WikiLeaks – Cuba Banned ‘Sicko’ Due to Mythical Depiction of its Health Care System

Not that this should be a surprise to anyone, but those who still for some reason confuse the emotional and biased hogwash that Michael Moore has been coming up with lately with journalism, might want to consider what Cubans have to say about his depictions of Cuba’s oh so wonderful health care system:

Castro’s government apparently went on to ban the film because, the leaked cable claims, it “knows the film is a myth and does not want to risk a popular backlash by showing to Cubans facilities that are clearly not available to the vast majority of them.”

(…)

The cable describes a visit made by the FSHP to the Hermanos Ameijeiras hospital in October 2007. Built in 1982, the newly renovated hospital was used in Michael Moore’s film as evidence of the high-quality of healthcare available to all Cubans.

But according to the FSHP, the only way a Cuban can get access to the hospital is through a bribe or contacts inside the hospital administration. “Cubans are reportedly very resentful that the best hospital in Havana is ‘off-limits’ to them,” the memo reveals.

According to the FSHP, a more “accurate” view of the healthcare experience of Cubans can be seen at the Calixto Garcia Hospital. “FSHP believes that if Michael Moore really wanted the ‘same care as local Cubans’, this is where he should have gone,” the cable states.

A 2007 visit by the FSHP to this “dilapidated” hospital, built in the 1800s, was “reminiscent of a scene from some of the poorest countries in the world,” the cable adds.

The memo points out that even the Cuban ruling elite leave Cuba when they need medical care. Fidel Castro, for example, brought in a Spanish doctor during his health crisis in 2006. The vice-minister of health, Abelardo Ramirez, went to France for gastric cancer surgery. The neurosurgeon whoheads CIMEQ [Centro de Investigaciones Médico-Quirúrgicas] hospital – widely regarded as one of the best in Cuba – came to England for eye surgery, returning periodically for checkups.

“After living in Cuba for two and a half years, treating numerous Cuban employees at USINT, and interacting with many other Cubans, the FSHP believes … preventive medicine in Cuba is a by-gone ideal, rather than the standard practice of care,” the memo concludes.

In a system of central planning with no recognition of property rights where bureaucracy reigns supreme, misallocations always and inevitably lead to shortages. And shortages always necessitate compulsory rationing and bribery.

This is, by the way, exactly the direction that health care in the US has been taking for the past decades and continues to accelerate towards full throttle.

It takes the delusion of bigoted socialist ideology to look past such simple and obvious realities.

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Insurers Hike Rates as Result of Health Reform Bill

The “Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009” is making good on its title by accomplishing, as any government program, the exact opposite of the stated objective:

Health insurers say they plan to raise premiums for some Americans as a direct result of the health overhaul in coming weeks, complicating Democrats’ efforts to trumpet their signature achievement before the midterm elections.

Aetna Inc., some BlueCross BlueShield plans and other smaller carriers have asked for premium increases of between 1% and 9% to pay for extra benefits required under the law, according to filings with state regulators.

These and other insurers say Congress’s landmark refashioning of U.S. health coverage, which passed in March after a brutal fight, is causing them to pass on more costs to consumers than Democrats predicted.

The rate increases largely apply to policies for individuals and small businesses and don’t include people covered by a big employer or Medicare.

About 9% of Americans buy coverage through the individual market, according to the Census Bureau, and roughly one-fifth of people who get coverage through their employer work at companies with 50 or fewer employees, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. People in both groups are likely to feel the effects of the proposed increases, even as they see new benefits under the law, such as the elimination of lifetime and certain annual coverage caps.

Many carriers also are seeking additional rate increases that they say they need to cover rising medical costs. As a result, some consumers could face total premium increases of more than 20%.

While the increases apply mostly to the new policies insurers write after Oct. 1, consumers could be subject to the higher rates if they modify their existing plans and cause them to lose grandfathered status.

The rate increases are a dose of troubling news for Democrats just weeks before an election in which they are at risk of losing their majority in the House and possibly the Senate.

In addition to pledging that the law would restrain increases in Americans’ insurance premiums, Democrats front-loaded the legislation with early provisions they hoped would boost public support. Those include letting children stay on their parents’ insurance policies until age 26, eliminating co-payments for preventive care and barring insurers from denying policies to children with pre-existing conditions, plus the elimination of the coverage caps.

My comment:

Yes, when you outlaw the denying of policies to people with pre-existing conditions, then costs will go up as a result. That’s not such a tough one to figure out, folks. Did the legislators expect something else to happen? Of course they didn’t. Do they care? Of course they care … about beefing the bill up with things that sound good at first glance, making it appealing to the public to push it through quickly as possible. Do they care about what happens thereafter? Why, of course they do. They care about granting access to positions, offices, projects, and cash to those who invested money in the legislators writing the laws (a.k.a lobbyism).

Now, I can already hear people object: “But Niiiima, health costs were always going up, you are now blaming Obama/Democrats for something that has been happening regardless.” OK, but my point is that these people claimed, and a lot of gullible people listened, that it will be THEY who will make health care more affordable and THEY who will make it universal and bla bla bla.

Republicans and Democrats alike have both been instrumental in socializing the US health care system over the past century. I don’t blame one party more than the other. I blame the idea that a system of organized and centralized aggression can ever be sustained. I support peace and non-aggression as a solution. During abolitionism, people didn’t replace mean slave masters with kinder ones. They abolished the system of slavery, period.

Why will this bill not make real rates drop, at least not lastingly? Because none of the fundamental issues of the health system have been solved while a lot of them have been aggravated through this legislation. As I explained before:

But without addressing the 3 steps I outlined above, all other efforts will be completely and absolutely futile. Without addressing the root of high health care costs, it does not matter whether we let government alone take care of health insurance, or whether we completely liberalize the health insurance market. Nothing would change substantially. We would still be paying high premiums that go into a pool that pays for overly expensive health care products and services. We would still be faced with an inherent shortage of health care goods and services.

Weeks before the election, insurance companies began telling state regulators it is those very provisions that are forcing them to increase their rates.

Aetna, one of the nation’s largest health insurers, said the extra benefits forced it to seek rate increases for new individual plans of 5.4% to 7.4% in California and 5.5% to 6.8% in Nevada after Sept. 23. Similar steps are planned across the country, according to Aetna.

Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon said the cost of providing additional benefits under the health law will account on average for 3.4 percentage points of a 17.1% premium rise for a small-employer health plan. It asked regulators last month to approve the increase.

In Wisconsin and North Carolina, Celtic Insurance Co. says half of the 18% increase it is seeking comes from complying with health-law mandates.

The White House says insurers are using the law as an excuse to raise rates and predicts that state regulators will block some of the large increases.

“I would have real deep concerns that the kinds of rate increases that you’re quoting… are justified,” said Nancy-Ann DeParle, the White House’s top health official. She said that for insurers, raising rates was “already their modus operandi before the bill” passed. “We believe consumers will see through this,” she said.

Previously the administration had calculated that the batch of changes taking effect this fall would raise premiums no more than 1% to 2%, on average.

[RATEHIKE]

After Regence mailed a letter notifying plan administrators of its intention to raise group insurance rates in Washington state, the White House contacted company officials and accused them of inaccurately justifying the increase. Kerry Barnett, executive vice president for Regence BlueShield, said the insurer is changing the letter to more precisely explain the causes of the increase.

The industry contends its increases are justified. “Anytime you add a benefit, there are increased costs,” said Karen Ignagni, president of America’s Health Insurance Plans, the industry’s lobbying group.

Massachusetts, which enacted universal insurance coverage several years ago, also has seen steadily rising insurance premiums since then. Proponents of that plan attribute the hikes there to an overall increase in medical costs, while insurers cite it as a cautionary example of what can happen when new mandates to improve benefits aren’t coupled with a strong enough provision to force healthy people to buy coverage.

Republicans, who have sought voter support by opposing the health law, say premium increases could help in November’s congressional races. “People are finding out what’s in [the law], they don’t like it, and I think it’s going to play a big factor in this election,” said Iowa Sen. Charles Grassley, the top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee.

About half of all states have the power to deny rate increases. Ms. DeParle pointed out that the law awards states $250 million to bolster their scrutiny of insurance-rate proposals, saying that will eventually curb premiums for people.

“In Kansas, I don’t have a lot of authority to deny a rate increase, if it is justified,” said Kansas Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger. She recently approved a 4% increase by Mennonite Mutual Aid Association to pay for the new provisions in the health law.

The process of reviewing rate increases varies by state. For instance, Ms. Praeger said she can deny only rate increases that are unreasonable or discriminatory.

Some regulators say not all insurers have adequately justified their increases. “A lot of it is guesswork for companies,” said Tom Abel, supervisor at the Colorado Division of Insurance. “I was anticipating the carriers to be more uniform.”

Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon, which estimates its increase covers 57,000 members, said its goal is to “anticipate the financial needs of our members as accurately as possible and to collect just enough premiums to cover costs,” said a spokeswoman. Other insurers offered similar explanations or declined to discuss their increases.

A small number of insurers have submitted plans to lower rates and cite the new mandates in the legislation as the reason. HMO Colorado, a Blue Cross Blue Shield plan owned by WellPoint Inc., submitted a letter to state regulators saying small group rates would fall 1.8% starting Oct. 1 because of changes from the law.

Democrats had hoped to sell the bill in the fall elections. But in recent weeks, some Democrats who voted for the bill have shied away from advertising that fact, while the handful of House Democrats who cast “no” votes see it as a potential boost to their re-election bids.

“I think it’s a question of short term versus long term,” said North Carolina Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin, a Democrat up for re-election in 2012. “Thankfully we’re seeing people get more coverage and protections than they’ve ever had before. But until we see the medical-cost inflation affected, you’re likely to see rate increases as long as they are not excessive and in violation of the law.”

… and, dear Mr. Goodwyn, how is this magical “medical-cost inflation” going to be “affected”? Are you going to pray for it? Perform a rain dance? Are you hoping that it’ll just happen somehow somewhere out of the blue? Are you going to will it to happen? Should we maybe write some letters to our health care and pharmaceutical companies asking if they could be a bit nicer and maybe make their goods cheaper?

Haha … you people have got to be kidding !

I am not sure what more I can add than all the things I already wrote, predicted, explained, and reasoned out on the matter of health care. Feel free to explore the links below …

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Interesting Facts on the US Health Care system

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Medical Students’ Debt and Other Symptoms of the Government’s Meddling With Health Care

It is indeed hard to find an industry in the United States that has been more stifled, choked, besieged, corrupted, and interfered with through government interventionism and subsidies than healthcare. It is, from the point of view of pure evil, really quite a beautiful example of how in a few decades you can turn a complete sector into a gigantic mess on all fronts by slowly getting your sleazy fingers deeper and deeper into it.

The attack on health care by bureaucrats is such a fascinating and instructive example because it is blatantly pursued through numerous different angles, way out in the open and clearly visible, while the public kneels down in awe and, in truly masochistic fashion, asks for more and more abuse, year after year.

I already outlined the economics behind the government’s health care meddling and how the establishment of lasting industry monopolies and the deliberate restriction of supply cements and aggravates high cost of goods and services rendered:

The problem with health care in the US, but in virtually every other country in the world as well, is a simple one: The goods (products and services) offered on the market that address illnesses and and improve our well being are offered at prices that are so high that most consumers are unable to afford a sufficient amount to address their demands.

On top of that, these prices are continuously rising. All other health care issues stem from this simple fact. Health insurance premiums, for example, are charged based on the prices that competing insurers expect to end up paying for health care goods. Thus, naturally, health insurance premiums are on the rise as well, even in the current deflationary environment. The rapid increase in government expenses for its entitlement programs Medicare and Medicaid, too, is simply the result of these ongoing price increases. It is thus not a coincidence that today the US government spends more than any other industrialized nation on health.

On the market, such imbalances are, under free competition, swiftly addressed via a simple process: High prices for certain consumer goods indicate a high demand and an insufficient supply. Thus profit seeking entrepreneurs have an incentive to shift from what they are currently doing to focusing on producing more of such highly demanded goods, by employing more commensurate factors of production that turn out the demanded goods. This leads to a decline in their prices, moving the market closer to equilibrium and thus restoring balance.

But when a group of people which obtains its means of operation via aggression and theft, the government,  imposes decrees that prevent the voluntary market participants to perform such balancing acts, and threaten them with imprisonment and fines should they not oblige, the imbalance will persist. If that group’s actions are such as to bring about even more shortages for the demanded goods, the imbalance will grow, prices will keep rising.

As an outcome of such an interventionist policy, there will always be a small group of entrepreneurs that benefits from the protection awarded against competition and voluntary action on the part of consumers and new entrepreneurs. They naturally reap the benefits from the ability to charge prices that are not being bid down by potentially competing entrepreneurs. It is important to keep this fact in mind when members of such groups utter statements that attempt to justify the policies that have brought about and continue to maintain the imbalance.

It is really an impressive spiderweb of all round government control:

On the drugs side, the FDA decides which drug may or may not enter the market and imposes lifecycles of up to 15 years before a drug is approved. 80% of drug costs can be linked directly to FDA rules that need to be followed.

On the services side, state and federal laws require practitioners to obtain government licenses in order to practice.

Institutions that teach medical practice are naturally also subject to such regulations and medical degree programs thus take an enormous amount of time and capital to complete. Students need to incur debt in order to be able to afford the studies.

Well, at least the market for those student loans is free and unhampered with by the government … right? Well, wrong! This is what I mean when I say what a beautiful, flawless, and fascinating example of all round government meddling and control we have here. The feds of course heavily subsidize student loans through the government sponsored, and now outright nationalized corporation Fannie Mae.

On the fiscal side, through the programs of Medicare and Medicaid, the federal government alone is responsible for 50% of all medical expenditures made in the country.

If health products and services weren’t so expensive, the need for health insurance would be virtually non existent, except for truly catastrophic events, which is what insurance is all about in pretty much any other sector. But since government intervention has created the problems outlined above, it also deems it necessary, as always, to regulate the effects of its meddling, an iron law of interventionism. Thus the government also heavily regulates the business of health insurance, making it illegal to purchase health insurance across state lines and legislating premiums and insurance policy requirements wherever they see fit.

In light of all this it is rather funny that people would act surprised about constantly rising health costs and insurance premiums and on top of that demand that of all people the government step in and “solve” the problem by grabbing more power. The most recent legislation that aims at regulating health insurance more tightly is just another example for this. Soon we will once again see the good old, so often tried, and so consistently failing measures of price control and rationing as the “solution” to health premiums.

A predictable side effect and yet another reason for rising cost that I would like to touch on here is the phenomenon of enormous debts owed by medical students after they graduate, incurred during their long and expensive studies at government accredited institutions. In order to pay off these debts, medical doctors are practically required to charge higher prices for their services.

The AMA provides background information on medical student debt:

Student debt statistics

* $156,456 – According to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), the average educational debt of indebted graduates of the class of 2009.
* 79 percent of graduates have debt of at least $100,000.
* 58 precent of graduates have debt of at least $150,000.
* 87 percent of graduating medical students carry outstanding loans.

Source: AAMC 2009 Graduation Questionnaire
Why medical education debt has increased

Medical education debt is driven by rising tuition. AAMC data show that median private medical school tuition and fees increased by 50 percent (in real dollars) in the 20 years between 1984 and 2004. Median public medical school tuition and fees increased by 133 percent over the same time period. Other recent 20-year periods show similar trends.

Tuition is just one source of increasing debt burdens. Other causes include:

* Interest accrued on loans over time significantly adds to the total cost of student debt.
* Students are now entering medical school with more education debt from undergraduate education.
* Increasing numbers of “non-traditional” students who have children to support.

Debt crisis harms both students and patients

The increase in debt not only burdens medical students, but can have effects on the entire health care system. Some of correlations found include:

Decrease in primary care physicians

* Students with high debt may be less likely to pursue family practice and primary care specialties and instead seek specialties with higher income or more leisure time.

Decreased diversity of physician workforce

* The cost of tuition can prevent students from low-income/minority and those with other financial responsibilities from attending medical school.
* Physician diversity is necessary to address the needs of heterogeneous, multicultural patient populations.

Promoting unsafe physician behaviors

* Residents with high debt are more likely to moonlight.
* Increasing debt leads to more cynicism and depression among residents.

How can we reduce debt?

The MSS has come up with recommendations for legislative and administrative remedies to resolve the medical education debt crisis. These recommendations focus on controlling tuition, the principal component of education costs, but include a number of relatively simple administrative measures that could be taken immediately and at a low cost to individual medical schools.

And again: the AMA concludes that the solution to the problems created by government legislation and intervention is to “come up with recommendations for legislative and administrative remedies to resolve the medical education debt crisis.”

The best comedian couldn’t make such a farce up :))

The real solution is a lot more simple, intuitive, and measurable than such nonsense: Stop using guns against people who have done you no harm, get the government out of the way, and society will flourish. For guns are not the answer to complex and structural problems, voluntaryism is.

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Former CBO Head on Healthcare Reform – “government is bigger, entitlement programs have expanded, spending has increased and taxes are higher”

The former CBO head at Yahoo Tech Ticker:

Walker states the simple fact that …

… “government is bigger, entitlement programs have expanded, spending has increased and taxes are higher” as a result of the law.

… those points should be listed in the default template header for any bill brought forth in Congress.

In addition to that, multiply any expense number presented by 10 and you’ll usually have a rough approximation of where a government program is headed.

Government always grows, it’s inevitable so long as people cling on to this mad fantasy.

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