Saturday, November 16, 2013

THE PERFECT STORM

GOVERNMENT AND BUSINESS
Johann Wagener 11-15-13

Yes, they do occur at times. Usually isolated events, far apart from each other, and quickly forgotten except for History buffs and a few paragraphs devoted to them on a Wikipedia page.


What first came to mind was WWII and how the government and GM forged an alliance and built the largest military machine in history in record breaking time with just one thing in mind. Protecting America from harm.

Not to make a profit.

Just to protect Americans.

The "perfect storm"; I endeavor to describe is one in which government and business come together and create something extraordinary. In this case an affordable healthcare system available to all Americans.

I am confident, as idiotic as this may sound, that business and government can again come together to protect Americans and provide them with affordable health care. Not for profit. Just to protect Americans.

Republicans and their allies banter about Social Security, Medicare, and now the Affordable Health Care and call it evil, and the like.  A diabolical plot by someone(s) unknown enslave Americans and strip them of dignity along the way.

They clamor about looking for ways to sabotage these programs and replace them with "profit" making institutions they are paid (not elected) to represent.

Profit trumps everything else regardless how much it damages Americans.

When it comes to healthcare it becomes difficult to hide the profit motive when you hear talk about, not being able to afford it, or or standards that provide quality coverage are just too expensive.

That's usually always followed up with what sounds like a logical argument about how providing affordable healthcare to all Americans is just too costly, especially if you include the ill and disabled.

There is no mention of people without healthcare, or those that struggle to keep up the payments on policies that can be cancelled or increased at anytime with little or no notice.

People are left dangling on hooks, afraid to let go of what they have even if it's not meeting their needs, because having something is better than have nothing at all.

I read or hear about these people day in and day out.

Being a 72 year old senior dependent on Social Security and  Medicare, I'm nervous when it comes to protecting myself and my family from harm, especially illness.

 Listening to politicians talk about the Affordable Healthcare Law, it sounds much like the Medicare  I , and millions of other Americans, receive from the government.

Medicare has provided adequate coverage for me, even at my age, so I wonder why this new healthcare law will not adequately provide my now 18 year old daughter ( the last of 6 children) adequate healthcare coverage until she turns 26, and beyond if she chose to extend her coverage.

If I were to buy into pundits assertions; especially on FOX, I would be a monster turning my daughter into to a whiny, weak, loser doomed to feed on a tyrannical government's teet, living out her days in slavery.

So, before I support the Affordable Healthcare Law  I need to ask; especially Republicans and friends, am I about to shackle my daughter to a program that will undoubtedly enslave her to a system whose sole diabolical purpose is to destroy the American way of life?

Please tell me, what is it about social programs like Social Security, Medicare and now the Affordable Healthcare Law, that enslaves people to a life of hell and damnation?

I just can't get it. I have honestly tried to answer this question many times over but continue to fail making sense of what I hear.

When I looked for the devastation programs like Social Security and Medicare wreaked upon me all  I could find were a few old payroll stubs going back a few decades that showed a deduction of a few dollars  for something called FICA

Is that where I went wrong? Bad investment? Promoting Communism and slavery?

How in the heck did I do that without realizing the damage I was causing to me and my country?

So, I started at the beginning;  the FICA deduction, and began trace forward and see what happened to all those $10 and $20 payments I made.

What I found was that those deductions were being returned to me in $1,500.00 monthly deposits made to my bank account  tagged "SSA TREAS 000 XXSOC SEC"  not much different than my GMC and Chase dividend checks, except it's much larger.

OK. So besides the $1,500 monthly Social Security dividend, what else am I getting out of this lousy investment in FICA? (click here for more on FICA)  FICA – Wage Limits and Tax Rates

I thumbed through the Medicare booklet I receive around this time every year.

I remember my parents, who both were collecting SS and on Medicare,talk about it, but never heard them complain about it.

So, here I am, over a half century later, collecting Social Security, holding a PART A-B Medicare card and having a $100 a month premium deducted from my Social Security benefits to contribute the Medicare and ensure it will be available to future generation when they come of age.

This is the way the system works folks and it is why the system works as well as it has for so many years; regardless of the markets or degree of illness or number of patients. Everyone (well, almost everyone )    
The Rich Don't Pay Equal Rates of Social Security Tax? contributes into these programs and, later in life, receives a healthy dividend on their investment.

The "perfect storm" I'm leading up to is this; 

In may case my Medicare has formed a coalition with a "private sector" service provider (HMO)  who has sub-contracted to provide healthcare myself and others living here in Ranch Mirage, CA. 

Home to many staunch conservative Republicans. A town that names it's hospitals and streets after some of the best known of these folks. Matter of fact, the poster boys of Republicanism (the Koch brothers) put on some great seminars down here. 

In spite of that this is also a town where government and business joins hands in providing myself and millions of other Americans healthcare.

I can only provide an example of the coverage I receive with my Medicare/HMO plan but assume there are many more "seniors" like me receiving the same or something very similar.  

Just to not bore you (you can always Google for the rest) I'm just going to go down the list of services I receive from my provider; not because I have photographic memory, but because I've used these services at one time or another. I'm not a spokesman for the HMO or the Government, just an example of someone on a healthcare plan they provide me with. 

The banner on the HMO's brochure reads something like this;

A "NOT-FOR-PROFIT-BUT-FOR-YOUR- HEALTH ORGANIZATION"

Genuine healthcare providers understand that concept and have been able to build successful and effective businesses providing healthcare with a little help from government and still manage to strive in spite of it.
It's a business model that's been tested many times over and taught as a part of economics.  A lot of MBA's include some mention of it.

So, from my perspective, based on the few years I spent in both the business and mental health community using this approach as a template in providing affordable healthcare to as many of Americans as possible is a very effective and wise business strategy. Nothing Leninist about it.

It's a reasonable approach to not only providing healthcare, but also jobs, careers, vocations, skills, to another large group of Americans we sometimes refer to as "first respondents" or "hero's"  They usually don't include CEO's or CFO's or Members of the Board, or even investors. but that in no way implies they lack "talent" or are not stand up Americans because they are willing to associate with a "not-for-profit" healthcare provider.

I'm also certain that many of those in the upper echelons of these organizations (like the doctors) consider themselves to be less talented or inferior in some way to their colleagues doing "nip & tucks, or "lap bands" in a clinic up the street from them.

Most important, however, (something that make Republican's cringe hearing), no one seems to be fretting over "profits" On the contrary the majority of the BOD meetings are convened to discuss how to provide better, more effective healthcare without having to jack up the costs. That is indeed a novel concept if I am to believe what I hear coming from Republicans and FOX & friends. 

I really don't want to sound like a pitch man for my HMO so, off the top of my head, this is a list of healthcare services I have personally received from a private sector provider that the government contracts with for the $100 I pay each month.  

*Referrals and services from top of the line specialists from prestigious institutions like Eisenhower Medical Center in Ranch Mirage CA (my hospital of choice) where I receive services for anything that requires experts in the field.  

*100% hospital coverage, no deductible or co-pay

*100% outpatient care.

*Vision, Dental, Hearing, services with co-pay for devices like dentures or hearing aids. 

*Free Gym Membership and services like massage, physical therapy, even Yoga.

* Near 100% prescription drug coverage as long as there's a realistically priced generic on the market. (Plan doesn't cover R&D or CEO salaries).

* Free round trip transportation in late model vans for medical visits.

* Seminars, Community Activities, even a movie or play now and then. No charge. 

* 24/7 Urgent (emergency) Care services just in case. No charge.

* In home post operative case management visits by licensed social workers (bad word I know) No charge.

*Yearly "head to toe" health exams at what's called the "Wellness Clinic" Something about trying to catch the bug before it catches me.  

The core group members of my HMO are made up of "seniors" (I really dislike that word)  like myself who by any stretch of the imagination is 100% fit. We all, rich and poor alike, seem to have acquired a few kinks here an d there along the way.  Yet, this group of  "not-so-prime" folks are receiving healthcare services like, or similar to, mine at the same, or similar, cost that I am.  And I don't hear of anyone going broke or bankrupt on either side of the exchange.

Believe or not, (and I know this will be hard for some) these people all appear to be satisfied with what the government/private HMO is providing them with.

This is not a bunch of 60' Hippies I'm referring to, but a group of Tea Partiers, Republicans, Libertarians, with a sprinkle of Democrats and Independents.

There's no one screaming "communist socialist" at anyone. No one warning them of the "slavery" to come.

 I wanted to share this information with my free-market friends to provide them with a little "hands on experience" of someone trapped in the government healthcare system created long before Obama ever came into office.

So to my socially phobic, free-market friends, being the idiot that I am,  I just want to ask;

What is un-American about what I discussed here today?

If you do take the time to answer this question please try and keep Obama out it.  He's just a community organizer, not a doctor or an insurance exec. and is only trying to do the right thing when it comes to being our President. Actually deliver on the oath he took to protect this country and everyone in it to the best of his ability. How un-American!