How Much Is Your Health Worth?

operation timeThanks to all of you for your thought-provoking comments on what America should do about the millions of people who don’t have health insurance. Newshour’s Saturday programme took a close look at President Obama’s promise to make health care more affordable for everyone. You can listen back here, until 2:00 pm London time on Sunday (just click the “Listen” button on the link, and the discussion is the second half of the hour). And the online debate continues!

Steve in Boston writes: “Hard-working citizens … can barely afford to pay for their own, never mind pay for the insurance of others…. The hard cold fact is that people need to work harder and smarter, and support themselves. Demanding free/cheap health care, easy credit, cheap housing, free this, free that, is selfish, greedy, thoughtless and narcissistic.” But plenty of you disagreed, and believe there is a universal right to health care.

Thank you to our distinguished panel of guests — Professor David Cutler, President Obama’s health reform adviser; New York Times correspondent Reed Abelson; and Dr David McKalip, a practising neurosurgeon in Florida.

49 Responses to “How Much Is Your Health Worth?”

  1. 1 Rob (UK)
    June 19, 2009 at 11:16

    Since moving from the UK to the US in January, several Americans have asked me how we Brits put up with such long hospital waiting times. But I would rather wait my turn than jump ahead of the poor. Yes, there are problems with the British National Health Service, but no country can call itself truly civilised if access to medical care is a privilege of the few rather than the right of all.

    • 2 Jessica in NYC
      June 19, 2009 at 14:41

      Brovo, Rob! Brovo!

      People who are against nationalized health care, don’t realize that they at risk because of it. First, people who do not have health insurance may not seek medical attention for illness putting the rest of the population at risk. Second, those that are too poor to pay and have a medical emergency that requires a hospital visit or stay, we pay for it in taxes. In the mean time, people who cannot afford regular check ups are having to make devastating medical choices not based on what is best but what cost less. All the while, many major health problems can be avoided with simple regular check ups.

      • 3 Dennis Junior
        June 22, 2009 at 05:48

        I am in complete agreement with Rob and Jessica; About National Health services, since, they will often give the citizen more resources to get the medical care they need…

        ~Dennis Junior~

  2. 4 James Loudermilk
    June 19, 2009 at 12:08

    Wow, the health care issue! Well, I tell you what, the thought of any child going without medical treatment because of cost is just unacceptable and should never happen.

    Now with that said I’m not real hip on the idea of my insurance benefits being taxed! Yeah sure I’ve heard the argument that the fortunate need to make a sacrifice for the less fortunate. And if it was as simple as that I would say ok, but it’s not. Some people fit into that less fortunate category because of their life choices, because of repeated bad decisions. I know some people who have been hired to good jobs with benefits but lost them just because they were too lazy to get out of bed and to work on time, should I make sacrifices for their laziness? Some people loose jobs to alcoholism and drug abuse. Some people just seem to resent authority in their lives and can’t make it in the work place. Whose fault is that? Certainly not mine so why should I give up a hard earned benefit to help them when they were unwilling to help themselves?

    Then there is the issue of, Ok I’m making a sacrifice for them what kind of sacrifice to they have to make?” I mean you shouldn’t ever get something for nothing, it’s just bad business and leads to abuse and laziness. If I’m going have my health benefits taxed to help other people then they need to help themselves too. Help themselves by making healthy life choices. In my minds eye the people who are receiving this freebee healthcare should not be able to smoke, drink alcohol, use drugs, and eat unhealthy, empty calorie, fat saturated, processed food. They shouldn’t be able to continue polluting their bodies with theses detrimental items, getting fat and diabetic and then expecting the tax payer to pay for their medical care. That’s just dumb. They shouldn’t be able to pop out one child after another, aggravating their financial hardship and expecting the tax payer to cover all the costs associated with having a child. It’s just crazy!!

    Anyway that’s my take on it.

    • 5 Venessa
      June 19, 2009 at 21:49

      James, I think you nailed exactly what goes through my mind when this discussion comes up. I too have seen and met plenty of the irresponsible and lazy people you describe. Methinks there are more of them than people in true need.

  3. 7 Anthony K. Newman
    June 19, 2009 at 12:37

    I suggest that there are far too many administrators per doctor or faculty in usa and that drives up costs obscenely in health care as it does in university tuitions! Like 2.5 to 3 administrators/doctor or per faculty!

    Make poor emergency-room or doctor patients identify themselves and force them to write a check before they get the care. If they have no checking account, force them to use an IRS check with an E-verify verified social security number and have the IRS collect what they owe via small monthly payments they have to make instead of beer, drug or cigarette buys. If they have no money, the IRS pays out of general funds, but with a good-faith effort to collect and reasonable deductions from govt provided support funds.

    I know of too many prople who are slack-offs on govt support funds that are crack heads with a religion against working for a living! Deduct for their free health care from their govt support funds and make them bum their cigarettes, beers and crack!

  4. June 19, 2009 at 12:54

    I moved to the US from UK four years ago, to be near my son and grandchildren. I didn’t realise initially the expense of health insurance would be so high. It was in the five hundreds, monthly, when I arrived. Now it has risen to $923 per month, and I still have to pay the first $1500 medical expenses every year. I hardly go to the doctor’s, being maintained for simple issues like high blood pressure, and it would be much cheaper for me to buy what I need, than to pay for healthcare which is costing a third of my income. Even with insurance, when I visit the GP routinely I pay $73.50 (the insurance pays the other $1.50). HOWEVER, I keep paying this crippling charge because otherwise I would be bankrupt in a matter of weeks if I had a sudden crisis like a stroke or cancer. It costs thousands of dollars daily to be in a hospital. Because I didn’t pay into the US system I’m not eligible for Medicare.

    I volunteer at the Free Clinic as a Spanish interpreter one morning a week. I see people who cannot afford health insurance with chronic diseases like Diabetes who would have no access to doctors or medication without the help of the Free Clinic (staffed by volunteers and supported by donations and drug companies).

    There is a ridiculous gap in care between those who have insurance and those who don’t. One cannot even have a baby in the States without paying steep medical bills and there can be no doubt that poorer people die younger. Many people are saddled with medical debts that take years to pay off. I fervently hope that Obama’s health plans will help the millions who are currently in peril from lack of cover, and that my contribution to a universal system will be more reasonable than my present insurance burden.

  5. 9 Ann
    June 19, 2009 at 13:27

    A completely and utterly emotional response to a bizzarely coincidental question (or is it fate?)…

    How much is your health worth?
    Short answer – everything.

    This morning, after 15 years of suffering a debilitating illness, and being put through the wringer of the British NHS system, I finally got a clinically sound diagnosis in Belgium!

    My experience is that one of the principle problems in the NHS is not to do with funding, but rather to do with doctors attitudes towards the patient, ridiculous mismanagement and sheer imcompetence.

    I should go now before I get into a rant…

  6. 10 John in Salem
    June 19, 2009 at 14:00

    We’ve allowed our government to put this off and table it for 60 years – enough is enough.
    I don’t like the price tag either but since everything is open to negotiation and all the opposition can do is whine then we’re going to end up with the best plan we can think of.
    If you don’t like it on principle then, by all means, go stand at the emergency room door of your local hospital and when the couple who have lost their jobs and their home bring their baby in with an ear infection you tell them your ideology is more important.

  7. 11 Gary Paudler
    June 19, 2009 at 14:29

    The sleight of hand obscuring a solution to this problem is the irrational
    interchangeability of “health insurance” or “coverage” with “health CARE”.
    Gavin Newsom, the mayor of San Francisco, decoupled insurance from care
    to provide healthcare to his city’s less-fortunate citizens and San Francisco’s
    costs went down compared to the old system of treating the indigent only when they finally had to show up in the emergency room. Now, everybody gets dignified, preventive care and treatment and it costs less!
    The issue will remain close to insoluble as long as insurance industry profits remain sacred. The Obama administration isn’t showing any backbone in dealing with the Wall Street Masters of the Universe – a few of them are running the show in the white house – and they aren’t indicating a willingness to confront the insurance industry whose insane profits are at the expense of the health of every citizen. A very simple first step, that won’t be taken, would be to make it illegal for an insurance company to own a hospital or Health Maintenance Organization (HMO); as Orwellian a term as you’ll find. The inherent conflict is apparently so obvious that our government can’t see it, and won’t touch it with the same hand that accepts campaign contributions. Profits are maximized when treatment is minimized.
    Gavin Newsom is looking like he’s positioning himself for a run at the presidency in 2016; he’d be an excellent guest on the subject of health care. Here’s the shorthand: Insurance DOES NOT equal Care. We must provide health, it doesn’t need to be through an insurance company.


    June 19, 2009 at 14:46

    No one knows where the medical debate is headed. It is quite obsene to commercialize health system to such high level whereby it ends up serving the top cream of society and living the rest to wallow with pain. It is the same debate in my country Kenya where illness of a single individual can at times ruin the economic output of several generations. Many people have resigned to fate and you are lucky if you don’t fall ill thereby openning yourself to be ripped off by the ruthless medical system that has been left to regulate itself.

    It is sad enough to hear the difficult choices you have to make with regard to this vital aspect of life. I hope that the politicians will address this issue fully as it touches on everyone in society. In my country, there are individuals we fear. No one wants to have anything to do with either a policeman or a doctor. They are more than likely to be blindly corrupt and saddly, you cannot be lucky all the time.

  9. 13 Steve in Boston
    June 19, 2009 at 14:57

    Here in Massachusetts our last governor, Mitt Romney, the supposedly conservative Republican former presidential candidate, saddled us with a universal health system that he thought would propel him into the White House. Instead, he never made it though the primaries, he’s moving to New Hampshire, and the health insurance plan is bankrupting our state.

    From the Wall Street Journal:

    “Mitt Romney pitched his 2006 health reform — which Democrats view as a model for universal coverage — as modest and affordable, yet already its public option is annihilating the Massachusetts fisc. The original cost estimate for last year was $472 million; final spending came in at $628 million. Spending this year is at least $75 million over initial budget, while projections for next year range as high as $880 million — and even those are probably too low.”


    Under the Massachusetts plan, employers with 11 or more full-time employees MUST subsidize the cost of employees’ health insurance. Those who have have no jobs or work for smaller employers sign up for state-subsidized health insurance that is dirt cheap, or in some cases, free.

    So how are we paying for all this? Absolutely outrageous tax increases and huge slashes in other public services. See the front page headline of today’s Boston Globe:


    Want to move to Massachusetts and sign up for cheap or free health insurance at the expense of your hard-working friends and neighbors? It’s easy! Just sign up here:


  10. 14 Jessica in NYC
    June 19, 2009 at 15:08

    Health care is not a universal right but it should be!

    I am fortunate enough to have medical insurance and even more lucky to have excellent doctors. Thus far, I have not had to suffer the pains of needing medical attention and not having it.

    The poor should not be made to suffer, because their employers cannot afford to give decent health care and small businesses should not go bankrupt trying to pay for health care for their employees. I am very supportive of NHS and hope President Obama’s plan will pass.

    • 15 Dennis Junior
      June 22, 2009 at 05:52

      I am have NEW YORK STATE Health Insurance in the form of MEDICAID…Where I live in the Northern Part of the State where Doctors are not encourage to practice because of the work hours “are not that good”….

      Thanks goodness, I can move to the larger city and receive the best of both worlds….

      ~Dennis Junior~

  11. 16 Tom K in Mpls
    June 19, 2009 at 15:54

    The problem with health care cost in the US is extremely simple to understand. It involves the first rule in economics: Supply and demand. More specifically, we constantly find new and creative ways to send more money into the pit. We are demanding services that in many cases go beyond reason. I see it as being the fault of consumers than corporations.

  12. June 19, 2009 at 16:12

    I am a blogger here in Cleveland, and If you have ever been to my site, or any Campaign for Liberty site you will see this subject beening brought up.
    Health Care should NEVER be nationalized. There is no need for it. I think something should be done about the NEEDLESS growing costs of health care. Ron Paul has it right. Nationalized health care is a step toward socialism. Health care should be a part of the free market society. When that happens health care costs go down. Look at this way. If you but car insurance, you are buying it IN CASE you get in an accident. Health Insurance should work on the same principle but it does not. That is why health care is so costly. The insurance companies inflate price so badly. If anything Governement should reegulate the insurance companies. NOT Health care. That doesn’t solve the problem it creates more.

  13. 18 Margaret Harris
    June 19, 2009 at 17:14

    We must do something about health care. I for one am in favor of a single payer system like they have in Canada. It costs everyone there much less than I am paying(I am paying over $300 a month) and yet Doctors are independent, they just get paid by the system. They don’t have to spend $$$$billing different insurance companies. Most doctors here have one or 2 employees who do nothing but bill different insurance companies. They just bill the government system, they are no “pre-existing condition clauses, and elderly people get full care. Canadians sometimes come to the states for elective surgeries, but other then that the system is preventive care based, something most of our systems are not.

  14. 19 Julia in Portland Oregon
    June 19, 2009 at 17:28

    When the risk of going bankrupt, accruing lifetime debt or having to engage fund raisers just to get by when a family member incur massive medical debt, it is apparent something is wrong.

    Almost every day you hear of families needing financial help to pay for atrocious medical bills.

    We have placed much more emphasis on protecting people’s money and assets than on protecting health.

    We do not see pharmaceutical companies or insurance companies losing money….they are making money for their investors hand over fist, apparently not all the money goes back into research and policies as they like to claim.

    Things have to change.

    **Preventative medicine is much cheaper than curative.
    **Access to quality health care to all at reasonable prices is imperative.

  15. 20 Tom D Ford
    June 19, 2009 at 18:17

    Around a hundred years ago it was considered immoral to take profit from health-care.

    Now Conservative Republicans are so greedy that they consider it immoral to not make profits from the sickness and suffering of people. They want faceless and overpaid Insurance Corporation bureaucrats to continue to deny peoples health insurance claims.

    A single payer system would eliminate the obscene profits and overpaid Insurance and HMO Corporation managers, leaving a lot more money for actual health-care and preventative medicine.

    Insurance Corporations are a no-Brainer and a single payer system is a Brainer!

  16. June 19, 2009 at 18:20

    I’m torn between the freedom of picking my own Doctor and Clinic as I have to pay for health care now and remembering how easy life was when I was a child in a Military family and being in the military myself with the all inclusive health care that was provided. If we could do it like the military I’d be for nationalized health care, but I wouldn’t want the problems that I hear about the UK’s and the Netherlands Health Care systems. I wouldn’t want to have to make either program work with the high cost of demanded by health care professionals, medical equipment manufacturers and everyone with hands out or hands in others pockets.

    June 19, 2009 at 18:22

    I have heard to listen to US citizens going all the way to Mexico and China for medication on the BBC WHYS before the presidential elections. This is totally absurd and the government is just posturing and turning a blind eye to the fact that its citizens are its most vital asset. The political Mandarins are really showing how they sweat on this issue and how they can’t afford medical aid to their citizens who are hurled at the perils of a health system hurled in the sometimes unethical market place. This notion has been copied wrongly by the third world countries since they want to be seen to be running on the first track of civilization.

    Ask yourself, how can a government say that it has no funds and it is bankrupt? One single round of a smart bomb like the ones being thrown away like confetti costs in the range of a million dollars for patriotic reasons. The irony of this is that the state is trying to protect its citizens agains danger. Does this hold water when 50 millions of its citizens are facing the threat of death due lack of medical facilities?

    Medical issues are more patriotic and should not be trashed away because even in a state of war, it is your obligation to treat all including the your enemy.

  18. June 19, 2009 at 19:18

    Health care in America run by profiteers have proven that their greed trumps any chance at serving the national health of the nation. They have turned into gangsters.

    The government really can and should simply set up rules for private health insurance companies to run by.

    1. All individuals need to be covered by a national health care plan. $1,500 of that fee to be covered by the first $1,500 a family pays into the IRS tax code.

    2. The second $1,500 fee be matched by the federal government.

    3. No insurance company can deny coverage to any individual, and all costs of health care beyond the first doctors visit for any particular health problem. The cost of a doctors visit will be $100 or you cannot be seen by a doctor or emergency room. You must be a citizen and a tax paying citizen to be admitted either to a doctors office or a hospital.

    4. Any health insurance company that denies coverage to a sick person with or without a known ailment will be fined a million dollars, so dump your lawyers. The new rules are take care of the people not the lawyers. Any questions concerning that go grow a garden rather than run a health insurance company.

    5. Fees that doctors and hospitals can charge dependant on a computer program where all procedures are allotted a certain, simple, answer. Sort of like a car fix program that auto body repair shops use to calculate how much it will cost to repair a fender bender can be worked out fairly by medical experts, and bean counters.

    6. A public Health Agency that combines all the Va., American Indian Health Care, Welfare recipients, and all uncovered health insurance people will be under this public health agency. It will stand as a test case example of what the private health insurance companies should be able to compete against.

    7. If the public health agency works and works well; then there would be a realistic competition comparrison, that can be used to determine whether private insurance companies operate in good order and cost effectiveness or if they just add a unneeded middle person charge that drives up costs to the unneeded and unwanted extra trillions of dollars of waste for no real good other than to support the racketeers and gangsters that have actually slipped in their force to help bankrupt individuals and large manufacturing companies.

    8. The real truth of which is better will unfold with this new effort at getting things back on track. Greed may have destroyed a once good system, but now it is obviously out of balance, theatens the overall society.


    Oregon Coast

    • 24 Joe C
      June 20, 2009 at 14:46

      That plan is one of the most interesting, albeit flawed, ideas I have ever heard. Lets look at a few of your ideas:

      1. All individuals need to be covered by a national health care plan. $1,500 of that fee to be covered by the first $1,500 a family pays into the IRS tax code.

      Really, the first $1500 a family pays will be used to cover half of their cost? First off, there is a huge segment of the population that, once taxes are filed and refunds sent out, pay no income taxes at all. There goes that $1500! Secondly where do you figure $3000 a year will pay the cost of health care for a family? Is that for the insurance or in a national system is it the actual care, because they are two different things. And if I pay my $1500 to the IRS which goes for coverage but I already have coverage privately havent you just raised my cost substantially or forced me to buy something I do not want or need?

      3. The cost of a doctors visit will be $100 or you cannot be seen by a doctor or emergency room. You must be a citizen and a tax paying citizen to be admitted either to a doctors office or a hospital.
      The citizen and tax paying citizen run counterculture to why the left wants national healthcare. There are many who are not citizens that need services, there are many citizens that dont pay taxes that need services.

      4. Any health insurance company that denies coverage to a sick person with or without a known ailment will be fined a million dollars, so dump your lawyers. The new rules are take care of the people not the lawyers. Any questions concerning that go grow a garden rather than run a health insurance company.

      This was to bizarre even to comment on. Next.

      5. Fees that doctors and hospitals can charge dependant on a computer program where all procedures are allotted a certain, simple, answer. Sort of like a car fix program that auto body repair shops use to calculate how much it will cost to repair a fender bender can be worked out fairly by medical experts, and bean counters.

      The human body and mind is not a Chevy. Medicine is science and art.

      6. A public Health Agency that combines all the Va., American Indian Health Care, Welfare recipients, and all uncovered health insurance people will be under this public health agency.

      Have you ever been to the VA? Is that the standard we want to use? No thanks.

  19. 25 Roberto
    June 19, 2009 at 21:19

    RE “” Around a hundred years ago it was considered immoral to take profit from health-care.

    Now Conservative Republicans are so greedy that they consider it immoral to not make profits from the sickness and suffering of people. “”

    ———– It’s this right brain only/left brain only attitude of 60% of American voters that has helped to drive the US to it’s knees.

    Prez Slick did more to set back health care by his incompetent handling of the process than any of the previous administrations ever did.

    Healthcare issues are infinitely more complex than the indecipherable financial derivatives that has been the other part of the axis of evil driving the US down.

    The first step would be easily implemented, very cheap, and would get the ball rolling and that is provide basic yearly health care screenings and general checkups via Medicare that are compiled into a national database not designed by government.

    Incrementally expand on that election by election cycle. The last thing needed is some vast complex compromise that is expensive and poorly run with more bureaucracy and poor service.

  20. 26 David Weldon
    June 19, 2009 at 22:21

    I work in healthcare in the state of Iowa. Having seen the positive effects of Medicare and the negitive effects of commercial health insurance both in my family life and in my professional life I have come to see commercial health insurance as parasidical and inhumane. Medicare parts A and B and a new part, part C which would be a real pharmacy benifit rather than the hog troth for Wall Street, which is what part D is now, would be the thing that would help us most. Even if my Medicare payments where to raise by the amount which I now pay for my health insurance I wouldn’t loose a thing by it, as I don’t get any dividens from insurancy company stock shares. It is, however, a disgusting truth that increasing the weath of stock holders is more important in America than is the health and well fair of the working classes.

  21. 27 Roseann In Houston
    June 20, 2009 at 00:56

    How interesting…I read the question slightly differently. How much is your health worth to you? Are you willing to lose weight, eat well, get moderate exercize? Are you willing to contribute in a non-monetary way towards minimizing the cost of your health care?
    I do agree Corporate America has driven up the cost of health care – Pharmaceutical complanies come up with new drugs that are not demonstrably better than the old drugs in the majority of people, but they buy elaborate advertisements for the new drugs to convince people that their doctor is not providing appropriate care unless he/she prescribes the new (non-generic) drug. Hospitals run unnecessary diagnostic tests on people with insurance so that they can pay for the diagnostic machinary. Insurance company executives make millions of dollars per year in salary topped by more millions in bonuses and stock options (I do not exaggerate, look up the salary of the former CEO of United HealthCare in – I believe – 2003).
    BUT – I am in the medical field, and on a regular basis I meet patients in their 30s who have a family history of diabetes but are 100 pounds overweight, refuse to do even the most minimal exercize, and eat nothing but fast food and snack food. I meet people with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease who smoke. I meet people with heart disease who don’t like to take their blood pressure meds because it makes them feel funny and who eat greasy fried fast food loaded with salt. THOSE are the people that I object to receiving health care subsidized with my tax dollars. The poor, the disabled, the unemployed, the middle class, the elderly – they all have a right to health care IF THEY CARE FOR THEIR OWN HEALTH!! We need to change the way of thinking about the responsibility for health care.

  22. 29 Ann
    June 20, 2009 at 01:16

    My knowledge of the US health care system is limited, but for an affluent nation to deny medical care to the poor is absolutely abhorrent and any attempt to rectify this is laudable.

    The NHS in Britain is built upon wonderful ideals and works very well in many ways. No one is ever denied access to a certain level of medical care and the standard of care can be excellent.

    However the NHS is not without it’s considerable problems… It has been hijacked by ruthless free market principles, mindless bureacracy, political meddling and utter greed… Influential drug companies, powerful lobbying groups, politicians and medical professionals with vested interests all want their slice of the pie.

    The result; disillusioned staff, filthy hospitals, overworked nurses, shameful health inequalities, grossly overpaid managers and a system that has an underlying agenda that is not in keeping with the well-being of the patient.

    What a dreadful corruption of a equitable vision.

  23. 30 stephen/ portland, Oregon
    June 20, 2009 at 05:02

    I would like to share my experience of both systems.

    Forget about any bedside manner in the UK, you are lucky if they even know your name. My father went in to the hospital and the doctor in charge who never new his name at any time had marked him DECEASED on his hospital paperwork. He was obviously very much alive. His regular GP (who in all honesty is a great doctor) phoned me up to say how sorry he was when he got my father on the other end of the phone.

    A NHS Dr from India was convicted of knowing about a suicide attack by his brother that took place at Glasgow airport when they tried to ram a vehicle loaded with home made explosives into the terminal. Both men in the vehicle were killed. I guess the hypocritical oath (First, do no harm) was something he forgot. Where is the connection to the population he serves??

    While I have found the care in the US is outstanding, the thought of getting sick without insurance terrifies me. Three months after I moved to the US, I found myself in the ER. That one visit came to the grand total of $5000. A hard lesson at how quickly health care costs can spiral out of control here in the states. Then you have a guy I know living in Portland USA who hit his finger with a hammer and was saving up for treatment when infection took hold and he had to get it removed. Every beggar you see has some sign about getting into trouble due to ill health.


    There must be a balance here; we have to create something in the middle. Decent care without the crippling costs and the right people in the health care field.

  24. 31 Ramesh, India
    June 20, 2009 at 09:15

    In one of the episodes of BBC Documentary program on Bill Clinton’s eight year rule, it was mentioned that Bill Clinton also tried to change the healthcare system in America only to find it was not as easy as he thought. I don’t remember what was exactly said on the program, but we all know Bill Clinton could not change the healthcare system in America. Now Obama is talking about the same issue. Would he succeed in changing the system? I doubt it. But if there is a will, he can surely change it.

  25. 32 Ramesh, India
    June 20, 2009 at 09:23

    Services in US cost a hell of money where as manufactured products are sold at 90% discount sometimes. This fact is enough to convince everyone that there should be a major shakeup in healthcare service at least. I just wonder why americans never thought of economies of scale in service sector. Yes, the quality of service may decline. But surely, a poorman without medical insurance wouldn’t expect same quality of service as a millionaire would.

  26. 33 Ramesh, India
    June 20, 2009 at 09:31

    Americans hugely depend on cars for commuting. They hardly walk even half a mile per day. So I blame US automoble industry as a reason for large percent of obese americans than Mcdonald’s with its fat and crap(but tasty!) food! What I mean is those americans who care about their helath would do better if they avoid automobiles than cutting expenses on mcdonald’s!

  27. 34 Dinka Aliap-Kampala
    June 20, 2009 at 11:30

    Africa can’t stand on it own in terms of health care system because our health care systems fully depend on donors’ money and individualism since there is random corruption and lack of infrastructural developments in the continent on health units. Meanwhile health care is not a big problem for people here than what they could eat in a day.Africa is suffering a lot while president Obama is still considering a new cuts in healthcare systems in US which will definitely come down and affect Africans negatively.

  28. 35 Shakhoor Rehman
    June 20, 2009 at 12:19

    As long as people are too much in a hurry to enter the afterlife then health will continue to be the least of their priorities.

  29. 36 Joe C
    June 20, 2009 at 13:53

    I am listening to the story regarding healthcare in America and a few things need to be addressed and understood.
    If you listened to the first few minutes where the journalist visited a clinic in California and one of the people he spoke to was a 22 year old woman who had a job but according to the report did not have insurance. Amazingly when asked why she did not have insurance coverage her reply was interesting, very telling about consumers and downright scarey. Her reply was (paraphrasing) that she couldnt afford it and when questioned on the cost she didnt actually know what the costs were and took a guess that it would be around $100 per month.
    How did this adult woman make the decision that she couldnt afford the insurance when she did not have a clue as to what her actual cost was. As far as a $100 per month payment being to expensive I would question her to see if she had cable tv in her apartment (average cost between $50.00 to $100 per month) does she have a cel phone with a cost of $60 per month, does she stop at starbucks for a $3 cup of coffee a few times a week, eating lunch out? I do not intend to tell her to spend her own money. The reason I brought up these things is that there is a better than even chance that she prioritized health insurance behind her cable tv, cel phone and lattes and that is fine but then I do not think we have a right to expect our fellow citizens to subsidize her choices.

  30. 37 Steve in Boston
    June 20, 2009 at 14:44

    Need more evidence that health care for all is pie-in-the-sky? Here’s more on how our free health care system in Massachusetts has become a dismal failure and resulted in the need for draconian tax increases and service cuts–including cuts in state-provided health care:

    “We understand there are horrific cuts, particularly in public health, but this is unacceptable,’’ said Lindsey Tucker, health reform policy manager at Health Care for All, a nonprofit advocacy group. “We have worked so hard for three years to cover all of our eligible residents. We can’t turn our backs on these folks now.’’

    Read the whole article here:


    The fact of the matter is that health care is expensive and the hard-working citizens of the state can barely afford to pay for their own, never mind pay for the insurance of others. Make it cheaper you say? Market forces have made it as cheap as it’s going to get without the quality suffering to the point where it might be a stretch to even call it “health care.”

    The hard cold fact is that people need to work harder and smarter, and support themselves. If everyone supported themselves and lived within their means there would be no worldwidw economic crisis at all.

    There’s no free lunch. Obama’s and Europe’s solution of borrowing and printing money has bought the world some time, but if we don’t all start working harder and with living with more frugality, that time will run out in a few short years, and we will basically have cannibalized our children and grandchildren to support our own selfish needs.

    That’s it in a nutshell–demanding free/cheap health care, easy credit, cheap housing, free this, free that, is selfish, greedy, thoughtless and narcissistic.

    The “ME” generation is alive and well. The swine flu pales in comparison to current pandemic of human self-indulgence.

  31. June 20, 2009 at 15:39

    It was a pleasure to appear on the show today.

    Americans need to beware: A government take over of medical care is coming. If they are unhappy with the government take over of the auto, banking and housing industries, they should be most worried about the takeover that will go straight to their very lives.

    Congress and Obama want to write rationing rules that doctors will be forced to follow. If doctors like myself do not follow them, we will be financially penalized or subject to police action. Once the rules are written, they will mandate that ALL people buy overpriced private insurance. In the end, patients won’t be able to trust their doctors any more as they will be working for the government or insurance companies.

    The Public option that is proposed is not a true “choice” as the President says. It will “compete” on an uneven playing field where the government subsidizes those who enter. They will ration care even more heavily. In the end patients will be unable to find doctors or hospital to work for the low cost government rates but it will be too late to leave the system then since good health insurance will be gone.

    The answer is to deregulate insurance so it is affordable, create a small but sound public safety net for the poor and allow Americans to make medical decisions – not bureacrats.

  32. 39 Rashid Patch
    June 20, 2009 at 19:15

    I work only 30 hours a week for a non-profit. I have no health benefits from my job, and no health insurance. Having some income disqualifies me from the public healthcare available to welfare recipients. I do not have healthcare; it’s that simple. If I become ill, I must treat it myself.

    I have had the experience of being injured in an accident, and when police called an ambulance, I had to refuse treatment, because I could not afford to pay for it.

    If I were ever in an accident or became seriously ill, bad enough that someone else had me hospitalized, I would be unable to pay for it.

    If I had even a few days of lost work, I would be unable to pay my rent, and I would be homeless.

    • 40 Dennis Junior
      June 22, 2009 at 05:54

      The thing is: You can make more on Public Assistance Benefits in the United States (some states) than to work to collect Health Insurance thru the State
      Social Services Bureaux)…

      ~Dennis Junior~

  33. 41 El Cid
    June 20, 2009 at 21:22

    Just for your reference, the Dr. David McKalip featured as the skeptic of Obama’s health care reform recently wrote this on the libertarian-leaning “Campaign for Liberty” website:

    On Thursday I marched with lovers of liberty against the greatest threat to American patients in the history of our country: the rise of Medical Fascism. Some may wonder – what happened to socialized medicine, isn’t that the great threat? While it is true that there are attempts to socialize medical care, the fact is that the power players in Washington are ready to set the rules and then hand the keys of health care spending over to large health insurance companies. This is the definition of fascism: the state decides what corporations will do and the corporations do their bidding while making a profit. As it turns out the very corporations making the profit also control the government. That is why I marched with members of the 912 project in Tampa today to spread the message that the government and large corporations should not control your health care dollar: you should.


    Really? Really? As one of our ‘experts’ on this matter we get a guy who thinks that allowing me and fellow citizens to support a public health insurance program is literally “fascist”?

  34. 42 John Short, LCSW
    June 20, 2009 at 21:44

    As a practicing Social Worker in the State of Rhode Island, I am disgusted with the status of health care in the United States. The USA may be the most powerful nation in the world, but we do not have equal access to health care. It appears that our elected officials worry more about their ‘positions in Congress’ than for the welfare of ALL the constituents they represent!!! Let’s not maintain a ‘third world’ country status re: HEALTH CARE!!

  35. 43 Thomas Murray
    June 20, 2009 at 21:53

    I realize that i’m consistently late with this, but I feel it might be instructive to compare the cost of a typical motor scooter accident in the states.

    $345 Ambulance
    $433.48 Emergency Room (5 hrs. Observation)
    $10.04 500 mg Vicodin in a horse-sized pill
    $28.00 Medical/Surgical supplies (I got a $2.00 cotton arm sling)
    $947.49 Medical Imaging (7 X-Rays)
    $80 Orthopedic consult on X-rays
    $500 Emergency Room (might be redundant, but got a separate bill for it anyway)
    $19 30X 500 mg Vicodin tablets

    So I walk out of the hospital with a fractured clavicle, fixed by a $2.00 arm sling and a prescription for a mess of opiates at a cost of:


    –not counting the $57 motor cycle helmet which undoubtedly saved my life.

    The very kind woman in billing knocked $415 off my bill for being a charity case, and I’m pretty sure that extra $500 for emergency room might be a mistake in the paperwork.

    The first thing I experienced after spilling off the bike in the alley behind the hardware store where I had just purchased a kitchen sink plunger was the ubiquitous flash of bright light when my head smacked the pavement (the impact was so forceful, the helmet went fling off some 6 feet away, along with my glasses). The second thing I felt was the sickening divit in my shoulder bone.

    Luckily, I live in a very nice area of town where even the drunks will call your sister on their cell phones. A young woman walking her dog summoned the ambulance. Another two hippies took my scooter to a shop for safekeeping. I found out later that the cop who showed up checked to see if my scooter arrived safely at the garage, without even asking.

    The ambulance driver was working a 12 hour shift; his EMT partner was on 6:00 am to 11:00 pm. When I asked where they were going to take me, he said “Anywhere you want.” Which, under the circumstances of my own helpless frailty, was less than reassuring. (I actually had to remind the EMT of the date: 23 May). I chose University Hospital, a teaching hospital, weighing the disadvantages of being man-handled by medical students against the bargain basement fees of a state-run indigent care service.

    They let me recline on a spine board, put one of those stiff cervical collars around my neck (which just happened to cut right into the break in my clavicle

    The ride to the place was blissfully slow due to a sharp pain that made itself known with every bump in the road. Delivery to the emergency room was efficient, doors right next to the heliport. The emergency ward itself was right out of our “E.R.” tv show, only with ut the windows.

    The worst part was lying helpless on the spine board while starpped to the gurney. Fortunately, about 10 minutes later the med student on my case removed the restraints, quickly checked for spinal injury and nerve damage, and, with the aid of a kind and gentle black giant of an orderly, gently rolled me onto an examination bed. Basic Cable was provided via a tv bolted to the ceiling and a discreet ear phone left on the bed for service.

    It was an experience. But gotta go.

    Peace, Louisville, Kentucky, US.

  36. 44 BJ
    June 20, 2009 at 21:58

    I am live in San Diego, CA. I am 57, have been Seriously and Diligently looking for work for MONTHS now.
    I am not lazy…I am 2 courses from having my BA degree.

    The economy of Scale (economic principal) we would have with a Universal all encompassing plan IS the one Thing that can bring down the Incredible Explosive Costs this segment of the economy IS RESPONSIBLE for.
    If this economy is to recover- health care costs Have to be reigned in!

    I haven’t had health insurance since July of last year (2008)…and those of you who are younger have no idea what this is like.
    I go to the gym, I work out, I eat healthy….
    BUT there are things that happen to us when we age that We Cannot control.
    The body wears out, period.
    It is a fact.

    I have NOT been able to get medicine for high blood pressure (a genetic situation in my family) Not a weight and diet issue.
    Or get broken bones fixed! I had to splint my broken finger myself!

    IS this right/ correct/ moral?

    And the SOLE reason for the pharmeceutical industry and insurance industries opposing THIS: IS all Monetary.
    Similar to the financial industry, the Oil Industry and THEIR phenomenal greed – THIS IS all about “Money”.

    There NEEDS to be a system where “we the people” of the Unbited States can all have health care. PERIOD.
    The congress has fabulous health and dental benefits – PAID for By Us, the people – the US taxpayers.
    So they get “socialized medicine” — But the rest of cannot have it?
    Where are “our” rights?

    That is simply wrong.

  37. 45 Tan Boon Tee
    June 21, 2009 at 04:38

    One’s health is invaluable. It cannot be valued, especially in terms of money.

    In all my seven decades of life, I believe in free medical care and free education for all. Any form of government which cannot promise its people of such is not fit to govern. Yet what I am seeing now is exorbitant medical fees and steep education tuition fees.

    Our world has gone mad, beyond redemption.
    (tanboontee, btt1943)

  38. 46 Roberto
    June 21, 2009 at 16:18

    RE “” If doctors like myself do not follow them, we will be financially penalized or subject to police action. “”

    —————- Americans are already being penalized because of doctors like yourself.

    Docs, hospitals, big insurance and lawyers stocked ex-congressmen amongst your thousands of lobbyists to write the bills Congress passes that created the current business model that drives Americans out of work and business.

    You’ve extracted all the blood out of your patients, so there are no surviving sympathies for your glee little club. Except for emergency/castostrophic coverage, there is no need for health care insurance in an equitable world where the general public is paid fair value for their work and the services and products they use to live so they can do their work.

    Entitled elite such as yourselves organize and create a self serving corrupted system through Congressional malfeasance, and now you have the temerity to holler to the heavens when the wheels finally come off? No surprises there.

  39. 47 T
    June 22, 2009 at 03:51

    My current monthy premium is $289. My deductable is $10,000. And because of “pre-existing” health conditions, if I apply for a single policy I can be denied. If it’s a group policy, they have to accept me.

    Obama and the other politicians will fight single payer every step of the way. First it was single payer. Now it’s “the public option.” Are we using this because it’s sounds less “socialistic” than single payer? If Obama and Congress are serious about this, why not drop their single payer coverage until everyone gets it? Of course, they’d laugh in your face first before they’d remotely consider doing that.

  40. June 22, 2009 at 07:10

    The problem is that the drug and insurance companies, have the doctors working for them. Patients ought not be buried in paper work.

  41. 49 Tom D Ford
    June 28, 2009 at 05:30

    Instead of people based health-care reforms, Republicans are demanding that all people pay more profits to Insurance Corporations, Republicans want Corporation based anti-health-care reforms.

    Now, how much sense does it make to take more money out of the available health-care money and give it to Insurance corporations as profit? That just makes less money available for actual health-care!

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