed, and in my late fifties. You don't even want to THINK about what I pay for private health insurance. I'd take almost any reasonable deal in preference to what I have.

Do I think it's unjust? Bloody hell, yes, it's unjust. I'm paying almost 8 times what I paid 20 years ago, and to date, it's almost all profit for the insurer. It's also full-blown crazy for the U.S. to do it the way it does, when there are several ways that are both cheaper and more effective.

People like you who have sweet deals on their insurance either never think about the matter, or else don't understand what it is to be in the situations hipparchia and I each find ourselves... through no fault of our own.

This is not a matter of my complaining that life is unfair. I'm complaining that a specific list of corporations is unfair, and our government lets them get away with it, because those corp's provide their campaign money (at least). Even if you have a sweet deal, I hope you can see the injustice of that.

[atacd - what I frequently feel when someone trolls my site]

hipparchia said...

keifus is right, though. there are a lot of people out there just like him and they're not going to want to change. why should they? they really do have sweethheart deals.

except that if they get really sick and need that insurance, some of them are going to find out then, when it's too late, that they don't have such a good deal after all.



it's a bit unfair to accuse keifus of never thinking about this matter. plenty of folks in his situation don't, but keifus himself has both a brain and the ability to do math. plus, he reads my blog, and therefore has no way to escape thinking about it. :D

Keifus said...

Er, that comment wasn't as clear as I intended. Was having a day yesterday. I was trying to say that a 25% increase in income tax would be a cheaper health plan for my household. For Keifus the individual, my corporate plan would be cheaper. For me.

Here's something I forgot yesterday though: my employers should be thrilled with a tax-based plan. When you throw in the half that they contribute, then the numbers are harder to twist to Mr. Miller's favor. What's more, I make above the median income in central MA. (And still can barely afford our exorbitant cost of living, but that's another post.) If I were more average, the premiums would not decrease, and would therefore be higher as a percentage. The family plan would be about 12% of my income in that case. And the individual plan would be just about a wash. (You'd have to make quite well above the median to have the family plans not compare.)

And people making less than the median are less likely to be the ones getting those better corporate plans. As a post-doc (a government post-doc!), our little group could just arrange one of those expensive, bare-bones catastrophic coverage deals. It was fun working in a pregnancy. And I know even that wasn't so bad.

Oh, and highly individualized plans really obviate the point of risk distribution, don't they? (Also another post, or another joke.)

I support universal health coverage, for what it's worth (which I think hipparchia knows). Because it's cheaper, and probably more effective. I voted yes on the congressman's thingie, not that it will amount to anything.

Keifus

ikxqtps: ick, extra q-tips

Steve Bates said...

"it's a bit unfair to accuse keifus of never thinking about this matter." - H

You're right. Of my two alternatives, the second... not understanding what it's like to be in the situation... is likelier for Keifus in particular than not thinking about it. Not that that is necessarily the case, either. But I've found that for many people above the median income, their eyes glaze over when I try to explain.

"... except that if they get really sick and need that insurance, some of them are going to find out then, when it's too late, that they don't have such a good deal after all." - H

If they get really sick... ultimately, doesn't everybody get really sick? Unless they end up on the wrong end of an armed robbery, everybody, sooner or later, needs serious medical treatment.

"Oh, and highly individualized plans really obviate the point of risk distribution, don't they?" - K

Thank you, Keifus, for acknowledging that. We're none of us disconnected, even if we wanted to be. Insurance is (theoretically) the assumption of a risk for a price. Increase the risk, and you inevitably increase the price. When healthy, well-off people opt for private insurance, the risk pool for everyone else becomes both smaller and riskier. Tweak the externals and the details however you like; there's no getting around that fact.

Aside from concentrating the risk in the public pool, allowing private insurance also reduces the public's ability to negotiate for better deals with care providers and pharmaceutical companies. Of course, right now, we have Bush to do that for us by fiat...

[nmdrqqg - no more dragging; quit! quit gagging]

Keifus said...

Yeah, before you know it, plans will be so individualized that buying into one will be exactly like saving for one yourself, but with deductibles and copays. (recycled comment.)

I could further add that the "death tax" for most folks is the jolly fun way that the government requires all of your assets for end-of-life care before coughing up assistance. (Or so go my memories of my grandparents.) The problem with free market health care models is that sooner or later demand goes to infinity.

No reason to expect you to have caught my occasionally yakking about insurance models, care, and libertarianism vs. liberalism. Spreading risks or spreading responsibilities is the least bad option sometimes, logistically and philosophically.

gtmfcmk: [cursing in German]

hipparchia said...

I could further add that the "death tax" for most folks is the jolly fun way that the government requires all of your assets for end-of-life care before coughing up assistance. (Or so go my memories of my grandparents.)

it's not just your grandparents. it's real, and it's criminal, if you ask me [or even if you don't ask me]. we really are a rich enough nation that we don't need to dehumanize and denigrate people like this.

decent life-long healthcare, no matter how much or how little money you have, may be truly hard to come by in oh, darfur, but the biggest reason we can't do that here is pure greed, not expense or lack of resources.

hipparchia said...

on incomes above the median---

that's no guarantee of financial stability, even without catastrophic illness.

i forget the actual exact numbers, and i'm too lazy to look them up at the moment, but federal poverty level for a family of four is about $20,000, median household income is about $45,000, and schip eligibility [taxpayer subsidized healthcare for needy kids] runs right around twice the federal poverty level [depending where you live].

a family living on approximately the median household income is eligible for governtment handouts. sobering thought.

even more sobering, we make the people who are eligible for these "handouts" beg for them. and in a lot of cases, like keifus describes, we make them give up all their worldly goods and their self-esteem first, before we consent to throw them a few crumbs. it's more than sobering, it's barbaric.

but keifus

hipparchia said...

If they get really sick... ultimately, doesn't everybody get really sick? Unless they end up on the wrong end of an armed robbery, everybody, sooner or later, needs serious medical treatment.

you wouldn't know it to read the papers [or teh intertubez] these days, but lots and lots of people make it to medicare age, and beyond, before they get really sick, so lots of them are never going to have to find out the hard way just how much the idea of mutual insurance has been subverted by selfish jackasses in the past few decades.


The problem with free market health care models is that sooner or later demand goes to infinity.

the problem with free market health care models is that there is no free market.

Steve Bates said...

"the problem with free market health care models is that there is no free market." - H

No kidding. And any relationship between gov't and an individual is a direly unequal one, with the gov't holding all the cards. Ditto with corp's, which don't have even theoretical obligations to the public (except for stockholders). Something is wrong with this picture.

My late mother died of Alzheimer's disease. She was institutionalized for most of her last two years. Dad paid for it out of pocket; ordinary med insurance doesn't (or at least didn't) cover that. The month Dad would have qualified for Medicaid is the month Mom died. Dad was soon nearly broke, but held on another five years and, frugal soul that he was, saved his way back to minimal solvency. His eventual death of lung cancer was covered... mostly because Texas has MD Anderson Cancer Center, which is obliged by law to treat people for whatever they can pay (or insurance, in Dad's case).

Dad did everything by the book, from his scrappy, hardworking youth to his service in W.W. II to sticking by Mom when it would have been financially better for both of them had he divorced her. He was that sort of guy. And his government stiffed him for it. Forgive me if I'm a bit bitter; it's more than just my own circumstance.

[xmomgmlj - ex-Mom gets my love - Junior.]

Sometimes Saintly Nick said...

I fear that there is little chance of your having to put up a gratuitous cats and sex post. As much as I desire national health care, I believe that (1) there are too many folks who are comfortable with the status quo and (2) Americans, for the most part, have a horror of tax increases.

hipparchia said...

i think you're right on the money on both counts there.

[also, i don't have all that many cats-and-sex stories to tell]