Open Thread: So, How do we Pay for it?

This is for SteveIL, in the hopes that he’ll exhaust himself of this topic once and for all. Health care: how do we pay for it?

24 Responses to “Open Thread: So, How do we Pay for it?”

  1. steve Says:

    Simple: Get a Job!!

  2. Lisa Says:

    Ask Hillary

  3. Tod Says:

    Steve: Nice simple statement, but one fraught with complexities.

    I just turned 65. I was laid off a few years ago after a productive working life spanning nearly 40 years. I wore out several pairs of shoes walking the business district, knocking on doors, asking any and all for any kind of job. I couldn’t get a job at the UPS store because I never had retail experience. I couldn’t get a job at McDonalds’ because I had a beard. I shave off my beard and went back to that franchise as well as others. Too old they said but they didn’t really say it out loud. I spent several years going from one place to the next trying to get hired into even minimum wage jobs. No one would hire me. I have two teenage daughters and I need medical coverage so I had to dip into my savings to pay $20,000/year premiums. Yes, that’s twenty thousand. Getting a job isn’t as simple as you’d like us to believe. I’m highly qualified, very motivated, don’t have a drug or alcohol problem, am in very good health, I respect my fellow workers and the management chain, I’ve been named “best of…” at several companies in the past. I speak and write excellent English and another language, I’m generally helpful and gregarious, don’t have “sexual harassment” issues, I’m fairly bright and learn easily. So what’s my problem? Bald with funny spots on my scalp, as little short and a bit round, and I don’t like to fly anymore.

    Please think first before you go ahead and send up a flip one sentence response. I’ve got a pair of shoes that you can walk around in for a while.

  4. Paul Merda Says:

    Simple: Tax all of the items that can cause health problems; smokes, booze, junk food (that’s a big one there), additional fines for risky driving etc.

  5. Jet Netwal Says:

    Reading that over, Tod, I feel pretty thankful my family has health insurance. It’s far less work to lump people together under a stereotype. Once peeled back, dealing the actual people and stories makes it much harder to hide behind the easy generalizations.

  6. SteveIL Says:

    Simple: Tax all of the items that can cause health problems; smokes, booze, junk food (that’s a big one there), additional fines for risky driving etc.

    And when people stop smoking, drink less, are forced to eat healthier, how does this get paid for?

    The new Democratic Party motto: Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em; your kids depend on it

  7. SteveIL Says:

    And thanks Jet for recognizing me in exposing this hypocritical “legislation”…

    Hey, how come I didn’t win the Nobel “Peace” Prize?

  8. Ken Grandlund Says:

    Actually, jet, I think the question you are asking is the wrong one. Sure, “How Do We Pay For Health Care” is an important part of the discussion, but to start from that point almost assumes that the only real problem with the system is the cost factor.

    Frankly the problem is the entire system, and without a serious overhaul of the entire health care complex, we’re not solving the problem so much as patching a rather big leak.

    I’ve written a four part series on health care reformation, posted it here at BIO a couple of times, and it lives at my blog ( -(a sidebar link will get you there) in perpetuity. I encourage you to re-read it for some ideas on this matter. While I don’t claim to have a perfect solution, I do offer so ideas, even about how we pay for it.

    If we only worry about how we’ll pay for ever increasing health care costs we miss the big picture. We really need to change everything- from how we educate health care professionals to how we deliver service to what our focus is (ex: preventive care is more effective and cheaper than trying to fix a bad health problem gone too far) to the whole profit factor for private health care industries.

    Problem is that in this country people only want a “quick fix” and discard the underlying problems. A quick fix may relieve some immediate pain, it is bound to erupt again. Until Americans can shake off their short attention span mentality though, I don’t expect any health care reform of value. And that is a damn shame.

  9. Jet Netwal Says:

    I read that series on your blog back in the day when we were all little independent bloggers, Ken. I recommend it to everyone. I learned a lot.

    SteveIL, if everybody stops smoking, drinking, fast food and junk food, we’ll be healthier, which means we’ll need less health care, which lowers costs. Costs won’t stay unchanged with a healthier population. There won’t be a single solution on how to pay for care, but rather an ongoing adaptive one, that flexes with overall population health, age and world factors such as bird flu or a cancer cure. A tax on health affecters is just a step, not the whole schmiel.

  10. Jet Netwal Says:

    “Hey, how come I didn’t win the Nobel “Peace” Prize?”

    Jeebus. The man hijacks his own thread. ::eyeroll::

  11. manapp99 Says:

    How about we set up a fund that takes donations. Ask the public to send money to a health fund and enlist a Jerry Lewis style telethon to raise money for the kids. Let the people support with what they wish to send. It works in the private sector and no one can bitch that the government is “taking” anything from them.

  12. SteveIL Says:

    Jet said:

    SteveIL, if everybody stops smoking, drinking, fast food and junk food, we’ll be healthier, which means we’ll need less health care, which lowers costs.

    This is a government program. Costs never get lowered, and the program never goes away.

    So my question remains: if everybody stops smoking, drinking, and eating fast food and junk food, how does this get paid for?

  13. Paul Watson Says:

    You do. The government will take all your money and leave you penniless while it gives the money to illegal Mexican immigrants who are taking drugs, in criminal gangs and working for al Qaida. Happy now?
    Oh,. and by hte way, as we’re maing up the rules to fit our own beliefs, we’ll save the money wasted on homeland security, the patriot act and hte war in Iraq. That should easily cover the cost.

  14. steve Says:

    Hey Tod…

    I read your response… You are 65 and qualify for SSI and Medicare. And you are healthy! My statement still stands: Get a job!!!

    Sorry if my response bugs the living shit out of you but… you have a computer and access to the internet, what other luxuries do you have? A TV? A Home? And you worked for 40 years, is it my fault you didn’t save any money? That’s speculation on my part… You’d have an easier time convincing me that you needed health care at a lower cost than you would by asking for it for free.

    I am 33 years old. I have health insurance. I have two retirement plans including a 401k. I am married with a kid and have no credit card debt. I have had every opportunity that everyone else has. Why should my expectations be any less for some other poor soul my age, who decided getting education (which is free at all levels if you look hard enough) wasn’t that important? Answer that for me Tod… And don’t give me some bullshit story about someone’s parents… My parents are technically poor by today’s standards. My parents were pissed when I chose a college who’s tuition was 20K a year. My parents were pissed when I chose to get a degree in music. My parents were pissed when I chose to move into a dorm instead of staying at home and going to a JC on the cheap. I pulled my weight, why should I expect less out of anyone else, Tod… I didn’t ask my parents for shit nor sacrifice… Why should I pay for someone who is irresponsible and has 9 kids from 9 different Dads… Tod?

    I am glad you took the time to respond… this is great.

  15. Jet Netwal Says:

    Steve, I think as a thirty something guy, you have a limited perspective on what it means to be a 65 year old downsized middle management person.

    Beyond that, where do you come off slinging unsubstantiated slurs like irresponsibility and 9 kids from 9 different dads? Tod sounds completely sane, sober and hardworking. You just don’t seem to want to accept that what’s actually happening to a so called normal person isn’t tainted by the lazy welfare claptrap you need to give your argument legs.

    Do you think Tod loves his girls less than you love your child? Do you think if you were Tod, you would not have looked for work? He gave it years. I’m sure you would too. You’re not loosing face by aknowledging that people have difficulties. That’s just how it is sometimes.

  16. SteveIL Says:

    Paul, I didn’t realize you had a sense of humor (response to first paragraph).

    Paul Watson said:

    Oh,. and by hte way, as we’re maing up the rules to fit our own beliefs, we’ll save the money wasted on homeland security, the patriot act and hte war in Iraq.

    Uh-huh. How about converting all of the congressional pork into funding this bill? There’s enough there every year to finance the $35 billion dollar cost over the five years. No taxes needed.

  17. Paul Watson Says:

    Bing. Bing. Bing. I think we have a winner here.

  18. steve Says:

    Look Jet… My parents are on the same boat as Tod. I get it… But still, I have a choose before that… We all have choices. The people that are draining America are the slackers. They are the ones that don’t pay attention in school. They are the ones feeding their kids fast food for dinner. They are the ones with irresponsible life styles. The 9 kids to 9 different fathers thing is a bit extreme but happens. And those are the ones we continue the hand outs too. It’s why things in health care are so expensive. It’s the population who is careless that have the problem. I am a bit angry that he could disgusted with me. 30 years ago he could have though the same thing as me… I am choosing to do something about it for myself and the generations after me. I am trying to become wealthy through education and hard work. Is that such a crime?

    I think we should pay for the old and the legitimately handicapped… Just be glad I don’t plan to seek office. :)

  19. Tod Says:

    Steve: I can certainly see your perspective on things, especially WRT “slackers” and those with a number of kids with lord knows how many fathers. In fact you and I would probably be preaching to the choir as we argue and agree with each other’s ideas in that particular regard. I am not trying to hijack the thread here but I’m a 100% ZPG person and nothing sends me into orbit faster than one of those “happy” news stories about some family who recently gave birth to their tenth child. People like that are so selfish and do nothing for the Earth, the environment, medical care, what have you. The only reasons for doing this is because of religion (be fruitful and multiply), ignorance (gosh, does having sex cause babies?), super-machismo (look everyone, we have ten kids, see how fertile and how much of a MAN I am?), or because they are starved for affection and lots of kids needing mothering provides that kind of boost. Sheesh!

    Sorry for the rant.

    Now on to your suggestions and comments about me: Yes, I am now getting Social Security (who’s paying for that?) and my girls are getting SSI (who’s paying for that?) and I personally do have Medicare. But I still have too pay for insurance for my wife (who is _only_ 59) and my two girls. Thank god we can afford it because both girls needed special treatment for stuff a couple of years ago. I’ve got diabetes but thanks to my insurance (that I paid for) I have access to some very good physicians and case managers who have helped and taught me how to keep it under control.

    When I first started my career many years ago I spent like there was no tomorrow. After a couple of years I was drafted and spent a couple of years in West Berlin, watched the wall being built, daily shots being fired, etc. I gained a real appreciation for life in general and my own in particular. It sounds impossible but I managed to save a bit out of each meager paycheck. I did my best and managed to get promoted up to sergeant before I left. I studied at night and took a test that qualified me for proficiency pay (an bit extra each month). By the time I was 28 I had saved enough for a down payment on a house ( live in Silicon Valley so you know what a stretch that was). I took in a couple of roommates for a few years to help with the mortgage. I still managed to save and contribute to various private retirement funds.

    When I got married my wife had a fair amount of savings herself. We waited until 1990 to have kids - we wanted to be sure that we would be able to take care of them ourselves, and we have.

    Steve, don’t feel sorry for me; I made my life what it is and I made what I thought were good choices along the way. I just never thought that at 60 I’d be out of work. Also, I’m not complaining about my own lot - I’ve made the choice to stop looking for work after so many fruitless years of searching. I’m now enjoying my “retirement” by being less focussed on finding a job, by doing lots of things with my girls, by enjoying friendships with folks I’ve met over the years, by keeping one particular coffee shop in business . We invested fairly well and we can afford the medical insurance. My point earlier was that it’s all well and good to state simply “get a job,” it isn’t always that easy for everyone. I would have taken any job just to be working. You know what one shop owner told me: I was overqualified and over-educated to be a clerk in a hardware store. He also told me that he wouldn’t feel right asking me to load and unload shipments and deliveries (probably because he was half my age and thought that I was “old and feeble.”)

    OK, WRT those who are younger and “abler” to work, then I agree with you that they should be pounding the pavement, networking with friends, calling cold, reading the want ads every day, using the Internet (from a public library at the very least) and use every tactic and tool available, then they will most likely find something.

    As an aside: about ten years ago I was hiring new people to work in my group. Our HR people made the appointments and I met candidates at the lobby. One day a guy whom I knew from the late 60s showed up looking for work. This guy was a mentor to me ages ago. But now he looked like death warmed over. He’d been drinking (though I don’t drink, I am not against it per se), had ratty clothes on, had kind of a several-day-old “masculine” odor about him. I took him to my office and literally read him the riot act. I told him that if he wanted a job here or anywhere else he’d have to shape up. I gave him a list of suggestions on how to clean up his act. I even gave him two twenties to go to Goodwill to get something presentable to wear.

    He called a few months later and asked to see me. He was a changed person. Clean, no bad breath, more self-confidence, better attired (certainly no Armani but that’s not the point). Before I could admit to him that the position had been filled, he told me that he’d just been hired elsewhere and would start in a couple of days. Best $40 I ever spent.


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  21. Jersey McJones Says:

    Kucinich has THE plan. A single-payer, sin-taxed, flat FICA-taxed on all income. That’s the best way to go.


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