Tag Archives: Elderly

New study: Angus Reid Institute analyzes Canada’s single payer healthcare system

Price of healthcare per Canadian household (Source: Fraser Institute)
The cost of healthcare for average Canadian households

I found two interesting studies from Canada’s Angus Reid Institute describing single payer health care in Canada. I’m very interested in find out what things are like in countries that have true government-run health care. A typical Canadian family pays $13,000+ per year per household for healthcare, or about $585,000 over their working lives. What are they getting for all that money?

Here is the first Angus Reid article:

The study finds more than 2 million Canadians aged 55 and older face significant barriers when accessing the health care system in their province, such as being unable to find a family doctor or experiencing lengthy wait-times for surgery, diagnostic tests, or specialist visits.

Moreover, most Canadians in this age group have at least some difficulty getting the care they want or need in a timely manner.

The study focuses on the health care experiences of older Canadians, as well as their assessments of the quality of care they receive.

According to the article, 31% of respondents (aged 55 and older) rated access to the government’s healthcare system as “easy”. 48% had “moderate” problems with access, and 21% had “major” problems with access.

Remember: in the Canadian system, you pay your money up front in taxes, and then they decide how much healthcare you will get later – and how soon you will get it. If you worked from ages 20 to age 65, then your household will have paid 45 x $13,000 = $585,000 into the system, in order to get “moderate” problems with accessing healthcare after you’re aged 55.

And the Canadian system DOES NOT cover prescription drugs.

The second Angus Reid article explains:

This second part of the study finds one-in-six Canadians (17%) in the 55-plus age group – a figure that represents upwards of 1.8 million people – say that they or someone else in their household have taken prescription drugs in a way other than prescribed because of cost.

One-in-ten (10%) have decided to simply not fill a prescription because it was too expensive, and a similar number (9%) have decided not to renew one for the same reason. One-in-eight (12%) have taken steps to stretch their prescriptions, such as cutting pills or skipping doses.

Some 17 per cent of Canadians 55 and older have done at least one of these things, and that proportion rises among those who have greater difficulty accessing other aspects of the health care system.

In a previous blog post, I reported on how Canadians have to wait in order to see their GP doctor. If that doctor refers them to a specialist, then they have to wait to see the specialist. And if that specialist schedules surgery, then they have to wait for their surgery appointment. The delays can easily go from weeks to months and even years. The MEDIAN delay from GP referral to treatment is 19.5 weeks.

But remember – they paid into the system FIRST. The decisions about when and if they will be treated are made later, by experts in the government. This is what it means for a government monopoly to run health care. There are no free exchanges of money for service in a competitive free market. Costs are controlled by delaying and withholding treatment. And no one knows this better than elderly Canadians themselves. But by the time they realize how badly they’ve been swindled, it’s too late to get their money back out. You can’t pull your tax money out of government if you are disappointed with the service you receive. There are no refunds. There are no returns.

Is Medicare in a debt crisis? Does Medicare need to be reformed?

Medicare is a social program that pays for the health care and prescription drugs of seniors. Forbes magazine explains the basic facts of the Medicare funding situation.

First, the facts:

Often lost in the campaign rhetoric and obscured by the opinionated news dominating the television and print media are the following background facts about Medicare, America’s most burdensome entitlement program given both the demographics and the growth expected in health care costs:

• Medicare is a taxpayer funded, government-run insurance program that is financially unsustainable in its current form. By all estimates, Medicare is spiraling into bankruptcy, with an unfunded liability of almost $38 trillion and a hospital insurance trust fund that will become insolvent in 2024, according to the 2012 Medicare Trustees Report.

• Medicare was already the single insurance program most likely to reject a claim, compared to all of the eight comparable private insurance plans studied in the AMA 2008 National Health Insurance Report Card. This rejection rate was double that of the private insurers’ average – those very same insurance companies vilified by President Obama as denying coverage to Americans.

• An increasing proportion of doctors are already not accepting Medicare patients. A 2008 report by the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, an independent federal panel, said that 29 percent of its beneficiaries who were looking for a primary care doctor had a problem finding one. A 2008 survey by the Texas Medical Association that found that only 58 percent of the state’s doctors accepted new Medicare patients, and only 38 percent of primary care doctors did, a number shrinking due to government- decreed payment that is lower than cost. In the 2008 HSC national tracking survey, more than 20 percent of primary care doctors accepted no new Medicare patients (only 4.5 percent accepted no new privately insured patients) and about 40 percent of primary care doctors and 20 percent of specialists refused most new Medicare patients.

The rest of the article compares the Obama and Ryan plans for reforming Medicare.

Here’s a snippet:

President Obama’s plan for Medicare will not simply reduce access to doctors. According to the Medicare Trustees, Medicare payment reductions under the new law will cause hospitals, nursing facilities, and home health agencies to operate at a loss – 15 percent lose money by 2019, 25 percent by 2030, and 40 percent by 2050. The Trustees Report concluded the obvious – health care providers “would have to withdraw from serving Medicare beneficiaries, or shift substantial portions of Medicare costs to their non-Medicare, non-Medicaid payers.” Can American families with private insurance who already pay almost $1,800 per year – extra – for the underpayment by Medicare and Medicaid, subsidizing public insurance by more than $88 billion dollars per year, afford to add even more because of the president’s law?

Signed into law by President Obama is another nefarious method of reducing Medicare payments. A wholly unaccountable, government appointed 15-member Independent Payment Advisory Board, the IPAB, does not just “recommend” changes to reimbursements. It has unprecedented power to reduce (but not to increase) payments to doctors that the Secretary of Health and Human Services is required to implement. To be sure, the IPAB acts independently of the people, immune from Congressional oversight, and even beyond control of the judiciary – ensured in language within the law that isolates it from repeal.

The Paul Ryan plan changes nothing about Medicare for Americans 55 and older. Those who are younger than 55 will be given the option of choosing a private plan and then paying for it with a voucher provided by the government.

Republican Tom Price grills left-wing AARP CEO on Obamacare

This video highlights what the left-wing AARP is really about.

Don’t join this organization. If you are a senior, join AMAC instead. They’re more conservative than AARP.

UPDATE:

For those of you without Youtube!

Liberal:
CNN summary
NPR summary

Conservative:
Republican Congressman Reichert
An excellent blog post

NYT investigation finds widespread corruption in state-run care system

A pretty disturbing story the leftist New York Times.

Excerpt:

Nearly 40 years after New York emptied its scandal-ridden warehouses for the developmentally disabled, the far-flung network of small group homes that replaced them operates with scant oversight and few consequences for employees who abuse the vulnerable population.

A New York Times investigation over the past year has found widespread problems in the more than 2,000 state-run homes. In hundreds of cases reviewed by The Times, employees who sexually abused, beat or taunted residents were rarely fired, even after repeated offenses, and in many cases, were simply transferred to other group homes run by the state.

And, despite a state law requiring that incidents in which a crime may have been committed be reported to law enforcement, such referrals are rare: State records show that of some 13,000 allegations of abuse in 2009 within state-operated and licensed homes, fewer than 5 percent were referred to law enforcement. The hundreds of files examined by The Times contained shocking examples of abuse of residents with conditions like Down syndrome, autism and cerebral palsy.

[…]The Times reviewed 399 disciplinary cases involving 233 state workers who were accused of one of seven serious offenses, including physical abuse and neglect, since 2008. In each of the cases examined, the agency had substantiated the charges, and the worker had been previously disciplined at least once.

In 25 percent of the cases involving physical, sexual or psychological abuse, the state employees were transferred to other homes.

The state initiated termination proceedings in 129 of the cases reviewed but succeeded in just 30 of them, in large part because the workers’ union, the Civil Service Employees Association, aggressively resisted firings in almost every case. A few employees resigned, even though the state sought only suspensions.

In the remainder of the cases, employees accused of abuse — whether beating the disabled, using racial slurs or neglecting their care — either were suspended, were fined or had their vacation time reduced.

[…]In some cases, not even criminal convictions are disqualifying. Henry Marrero, an employee at a group home in Utica, was convicted of beating a 99-year-old man while moonlighting at a nursing home — slapping the man three times in the face and once on the stomach. He pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor and was barred from participating in federally financed health care programs. But he kept his state job working with the developmentally disabled.

[…]The Civil Service Employees Association, one of the most powerful unions in Albany, makes no apologies for its vigorous defense of the group-home workers it represents.

But the union’s approach — contesting just about every charge leveled at a worker — has contributed to a system in which firings of even the most abusive employees are rare. Most disciplinary measures represent a compromise between management and the union, often reached at the urging of an arbitrator chosen by both sides.

This article really has to be read in full to be understood. Solid investigative work by the New York Times.

What happened in Europe when they embraced Democrat policies?

Here’s a story from the radically-leftist New York Times.

Excerpt:

Francesca Esposito, 29 and exquisitely educated, helped win millions of euros in false disability and other lawsuits for her employer, a major Italian state agency. But one day last fall she quit, fed up with how surreal and ultimately sad it is to be young in Italy today.

It galled her that even with her competence and fluency in five languages, it was nearly impossible to land a paying job. Working as an unpaid trainee lawyer was bad enough, she thought, but doing it at Italy’s social security administration seemed too much. She not only worked for free on behalf of the nation’s elderly, who have generally crowded out the young for jobs, but her efforts there did not even apply to her own pension.

[…]The outrage of the young has erupted, sometimes violently, on the streets of Greece and Italy in recent weeks, as students and more radical anarchists protest not only specific austerity measures in flattened economies but a rising reality in Southern Europe: People like Ms. Esposito feel increasingly shut out of their own futures. Experts warn of volatility in state finances and the broader society as the most highly educated generation in the history of the Mediterranean hits one of its worst job markets.

[…]The daughter of a fireman and a high school teacher, Ms. Esposito was the first in her family to graduate from college and the first to study foreign languages. She has an Italian law degree and a master’s from Germany and was an intern at the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg. It has not helped.[…]Even before the economic crisis hit, Southern Europe was not an easy place to forge a career. Low growth and a corrosive lack of meritocracy have long posed challenges to finding a job in Italy, Greece, Spain and Portugal. Today, with the added sting of austerity, more people are left fighting over fewer opportunities. It is a zero-sum game that inevitably pits younger workers struggling to enter the labor market against older ones already occupying precious slots.

As a result, a deep malaise has set in among young people. Some take to the streets in protest; others emigrate to Northern Europe or beyond in an epic brain drain of college graduates. But many more suffer in silence, living in their childhood bedrooms well into adulthood because they cannot afford to move out.

“They call us the lost generation,” said Coral Herrera Gómez, 33, who has a Ph.D. in humanities but still lives with her parents in Madrid because she cannot find steady work. “I’m not young,” she added over coffee recently, “but I’m not an adult with a job, either.”

[…]Indeed, experts warn of a looming demographic disaster in Southern Europe, which has among the lowest birth rates in the Western world. With pensioners living longer and young people entering the work force later — and paying less in taxes because their salaries are so low — it is only a matter of time before state coffers run dry.

“What we have is a Ponzi scheme,” said Laurence J. Kotlikoff, an economist at Boston University and an expert in fiscal policy.

He said that pay-as-you-go social security and health care were a looming fiscal disaster in Southern Europe and beyond. “If these fertility rates continue through time, you won’t have Italians, Spanish, Greeks, Portuguese or Russians,” he said. “I imagine the Chinese will just move into Southern Europe.”

The problem goes far beyond youth unemployment, which is at 40 percent in Spain and 28 percent in Italy.

[…]“This is the best-educated generation in Spanish history, and they are entering a job market in which they are underutilized,” said Ignacio Fernández Toxo, the leader of the Comisiones Obreras, one of Spain’s two largest labor unions. “It is a tragedy for the country.”

Yet many young people in Southern Europe see labor union leaders like Mr. Fernández, and the left-wing parties with which they have been historically close, as part of the problem. They are seen as exacerbating a two-tier labor market by protecting a caste of tenured older workers rather than helping younger workers enter the market.

For Dr. Kotlikoff, the solution is simple: “We have to change the labor laws. Not gradually, but quickly.”

Yet in Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain, any change in national contracts involves complex negotiations among governments, labor unions and businesses — a delicate dance in which each faction fights furiously for its interests.

The left think that education creates jobs. But education by leftists creates ignorance and resentment. Capitalism, corporations, property rights, the rule of law, and tax cuts create jobs. The unions that control left-wing parties like the Democrats are the ones to blame for blocking labor law reform that would create economic growth.

It’s sad, but not too sad, because you have to remember that the young generation is mentally challenged, and they overwhelmingly turn out to vote for more and more socialism – higher taxes, global warming alarmism, and bigger social programs. They just don’t know what the effects will be of their voting until they reach their 30s.

Young people are economically ignorant, but at the same time incredibly arrogant in their ignorance. They want to be cool and trendy, and to vote the way they were taught to vote by the media and Hollywood celebrities. They want to vote for the Peter Pan economics that their teachers and professors taught them – using the red marking pen as a whip to scourge them into submission.

Consider this editorial in Investors Business Daily.

Excerpt:

Heading into the new year, there’s plenty of optimism about the stock market rising, corporate profits recovering and companies hiring. There’s just one problem on that last jobs item: Many will be overseas.

On those rare occasions when it’s not demonizing businesses as bastions of corporate greed, the White House and all its supporting players spend their time pondering why U.S. businesses, with mountains of cash, won’t use at least some of it to hire workers. A mere 900,000 jobs were created in 2010, while U.S. companies sat on $1.1 trillion in cash.

Last week, President Obama went so far as to meet with 20 CEOs for several hours over this, “asking the attendees to dialogue with him on a shared agenda focused on moving our economy forward,” according to a White House statement.

We don’t have any inside lines as to what was said, but news is trickling out the Obama administration is starting to think about doing something big to end the jobs drought in the U.S.

The something big would be to lower the U.S. corporate tax, which at 35%, stands as the second-highest in the developed world. President Obama only told NPR that he discussed “simplifying the system, hopefully lowering rates, broadening the base.”

If so, and if there are no accompanying sleights of hand to extract cash from businesses some other way, as some reports have it, it’s good news. Nothing inhibits the creation of U.S. jobs quite like high corporate taxes and their accompanying regulatory regime.

The fact is, companies sitting on cash aren’t doing nothing. They’re hiring overseas, creating 1.4 million jobs in 2010 alone, according to the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

That’s not because they prefer foreigners to Americans, but because the bad business climate here pushes them to do so.

The rest of the world is a vastly different place from Obama’s U.S., which is characterized by high taxes and protectionist set-asides for politically connected unions that shut out free trade.

In places like Indonesia, Singapore, Taiwan, India and Thailand, nobody demonizes business or blasts trade. Instead great efforts are made by the state and the private sector to draw in foreign investment by becoming more competitive than their rivals.

U.S. multinationals go to these places not because labor is cheap but because these policies also create boomtowns with lots of customers. Incredibly enough, sometimes overseas profits and jobs provide a lifeline for troubled U.S. companies back home. Take GM — today, its Brazil and Korea operations help keep it afloat.

Growth in the 8% to 9% range is typical in Asia.

The young are so busy swallowing slogans and persisting in a taxpayer-funded extended childhood in the schools that they cannot come up for air for a second to understand how the economy really works. All they do is get their worldview from Comedy Central and Michael Moore movies. And when reality asserts itself, they throw rocks through windows to protest as their entitlements are taken away. A generation of barbarians, raised by unionized taxpayer-funded socialist educators who know nothing about life outside of their sheltered ivory tower.

eading into the new year, there’s plenty of optimism about the stock market rising, corporate profits recovering and companies hiring. There’s just one problem on that last jobs item: Many will be overseas.On those rare occasions when it’s not demonizing businesses as bastions of corporate greed, the White House and all its supporting players spend their time pondering why U.S. businesses, with mountains of cash, won’t use at least some of it to hire workers. A mere 900,000 jobs were created in 2010, while U.S. companies sat on $1.1 trillion in cash.