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AARP: Every Week Thousands of Americans File Bankruptcy Due to Medical Costs

Original post made by Divided We Fail, Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Oct 11, 2008

AARP, along with other organizations, has launched a campaign called Divided We Fail,
Web Link .

You can see video of personal stories of people who had insurance but went bankrupt when they got sick.

Comments (34)

Posted by and what did joe biden do?
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Oct 11, 2008 at 4:03 pm

full disclosure: i'm not voting for either major candidate, but democrats should know that joe biden and his son were major sponsors and promoters of the most onerous bankruptcy bill passed in the last 50 years - biden pushed this bill for his financial sector masters even though he kew that 50% of all bankruptcies are due to unpaid medical bills..

Posted by Gary
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 11, 2008 at 6:04 pm

How many thousands of Americans declare bankruptcy each week, for reasons other than medical bills?

Why is medical care such a bogeyman? You take your child in to see your doctor with a broken arm, and the kid gets fixed. Then you complain about having to pay for it. Yet, you pay for a hot new car, or an expensive remodel of your home, without complaint. Either way, you can go bankrupt.

There are too many whiners in America.

Posted by paly parent
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Oct 11, 2008 at 6:09 pm

Gary - its not the cost of a broken arms which causes medical bankruptcies, it cancer, heart failure, diabetes (with the accompanying complications), etc. Its the hospital and long term care bills, not the broken arms or sore throats. In addition, many of the medical issues which drive people to bankruptcy could have been avoided or greatly reduced with proper preventative care if it was covered. For example, its a lot less expensive to pay for asthma meds then to pay the hospital bill when you have a major asthma attack.

Posted by Gary
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 11, 2008 at 6:33 pm

paly parent,

The reason that medical insurance exists is to guard against those major events. We buy automobile liability insurance for the same reason. Why is medical insurance different than automobile insurance?

Since I had an asthmatic daughter, I can tell you that parents demanded to know more than the docs...and to pay less for overall treatment. I had to instruct my own docs about new medicines that were avaialble, since they attended medical school. So-called "preventative medicine" is a canard. If you want to avoid type II diabetes, or athersclerosis, etc., just eat less and exercise more...if you have an average gene pool, this apporach will work. If not, look on the Internet for front line drugs...then be prepared to pay for them, via increased insurance premiums. We don't need a bunch of doctor appointments to tell us that! I know a tremendous number of obese people who go to the doctor all the time, demanding a magic cure to their emotional weakness (they eat too much!).

I say get over it, and quit whining.

Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 12, 2008 at 1:00 am


Auto insurance differs from medical insurance in that medical costs will easily outstrip the cost of even a totalled car.

Sure, some chronic conditions are preventable. Others, though, are not. I don't think my friend gave herself MS. I don't think my other friend asked to get Diabetes I. And if you know what causes 80 percent of the breast-cancer cases, we'd all love to know about it.

It's great you know how to ask for current medications--but, of course, part of the reasons doctors don't necessarily recommend them is that insurance won't pay for the greatest and latest.

And you're also missing something else--the medical condition may prevent work and--presto--an uninsured person with a serious medical condition. Who then, of course, can't get individual insurance because of the pre-existing condition.

So, it's not hard to end up bankrupt. I have a friend with several chronic conditions--being unemployed is an incredibly scary situation for her because of it--for her there's always the possibility of losing everything.

Posted by Paly parent
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Oct 12, 2008 at 9:03 am

Gary -

People with pre-existing conditions often can not get insurance at all, at any price.

Insurance for a family of 4 can easily cost 15-20K a year, does your car insurance cost that much?

Many policies have a lifetime cap, my friend had a premature baby years ago, the hospital costs for her and the child were almost a million dollars. Without insurance, where do you think her family would be now?

Posted by Gary
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 12, 2008 at 9:53 am

"Auto insurance differs from medical insurance in that medical costs will easily outstrip the cost of even a totalled car."


I was referring to automobile liability insurance, which can, and does, run into the millions sometimes. My AAA agent told me to get as much liability insurance as I felt I could afford...I currently have $3M.

Paly parent,

I believe that pre-exisiting condition insurance should be mandated, and shared among the various insurance companies, as is done with high risk drivers in automobile insurance.

I also believe that health insurance be mandatory for all those who decide they want to use the medical system...just as insurance is required for all automobile drivers. Those who agree to not use the meidical system (e.g. Christian Scientists) should be exempt.

Posted by Perspective
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 12, 2008 at 6:41 pm

Good grief! I pay $12,000/year for medical insurance for my family of four and it is a cadillac PPO. If you are paying 15-20,000 for your family, you are paying far too much!

Every time AARP writes me and asks me to join, I write back and clearly state that there is no way I will support an organization which has done everything it can to lower the economic opportunities and national security of this nation for my chidren and grandchildren.

The AARP is run by people who are interested only in socialist "solutions" to every problem. They lost me long ago.

Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 12, 2008 at 7:03 pm


12K is the *average* cost for insurance for a family of four. Not cadillac, average.


Yeah, your car insurance caps at $3 million, but odds are very, very low that the company will ever have to pay that out. With medical, you can pretty much count on a few hundred-thou. in medical costs at some point. Christopher Reeve, for example, was very close to his lifetime cap of $10 million.

Most years, your auto insurer will pay out nothing. The same is not true with health insurance. A friend of mine with a couple of chronic conditions easily sees medical bills of $20K a year--and that's without any form of hospitalization.

No insurance company would ever give her individual insurance. That $5K reimbursement would do nothing for her. Pre-existing conditions are like that and, no, not all of them are the fault of the patient pr evem bad genes.

Posted by Laissez-faire dope slap
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 12, 2008 at 7:06 pm

Of the $2.4 trillion dollars we now spend annually on the healthcare economy, less than half of that money goes to actual care. Much of the rest is the result of private insurance administration and profits. They create paperwork to "save money" - but it's to save THEM money, not the rest of us or the system. Overall, it COSTS more money. The result is a hugely expensive bureaucracy and significant chance that the contract will not be honored when you really need it. So if I want to go pay for care myself, there is a huge built in overhead because private insurance exists. I pay for the "best" private insurance, and it doesn't deliver on its contract when I need it. I pay for the care that I need myself anyway, and end up paying far more because of the insurance burden on the system.

Insurance restricts care based on its financial interests over sound medicine. This creates costs in our system in many ways. If the local MRI machine is used only so many hours a day because insurance companies restrict payment for necessary imaging, then the usual marketplace efficiencies will never come into play. (Just one small example.) When doctors are not able to practice medicine to the best of their judgment, they are unable to hone their practices to be as efficient and effective as possible.

I'm offended by supposed conservatives ruining the potential for free market benefits by equating them with this horrendous insurance racket. Their support of this racket is causing the same kind of bureaucracy, inefficiency, rationing, powerlessness in the face of petty bureaucrats, etc., that they fear from the communist bogeyman. It's just this is the opposite extreme of the spectrum. And what happens when one extreme is pushed for very long? The pendulum swings that much harder to the other extreme. With much suffering along for the ride.

Single payer does not have to be what you fear, and it can change in the future. Its main benefit is to break the rackets without having to spend years using RICO to restore a balanced system and free market benefits (as if anyone had the courage to anyway).

Posted by Gary
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 12, 2008 at 7:29 pm

dope slap,

Since you are blaming a major share of medical costs on bureaucracies, do you agree with tort reform that would remove most lawyers from the equation? Also, you seem to ignore the purchasing power of major insurance companies...often knocking down the cost of inidvidual cases by 50%.


I don't follow your logic. Yes, auto insurance costs less that than medical insurance, because costs are lower overall. However, the model should work just fine. As I suggested, if an assigned risk pool is created for chronic problems, as is done with auto insurance, and insurance companies are required to provide coverage, then everybody (who is responsible) will get coverage. This approach needs to be blended with mandatory insurance premiums paid by all participants in the medical system.

Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 12, 2008 at 11:46 pm


An assigned-risk pool would help, somewhat, but McCain's plan doesn't begin to address the issue. His $5,000K doesn't cover insurance for ordinary families. And there will be some people with high healthcare costs who don't fit the assigned-risk pool--and insurance companies will work hard at not granting them insurance.

Also, it seems to me with your mandatory premiums that you're moving toward nationally mandated healthcare.

Laissez-Faire, I think you sum it up well. One of the huge issues with private insurance companies is that their aim is to make a profit not to provide the best medical care. The two things often don't jibe and then you see some tragic situations (and burnt-out doctors.)

Posted by Laissez-faire dope slap
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 13, 2008 at 11:53 am

You hit the nail on the head. Insurance companies are able to simply serve their profit motive, their profit is too disconnected from producing the best outcomes for us for the least cost to us. That is why rackets are illegal.

The tort reform question is a complex one. Litigation is an expensive and inefficient way to resolve problems -- where litigation becomes too burdensome, it is a symptom of a larger problem that should be addressed. Simply limiting damages in patient suits is like putting a bandaid over cancer.

The other problem is that in the insurance arena, limiting patient plaintiff damages is missing most of the costs. Insurance companies litigate a lot against insurance companies (and all kinds of other parties like the government) in order to set precedents that manipulate the legal environment to best support their rackets. The insurance companies screamed bloody murder about malpractice damages being the reason for high malpractice rates, yet when the number of suits AND payouts were severely limited by tort reform, malpractice rates continued to soar. It's not a healthy marketplace. The patient suits were propoganda. Insurance companies advocate for measures that allow them to increase profits, not to save the rest of us money.

I am in favor of smart regulations that establish a healthy market where balancing forces occur at the level of individual interactions. In such a system, litigation -- which is resource intensive and expensive to all sides and usually damaging to plaintiffs and defendants -- doesn't become the only recourse. The kind of tort reform that simply takes away the recourse of last resort but doesn't establish intermediate levels of redress or balancing forces in individual interactions only serves to strengthen the rackets and give them freer rein (or reign). In a healthy market, there are balancing forces that discourage the kinds of mistakes and poor outcomes that are such a problem and so expensive in our system.

I'm for measures that make litigation unnecessary by solving problems that lead to it. For every lawsuit you see, there are thousands or tens of thousands of people harmed who didn't sue and didn't have any intermediate level of redress. Those situations have their own costs to our system as well.

After all, the Harvard Medical Practice Studies, which finally took a look at the statistics of medical lawsuits, found that in cases where there was documented, concrete evidence of real malpractice that caused harm or death, only something like 0.2% of cases ended up in litigation (that's off the top of my head, but it's on that order of magnitude). Put another way, you are hundreds of times more likely to be harmed or killed by your doctor than s/he is to be sued by you or yours if s/he does. That's a bit of statistical humor -- the vast majority of doctors actually are not such a risk -- in the Harvard studies, they found that the vast majority of errors and suits were the fault of a relatively small number of doctors. The rules of our system should do a better job ferreting out those doctors far short of litigation.

The Harvard study also found out that the spectre of lawsuits is something of a myth, as even doctors who do harm are not sued by a vast majority of the patients harmed. On the other hand, of lawsuits that are filed, some 15% were by people who hadn't suffered substantial harm. (I'm guessing people who are less harmed are more easily able to endure the rigors of litigation!) Another study from the Lancet found that in the large majority of suits, lawsuits would never have been filed if defendants had taken responsibility for their mistakes, apologized or taken responsibility for consequent medical expenses. Many cases were filed on behalf of children for lifetime medical expenses.

So, I guess my answer is that I'm very in favor of smart tort reform, very against idiotic tort reform that just serves the purposes of rackets.

Insurance companies negotiating down already distorted costs isn't really cost saving. Our system is too distorted from what a healthy market should be. Insurers wield so much disproportionate power, providers jack up costs so they can recover their fees anywhere they can (e.g., reference recent anti-competitive suits about shakedowns of uninsured patients). You can say insurers negotiate down those costs, but they're inflated because of insurers in the first place. And again, even if I play devil's advocate and agree that they reduce costs by 50%, they still haven't justified their existence, or even the huge administrative burden on patients when they have a major illness. Their existence and the way they operate is more than doubling the cost of our system. (If you compare actual costs in some other first world countries that have comparable wages and care, you could argue they're tripling or even quadrupling costs.) Worse, their impact on our system is petrifying to innovation and problem solving, damaging to outcomes, all to serve their short-term bottom line. This is inconsistent with what would happen in a healthy free market.

I wish I could get you to see this, because I can tell you are just as passionate a defender of free markets as I am. Don't use ideology to alter the facts and justify extremely poor and expensive outcome. Private insurance is making our system horrendously expensive and unwieldy. Is it because market forces don't work, or is it because the benefits of the market don't apply to what is really a racket? Choose carefully, as defending the wrong choice will destroy (is destroying) the reputation of free markets in the public eye for long into the future.

Posted by Gary
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 13, 2008 at 12:54 pm

"Their existence and the way they operate is more than doubling the cost of our system. "

dope slap,

Please support that statement with references. Avoid references to other countries (e.g. Canada), where many of their patients come to America for high quality health care, IOW don't compare apples to oranges.

Posted by know your type
a resident of another community
on Oct 13, 2008 at 1:32 pm

oh, so now Gary wants respondents to post references to their arguments. Where are Gary's references? I've seen this type of poster too many times on other boards. There's no talking to 'em, so don't waste your time.

Posted by Gary
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 13, 2008 at 2:05 pm

know your type,

If you have read my many messages on this forum, over time, you will find many references that I have provided.

I am willing to listem to many criticisms, but not that one.

Posted by Phoebe
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 13, 2008 at 4:28 pm

Few seniors, in fact probably few 'anybody', have dental insurance,, and the costs have gone through the roof. A cleaning is about $125 plus xrays plus the dentist's exam. A simple filling is about $125. I had one recently - took the dentist all of ten minutes and it was $125. A crown and bridge - three teeth? How about $1100- per tooth!! There's something wrong here.

Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 13, 2008 at 5:06 pm


Thank you for your post. Clearly this is something you've thought about and researched.

So your answer is smart-tort reform, but the continuation of private insurance? Or some sort of nationalized health insurance? I see a bit of both in your answers.

I think it's a thorny issue myself. And, as I say, I think it comes down to the nature of health care--it's not a perfect candidate for free-market capitalism because patients don't really have a viable choice to opt out or choose among competing options. I mean, you can't conduct a bidding war if you've appendicitis.

On the other hand, some sort of genuine competition should lower costs and improve care. We kind have the worst of both right now.

Gary, Laissez-Faire clearly knows a lot of stuff--you could learn something, so maybe a polite request instead of a restrictive demand is in order here. Our health care system doesn't work well right now, I'd like to see a better system.

Posted by Gary
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 13, 2008 at 7:31 pm


If dope slap knows as much as you think he does, he should have no problem providing a reference to statement:

"Their existence and the way they operate is more than doubling the cost of our system. "

Don't worry, OP, I will say thank you when he provides the reference.

Posted by Laissez-faire dope slap
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 14, 2008 at 2:29 am

I will do a little more referencing tomorrow or Wednesday when I have more time. There are many reputable sources that talk about the cost of health care which support my initial assertion that less than half of health care expenditures go to actual care, the majority of the rest goes mainly because of private insurance administration and profit. I have seen estimates of the private insurer burden on the system anywhere from 3/4 trillion to over 1 trillion dollars annually. It is impossible to estimate the cost of how private insurance petrifies our system (stymies innovation and efficiency) because that's a calculation I don't think anyone has seriously done. On the other hand, it is quite easy to find data on how our costs relate to those of other countries.

If we continue like this without change, we will lose the world's trust in our know-how and leadership in medicine, just as in banking -- we're already in danger -- which will have major implications to our economy in the future.

But I'll leave you with at least one reference for now, since Paul Krugman just won the Nobel Prize in economics.
Web Link
Web Link

""...the main source of high US costs is probably the unique degree to which the US system relies on private rather than public health insurance, reflected in the uniquely high US share of private spending in total health care expenditure"

"Many estimates suggest that the paperwork imposed on health care providers by the fragmentation of the US system costs several times as much as the direct costs borne by the insurers."

This is not smart, not conservative, not efficient. I just wasted another day of my life today grinding away at the usual medical paperwork from my supposedly first-rate plan. I can't afford not to do it, but the amount I'll get back doesn't offset the costs imposed by the existence of insurance on the system.

I have family that escaped Communism, lost everything; later political divisions tore that side of the family apart. Believe it or not, Communists had lofty ideals, too. They just took them to an extreme and looked at facts through the lens of their ideals, rather than letting results and outcomes inform their opinions.

I'll repeat what I said above: I 'm offended by supposed conservatives ruining the potential for free market benefits by equating them with this horrendous insurance racket. Their support of this racket is causing the same kind of bureaucracy, inefficiency, rationing, powerlessness in the face of petty bureaucrats, etc., that they fear from the communist bogeyman. It's just this is the opposite extreme of the spectrum. And what happens when one extreme is pushed for very long? The pendulum swings that much harder to the other extreme. With much suffering along for the ride.

Fighting for real positive market reforms is hard enough. When supposed marketplace defenders act like the wolf selling Little Red Riding Hood on his big eyes, there's no hope. Healthcare will follow the financial sector, in ideological fashion at least.

Posted by Australia's looking pretty Good to me
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 14, 2008 at 6:48 am

If BO wins, we will stop arguing about this, and simply watch our ship begin to sink, like France's.

First, all those who think that the $12,000/year insurance is for "average" health care, not cadillac, will get their attitude adjusted as they watch their taxes rise for health care that will make them yearn for the good old days.

Then, by the time our kids are grown, we will see them have far fewer opportunities than we did, since unemployment will be in the double digits and racist regulations will be rampant, determining selections into colleges and jobs on the basis of color, not ability..

And, by the time we are in retirement, we will see that we bankrupted our country on the backs of our children, and watch it sink, like the aging in France are watching their country sink now...knowing they did it to their grandkids.

Or....we will elect McCain and do it all the same, just a little slower with some hope we can patch the holes in the future before we completely sink.

Maybe I am too pessimistic. I have to remember that we survived Carter, but on the other hand, we are still paying the Carter price to today in the CRA and terrorism, so maybe I am not too pessimistic.

Posted by Laissez-faire dope slap
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 14, 2008 at 8:39 am

Australia has a socialized medical system. Costs of buying the medical care outright, by all reports from friends is quite low there. They are part of the British Commonwealth -- their system is much more like the British or French than our own.

Switzerland is one of the richest countries in the world, and not just because of the banking industry. They have some of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world, among other industries. Their reputation for excellence allows them to sell goods and even food at a premium, pay high wages, and invest in high levels of training for all sectors of the economy (including what would be seen as unskilled work here). They have the second most expensive health care system in the world after the US, though nothing near as expensive. Their care is advanced and comprehensive. At some point in the last twenty years, what used to be a booming multi-billion dollar industry in medical tourism TO the US mostly dried up and moved to countries like Switzerland and Singapore that have advanced care for far less money. Swiss health coverage allows for things like long recoveries in mountain resorts after surgery. Switzerland is also probably the only truly direct democracy in the world. The standard of living is extremely high. Oh, and everyone has guns (all men serve in the military and remain part of their militia for life).

It's not too late for us to salvage our reputation and revive our economy on the model of excellence from our own past, or from other examples around the world.

Lifelong Republican, business consultant, and granddaughter of President Eisenhower, Susan Eisenhower, wrote an essay about why she supports Barack Obama. Here is a link to her essay from the Washington Post. I agree with it.
Web Link

Take heart, Australia. This country has overcome darker days. You are right that whoever gets into office will inherit one royal mess. We do need a new direction if we are going to save the ship, though.

Posted by Mom
a resident of Greene Middle School
on Oct 14, 2008 at 8:59 am

Isn't the difference between health insurance and auto insurance the fact that people can be caught and busted if they do not have auto insurance? Wouldn't more people have health insurance if they knew government would send them to jail if they did not?

Posted by Gary
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 14, 2008 at 10:17 am

dope slap,

First let me say thank you for providing references.

Krugman has supported socialized medicine for many years. Nothing new about that. However, it is interesting to know one of his main reasons:

"The result of Aaron et al.'s single-minded focus on the problem of rationing is a somewhat skewed perspective on current policy issues. Most notably, they argue that the reason we need universal health coverage is that a universal system can ration care in a way that private insurance can't"

Krugman argues that rationing is coming anyway, so why not get ahead of the curve and start now? No better way to do it than with socialized medicine.

The closest Krugman comes to supporting you view that private insurance drives up the cost of health care two fold is:

"per capita spending for an adult Medicaid beneficiary in poor health would rise from $9,615 to $14,785 if the person were insured privately and received services consistent with private utilization levels and private provider payment rates."

First, this is not a doubling. Second, that is a cleverly worded statement. Many doctors in the U.S. limit the number of Medicaid patients they will accept, becasue they do not really pay the full cost of their care. This deficit is then made up by overcharging those with private insurance. Thus, private insurance is subsidzing state insurance.

Krugman would really like to see a fully socialzied system, like the VA system, for everybody. However, he would still allow private insurance for people who want to buy it, so that they can get special care not avaialbe to the masses. In other words, the poor would get rationed care, and the rich would not.

Krugman makes a lot out of the relative cost per capita in the U.S., compared to the other industrialized countries. In doing so, he makes the typical mistake of comparing apples to oranges. U.S. medcine leads the world in technology and pharmaceuticals, including R&D...these costs are passed on to the U.S. medical consumer. The other industrialized countries benefit from all these reserach costs, without paying for them. At other levels, these other countries do not have the same problem with obesity as we have here in the U.S. (although they are starting to catch up). The U.S. also allows more elderly people to immigrate to the U.S. compared to many of these other countries...and the elderly are much more expensive to care for. Bottom line: There are many reasons that per captia care is almost double that in other industrialzed countries.

Sorry dope slap, but Krugman does not really support your statement.

Posted by Laissez-faire dope slap
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 14, 2008 at 11:05 am

You're right that Krugman's essay doesn't directly give statistics to support the statement. I just don't have time to dig up links for your at the moment. But don't read his essay selectively.

He doesn't exactly argue that rationing is inevitable, in fact, he makes it seem like the issue is beside the point given the changes we need to our inefficient system: From section 6 of Krugman's essay:
"Reading Can We Say No?, one might come away with the impression that the problem of how to ration care is the central issue in current health care policy. This impression is reinforced by Aaron and his co-authors' decision to compare the US system only with that of Britain, which spends far less on health care than other advanced countries, and correspondingly is forced to do a lot of rationing. A comparison with, say, France, which spends far less than the United States but considerably more than Britain, would give a very different impression: in many respects France consumes more, not less, health care than the United States, but it can do so at lower cost because our system is so inefficient."

"We're talking about large cost savings. Indeed, the available evidence suggests that if the United States were to replace its current complex mix of health insurance systems with standardized, universal coverage, the savings would be so large that we could cover all those currently uninsured, yet end up spending less overall. That's what happened in Taiwan, which adopted a single-payer system in 1995: the percentage of the population with health insurance soared from 57 percent to 97 percent, yet health care costs actually grew more slowly than one would have predicted from trends before the change in system."

Be careful about making justifications and reasonable sounding arguments without support, just as you have challenged me. You said, "The U.S. also allows more elderly people to immigrate to the U.S. compared to many of these other countries...and the elderly are much more expensive to care for." Is that true especially in the last eight years? Even if it is, Are we really caring for elderly immigrants? Are we even selling them insurance policies? I know many people from other countries whose parents don't come here because they can get better and more affordable care in their home countries (even in a few cases, third world countries). We aren't the only country in the world with pharmaceutical research and large pharmaceutical companies. U.S. also leads the world in pharmaceutical advertising and promotion costs, the cost of which are also foisted on the U.S. consumer.

I just want to challenge you to take a broader view, I'm not dismissing your arguments. You sound like you are a pretty intelligent person,

Posted by Gary
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 14, 2008 at 12:52 pm

dope slap,

Fair enough, here is my reference to the notion that legal foreign elderly immigrants are a big factor in this country. Note: This reference does not address the illegal elderly immigrants.

"By 2010, the elderly immigrant population is expected to reach 4.5 million. Approximately 60% of this increase is attributed to the growing number of elderly immigrants admitted as relatives of U.S. citizens, permanent residents and refugees [5]. On average, these immigrants enter the U.S. at 60-79 years of age [6]. Upon arrival, elderly immigrants settle in neighborhoods established by earlier immigrants. They tend to stay among family members or in ethnically-concentrated communities like Chinatowns. These settlements are mostly found in urban and suburban communities [2]."

Web Link

You might note that this reference is by a group that supports more and better helath care for these elderly immigrants.

Lest you get cheered by the fact that such elderly immigrants are not directly supported by the American taxpayer, you should consider that these immigrants evenetually end up needing American-style health care, and they get it (via emergency rooms, at a minimum). The costs to the institutions that provide this care is passed on to those patients who have private insurance. Once again, private insurance is charged to pay for what would otherwise be a state obligation.

When you talk about "rackets", dope slap, you need to put your cross hairs on the state, which defers its costs to private payers.

Your arguments, along with Krugman's are deceptive and lacking in intellectual honesty.

Posted by Mom of 3
a resident of Duveneck School
on Oct 14, 2008 at 1:26 pm

Hey, I got an idea, Gary and Dope Slap: call PA Online and leave your phone numbers for each other. It would be faster for you two buddies to chat in person, over many beers. You two need the beers.

Posted by Gary
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 14, 2008 at 1:54 pm


I rarely drink alcohol. Beers, especially, just pack on the pounds...thus increasing health care costs.

Do you have something serious to say? If not, you can just ignore me.


Posted by Laissez-faire dope slap
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 14, 2008 at 10:51 pm

That's a pretty serious charge. The issue you've brought up is nowhere near the issue of the cost of private insurance rackets to our system. How do you get from elderly immigrants to intellectual dishonesty? I guess you know better than the Nobel Prize committee and Krugman's peers, eh? Try to take a broader view first, your ideology trips you up.

Mom of 3 - in case you hadn't noticed, this forum is here for discussion. I don't drink, either, but Gary seems like he'd be a pretty good person to have a disagreement/discussion with. Oh yeah, that's what we're doing on this forum, which is here for that purpose... I don't mind people disagreeing with me - I'm pretty sure I'm not making any headway with Gary nor he with me, though it's been a lively discussion - but I do get kind of testy about people putting up posts to discourage discussion on a discussion forum.

Posted by Mom of 3
a resident of Duveneck School
on Oct 15, 2008 at 12:27 am

Gary & Dope Slap,
You two do have things in common despite your disagreeing:
1) Neither of you drink
2) You are mature enough to not be rude
3) You both have a sense of humor
4) You are both well-read & intelligent

I am not discouraging discussion. Your posts are just so long and drawn out that they are only effective for you two.

Lest I say it is much better than reading the ramblings of trolls though.

I did learn something by skimming your posts. Won't say from whose postings though.


Posted by Pauline
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 15, 2008 at 7:05 am

I completely agree with the a consequence of not having health insurance.

So simple.

Just link it to driver's licenses, after making it available across state lines ( so that we can buy insurance that is less expensive since there are states that let you buy insurance that doesn't cover silly stuff).

To get or renew your driver's license, you have to show proof of health insurance into the next year.

No insurance, no license. Simple.

Posted by Gary
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 15, 2008 at 8:18 am


I like the thrust of your idea. Some people don't drive though, so some more thorough method might be necessary, possibly through our federal tax filings, cross checked via social security number.

If an assigned risk pool is developed, similar to auto insurance, to take care of preexisting conditions, I see no reason it cannot work, and work well.

I should have said this before, espeically when private insurance was being described as a "racket", but I have never had a bad experience with my various insurance companies. They have always paid for what their contract promised. They always get me a better price than if I had to pay out of pocket, because of their purchasing power.

Posted by rahul
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Mar 15, 2009 at 8:01 pm

online edition help common people to know what's happening around them because every one is using internet these days. weekly edition is also helpful for those people who are not internet friendly like older people,farmer who does not have facility of internet.

Posted by Perspective
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 16, 2009 at 6:50 am

This is why I don't belong to the AARP and always write certain words and return them when "invited" to do so. They consistently work against the best interest of this nation, and my kids and grandkids.

As I posted elsewhere, this is based on a "study" which has been debunked. it is a flat out lie repeatedly stated by Dems, AARP, Obama, and anyone pushing for France-like Universal Health Care ( go to France and see how well that works with a cancer death rate of twice America's)and that is there is a medical bankruptcy every 30 seconds. First, even using the study they believe they are quoting, it would be half that rate, but even more importantly, the study associates anyone with more than $1,000 in medical bills who has filed bankruptcy as a "medical bankruptcy". This would be like saying anyone who owes more than $1,000 on their car at the time of filing is an "auto bankruptcy" and using it as grounds to have Universal Cars for every USA citizen.

Web Link This is the type of "research" that these guys are relying on for "every 30 seconds there is another medical bankruptcy". Even THAT one, if you do the math, has a MEDICAL bankruptcy of half the rate Obama is quoting ( claiming that there is a bankruptcy filed every 30 seconds..but that half of them are medical)

However, below is more (not all, yet) of the truth behind it: it is even written by, an organization not known for being right wing!

The bottom line, the Harvard study quoted and re-quoted by those who want to nationalize health care asked how many of those filing for bankruptcy owed more than $1,000 in medical bills, and about 1/3 did. WHAT???????? Are they trying to say that $1,000 in medical bills is a reason to file for bankruptcy???? Gimme a break. I read somewhere the idea that this is similar to asking how many of those filing owed more than $1,000 on their cars so that we could classify them as "car bankruptcies". In the meantime, why don't we just push for nationalizing everyone owning a car since I am pretty sure most people who file for bankruptcy owe some money on their cars!

By the time you add up all the causes included in "medical" bankruptcy, including "addiction to gambling" ( because, ya know, addictions are medical!) you can squeeze out 1/2 of all bankruptcies being "medical"...what a bunch of ...!!!! The following is the site for what I just said at fact check..

Web Link

From the site above. "Debtors cited at least one of the following specific causes: illness or injury (28.3 percent of respondents), uncovered medical bills exceeding $1,000 in the past two years (27 percent), loss of at least two weeks of work-related income because of illness (21.3 percent), or mortgaging a home to pay medical bills (2 percent). (A larger category – "any medical bankruptcy” – also covered those who cited addiction, or uncontrolled gambling, childbirth, or the death of a family member. Including that group brought the total percentage of "medical bankruptcies" up to 54.5.)"

Below is the site of a couple guys who use the same data and come up with 17% being bankrupt for medical reasons..but I have yet to track down how many of these guys didn't bother having medical insurance. I am out of time, maybe one of you can keep tracking. .

Web Link

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