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Insurance Accountants Decide If You Get To Live: A Twitter Rant Followed By A Here Rant

(PATREON PATRONS: I’m sorry this is here and not on Patreon first. Patreon does not support embedding Twitter rants, and I kind of need them there for this one. Sincerely, I’m sorry you didn’t get to see this first, because this is a quality post. I won’t do this often, and I’ll make it up to you. *WRITES FICTION FURIOUSLY*)

I threw some related tweets on at the end. This is our reality in the USA: our care is outrageously expensive — the most expensive in the world by about double the next costliest nation — in order to pay unneeded middlemen: insurance companies. Our prices skyrocket to pay multimillion dollar salaries to the upper ranks of health insurance and health care provider corporations.

And to preserve those bonuses, those same executives slash access to care, are working on slashing the unprofitable right into the grave to make way for healthy people whose insurance costs continue to rise year after year.

Obamacare was better than what we had before. It hindered the ability of insurance company accountants to decide you needed to die to preserve their profits. It slightly dented the steady rise of health insurance premiums, which have continued to outstrip inflation by a mile for at least 30 years.

But before Obamacare was Obamacare, it was (Republican Mitt) Romneycare. It was the GOP counterproposal to universal healthcare, and as such it was designed to protect insurance and healthcare corporation profits at the expense of the lifespans and quality of life of the American people. And it shows.

We pay more as a nation for healthcare, and our lives are growing shorter and sicker. That’s what we’re buying for all that money. That, and a lot of yachts and fat tax-sheltered accounts in the Cayman Islands for fatcats.

But don’t just believe me. Read about our falling lifespans and sicker lives in Bloomberg, which isn’t exactly known for being a liberal rag.

“But,” you might say, “I’ve heard such terrible things about socialized healthcare.”

Sure, you have. I have too. But the simple fact of the matter is that in any nation with per capita or absolute wealth anywhere NEAR the same ballpark as the USA’s, it does a better job making citizens healthy, happy, and productive than our current or past system has managed to do here in the USA.

Here’s a conservative-slanted Forbes article about ten nations with economies considered more free than the US economy, but which have universal healthcare — which as you recall some of our own GOP hysterically calls “slavery.” I’m not agreeing with all the author’s points — but read it anyway. Overall it backs up what I’m saying above, but from another point of view and with some different conclusions that are, perhaps, less shaded by my own life, in which I have lived with a minor congenital hip deformity that has escalated into me needing a cane for mobility for the last six years (I’m only 47, DAMMIT) and suffering significant, life-and-mood-changing chronic pain. And why do I live with this pain and chronic suffering? Because my hip has never been a threatening emergency, so it’s not treatable. What could have been fixed in a couple of hours 20 years ago now requires a hip replacement I won’t get anytime soon unless I break my hip, in which case doctors will have to replace it (so a doctor specializing in hip replacement surgery has told me) because it wouldn’t heal soundly — and in fact is in danger of becoming necrotic (dead and rotting) because all the cartilage is worn away in there and some of the bone, and bone rubbing on bone and slowly grinding itself to death not only HURTS, but it also squeezes blood vessels and threatens the vital blood supply to keep the bone alive in there.

But I rant.

Takeaway: look, I like several aspects of capitalism. I’m trying to sell you books so I can earn money to make my family’s life better (HINT HINT HEY BUY MY BOOKS PLEASE), and so I am a one-person small business.

But NO SYSTEM SOLVES EVERY PROBLEM. Example: do you know why your local big grocery store has great low prices on an enormous selection of food? Because we have an AIEEE EVIL SOCIALIST INTERSTATE SYSTEM that makes trucking all that food to your store WAY faster and cheaper than the privatized equivalent, a chaotic web of toll roads governed by whoever happens to own each 20 mile stretch — even if they could all coordinate their efforts, which they couldn’t. And the AIEEE EVIL SOCIALIST INTERSTATE SYSTEM is safer than trucking my Washington apples the 2,900-ish miles to Norfolk, Virginia over a chaotic web of toll roads each built to a different company standard of composition and safety and not, after all, guarded by AIEEE EVIL SOCIALIST FEDERAL AND STATE LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES, but by whatever hooligans the local privatized road company could scrape together to protect their toll roads, probably by shooting anyone who looks suspicious from long range because, hey, that’s cheaper than taking chances. Nevermind that my Washington apples now cost $50/lb because of all the dead truckers in ditches with rotting loads of apples behind them.

Yeah, I’ve digressed. But you get the point. Pure ideologies suck, and capitalism is no exception. Just as a healthy diet requires diverse foods to meet our bodies’ many requirements, so a healthy nation requires diverse approaches to meet our peoples’ many requirements.

Healthcare doesn’t work well managed purely by capitalism. Like interstate highways, we need to all contribute a bit of our taxes toward creating and preserving a solid system that meets many needs for all our people.

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If This Goes On: Healthcare “Reform”

man-2106810-death-pixabay-cc0-pubdom

This is where things could go if they go very, very wrong for the American people — not quite the wrongest. The worst case, as usual, is

nuke

And, as a Cold War kid, that image and possible end is always with me. Yep, we could end up eating squirrels and burying half our kids before they turn five, just like the old days. Traveling in nomadic packs. Living the Mad Max life until the gasoline runs out, then just running around in silly overdone armor hammered out of crap dug out of junkyards because it’s a lot easier than trying to find iron ore and making new stuff now that civilization has dug up all the easy to find metal deposits.

(deep breath)

BUT THAT’S NOT WHAT I’M HERE TO TALK ABOUT, I said to myself.

I’m talking about, what if this health care reform deform sets a trend? This massive wealth distribution to the already very wealthy that slashes Medicaid to the bone and reinstalls lifetime and yearly coverage caps for care and calls for pre-existing condition rate hikes that will price cancer survivors and people with genetic conditions like cystic fibrosis and sickle cell anemia and, you know, old people right out of coverage altogether?

What if this “American Health Care Act (AHCA) is just the beginning? (By the way, GOP? I know you’re all on this “learning and education and expertise are bad” jag, but in American English “healthcare” is commonly ONE FREAKIN WORD SERIOUSLY YOU’RE THE ONES TELLING EVERYONE TO SPEAK ENGLISH? Learn to speak and write English, but not too well or everyone will think you’re one of those EVIL EDUCATED SMART PEOPLE AIEE OH GOD RUN BEFORE IT INFECTS YOU WITH LEARNING.)

But I digress. Again. Unfortunately I’m really good at that.

What if this AHCA passes, and sets a trend, and things just keep going that “if you wanted to be healthy you’d have had sense enough to pick wealthy parents” way for a few decades? How bad could it get?

Let’s imagine. Because that’s my business.

But let’s not imagine this healthcare deform will be alone. No, it will come with other things that are developing in our society. Let’s look.

So. Boom. It passes. Very wealthy people enjoy the windfall of anywhere from six hundred billion to a trillion dollars collectively. Sockaroonie, right into the hands of people who make more than a quarter million a year, but mostly into the hands of people who make a million or more a year. And more for billionaires than for you paltry millionaires.

They squirrel a bunch of it away into accounts in the Caymans and elsewhere (I hear Russia is enjoying a vogue in certain bad-hair-tiny-handed circles for some reason).

They open some new factories in China because First Lady Ivanka (is it Co-First Lady? First Lady of Daddy’s Heart? It’s so hard to keep track) has some there and she says it’s a great place to do business, not like that annoying USA where she’d rather drop dead than have a product made. And elsewhere, wherever the labor is cheap.

They invest some at home, though, too. Building some factories, but soon enough robots can build them, not people. So, mostly buying robots from overseas. But when they build a steel mill or an automobile factory or a social media farm to send out #MAGA tweets or whatever in the USA, rest assured they’ll need dozens of people to run a really enormous factory. Mostly fixing robots and tweaking their programs. It might take a little while to get the robot fixing robots on line, like an extra generation.

The robots aren’t quite there yet, in many professions. But we’re getting there fast.

When the people who are babies now go out to find jobs — and there may not be quite as many of them as we thought, the AHCA and its successors may well redistribute more wealth upward with bigger and better cuts and outright elimination of things like Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, EBT/Food Stamps, and so forth, which means higher infant mortality and more kids who die before adulthood — they may find robots doing them.

And not just the poor kids. The less poor kids, the scions of the dying middle class and the bottom of the upper class, the ones making only a paltry quarter million a year, may find their jobs being done by robots as well. It’s easy to imagine robots digging ditches and selling fries, but they can also order supplies and pay bills and manage expenses and plan advertising campaigns and handle routine legal cases and do surgery and repair cars and dispense prescribed medications.

They’re close to that today. In a generation they’ll be able to do it. Once robots are popular enough, the economy of scale kicks in as it is right now with solar and wind power, and prices drop precipitously, and then everyone will want robot workers and nobody will want humans with their messy bathroom breaks and headaches and needing to attend funerals and weddings and wanting retirement funds and asking for raises because the kid needs braces.

So not only will the money be for the top 1%, but the jobs and the healthcare will be for the top 1%. If you’re really lucky. Maybe all those things will be for the top .1%.

And everyone else?

Well, the ones with the money and the jobs and the healthcare will have to figure out what to do with you.

Maybe human servants will come into vogue and we can all get jobs serving the very rich for room and board and maybe some basic medical care. But probably not for cancer or disability or chronic illness. Servants are cheap. When one goes bad, you throw it away and get another one.

Because now life is cheap, and all the gains of society are routed into the pockets of the megawealthy, and all the cool stuff the robots make goes to them as well.

And if you don’t like it? Robots can make more than cool stuff. They can make war as well. Without risking any precious rich skin. Even the military, traditional route out of poverty, can be handled by robots and very, very few humans indeed.

There are a few million more people who can do without healthcare — or at least, who will have to, to free up some more money to give away to the already very wealthy.

Remember, this is a worst case imagining. Things might turn out better than this. But for that to happen, we’re going to have to fight for it. Hopefully figuratively, with words and protests and votes and candidates who can imagine a better purpose for our society than slashing healthcare for half of the nation in order to put a trillion dollars into the pockets of billionaires.