Posts Tagged ‘health care’

Evil Healthcare Companies and Their Obscene Profits

Just had a guy on Twitter claiming that 30% of every premium dollar goes to health-care insurance companies profits. So I figured I’d check out a couple of companies, via Morningstar Advisor Workstation.

Turns out that for 2008 and 2009 (so far), Humana had operating margins of 3.7% and 4.5% respectively — which provided a return on assets of 5.0% and 6.3%, and a return on equity of 15.3% and 18.2%. Not bad, but obscene? Give me a break.

Health Net, another “evil health insurance company” had operating margins of 1% and 1.1% for 2008 and 2009 to date — giving these bastards a whopping return on assets of 2% and 2.4% — and return on equity of 5.2% and 6.4%.

Bear in mind that they did, in actuality, turn a profit — a feat the Federal government has yet to replicate with Amtrak or the US Postal Service.

Perhaps my Twitter friend will point me towards this evil cabal of companies making 30% profits out of their revenues, as he claims. Somehow, I doubt it.

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Is Paglia the only Dem who gets it?

Thank goodness the Democrats rarely listen to her. But in a recent article on Salon, she makes a slew of good points – and asks a couple of searching questions.

Why did it take so long for Democrats to realize that this year’s tea party and town hall uprisings were a genuine barometer of widespread public discontent and not simply a staged scenario by kooks and conspirators? First of all, too many political analysts still think that network and cable TV chat shows are the central forums of national debate. But the truly transformative political energy is coming from talk radio and the Web — both of which Democrat-sponsored proposals have threatened to stifle, in defiance of freedom of speech guarantees in the Bill of Rights. … It was on talk radio, which I have resumed monitoring around the clock because of the healthcare fiasco, that I heard the passionate voices of callers coming directly from the town hall meetings. Hence I was alerted to the depth and intensity of national sentiment long before others who were simply watching staged, manipulated TV shows.

It was there for all to see. Those of us who are part of the mob, and helping drive the conversation online, could feel it in our bones. Too bad the Democrats, by and large, can’t seem to feel the populist anger that’s welling up all around them. Actually, it’s not too bad; the air has that 1994 smell to it, if you know what I mean.

Why has the Democratic Party become so arrogantly detached from ordinary Americans? Though they claim to speak for the poor and dispossessed, Democrats have increasingly become the party of an upper-middle-class professional elite, top-heavy with journalists, academics and lawyers (one reason for the hypocritical absence of tort reform in the healthcare bills). Weirdly, given their worship of highly individualistic, secularized self-actualization, such professionals are as a whole amazingly credulous these days about big-government solutions to every social problem. They see no danger in expanding government authority and intrusive, wasteful bureaucracy. This is, I submit, a stunning turn away from the anti-authority and anti-establishment principles of authentic 1960s leftism.

It’s easy — it hasn’t been about “people” in a long time, Camille. It’s about power. It’s about money. It’s about control. And it won’t end, ever, for them — because it’s all they know. The idealists of the 60′s are gone — either evolving into self-interested power-seekers, devolving into regular folks who just want to raise their families and make a living, or finally wised up and realized that the Republican or Libertarian Party is their true home.

I love the smell of 1994 in the morning. Smells like… victory. Some day, this regime is going to end.

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Arugula-eaters, worry not

Whole Foods still loves you, and they’re still a mass of gooey Leftists.

Today, on my way home from work, I stopped at the store to pick up some well-deserved barley-pop (they have a great selection) and ran into a friend of mine who works there.

Naturally, I had to stop and congratulate her on Whole Foods becoming the darlings of the Right Wing Conspiracy, with their CEO’s recent Op/Ed in the Wall Street Journal entitled “Whole Foods Alternative to Obamacare“.

She said “I just KNEW you were going to come in and give me a hassle about that!” and laughed. She then proceeded to give me a copy of a letter they are issuing to any offended Lefty who comes by to bitch about Whole Foods falling off the Obamawagon.

Here are a few excerpts:

As you are probably aware, John Mackey wrote an Op/Ed piece that was published in the WSJ earlier this week … John’s intent was to express his personal opinions – not those of Whole Food Market team members or our company as a whole. Still, it’s very clear that John’s piece offended some of our customers, other members of the communities we serve, and some of our team members as well.

We offer you a sincere apology.

Whole Foods Market has no official position on the issue. That said, we have attempted to be part of the solution in health care reform for many years by providing innovative health care options to our team members. We believe that our high deductible medical insurance plan coupled with a company-funded HSA is an excellent way to empower team members to make their own health care choices.

John wanted to share our experience with others through his Op/Ed piece. He believes that the specific ideas he put forward would improve access and cost of health care for more people. Because our plan has held down overal costs (relative to other plans), WFM has been able to pay 100% of the premiums for our full-time team members — about 89% of our workforce…

WFM has a 30-year track record of caring about our customers, team members and communites. From local loan programs to salary caps, from donations to non-profits to funding the Whole Planet Foundation, our innovative programs are created and designed by team members who care about their fellow citizens…

In other words, we’re still the wacky, quirky, Lefty folks you buy your arugula from, so don’t stop shopping here. Just because WE solved the healthcare problem for OUR employees in no way means that we don’t support socialized medicine for the rest of you suckers. Unless you take ours away; that would be bad. We think.

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Against public option?

I just got asked yesterday on Twitter why I am against the so-called “public option” in the so-called “health care reform” proposals now pending in Congress.

Actually, I’m not against a “public option” — we already have one, and it’s called Medicaid — a program that ensures that the poorest and least insurable among us are covered in the health care system.

Seems to me that there are four simple things we can do to improve health care in this country:

1. Tort reform — limit punitive damages, and require arbitration before awarding people like John Edwards tens of millions of dollars paid by doctors and hospitals for malpractice insurance. The money freed up could easily amount to billions in savings to the current system, making insurance and services more affordable.

2. Create “assigned risk” pools, not unlike how car insurance works, to handle people with pre-existing conditions. We could even throw some money at subsidizing the programs, set up on the state level.

3. To cover those not already covered by Medicaid (some studies report that quite a few people who are currently “uninsured” don’t even realize that they qualify for Medicaid), up the income eligibility levels to allow more people who can’t afford private insurance to be covered. At the same time, expand Medicaid to cover wellness issues such as regular checkups, health education, smoking cessation and substance abuse treatment.

4. Once we’ve done the above, require everyone to have a basic basket of health insurance. This would spread the costs over those people who have “chosen” not to have health insurance because they are perhaps young and healthy, but could afford health insurance. We require all drivers to have liability insurance; we should do the same with health care, since more and more it’s being deemed an essential “right” (although I hate using that word), and at the very least is not refused to anyone at the emergency room. Free riders who are able to help pay should do just that.

Next, let’s see how we can make Medicaid and Medicare more efficient and effective before spreading these systems over the whole thing. Let’s keep the government from competing via subsidies to the “public option” against a system that 80% of it’s customers are happy with. Once we’ve accomplished the above four items, and we wait a couple years, we can guage the results and see what else we should do.

Creating a gigantic government bureaucracy to solve a problem that is only a problem for a minority of the populace, when it could be helped greatly by a combination of tweaking the way we do things and subsidizing our most needful citizens, makes a lot more sense to me than blowing up what we have and moving to the so-called “public option.”

Thoughts?

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