Tuesday, November 20, 2012




Socialized medicine ALWAYS fails:  The Australian case

"Free" public hospitals, tax rebates for having private insurance and refunds for private health expenditures are all in place but are still insufficient for many people with expensive illnesses.  Governments just can't afford to look after everyone.  They should confine their help to the seriously ill only but that would now be politically impossible

FAMILIES are being forced to sell their homes or raid their superannuation to pay medical bills, with some going bankrupt as Medicare rebates [sometimes only a third of the actual cost] fail to keep pace with inflation and health funds fail to cover all medical charges.

The financial nightmare has exposed the growing inadequacy of Medicare and health fund rebates and the crippling health costs to those with multiple or serious illnesses.

Battling breast cancer, chemotherapy and a life-threatening infection, Leonie Havnen's biggest challenge was not her health but the $31,300 in medical bills not covered by Medicare.

This year the 52-year-old Sydney mother of two was forced to raid her superannuation nest egg to cover her treatment costs.

"As a taxpayer for the past 36 years who pays around $30,000.00 a year in tax, $2,500 health insurance and the Medicare levy, to have to pay out of pocket for life saving medical treatment, just screams to me the 'the system is broken'," she said.

"Why did I have to access my superannuation to pay for my life saving medical treatment?  We aren't a third world country."

Since being diagnosed with breast cancer a year ago Ms Havnen has had surgery six times, first to remove both breasts and then to deal with the consequences of a golden staph infection. She spent time in hospital when one of her kidneys collapsed. A statement from her health fund for the 2011-2012 financial year shows her private hospital treatment cost $77,732 and she received rebates of just $59,400 from Medicare and her health fund  leaving her $18,331 out of pocket.

On top of these hospital expenses, Ms Havnen had another $12,000 in bills for specialist appointments, scans, health fund excess payment, and medication.  Her health fund reviewed her case after being contacted by The Sunday Telegraph and have since refunded her a further $6000.

While our Medicare and health fund systems are praised as among the best in the world, there is emerging evidence they are leaving hundreds of thousands of Australians in poverty.

A Menzies Centre for Health Policy study has found 250,000 Australians spend more than 20 per cent of their income on health costs. Doctors and anaesthetists who charge large out-of-pocket gap fees, poor health insurance cover, Medicare rebates that haven't kept pace with inflation and the $35.40 copayment for medicines are at fault. As well, many treatments and medicines are not covered by either subsidy schemes.

A recent Health Consumers NSW survey has found families were being forced to sell their homes or skip doctors' appointments or medicines because of the cost.

"Due to the combination of suddenly not being able to work, and the high out of pocket costs of my illness, we had to sell our family home," one respondent told the survey.  "Have not attended a cardiologist since February 2011. Cannot afford to," another said.

The government's Private Health Insurance Administration Council said health fund members paid $4.3 billion in out of pocket expenses last financial year.

Research by the George Institute found 11 per cent or 28, 665 bankruptcies in 2009 cited ill health or absence of health insurance as the primary reason.

A recent survey of 3000 National Seniors members found one in five Australians aged 50 to 64 are skipping doses of their prescription medicines because of cost.

Gaps fees for plastic and reconstructive surgeons averaged $1588, for orthopaedic surgery $1485, the gap for scans averaged $88 and for specialists $56.

A spokesman for Health Minister Tanya Plibersek said gaps came about when doctors charged more than the scheduled fee.

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare figures show Australians spend an average $1075 a year in out-of-pocket health expenses.

"The issue is whilst we say we have a universal system, the reality is many people are struggling," Consumers Health Forum chief Carol Bennett said. "The cumulative costs of a chronic illness mean you have multiple scripts and scans and appointments and you've got to make the difficult choice of whether you see your doctor or put food on the table."

More here

An example of an encounter with a "free" Australian public hospital here.  And examples of the disastrous state of socialized medicine in Britain appear daily on EYE ON BRITAIN

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Welcome to the Lousiest Recovery of All Time

I have put up below some excerpts from a Leftist analysis.  It explains a lot.  I have not however put up its explanation of the Fed's continued folly in thinking that money-printing will achieve anything positive.  In a typical Leftist way, the writer thinks the Fed is part of a conspiracy.  It may be but that is irrelevant.  Bernanke and the Fed are simply doing the little that lies within their power.  The real cure for America's ailments lies with Obama and Congress. Encouraging business rather than strangling it is what is needed

Check it out: The number of people currently on food stamps in the US is at a record-high of 47.1 million. That’s more than twice as many recipients than in 2007 when the crisis began. And the percent of Americans living below the poverty line has skyrocketed, too. It’s gone from 12.3 percent in 2006 to 16.1 percent today. According to the Census Bureau, nearly 50 million people in America are now living below the poverty line. In other words, if you’re poor in America your numbers are growing and things are getting worse. Some recovery, eh?

And it’s not just the poor who are hurting either. The middle class is getting clobbered, too. Unemployment is still way too high (7.9 percent) and, according to the Fed’s Survey of Consumer Finances, middle income families have seen nearly 40 percent of their net worth go up in smoke since 2007. The bulk of the losses are attributable to the giant housing bust of ’07 which wiped out $8 trillion in home equity leaving the majority of baby boomers unprepared for retirement. It’s a desperate situation that no one seems to want to talk about, but the reality is that millions of people are going to have to figure out how to scrape by on next-to-nothing or work until they’re too senile to punch a clock. As far as these folks are concerned, the recovery is just a big joke.

On previous videos I predicted that the current QE [money printing] would have very little impact on both the stock market and the economy. And that is what happened. Why did I predict that? Short term interest rates are already at zero and it has been five months now since mortgage rates reached current record low levels. So yes, as a result of Operation Twist after tax income rose to a $300 billion in annualized growth this past June through September. That was up from a $200 billion growth rate over the first five months of 2012. Since October, after tax income – remember this is a before inflation number – has dropped back to a $200 billion growth rate. In other words, the Fed this year will in essence print half a trillion dollars that will not improve after tax income nor help stock prices grow……

So the US economy is currently barely growing despite huge amounts of deficit spending and money printing.”

This is Bernanke’s worst nightmare. Stocks are looking wobbly and his nutcase monetary theories are no longer working. But rather than change directions and admit his error, Bernanke has decided to double-down and throw the printing presses into high-gear...

Bernanke continues to believe that the entire economy can be effectively run by moving levers at the Central Bank. He thinks that if you plop enough money into the top of the system, (financial markets) it will eventually dribble downwards to the worker bees. Fat chance. It hasn’t happened yet, but not from want of trying.

Bernanke is right about one thing though, inflation expectations are beginning to fade which means that disinflation or outright deflation are a growing threat to the economy. Take a look at this blurb from The Economist:

“….since mid-October, there has been an unmistakable reversal in the inflation-expectations trend. Based on 5-year breakevens, all of the September spurt has been erased. And 2-year breakevens are back at July levels. Given my optimism over the Fed’s September moves and the apparent strength of underlying fundamentals in the economy, I would like to disregard this trend, but one should be very reluctant to abandon guideposts that have served one well just because they’ve moved in an inconvenient way.”

This is why Bernanke is wheeling out the heavy artillery, because QE3 hasn’t boosted spending or borrowing at all. Business investment is still in the doldrums and earnings have hit the skids in a big way. So where are all the green shoots?

Bernanke should follow the advice of Nomura’s chief economist Richard Koo. Koo has done extensive research on Japan’s 20 year running-battle with deflation and explained in excruciating detail what needs to be done to emerge from, what he calls, a balance sheet recession. Here’s a sample of his work:

“The most important lesson of the last 20 years in Japan and of the last four years in western economies is that monetary policy is ineffective when there is no private demand for funds…

“In Japan, there has been little or no private loan demand since 1995, when the BOJ brought interest rates down to near-zero levels. And neither the economy nor asset prices have recovered, even though, as BOJ Governor Masaaki Shirakawa has noted, the BOJ embarked on quantitative easing fully eight years before its counterparts in Europe and the U.S…..

When businesses and households not only stop borrowing money but start to work off their debt, the resulting absence of borrowers effectively traps central bank-supplied liquidity in the financial system, and as a consequence the funds neither stimulate the economy nor spark inflation……”

Sound familiar? And here’s more from the Financial Times via Economist’s View:

“Today, the US private sector is saving a staggering 8 per cent of gross domestic product – at zero interest rates, when households and businesses would ordinarily be borrowing and spending money. … This is the result of the bursting of debt-financed housing bubbles, which left the private sector with huge debt overhangs … giving it no choice but to pay down debt or increase savings, even at zero interest rates.

More HERE

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Maybe We Really Can’t All Just Get Along

Derek Hunter knows his history

During the Los Angeles riots of 1992, Rodney King famously asked, “Can’t we all just get along?” The answer should be an easy and unequivocal “yes,” but it seems less and less likely these days.

King was speaking in term of race, but the same could be said of political ideology. Liberals, conservatives and every other point on the political spectrum used to co-exist fairly easily (with the exception of left-wing anarchists who don’t get along with anyone). But these days d├ętente has given way to anger and open hostility.

Some, not all, people have become less civil to those with whom they disagree politically. The modern left, birthed with the start of the eugenics-loving, racist progressive movement at the turn of the 20th century, always has embraced, to varying degrees, the concept of silencing opponents. Through the factions of communism, socialism and fascism (all takes on the same philosophy), leftists have made continuous attempts to silence and punish anyone who doesn’t toe their line.

President Woodrow Wilson, a progressive hero, made it illegal to speak German in this country and, in the Sedition Act of 1917, outlawed the use of “disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive language” against the government, flag or military. Wilson’s rabid racism and implementation of segregationist policies in the federal government are routinely ignored by progressives today. But they are all too real and did enormous and lasting damage to our nation.

But that was (and still is) what progressives stood for. They were the elites, the smartest the nation had to offer. And, as such, it was up to them to “improve” the world through government action. They were white, so blacks were inferior. They were smart, so anyone they deemed not to be was inferior, and so on. They believed certain “undesirable” people should be sterilized and thus bred out of existence.

Those deemed worthy or necessary to be allowed to continue to exist would be ruled by them because they, the progressives, quite simply knew better what people needed than the people themselves. Constitution be damned, they were “progressing” the human race.

Although their tactics have changed over time, their motivation and ultimate desires haven’t – they want control and don’t care who or what they destroy to get it.

Fast-forward to today. Progressives are in the process of seizing control of the health care system. Regulations and laws are making more and more businesses effective wards of the state functioning in the ever-narrowing window of what’s left of the free-market.

But it’s not just economics. The sentiments behind President Wilson’s Sedition Act are alive and well. They’re no longer embedded in government; they’ve moved to the media and academia. Speech codes limit not only the words students can use but their ability to express thoughts and opinions progressives deem unworthy. Progressive media outlets frame opposition to President Obama as racist in the hopes of scaring critics into silence.

Now this disparate world view and loyalty to ideology over country/liberty/reality is metastasizing into more places it will damage beyond repair.

Union workers voluntarily have driven Hostess out of business. Seems they’d rather have no pay than less pay, no pension over a restructured one. They commit economic suicide, and pampered, over-paid union bosses such as Richard Trumka blame the Bain Capitals of the world.

Even on something as serious as the deaths of four Americans in Benghazi, progressives aren’t interested in facts. Calls for truth-seeking are met with cries of racism because UN Ambassador Susan Rice, the sacrificial lamb the president sent out to lie for him, happened to be black. These progressives are not remotely interested in why Rice lied to the American people about what happened that sad night, nor do they care about being lied to themselves. They care about their agenda. Lying to the contemptible masses is acceptable and encouraged because the unwashed masses don’t know what’s best for themselves anyway.

This “progressive” attitude toward reality is now amplified by the web of social media, which empowers the spread of their fact-lacking desires to once-unheard drones who parrot it unquestioned to the world. Like a cold virus on a plane, it spreads. The truth, or even a desire to find it (as in the case of Benghazi), immediately butts up against a wall of willful ignorance built by a left-wing industrial complex of moneyed interests and true believers. No amount of contradictory evidence can convince them what actually is if they wish it not to be.

The right has its own version of this suborn, wishfully ignorant army. But it is smaller with much less funding. The reason this hive-mindset doesn’t translate to the right is we are not all of like minds. Priorities to one conservative are not priorities to another. Diversity of opinion not only exists on the political right, it is encouraged. Nothing less would be accepted from a philosophy based on the individual.

The progressive left doesn’t suffer from intellectual diversity. In spite of its penchant for bumper stickers calling for questioning of authority, celebrating diversity and “tolerance,” progressives tolerate deviation from their prescribed norm like Hamas would tolerate the suggestion they observe Rosh Hashanah. That’s why there’s so little dissent from anything its leaders propose. No group of nearly 200 clear-thinking individuals who swore an oath to the Constitution and hoped to sway a majority of Americans to their cause would ever elect a radical San Francisco leftist their leader, yet Nancy Pelosi…

When Rodney King asked his famous question, we really could have all gotten along. But the intervening years saw the rejection of a liberal, almost moderate, left and the rebirth of a philosophy spawned from hatred and division with the sole goal of control. Although a great many Americans support this goal, the wool has been pulled over the eyes of many more who’ve been fooled into thinking liberty is a chip to be bartered for a crumb of pie rather than the key to making your own.

I opt against trading my liberty to sing kumbaya with those who seek to impose upon me that which I do not want because they deem it in my best interest. Our president can bow to anyone he wants, but I will no bow to him, nor will I bow to his ideological brethren. I will not bow to anyone. We can all get along, but as long as my opponents seek to deny me any of my liberty, I choose not to.

SOURCE

There is a  new  lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- on his usual vastly "incorrect" themes of race, genes, IQ etc.

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For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC,  AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena .  GUN WATCH is now put together by Dean Weingarten.

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to  update.  Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)

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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist.  It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day.  It was only to the Right of  Stalin's Communism.  The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)

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