Monday, August 24, 2009

New York Times says seniors' concerns are real

I've been studying the pro's and con's of the proposed health care bill and it is confusing.

The most voiced fears are those of seniors who fear health care rationing, a restriction on expensive procedures to prolong life for a few years and limited access to specialists.

I have said since all the debating began that a financially sustainable single payer healthcare system MUST, in fact, include the above and even WITH including the above, did anyone add the price of covering "everyone"? No, I'm sure they didn't but no one has noticed that the income taxes in countries with single payer healthcare are THREE TIMES higher than they are in the USA.

And of course, the President has said several times that we would all have to sacrifice and that he did not agree with a knee replacement for his grandma etc.

And if we had any doubts of this, there is a well researched book by medical ethicist, Daniel Callahan called "FALSE HOPES" where after researching all the single payer, govt systems in the world, he states the same sobering facts (even though he states up front, he feels a single payer system is the way to go).

But many have listened blindly to the politicians telling us that these worries are a "myth". Those were the nice politicians. The nasty ones tell us that the concerns and questions (which were NOT answered in the so called "Town Halls") are a conspiracy by the Republicans and/or Conservatives and/or religionists or whatever.

But now, those of us who have had concerns have had a breakthrough. The New York Times printed a story which included a statement that these concerns of rationing, limited access to specialists and restricting of expensive procedures for the elderly are NOT unreasonable at all.

In fact the Medicare advisory committee, concerned that Medicare is going broke, this week, suggested .... rationing, limited access to specialists (GPs are just as good they say - which we know is a crock) and restriction of expensive procedures as a way to save Medicare!

And we all know that if the New York Times prints it, people will believe what we have been saying for a couple of months now. Because people believe the New York Times like it's the gospel.

Here is another statement in another story in the New York Times (Gospel again, right?). This comes from a story called "Tackling the Mystery of what it costs".

"Under health insurance reform, insurance plans will be required to give consumers much more information about what is covered and what is not. They will be expected to warn consumers that if they go out of network, they can be hit with some very high costs."

To someone not involved with one of the large insurance companies, this may not mean much but I, being thus involved myself, can attest to the fact that we HAD to go "out of network" because the IN network providers were not only "not too good" but absolutely horrendous - wrong diagnosis, unneeded surgeries, wrong treatment etc.

So I HAD to go out of network. And the idea of "high costs" is not a nice one to me.

And then, there are things like the place where you are supposed to get your blood work, looks kind of like you are going to catch something. That is, IF they can get the needle IN. Most always I've gone there, there is a new person just learning - on me. Hence, we finally are paying the doctor's assistant to do the draw!

The pundits tell us that the in network providers will have to be improved. Anyone holding their breath for this to happen?

Anyway, there are REAL concerns for seniors - you can believe it because the New York times printed it. :)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

figures, statistics and lies

Today, I got an "alternate health" ad in the mail. It claimed that the number 36,000 deaths a year from flu was a false figure and in fact only about 750 people died a year from the flu and "that was from the CDC".

I didn't believe it. I had never questioned the 36,000 deaths a year from the flu and had quoted the figure myself because it came from the CDC.

But the ad got my curiosity going. Easy enough to look up. I looked up "FLU DEATHS" CDC" and got this page.

As you can see, it IS on the CDC website. Turns out that the truth (according to the CDC) is no one KNOWS how many die from the flu so the estimations were made from a percentage of those who die from respiratory disease deaths and other mathematical constructs.

The CDC writes:

Does CDC know the exact number of people who die from flu each year?

CDC does not know exactly how many people die from flu each year. There are several reasons for this: First, states are not required to report individual flu cases or deaths of people older than 18 years of age to CDC. Second, influenza is infrequently listed on death certificates of people who die from flu-related complications [12]. Third, many flu-related deaths occur one or two weeks after a person’s initial infection, either because the person may develop a secondary bacterial co-infection (such as a staph infection) [1,8,11] or because influenza can aggravate an existing chronic illness (such as congestive heart failure or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) [3]. Also, most people who die from flu-related complications are not tested for flu, or they seek medical care later in their illness when influenza can no longer be detected from respiratory samples. Influenza tests are only likely to detect influenza if performed within a week after onset of illness. For these reasons, many flu-related deaths may not be recorded on death certificates. These are some of the reasons that CDC and other public health agencies in the United States and other countries use statistical models to estimate the annual number of flu-related deaths. ***

Oh - that's enlightening! No one KNOWS so they use a mathematical model to come up with the 36,000 deaths a year from the flu. Here is it, right from the horse's mouth! But when this figure is quoted, have you ever heard they say they really DO NOT KNOW how many a year die from the flu and that the deaths are usually from something else? hmmmm

This even shocked ME....Somehow I had never questioned the 36,000 deaths they were claiming...

So why DOES the CDC "ESTIMATE" the number of deaths from flu (and puff it up... hmmm)

Here is their answer to that one:

Why does CDC estimate deaths associated with flu?

CDC feels it is important to convey the full burden of flu to the public. Flu is a serious disease that causes illness and deaths nearly every year in the United States. CDC estimates of annual influenza-associated deaths in the United States are made using well-established scientific methods that have been reviewed by scientists outside of CDC [10]. CDC feels that these estimates are a timely representation of the current burden of flu on the United States.

But these numbers are used by the media etc to scare folks into getting the vaccine which is BIG MONEY for the manufacturers....

Enlightening. That's why it's good to read EVERYTHING. I didn't believe the alternate health ad but that claim was bold enough for me to question something I might have never questioned and which, I guess, should have been questioned in the first place.

So let's talk about the proposed Health Care program. Obama tells us that the concerns of the public are all because of the evil Republicans and all a bunch of lies.

For example, abortion won't be paid for in the Health care bill, he tells us. But the bill says different. ALL SURGERIES are paid for and abortion is a surgery. So some Democrats and Republicans tried to introduce amendments that made sure abortion was EXCEPTED out of surgeries. And the amendments failed.

If abortion is not paid for, why didn't the amendments pass? We all remember the youtube video how Obama promised Planned Parenthood that he would not deviate from his total abortion stance (from conception to birth).

Seniors are concerned that the Health Care bill might mean rationing of care for seniors. Obama answers us with "there is no rationing in the bill" and that seniors are not to worry but seniors were not born yesterday. Treating seniors is expensive and they suspect unless there is an amendment which GUARANTEES them treatment, they don't trust Obama's reassurance, especially when he admitted that it was right to not give his grandmother a joint replacement and has talked about how expensive it was to treat seniors when they might only have a few years of life left. Seniors know that the expensive health care program has to be paid for in some manner and that in other plans, care IS rationed to save bucks.

This is not the "evil Republicans" or "insurance companies". This is just people finally beginning to do what they should have done in the first place. Question - everything and trust - no one.

You know the old "In God we trust - all others pay cash" idea?