Monday, March 26, 2012

A Surprise!

Apparently it turns out that Marylanders are NOT the highest taxed in the country! According to the Council on State Taxation, in a report on State and local business taxes across the nation, done last summer on property, sales, excise, gross receipt, corporate income, franchise and unemployment insurance taxes as a percentage of gross state product. Maryland's stood at 3.7 percent of GSP. The National Average is 5.0.

Who ever would have thunk?

We, Maryland, also has the highest percentage of our citizens who are Millionaires! In 2011 Phoenix Global Wealth ranked Maryland number one in the Nation showing that 7.22% of Maryland households are Millionaires! (The calculation does not include home values or retirement accounts.)

So, as Dan says, "Don't be so cranky. Life here is better than you think. Sit on your deck, have a brandy, pet your hounds, and light up a cigar."

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Affordable Health Care Act.

First I want to say that I am in favor of The Act, in fact I would be even more in favor of a Universal Health Care.

And, I don't like the Rights's way of trying to denigrate The Act by calling it Obamacare. I don't remember Medicare being called Johnsoncare, do you? Or how about Social Security was that called Rooseveltcare? I don't think so. We don't even call The Massachusetts's Health Care, Romneycare!

While it is far from perfect , it is a HUGE improvement on what we had before, when we could have our Health Insurance cancelled, because we got sick and made a claim! Or we could be refused Insurance because we were sick! Or coverage could be denied for any number of reasons. The American Health Insurance BUSINESS had more workers figuring out reasons to deny coverage than for any other part of their BUSINESS.

Yes that's right, your Health Care is a BUSINESS, the USA is the ONLY civilized country in the entire World where your health care is a business! Run for PROFIT! Should our health be a FOR PROFIT BUSINESS? It is not anywhere else. And don't try to say, "Would you want to work as a Doctor or a Nurse for nothing?", because of course you know this is not the case. Doctors and Nurses and all health care workers are of course paid in Switzerland, and Taiwan, and the UK, Japan, Canada, Germany, France, and all the other countries that cover ALL of their citizens for HALF or less than half of what we pay here in the United States!

Other countries don't have Health Care Insurance Executives who are paid millions and get millions more in Bonuses - because they made such a huge profit for their investors! Companies can have hundreds of Executives, and each one can "earn" millions in bonuses, paid for by you! The investors have to paid too, and they are paid well, and the insurance companies make sure they are paid well. They make sure that there is lots of profit by cutting off people who are sick! Or who get sick. And by figuring out ways to deny coverage for various reasons.

This is the only civilized country in the world where you can go bankrupt and lose everything because you were unfortunate enough to get ill, or to get cancer, or to have an accident, or to have a family member who does any one of those bad things! Get sick in the UK, or any other country in the world and you will get treatment. You don't have to sell your house and everything you own to get treated. Or you die, because you can't afford to get care, like can happen here.

And then there are the prescriptions. Only in America are drug companies allowed to advertise on TV, on Radio, in Newspapers and Magazines etc. Half the cost of a drug here in America is in the advertising! How often have you been watching TV and seen the same ad a half dozen or a dozen times in one evening on one channel? And there are a hundred channels!

Then there are the machines that Doctors offices have, it seems that every office now has it's own, X-ray, Cat Scan, MRI etc etc, so naturally as they have huge payments to make on them, almost everyone has to have a battery of expensive tests. So that the Doctor's office can make the payments on their expensive equipment!

How is it possible for all these other countries to give coverage for everyone, for half or less than half of what we pay? Well for a start EVERYONE pays in, just like EVERYONE pays in for Social Security or car insurance or for any form of insurance. So when someone gets sick they are covered. Here, only sick or old people get insurance, the young and the healthy "Don't need insurance", so they don't get it. But just like with car insurance - how about if only people who were going to have accidents bought insurance? Saying, "I am not going to have an accident, so I don't need insurance." won't wash! What happens to those people who, "Don't need Health Insurance." if they get sick or get into an accident? They get treated, because Hospitals and Doctors HAVE to treat them, by law. Then WE pay, you and me. So they get a free ride. Same with Car Insurance. If only people who are going to have an accident buy it, it would be VERY expensive (Just like Health Ins that is only bought by sick people.) but then there IS an accident, a tire blows on your car, someone pulls out in front of you, you fall asleep, you hit another car which hits another one, a bus goes over an overpass. You caused 10 people to die and 30 to be injured. Can you afford that? No! That's why we have car insurance, because if you didn't, everyone else would have to pay for that. You wouldn't - you are either dead or you can't afford to!

So, to review, other countries pay less because - Everyone pays in. There are no investors pulling profits out. Prescriptions cost half, because drug companies are not spending Billions on advertising. The system is run by executives who are paid to run it, and don't receive millions in pay, profit sharing and bonuses. The whole system is run at cost, not at a profit. If you need an MRI you are sent for one, you don't get one because the Doctor has a payment due on his half million dollar machine.

I have to get an MRI on my brain every year to check up on my tumor. That costs, my insurance company, $1,500. The same MRI in japan is $93. An Angiogram in the US averages $798, in Canada it costs $35.

I can hear you now, "But our care is so much better here." We live longer, we are healthier.

OK, The average life expectancy in Italy is 82, in the US it is 78. The percentage of people in the US with diabetes is 10%, in the UK it is 4%. Child mortality in the US? We are number 30, even below Somalia! we used to be below Pakistan!

If we had a Universal Health Care System our Corporations would be better off! Now they are in the position of having to pay Billions in Health Care premiums while Corporations in other countries don't have that disadvantage. So they could compete better.

An aside here, we have heard that US Corporations have the highest tax rate in the world (at 35%). Now we find out that it is actually the LOWEST in the world!! With the possible exception of Iceland. The reason for this is that they have so many exceptions, loopholes, special interests and so on that they actually only pay 10%. This is of course because we have the most corrupt Congress in the world. It is legal for Corporations, and even people, to bribe Congress! In most countries bribery goes on of course, but there they meet in dark alleys, or under bridges, or in bars, and cash changes hands. Here in the US, Congress has actually made it legal for them to be bribed. They call them Lobbyists. Lobbyists pay Congress to do their bidding. The Health Industry for example pays Congress one million dollars A DAY through Lobbyists. And there are hundreds of other companies doing the same, Big Oil, Big Coal, Big Agriculture, Big Banks, Insurance Companies, Mortgage Companies, Wall Street, all pushing and shoving to hand money over to the Best Congress That Money Can Buy. No wonder they want to stay on for year after year after year. And if they somehow go too far for even the American voter to put up with, they retire, on full pay! Yep they can serve just ONE term in the House and receive full pension for life. $174,000 a year! Just imagine how much they must be raking in if they prefer to stay in Congress if they make more than if they just retire and sit back and pick up $174,000 a year. And of course they get free health insurance, paid for by us of course. And all kinds of other percs, like an office etc etc etc.

Finally a family member who, 25 years ago, was treated for cancer in Johns Hopkins Hospital for more than a year might well be dead now if we had then, the Health care System that we will return to if the Republicans have their way. Even then, 25 years ago, with a good insurance policy, our out of pocket costs were more than $50,000. If we had been denied coverage, as we would under their idea of "care", it is doubtful that we would have been able to come up wih the necessary more than half a million dollars needed for treatmnet.

I beg of everyone to fight for a Universal Health Care System for America, so that we can finally have Affordable Health Care for all of us. Like the rest of the world enjoys.