As Health Care Costs Rise, We All Pay
I am one of the millions of Americans who have had trouble getting health care. After I left grad school I tried to get coverage with Anthem Blue Cross. A month after I applied I was informed that they were canceling my application because my doctors had refused to send them my information, even though my doctors told me Anthem had never contacted them. After my doctors sent Anthem my records, Anthem again told me they were cancelling my application. This time it was because I supposedly hadn't given them my birth date.
After four months of this, they finally told me I wasn't eligible for coverage because a year before I had taken a drug to help me sleep as part of treatment for trauma. Judging from how difficult Anthem made it just to contact them, I decided they had no interest in selling me health insurance, and were simply looking for an excuse to deny me coverage.
Why would they want to sell me insurance? As much as I would like to blame the health insurance companies for this—and while I think I was treated incredibly badly—the truth is that they don't make much money off individual policies. Health insurance companies managed a relatively modest 2.2% profit margin in 2008. And most of that money comes from employer-sponsored plans. WellPoint, which owns Anthem, recently announced that it's raising premiums for the Californians it actually does insure by as much as 39%, after having lost millions of dollars last year on its policies for individual Californians. With medical costs far outpacing inflation and the pool of people it insures getting older and sicker, Anthem says that what it collects in premiums is no longer enough to cover what it pays out in claims. It's probably true. As Dan Mendelson, the president of Avalere Health, says, "You wouldn't see a 35 percent increase in price because they're trying to make more profit. It just doesn't work that way."
As Michael Hiltzik says, the insurance industry "acts as if it will have trouble making money unless regulators allow it to cover only injuries suffered by a young single male hit by an asteroid." But the fundamental problem is not that individual health insurance companies are gouging us, but rather that health care costs are so out of control. As I've written before, health care costs much, much more in the U.S. than anywhere else in the world. And health care costs in the U.S. continue to balloon. As they rise, insurance policies cover less and less—and fewer and fewer of us have them. And while it might make sense to pay out of pocket for our regular medical expenses, very few people are rich enough to cover their own medical expenses should they become seriously ill.
The health care bill before Congress doesn't do as much as it should to control medical costs. But without health care reform, as Reed Abelson argues, the situation will only get much worse. The inefficiency of our medical system is a huge drag on our economy, and the rising cost of health care a major reason the deficit continues to grow. As it takes a larger share of our incomes to cover our medical expenses, our disposable incomes shrink, making us effectively poorer. And as the number of uninsured grows, many people will die sooner than they otherwise would have. If we don't manage to do something soon, the premium hikes in California will be only the beginning.
Pfizer's partnerships strengthen their ability to deliver vaccines in developing countries.
- Community healthcare workers face many challenges in their work, including often traveling far distances to see their clients
- Pfizer is helping to drive the UN's sustainable development goals through partnerships.
- Pfizer partnered with AMP and the World Health Organization to develop a training program for healthcare workers.
Swiss researchers identify new dangers of modern cocaine.
- Cocaine cut with anti-worming adulterant levamisole may cause brain damage.
- Levamisole can thin out the prefrontal cortex and affect cognitive skills.
- Government health programs should encourage testing of cocaine for purity.
Civil discourse has fallen to an all time low.
The question that the American populace needs to ask itself now is: how do we fix it?
Discursive fundamentals need to be taught to preserve free expression
In their findings the authors state:
upholding First Amendment ideals.
Talking politics at Thanksgiving dinner
- Progressive Activists: younger, highly engaged, secular, cosmopolitan, angry.
- Traditional Liberals: older, retired, open to compromise, rational, cautious.
- Passive Liberals: unhappy, insecure, distrustful, disillusioned.
- Politically Disengaged: young, low income, distrustful, detached, patriotic, conspiratorial
- Moderates: engaged, civic-minded, middle-of-the-road, pessimistic, Protestant.
- Traditional Conservatives: religious, middle class, patriotic, moralistic.
- Devoted Conservatives: white, retired, highly engaged, uncompromising,
It's interesting to note the authors found that:
"Tribe membership shows strong reliability in predicting views across different political topics."
Here are some statistics on differing viewpoints according to political party:
- 51% of staunch liberals say it's "morally acceptable" to punch Nazis.
- 53% of Republicans favor stripping U.S. citizenship from people who burn the American flag.
- 65% of Republicans say NFL players should be fired if they refuse to stand for the anthem.
- 58% of Democrats say employers should punish employees for offensive Facebook posts.
- 47% of Republicans favor bans on building new mosques.
Here are some guidelines for civic discourse that might come in handy:
- Practice inclusion and listen to who you're speaking to.
Civic discourse in the divisive age
dangerously tribal, fueled by a culture of outrage and taking offense. For the combatants,
the other side can no longer be tolerated, and no price is too high to defeat them.
These tensions are poisoning personal relationships, consuming our politics and
putting our democracy in peril.
Once a country has become tribalized, debates about contested issues from
immigration and trade to economic management, climate change and national security,
become shaped by larger tribal identities. Policy debate gives way to tribal conflicts.
Polarization and tribalism are self-reinforcing and will likely continue to accelerate.
The work of rebuilding our fragmented society needs to start now. It extends from
re-connecting people across the lines of division in local communities all the way to
building a renewed sense of national identity: a bigger story of us."
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