21 graphs that show America’s health-care prices are ludicrous

 

The End of the Costs Line

21 graphs that show America’s health-care prices are ludicrous.

The huge downside of the health care reform was not all the mythical pieces people complained about, most of which didn’t even exist.  It’s the fact that costs were not addressed as they should have been.  This explanation that went along with the graphs can’t be stressed enough:

In other countries, prices are set centrally and most everyone, no matter their region or insurance arrangement, pays pretty close to the same amount. In the United States, each insurer negotiates its own prices, and different insurers end up paying wildly different amounts.

Costs controls are going to have to be a part of the government’s footprint in American health care at some point.  It’s an eventuality that we will need and the sooner the better.  The system will not be sustained in the long run without it.

The Reality of Health Care Polls

As we close in on the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Affordable Care Act this week, more and more polls have appeared in the news getting the reaction to health care reform and the impending decision.  For instance, ABC News reported the country is both against the health care law and against the current health care system.  But they included some polling numbers that should be noted:

Positive ratings of current care, for their part, peak among senior citizens, at 86 percent – perhaps ironically, given their enrollment in the government-run Medicare program. Current care ratings also are higher, by 15 points, among people with $50,000-plus incomes, vs. their lower-income counterparts. And strongly favorable ratings of current care spike, in particular, among people in $100,000-plus households.

In other words, people who have easier access to health care compared to the people who don’t, even if that health care is government backed, like it.  This is related to an interesting point if you have been watching much of this polling data recently.  Something has been strangely left out of most of the polls.  Most of these polls seem to avoid asking or reporting how many people thought the ACA didn’t go far enough.  Slight majorities may be against the reform but this does not take into account the number of people against the reform because they wanted a more universal system, such as Canada or Germany.

The big problem with not acknowledging this reality is it seems people are just against the ACA and therein want the status quo, which is clearly not the case as the ABC News poll indicates.  We also know people like many of the provisions the ACA is enforcing (or on its way to enforcing barring a full overturn by the Supreme Court).  For example, from CBS News/NY Times data:

85 percent said insurance companies should cover people with pre-existing conditions and nearly seven in ten supported children under 26 staying on their parents’ health plan.

But we are mostly told we don’t like it without explaining why.  Take for instance an article from the Wall Street Journal.  The article has plenty of polling data but only says this regarding people saying it didn’t do enough:

The health-care law has stirred deep passions on both sides of the partisan divide, including among some liberals who think it didn’t go far enough.

No polling data included as to what percentage believe this.  Not exactly surprising the Murdoch-owned WSJ might gloss over this part of the debate.

One poll that did include this data states, “27 percent said it didn’t go far enough.”  What people want to assume about what we should do on health care based on this information is up to them.  But one thing seems to be clear and that is the media doesn’t do enough to point this fact out in the debate and it is certainly possible what the majority wants is being drowned out of the conversation.  And if the majority wanted something, we would of course get it, right?…Right?

Probably not.  Take the Buffet Rule for instance.  Gallup reported a 60% majority favored it while CNN reported 72% in favor.  Despite these large majorities, the rule died because we live in a democra$y and that’s how democra$y work$.  Rule of the money…excuse me, many.  Maybe it’s many with money.  I’m confused.

The point is we’ve seen a lot of polling data on health care but the media has not been completely honest with us.  If they were, we might figure out the majority wants something the powerful interests at the top don’t and that is simply the same access to the same health care they have and enjoy (and approve of as noted above).  Even if it’s government backed like Medicare.

Supreme Irony: Would a ‘single payer’ health care plan be less vulnerable to the court than the Affordable Health Care Act? – Yahoo! News

Supreme Irony: Would a ‘single payer’ health care plan be less vulnerable to the court than the Affordable Health Care Act? – Yahoo! News.

Very interesting read from Jeff Greenfield on the potential judicial ruling concerning the health care mandate as well as the constitutionality of a single payer system.  His article is not about right and wrong in the health care system and it just looks purely at the idea of whether certain factors would survive judicial review or not.  He states the mandate is almost certainly unconstitutional but a single payer system would survive review, for example expanding Medicare to everyone.

I previously argued the upcoming decision by the Supreme Court on the Affordable Care Act could potentially speed us to a universal type system and Greenfield’s points might add a new wrinkle to that argument.  If a ‘Medicare-for-all’ system is the only one that would be deemed constitutional by the courts, it may ramp up the fervor for its passing.  The likely overturning of the mandate this month by the Supreme Court might fuel the conversation for a universal system faster than expected since it potentially could be viewed as the only way to fight rising costs.  Only time will tell.

The Supreme Court Has Gone Diva on us

As Supreme Court justices review health-care law, stakes will be hard to ignore – The Washington Post.

As most of us already know, the Supreme Court this week will take up the issue of the highly publicized health care reform passed two years ago.  And for the few people who haven’t heard that, rest assured they will not be able to find a big enough rock to shield them from the coming onslaught of coverage it will receive.  That brings up an interesting question about this process.  Is it really a good thing that we will be far more informed than ever before on this case as it is hatched out in the Court?

The Washington Post gives a good primer to this case and their article included the following sentence I was very surprised to see: “And while cameras are still forbidden, the court has changed its rules to release audiotape and transcripts of the arguments each day.”  This means we will all be privy to the stances taken by the justices during the case and, in all likelihood, get some extra posturing since they know the recorders will be on to catch every word.  Some people might argue they won’t be susceptible to the extra attention because they aren’t political, don’t stand for office, and have no reason to play themselves up to the public.  But how can we say that is true?

It’s no secret the Supreme Court can and has been swayed by public opinion when deciding controversial issues.  A look at their decisions regarding civil rights in the 1800s where slavery and then segregation laws were upheld show even the figuratively “blind” court can see polling data.  And now they have added the temptation of making a spectacle during the hearing in order to hear themselves played back on the news that night.  They might not be elected politicians but they are so surrounded by that environment it will be hard for them not to abuse the opportunity.  Remember Eric Cantor printing off the health care bill and sitting it in front of him during the televised bipartisan meeting to try to hammer out some issues in the proposal?  (And I assume he had that printed out on the thickest paper he could find for added effect.  Take that tree-hugging hippies!)  I kind of wonder if Thomas or Scalia will attempt to read the entire law into the record just to satisfy the opponents’ insatiable hunger for pointing out its length.

Whether the rule changes and inevitable news sound bytes brought about by it will have any effect on the ultimate decision will be impossible to measure.  And it is also not the first time a high profile case has been covered closely in the 24-hour news cycle and internet era.  But this added exposure really does nothing good for the outcome and only furthers the potential for the Supreme Court to become even more political than it already has shown.  Some may argue (myself included) the government needs more transparency in certain areas in the interest of the public and the Court is no different.

But the Supreme Court is different because it isn’t a place for political ideology and posturing.  We have access to it through reporters who can still tell us what is going on everyday the Court is in session and we can always read the opinions rendered by the justices.  Increasing the direct link from the justices’ mouths to the public through more media exposure only increases the likelihood of politics getting in the way of good decision making.  The Court does let ideology get in the way at times and it is understandable certain cases will arise where the decision is not always black and white.  But we are supposed to expect certain things from the highest court in the land.  They are supposed to be “blind”.  They are supposed to properly review the law and the precedent set before it if any exist.  They are supposed to uphold the Constitution in the interest of the public.  They are supposed to make decisions where no one can tell which party the president represented who appointed them to their seat. They are supposed to dish out justice in a non-partisan way where very few would question their ultimate decisions.

They are supposed to do those things…but sometimes they don’t.  And it could be getting worse.