Sunday, April 1, 2012

Leeches, Health Care & the Tax Code

The fight over President Obama’s health care overhaul, the so called Affordable Care Act (ACA) has reignited the wide divide between current political ideologies in America. That divide was always just beneath the surface but has become painfully evident since we had the audacity to send an African American to the White House.
But analyzing the law and its underlying intent merely through the eyes of politicians and special interest groups on either side of the aisle is disingenuous to all interested parties and especially those of us in need of affordable health care.
One side may offer silly arguments about family values and religious freedom, while the other points to fairness and equal justice for all but neither side can win an argument and stand up to 100% scrutiny.
The religious freedom people, with the most vocal being Christians, say they do not want this form of health care because it goes against their religious training and heritage.  But they lose as soon as someone gives them the old WWJD argument as in what would Jesus do?  Clearly their savior was for healing the sick regardless of their ability to pay.  And what would he think of the greedy insurance companies etc. but enough of that for now.
And as for the 'equal justice for all' camp I agree but still say that many people, by their own actions or lack thereof are not deserving of constant coddling.  You must at least attempt to take an interest in your own well being to earn our care and respect in return.
But I digress and will not argue those points here because no matter what is debated in the halls of government everything always boils down to costs and who will be paying.
Pay Your Fair Share!
Unless You're Extremely Wealthy!
The wealthiest of the country feel they should never have to pay for anything, including taxes on the money they make or inherit. They do not wish to part with a penny if it will not come back as two cents for themselves or their family. Sadly the poor, even if employed, generally do not have two pennies to rub together and can not afford to pay for services they so desperately need.
As with all social services in civilized countries taxes pay for the needs of the many. And taxes are levied on all citizens with varying degrees of tax rates depending on their income.
In America we have inverted the fair tax code and it seems to be an impossibility to come up with a system that understands two plus two equals four!
Warren Buffet attempted to make it simple by telling the country it is unfair that his tax rate is lower than that of his secretary. Naturally Mr. Buffet could rectify that by adding a few zeros to the end of her paycheck but that is between those two and not up for discussion.
Mr. Buffet is not alone in his legal gaming of the system even though he decries its inherent unfairness.
One need only look at the absurdly low tax rate Presidential candidate Willard Mitt Romney is asked to pay and with which he all too gladly complies.
Obviously this incredibly wealthy man does not wish to see the tax code changed and will most likely continue to do everything in his power toward that end.
God Save the Queen
And The Caymans
He and his idle friends who add nothing to society but sound-bites and pink slips will do this while laughing all the way to the bailed out banks of America and the tax haven ones of the Cayman Islands and beyond.
The tax code may have started out as a great idea with fairness toward all in the beginning but it has been changed, altered, rewritten, reinterpreted and cut to pieces so often through the years that there are more loopholes in it than actual tax rates and the current incarnation has made the nation loopy!
Mr. Romney’s “carried interest income” which earned him millions over the years is not levied as regular income in the tax code but rather at the lowest allowable rate of 15%.
A family of 4 could comfortably live on that income for decades.
Cheesy way to hide income!
Mr. Romney also conveniently forgot to disclose that aside from his hidden Cayman Island bank accounts he earned quite a handsome sum of loot from his Swiss Bank accounts!
I am using Willard as an example but he is by no means the only one, nor is he the worst offender when it comes to screwing America and Americans out of much needed tax revenue.
Bane of our Existence
Mr. Romney is but an example of how the wealthiest of the country plan to stay in that elite club every day of their lives.
I sometimes wonder if everything they do or say is done with an eye toward keeping or making more money.
“Sir, would you like to wear the red or the blue tie today?”
“Which one will get me more money, Jeeves?”
So if we still wish to help Americans in need of some form of affordable health care and, assuming we will not be able to pry any more pennies from the cold brain-dead hands of the wealthy by way of the skewed tax code, then we must look toward streamlining health care costs.
The wealthy turn the argument in that direction every chance they get using phrases such as “Fee for Service!” (They also say Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid every chance they get but that makes even less sense so we’ll let that go for now.)
These greedy anti-social beings boldly claim that as long as you allow doctors and hospitals to charge fees for every service, test or procedure they perform health care expenses will needlessly rise through the roof.
They naturally hide the fact that they themselves demand payment for every service or rather disservice they perform each and every day!
They further posit that insurance companies are the guardians of our nation’s money constantly pushing back and fighting the evil hoards of medical mercenaries in their pursuit of endless wealth.
Saying the above with straight faces is quite impressive not to mention totally hypocritical since many of them are directors on the boards of those faceless insurance behemoths.
In the end however there may be a glimmer of truth as some doctors can be unscrupulous.  After all they are human and as such err.
But I hazard to say there are far more bean counting insurance accountants with no medical training or knowledge doing the evil than doctors since their salaries and future employment depend on profit.
And in the end it is we the public who pay for this back and forth game of he said she said which inevitably kicks the can down the road on solutions.
Are Leeches People too?
Many years ago the medical industry used leeches to bleed the sick. The idea was to rid the body of bad blood by using those low cost creatures.
Today’s leeches are the insurance companies who survive by sucking out the life blood of our economy.
The difference is the current parasitic creatures are killing more people than they are saving and getting wealthy along the way.
For years insurance companies have been raising their rates, charging more and more for less and less and using their obscene profits to fund vacations, private jets, and bonuses. But more importantly a significant amount of that ill-gotten cash has found its way into and through the hands of lobbyists and into Congress in order to keep the status quo!
Those of us who have insurance payments deducted from our salaries by our employers pay on average $10,000 per year for healthcare insurance.  But the cost is actually double that because insurance is partly covered by our employer.
If they had to pay less to the leeches we might actually be able to negotiate raises. (Pie in the sky perhaps but worth noting.)
Pray for Health?
We pay all this money for the pleasure of being told by those insurance carriers that much of what we need is not covered and that that which is covered comes with a $50 ‘co-pay,’ a $100 ‘co-insurance,’ a $500 ‘deductible,’ and a cap of $1,500 for any particular occurrence.
I Guess So!!!
And in some States you may also be forced to listen to lectures  in an attempt to shame you out of whatever it is you need to have done!
These insurance industry made-up words could add up to as much as $30,000 per year for a normal HEALTHY family of four.
But for arguments sake let's say it's only 10% of your income.
SO the question we should all be asking ourselves is this:
If I have to pay 10% of my income for good health care and a chance at longer a life to whom would I prefer giving that money?
A. An insurance broker trained in the fine art of bean counting and ledger-keeping whose main job is to make more money for the corporation who hired him
You'd be in good hands
WITHOUT Insurance Companies!
B. A staff of board certified medical professionals and personnel trained in the art of keeping humans alive and healthy?
It is quite apparent that we need regulations but shouldn't we rid ourselves of the leech mentality from the dark ages?
Can we not do without the useless insurance industry entirely and instead regulate and fine-tune the medical industry.
In the long run our tax dollars would go further and the economy as well as ‘we the people’ would all be healthier.

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