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Medicine United States Science

US Life Expectancy May Have Peaked 1053

Posted by timothy
from the so-lose-some-weight-and-eat-some-spinach dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "Live Science reports that although life expectancy in the United States has risen to an all-time high of 77.9 years in 2007 up from 77.7 in 2006, gains in life expectancy may be pretty much over, as some groups — particularly people in rural locations are already stagnating or slipping in contrast to all other industrialized nations. Hardest hit are regions in the Deep South, along the Mississippi River, in Appalachia and also the southern part of the Midwest reaching into Texas. The culprits — largely preventable with better diet and access to medical services — are diabetes, cancers and heart disease caused by smoking, high blood pressure and obesity. What the new analysis reveals is the reality of two Americas, one on par with most of Europe and parts of Asia, and another no different than a third-world nation with the United States placing 41st on the 2008 CIA World Factbook list, behind Bosnia but still edging out Albania. 'Beginning in the early 1980s and continuing through 1999 those who were already disadvantaged did not benefit from the gains in life expectancy experienced by the advantaged, and some became even worse off,' says a report published in PLoS Medicine by a team led by Harvard's Majid Ezzati, adding that 'study results are troubling because an oft-stated aim of the US health system is the improvement of the health of "all people, and especially those at greater risk of health disparities.'"
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US Life Expectancy May Have Peaked

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  • Wait, really? (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 20, 2009 @01:40PM (#29136471)

    Don't get me wrong - US health in general has its problems - but just after a new report indicates that life expectancy has reached an all time high (by a significant margin) we are asking whether or not it has peaked? Premature much?

  • Slashkos (Score:1, Insightful)

    by jmorris42 (1458) * <jmorris.beau@org> on Thursday August 20, 2009 @01:40PM (#29136477)

    Ok, let me pee on everyone's parade and burn some karma.

    > those who were already disadvantaged did not benefit from the
    > gains in life expectancy experienced by the advantaged, and
    > some became even worse off

    Oh stop already with the politics. Stop with the infernal 'progressive' talking points and bringing class into everything. Simplify to this:

    "Stupid people do stupid things that cause them to die sooner." Not that there aren't stupid people everywhere, but in America we still have the
    right to be wrong to a much greater extent than the nanny states in Europe.

    And since I'm burning karma anyway lemme toss another sacred cow onto the grill. Enough with this continual blather about the 'disadvantaged/poor/etc.' if you nitwits aren't going to deal with the actual problem. To a very high degree of correlation, the 'poor' aren't living in poverty because of a lack of money. They lack money because they have make poor lifestyle decisions that RESULT in a lack of money. Things like failure to get an education (or worse reject the value of knowledge entirely), become a single parent, waste money on substance abuse or Xbox... but I repeat myself.

    Normally I wouldn't flame so hard but this entire article so reeks of slashkos politics I just couldn't hold back. Enough with the thinly disguised political stories outside the politics topic. Raise your hand if you actually think this was 'news for nerds' and not the DNC talking points being put into action.

    I mean, seriously, take this bit:

    > ..because an oft-stated aim of the US health system is the improvement
    > of the health of "all people, and especially those at greater risk of
    > health disparities.

    WTF? I thought that was what the current argument was about, whether we were going to HAVE a single "US health system" or not. We currently don't
    have a single system so how does this asshat ascribe policies to the current industry? The 'aim' of most of the people in the current semi
    free market system is the same as any business. Balance customer (patient) service against earning a living.

  • USA! USA! USA! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SoupGuru (723634) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @01:41PM (#29136507)

    Just remember, the USA is better at everything. Why? Because!

    Don't ever question that or you'll be a traitor. Why try to change what is already perfect?

  • what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lord Ender (156273) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @01:41PM (#29136511) Homepage

    an oft-stated aim of the US health system is the improvement of the health of "all people, and especially those at greater risk of health disparities."

    [citation needed]

    The "US health system" has a stated aim? I thought the aim was to maximize the profits of the insurance companies, which we know can only be done by denying health care to those at greater risk. Where, exactly, is this stated?

  • by joeflies (529536) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @01:46PM (#29136595)

    When you look at the 20 year trend chart for obesity in the United States [cdc.gov], it's clear that there's going to be repercussions. It's appalling what has happened. The cost of obesity isn't going to manifest right away, but over the next two decades, it's going to hit the mortality rate hard. And to think that people fear disease but don't seem to be doing too much about preventable self-inflicted health problems.

  • by plopez (54068) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @01:47PM (#29136599) Journal

    Or maybe not. Maybe only 37th.

    Seriously, the way the insurance companies are sabotaging health care reform what we need is what I call the nuclear health care reform option. Maybe something like along the line of if reform doesn't pass:

    1) All members of congress that blocked it must pay for their own health insurance out of their own pockets. No more public health care for them like most of them currently have through their Congressional pay and benefits package..

    2) No more bonuses or stock options for the top tiers of insurance company execs as long as they deny insurance to people. And cap their pay at 100K per year and force them to pay for their health benefits out their own pocket. No health benefits as part of their compensation. They have to purchase their own plans.

    If they pull the trigger and kill reform, then we should pull the trigger on them. Mutually Assured Destruction.

    The only health care program that really works is the single payer option.

  • Ironic? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by cashman73 (855518) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @01:48PM (#29136617) Journal
    Does anyone else see it as slightly ironic that the average life expectancy appears to be lower in the more rural areas, like the Deep South, Appalachia, and Texas? In other words, solid red state [wikipedia.org] territory. And, they say that other parts (the blue states?) are on par with most of Europe. So, in other words, for the most part, the folks that are more in favor of health care reform are living longer than the people that are staunchly against it. Maybe we should just let the red states die off and that would solve a whole host of other problems! ;-)
  • Re:Slashkos (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ctid (449118) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @01:51PM (#29136645) Homepage

    There is not really much wrong with your analysis, but you should be aware that it is not just people who think differently to you who are arguing from a political perspective. The real question (and it is a question that I can't answer satisfactorily to myself) is what happens to the children of these "nitwits"? The fact is that if a kid is brought up in a household where the adults are not able to look after themselves properly, are the kids more likely to grow up like the adults in their lives? That's the difficulty; you and I and lots of other people are brought up right, we get education as to what is healthy and what is not. But these kids (ie the children of the nitwits) don't get that opportunity. We can dismiss the parents for being nitwits (but remember they may also have been brought up in an unhealthy household) but can we so easily dismiss the children? I grew up in an old-fashioned liberal family. As I have grown older, my views have shifted and I take a slightly more conservative stance. But I cannot (and I hope I never will) dismiss the children of inadequate parents. Doing that is a step too far, in my opinion.

  • Re:Slashkos (Score:2, Insightful)

    by jameskojiro (705701) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @01:51PM (#29136657) Journal

    Good Post. I know of several people who whine and piss and moan about how bad their lives are and how poor they are but their spending habits are horrible and they made horrible spending decisions. Then they bitch about a 50 dollar doctors office visit because they have a cheapo insurance policy. Of course after the doctors appointment they drive home in new car they bought on credit so they can sit on their fat asses and play X-box 360 games till midnight.

    Then there is me, who I scrimp and save even though I don't "Have to". I own my car, lock stock and barrel because I bought a used car. I own my own residence because I scrimped and saved so I could get a decent down payment on it and scrimped some more to pay it off ahead of time. I buy generic food at the grocery store and take other cost cutting measures. I don't buy expensive clothes and don't have an alcohol or drug habit.

    I don't mind subsidizing someone who is missing a leg or arm or is paralyzed. What I don't like is subsidizing people which have a problem with the area between their ears. If someone in government could come up with a good mechanism to sort out the truly disadvantaged folks from the idiots who make dumbass decisions then i could get behind such a plan to pay for the people who are disadvantaged. Until then Capitol hill can go pound sand.

  • Re:Slashkos (Score:1, Insightful)

    by oldspewey (1303305) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @01:53PM (#29136687)
    Nice Rant. Now how do you respond to the following:

    Studies have shown that poor neighbourhoods are statistically "underserved" compared to wealthier neighbourhoods when it comes to food options. Meaning, there are fewer grocers or supermarkets, and those stores that do exist stock more highly processed and unhealthy foods. Kinda tough to follow food guidelines when you can't even buy the elements of a healthy diet.

    How is being born into a crime-ridden neighbourhood with shitty schools and no meaningful employment a "lifestyle choice"? You plunk any family into one of America's more notorious slums and let's see how those kids turn out.

  • SOCIALISM! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tumbleweed (3706) * on Thursday August 20, 2009 @01:55PM (#29136703)

    I Want My Country Back! Death Panels! Death Panels! Death Panels!

    *ahem*

    Sorry, I've been watching too much tv...

  • Re:Wait, really? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mcgrew (92797) * on Thursday August 20, 2009 @01:55PM (#29136713) Homepage Journal

    Indeed. Since we are 30th in life expectancy we have a LOT of room for improvement. My best friend Jim Dawson died in 1992 two weeks short of his 40th birthday. If he would have had health insurance, he'd be alive today, bringing up our life expectancy even (a very tiny bit) more. Multiply him by all the other people who have died from treatable diseases who had no health care, and it would go up a LOT. Both my parents are past today's life expectancy.

    Note that the places where expectancy is low in the US is where there's the least chance of those poor folks having insurance? How is it a suprise that without health care you don't live as long?

  • Re:Slashkos (Score:2, Insightful)

    by tomhudson (43916) <barbara.hudson@b ... h u d s o n .com> on Thursday August 20, 2009 @01:57PM (#29136737) Journal

    Idiot!

    To a very high degree of correlation, the 'poor' aren't living in poverty because of a lack of money. They lack money because they have make poor lifestyle decisions that RESULT in a lack of money.

    So someone who's born into a poor family made a poor lifestyle decision? Gee, I guess people should choose better parents.

    People born into poverty don't have the same access to all the good things - like healthy diets, etc. Parents scrimp even on essentials because they're poor, not because they want to.

    Things like failure to get an education

    Education is no guarantee of a well-paying job - the ability to BS, and an innate streak of dishonesty, have been better rewarded over the last couple of decades. There are well-educated people who, through no fault of their own, are out of a job. It's the economy, stupid! Or is everyone who is unemployed just a lazy, shiftless don't-wanna-know slob in your book?

    And then there's the "shit happens" stuff. For example, recent studies have shown that it can take up to 2 DECADES for both sexes to recover economically from a divorce, and that even after "recovery" they never make up all the lost income. So they didn't have a crystal ball - they should stay in a bad marriage because it means they'll have more money? Sure, the kids might eat a bit better, but the fighting is also detrimental to their health.

    There ARE two Americas in the United States, and this study goes to show how it impacts on health, including longevity.

    "Stupid people do stupid things that cause them to die sooner." Not that there aren't stupid people everywhere, but in America we still have the right to be wrong to a much greater extent than the nanny states in Europe.

    Riiiight - McDonalds are banned in Europe, as are all fast foods, drugs, booze and tobacco, and all American culture. Except they're not. The higher death rates are from two things - guns and a lack of a comprehensive health-care system. Until the housing crisis, the #1 cause of bankruptcy was medical bills, and 74% of all those had medical insurance. The high cost of co-pays, and the insurance carriers weaseling out of paying for coverage to make a profit, meant that they had to go broke. So much for for-profit health care.

  • by Arthur B. (806360) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @01:58PM (#29136749)

    hat the new analysis reveals is the reality of two Americas, one on par with most of Europe and parts of Asia, and another no different than a third-world nation with the United States placing 41st on the 2008 CIA World Factbook list, behind Bosnia but still edging out Albania

    How much of that is due to homicides? How much is due to car accidents? The study does not seem to control for these factors. It's pretty much rubbish. How much of that is due to selection bias ?

    I too can take the distribution of age at death, cut it in half and argue that the lower part's age expectancy is dramatically lower than the upper half.

    People doing these studies are quite often bozos which start from the answer (we need socialism and redistribution) and work backward.

  • Uh, yeah. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Pedrito (94783) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @01:59PM (#29136797) Homepage
    gains in life expectancy may be pretty much over

    And nobody will EVER need more than 640K of RAM.

    Forget the fact that things like the internet and the Human Genome project have lead to a flood of medical research, the likes of which we've never seen, that is bound to produce results.

    Sorry, but that's about the most ridiculous statement Slashdot has posted today.
  • Re:Slashkos (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) * <seebert42@gmail.com> on Thursday August 20, 2009 @02:02PM (#29136849) Homepage Journal

    And one of those stupid things, apparently, is to be too poor for health insurance. [familiesusa.org].

    And yes, at one point long ago, back probably before you were born, the United States used to pride itself on being the longest average lifespan in the world.

    Finally, not everybody has the chance to "get an education" that you did. Not everybody was taught how to make "good lifestyle decisions". And even if they were- Americans over the past 40 years have been basically thrown out with the trash, including nerds.

  • Wrong headline. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by asteinmetz (994157) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @02:03PM (#29136851)
    Isn't the headline wrong? How can "gains in life expectancy may be pretty much over" if the "The culprits [are] largely preventable." On the contrary, the headline should be "Large Gains in Life Expectancy Still Possible." I'll leave the politics and policy aside but "preventable" means preventable.
  • Re:Slashkos (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 20, 2009 @02:03PM (#29136857)

    The problem with the system in America is that it is designed to kick people when they are already down and then hold them there. People of all races and upbringings make mistakes. The American system is much more unforgiving to those who get caught making mistakes.

    This [insidehighered.com], for example, and ridiculous bank overdraft fee policies among others.

    -- Ethanol-fueled

  • Re:Slashkos (Score:3, Insightful)

    by timeOday (582209) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @02:03PM (#29136859)
    it should be noted that nothing factual you stated conflicts with the summary or the story - you just don't think it's a bad thing. OK, fine. If it's true that life expectancy in the US is peaking, that is an interesting, objective observation. If you want to make the case that's a good thing because you think most people are inherently dumb and deserve to die, go ahead. But don't claim it's not newsworthy, or is nothing but politics.
  • by MrLogic17 (233498) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @02:03PM (#29136863) Journal

    Let me get this straight- in the US, our lowest classes are so well fed, with so many calories, that they become overweight. Because they are poor, they can't afford to lose weight.

    Astounding. In many other countries, the poor starve to death.

    We're so rich that even the poorest of our poor is suffering from over-abundance.

    Every American should take a trip to a real 3rd world country at lease once in their lifetime. It would solve a lot of the entitlement issues we have.

  • Re:Slashkos (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @02:04PM (#29136875) Journal
    So peripheral nervous system problems are OK; but central nervous system problems aren't.

    Got it.
  • Re:USA! USA! USA! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by phantomfive (622387) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @02:04PM (#29136887) Journal
    Sorry, hand in your liberal card. That was the party-line during the Bush years. Now that democrats are in power, it is Un-American [examiner.com] to oppose health care reform (according to Nancy Pelosi, anyway), and if you do, then you are an evil-monger [elynews.com]. That is according to Harry Reid.

    It's as if the debate turned from trying to help poor people who are uninsured into some weird debate over I don't even know what. I seriously look at it and have no clue exactly what problem the Democrats are trying to solve. If anyone else has an idea, please say it. As for me, it's enough to make me vote Green Party.
  • Re:Slashkos (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kidgenius (704962) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @02:04PM (#29136889)
    Ya know, that was my biggest problems with Sicko. Moore is throwing out all the numbers about spending per capita, highest incidences of diabetes, strokes, heart attacks, etc., and blames it on the health care system but misses an obvious cause of all of this; obesity. Obesity causes more health problems, and as a result more spending. But of course, Moore wouldn't say that, because now instead of blaming the big, bad corporations and government, he would be asking his viewers to take some personal responsibility (which seems to be a progressive idea). Our country isn't sick because of health care, it's sick because we're fat.
  • Re:Wait, really? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by nschubach (922175) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @02:05PM (#29136893) Journal

    There were no charitable organizations or free clinics that he could have gone to? (doubtful) I also doubt that not having health care was the primary concern for this death. What was the cause?

  • Re:Slashkos (Score:5, Insightful)

    by eln (21727) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @02:06PM (#29136913) Homepage
    The demand for healthier options in low-income areas is low because healthier options are too expensive for them to afford. The highly processed nutrition-poor food is FAR cheaper than the whole-grain fresh-vegetable healthy stuff.
  • Re:Slashkos (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) * <seebert42@gmail.com> on Thursday August 20, 2009 @02:06PM (#29136929) Homepage Journal

    If someone in government could come up with a good mechanism to sort out the truly disadvantaged folks from the idiots who make dumbass decisions then i could get behind such a plan to pay for the people who are disadvantaged.
     
    I've got this little theory that when my state decided to stop paying for good mental health institutions to lock up the mentally ill, the number of idiots who make dumbass decisions exploded.
     
    Might I make a suggestion that somebody with "a problem with the area between the ears" is just as disabled as the guy missing an arm or a leg- and needs to be treated as such?
     
    Funny thing is, if we did that- if we treated mental problems as vigorously as we treat physical problems- the number of single parents and idiots going home to drink and play XBox all night would probably go down drastically.

  • Re:Slashkos (Score:2, Insightful)

    by nyvalbanat (1393403) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @02:07PM (#29136935)
    Can you see the vicious circle where lack of healthcare and education leads to new generations of poorly educated people with little access to healthcare? Alternately, can you explain how you would have done differently if you happened to be born to a single parent in those poor areas?
  • by avandesande (143899) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @02:07PM (#29136939) Journal

    Being poor is most likely to shorten your life expectancy and we have gutted most of the manufacturing in our rural communities. I suspect this has more to do with these areas life expectancy than government funding, education or anything else.

  • Slashrush (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mcgrew (92797) * on Thursday August 20, 2009 @02:07PM (#29136943) Homepage Journal

    To a very high degree of correlation, the 'poor' aren't living in poverty because of a lack of money. They lack money because they have make poor lifestyle decisions that RESULT in a lack of money.

    Yes, like choosing parents who are alcoholics and drug addicts. Like choosing to be brought up in homes where there are no books. Like choosing to be brought up by people with no connections to wealth. Like choosing to live in the ghetto with horrible teachers imprisoned in decaying schools with no school supplies.

    YOU, sir, are the problem. YOU, sir, are the reason these folks are "Stupid" (your word).

    become a single parent

    Or are brought up by one, or worse, in a foster home.

    waste money on substance abuse

    Or are brought up by meth addicts and crackheads. There but for the grace of God goes YOU, and you should thank whatever deity you do or don't believe in that you weren't brought up under these circimstances. If you had been, you would now be as dirt poor as they, and you'd likely be smoking crack instead of getting drunk on fine wine and your own ignorant vanity.

  • Re:Slashkos (Score:2, Insightful)

    by CannonballHead (842625) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @02:08PM (#29136967)

    Regarding "US health care system," I think it's pretty instructive to ask the question - where do people go when they want the best health care. As in, the best that money can buy... not cheap, but the best. As far as I know, that is still typically the US, and some scattered specialists around (UK, Japan...). But if you're talking about the best, newest research, etc... universities in the US tend to be where it's happening, apparently.

  • Re:Slashkos (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kidgenius (704962) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @02:09PM (#29136979)
    Ya know, i'd agree with a lot of your post, but to say the higher death rates are due to guns and lack of health care, that's idiotic. What about our obesity problem, which is causes by diet and lack of exercise (in most cases)? If people took care of their body then they wouldn't need to see the doctor's all the damn time. Would universal health care be nice, sure. But how about we take some personal responsibility and take care of ourselves (oh wait, progressives like placing the blame somewhere else). We don't do that, health care costs will keep increasing due to heart attack, diabetes, etc.
  • Re:Slashkos (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nschubach (922175) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @02:11PM (#29137023) Journal

    So when do we start rounding up the children of disadvantage parents and where will we put them so they can be raised to your high standards? Or do we rewrite the rules of the world to make sure those children are taken care of to your high caliber of lifestyle? What incentive do their parents have to give a damn if their kids will be cared for no matter what way they are raised? What incentives are given to parents who control their reproductive urges, but would normally be able to care for those children?

    Have you ever seen Idiocracy?

  • Re:Slashkos (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anarchduke (1551707) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @02:11PM (#29137025)
    Oh God....

    I would fully reply to your trolling but I just don't have the energy to do it right now.

    Life expectancy and infant mortality are used quite often to compare the relative health of different countries. I will quote from the article.

    Though the United States has by far the highest level of health care spending per capita in the world, we have one of the lowest life expectancies among developed nations â" lower than Italy, Spain and Cuba and just a smidgeon ahead of Chile, Costa Rica and Slovenia, according to the United Nations. China does almost as well as we do. Japan tops the list at 83 years.

    You are bitching that this post is right from the Democratic party talking points. I would ask you, how is it that we pay more for health care "per capita" (that means per person, since you trolls often fail to understand things) yet have a lower life expectancy that fucking CUBA?

    It seems to me that when your health care system is that inefficient, the common sense thing to do is fix it. Yet the idea to try and fix an obviously broken health care system is denounced as DNC talking points.

    There are poor and disadvantaged in every country, and people in every country in the world make bad decisions, like substance abuse or an XBOX?!? (I didn't know the XBOX played a major role in our health care woes, but whatever.)
    The point is that every country has its disadvantaged, yet America's disadvantaged are further disadvantaged by bad health care. And everyone in America pays higher prices per person for health care. Even those perfect people like you who don't make bad decisions.

    This IS news for nerds, and it is a valid science article about health. It is a serious problem, and trolling it won't make your Republican talking points any more true.

  • Re:USA! USA! USA! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by hoggoth (414195) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @02:13PM (#29137059) Journal

    As soon as someone starts talking about those damn Democrats or those damn Republicans I know there will be no sensible discussion following.
    How about which policies and which initiates you think have merit, which need tweaking, and which are bad ideas, irregardless of which clique is pushing it through the propaganda machines?

    To myself, someone without strong ties to either political party, I see two groups who are almost identical. They use very similar strategies, similar ways of using their power, similar ways of blocking and discrediting the other party and any initiatives of the other party no matter how good or bad they may be. Both parties spout crazy rhetoric designed to appeal to certain people's greed and insecurity. They just have chosen different people to court.

    I have voted Republican and Democratic in local and national elections depending on which candidate and which issue I felt was better. I HATE this idea that you are "with us or against us." It ruins all sensible progress in politics.

  • Re:Slashkos (Score:5, Insightful)

    by phantomfive (622387) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @02:14PM (#29137061) Journal
    I absolutely agree with you, and if the Democrats made as their goal, to "Help the homeless, help the poor, and rehabilitate the felons who never learned how to adjust to normal life in the first place and thus turned to crime" they would get a lot of support, and they'd definitely have mine. Instead they get into power, and what exactly is their goal? To insure everyone? Or is it to have the government take over the US health care system? Is their goal to help the poor, or is it to hurt the rich?

    From my perspective, both republicans and democrats have a good side: the republicans want to empower the individual citizen and free him from the limitations of government, and the democrats want to help the poor and downtrodden. These are both noble goals.

    But somehow in practice, these both seem to be forgotten. And it's the American public that gets hurt, by both sides.
  • Re:USA vs Europe (Score:3, Insightful)

    by langelgjm (860756) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @02:14PM (#29137069) Journal

    To complicate things even more, people need to realize that "increasing life expectancy" isn't necessarily the right goal. Quality of life matters too - living to be 85 might be great, but then again it might not be if you have to be dealing with chemotherapy and radiation your last decade.

    That's why people in public health use more sophisticated measures like QALYs and DALYs. "Adding years to your life" is really only a blessing if they're healthy years.

  • Re:Wait, really? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Old97 (1341297) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @02:14PM (#29137073)
    And don't forget the huge potential of better pre and post natal care and preventative care for children. In the U.S. our "other half" in rural areas and in big cities start life with a huge health disadvantage.
  • Re:Slashkos (Score:3, Insightful)

    by kidgenius (704962) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @02:17PM (#29137121)
    That very well may be, but i fail to see how that's a "health care" issue.
  • Re:Slashkos (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MBGMorden (803437) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @02:20PM (#29137185)

    Meaning, there are fewer grocers or supermarkets, and those stores that do exist stock more highly processed and unhealthy foods. Kinda tough to follow food guidelines when you can't even buy the elements of a healthy diet.

    You know, I've been to some nice fancy grocers that specialize in all organic foods and such, and I've also been to a lot of run down supermarkets in bad neighborhoods. While the ratio of healthy to unhealthy food is certainly different in each case, I've NEVER seen a since store that didn't have healthy items. Pretty much everywhere has a produce section. Pretty much everywhere sells oatmeal, or cereal (health stuff like bran flakes - not Golden Crisps or the other mostly sugar cereals). Everywhere sells bread and cold cut meat.

    Don't get me wrong I know it's harder to buy stuff like fresh fish or other seafood from a crappy rundown store, but again, that's market forces, and it's not the ONLY option if you're looking to eat healthier.

    I actually grew up in one of those southern areas of the country, and it's quite obvious why it's having an effect. We deep fry everything down here. Most families are now deep frying their Thanksgiving turkey for heavens sake. When I grew up my grandmother fixed fried bread, and "butts meat" (which is more or less salted and fried fat). Despite my protestations, even when cooking a vegetable such as cabbage, or potatoes, or the like, my parents would throw a ham-hock or a slab of bacon or something in the pot with them. To them you simply COULDN'T cook vegetables without throwing fatty meat in the pot with them. Salt? Don't get me started. They eat salt on EVERYTHING, and not in small quantities. A small side salad will get a teaspoon or two of salt added. All fruit (when they eat fruit) had salt sprinkled on it before eating it. I've even got a few family members that will pour salt into a BEER before drinking it.

    Result: I've had 2 uncles who had heart attacks in their 30's. On my mom's side neither grandparent lived past 55. My dad and every one of his 4 brothers has high blood pressure, and 2 have diabetes. It's not because there weren't healthy options in the stores, it's because they refuse(d) to buy and eat them.

  • Re:Slashrush - PS (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mcgrew (92797) * on Thursday August 20, 2009 @02:21PM (#29137193) Homepage Journal

    PS - as few people who are born into poverty become rich as those born into wealth become poor. Like the Blood Sweat And Tears song says, "those that got shall get, those that not shall lose." There are a few, like my late uncle, who are born into near poverty and became rich, and hard work played a big part of his success, but luck played an even bigger part. Had he not been born with excellent eye-hand coordination and creativity (it runs in the family, and that's pure luck) and met his one legged business partner in the hospital (also pure luck), he would likely NOT have become rich making better artificial limbs than were available at the time. He would have been middle class, like my parents.

    And had he been born in a slum he would be poor.

    Your ignorance is appalling.

  • by rbrander (73222) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @02:28PM (#29137313) Homepage

    Take a step back and ask if you believe that (a) Americans are genetically more likely to die young; (b) if America as a location is inherently more deadly from pesticides or something. Neither one flies for me.

    You are left with only the two variables I can think of. Health care and lifestyle. Where "lifestyle" includes everything from "your personal diet and exercise" to "national norms in diet and exercise", to "crime" Japanese just eat less fatty foods; Europeans walk more. MOST nations have less bullet-related deaths.

    A conservative of my acquaintance tried to pass it all of as the latter. I believe his harsh words were "subtract the crack babies and they're the same as Canada".

    So I did some research which I alas can't cite, but it took me about 30 minutes with Google, so I'll leave it as an exercise. Limited to over-65 white males with kidney disease, Canada STILL had better survival rates. 65+ females with heart disease? Canada in the lead, by statistically significant amounts. I remember it running like that across a whole matrix of hospital-admissions reasons. Liver, digestive tract, neurological...pick your organ, it's better to get sick in Canada. The stats even apply (with much less force to be sure) for the American insured, probably because American "insurance" has a way of disappearing on you when most needed.

    So, sorry conservatives, health care explains a lot. (Canada, sorry to admit, has ALL your obesity problems, and then some in a few provinces.)

    Not to forget the early-deaths, but not all of those are bullet-related. A factoid from the current debate includes this one: children born into uninsured households have a 50% higher chance of dying before the age of 1. It doesn't take a lot of baby deaths to really haul down an average.

    So, in summary: American lifestyles could improve. So could American health care. Blame both.

  • Not entirely (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @02:32PM (#29137401) Journal

    One thing I learned about the US that is hard to grasp for someone from say Holland is that there are areas in the US where you just can't buy produce. No vegetables.

    Sure, you can DRIVE to another area, but that costs money.

    Now I can't say exactly how true this is, but the simple fact is that even in "poor" areas in holland you can easily WALK (in less then 5 minutes) to a supermarket. Often one of a regular big chain like the AH. Which carries in all its stores, fresh vegetables.

    They are still relatively expensive however.

    If you do the math, then cheap fast food (the cheapest no-brand frozen pizza's) can be a LOT cheaper then even buying healthy base products and making your own. Good luck making a meal for 99 euro cents (cost of a frozen pizza). That of course assumes that such fresh products are even available, which in america they apparently aren't always.

    You do get fat from eating to much, but you also get fat from eating the wrong things. Eat only frozen meals and your waist line will expand.

    What europeans forget is the sheer scale of america. Everything is really bigger over there and this includes the slums. What might a be a bad neighbourhood in holland, consisting of maybe a few streets, is an entire suburb housing the same number of people as major town in holland.

    Amsterdam, the dutch capitol has 750.000 people and is surrounded by farm land. It would fit several times into a large american city. In fact, the entire country is less then a 1/3rd of the state of new york.

    Being poor can make it very hard to eat right especially if you are in a poor area where there just ain't a market for expensive healthy food.

    Compare the prices, cheapo no-brand coke vs apple juice (and I am not even talking about the stuff with no sugars or artificial flavors added).

    Frozen poptarts vs fresh bread (and wonder bread does not count as bread, it is a building material).

    Remember, it is not the expensive fast foods that make people fat (well they do) but the stuff we are talking about here is the no-brand really crappy cheapo kind that is decades away from cutting down on articficial flavors and saturated fats.

    When I buy fries, mine are made from real potatoes, cut on the spot, properly fried in expensive fluid fat that is replaced often. When you do it on a budget, you have cheapo thin fries (more fat) that are fried in your own cooker with months old solid fat.

    Poor people eat unhealthy because healthy food is really expensive. live on a budget for your whole life to find out.

  • Re:Slashkos (Score:4, Insightful)

    by snowgirl (978879) * on Thursday August 20, 2009 @02:32PM (#29137417) Journal

    Take a sociology course. The single greatest statistical correlation with how much a person will earn, is how much their parents earned.

    Let me put it in a more clear way... the people in the bronze age were at a reasonable similar biological state to what we are now. Enough to consider them well within the same species.

    Yet, we have tons of advantages that they didn't have. Why? Because we were biologically superior? Because we work harder for it? Wow, no. It's because we're standing on the shoulders of giants.

    The same works on the small scale. Children stand on the shoulders of their parents, and if their parents aren't giants, then the children won't be giants.

  • Re:Slashkos (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Desler (1608317) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @02:33PM (#29137421)

    You seriously want things here to be like Cuba? You can't actually be that stupid, can you?

    No, he doesn't and that was precisely his point. If somewhere as shitty as Cuba has a higher life expectancy then those in your own country then there is something majorly wrong going on.

  • Re:Slashkos (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 20, 2009 @02:37PM (#29137517)
    I'd say it's a HUGE piece (the largest by far). Premiums go up because more people are having to be treated for expensive things like heart attacks, strokes, cancer, diabetes, etc., and guess what is a leading factor for all those? Overweight/obesity. It's not rocket science.
  • Re:Slashkos (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Khashishi (775369) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @02:39PM (#29137537) Journal

    I wouldn't say FAR cheaper.

    Simple grains and canned vegetables and beans are very cheap, but they do require some effort to prepare. Unfortunately, that puts it out of reach for many homeless people who lack access to a kitchen.

  • jesusland (Score:2, Insightful)

    by circletimessquare (444983) <circletimessquar ... m minus language> on Thursday August 20, 2009 @02:40PM (#29137555) Homepage Journal

    the west coast and the east coast should join with canada and just let the fat lower middle of the usa (pun intended) descend into the third world fundamentalist hell hole it is

    the civil war turned out badly. it should have been "lost" by the north. and today maybe we'd have a smaller, but much better usa without the morons in flyover country holding us back with their low iq reactionary politics

    socialism! socialism!

    jesus shut the fuck up you ignorant angry retards

  • Re:Slashkos (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jamstar7 (694492) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @02:40PM (#29137559)

    The demand for healthier options in low-income areas is low because healthier options are too expensive for them to afford. The highly processed nutrition-poor food is FAR cheaper than the whole-grain fresh-vegetable healthy stuff.

    Everything is more expensive in the ghetto because of crime rates, causing higher prices, local shortages, more dispair, fewer options, which feeds more crime, and so on. It's a self-sustaining cycle, heading downwards.

    Back in The Day (mid-80's), I did some retail work for an East Coast chain. One store I worked at was out in Deepest Darkest Suburbia. Zero problems there except for the occaisional kid trying to shoplift a 6 pack of beer. The clerks could interact with the customers easily. The other was at the edge of the ghetto in the nearest metro area which had been in serious decline for ages ('Rust Belt'). There, the clerks lived in a cash cage with 3 inch lucite armoring, and made change through a sliding drawer. Where the suburban store haddn't seen a robbery in 10 years at that point, the metro store had the reputation of getting a robbery attempt at least once a month.

  • Re:Slashkos (Score:5, Insightful)

    by snspdaarf (1314399) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @02:40PM (#29137563)

    When did they classify stupidity as an actual mental condition needing treatment?

    When they mandated compulsory education?

  • Re:Slashkos (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Chris Burke (6130) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @02:41PM (#29137577) Homepage

    And one of those stupid things, apparently, is to be too poor for health insurance.... Finally, not everybody has the chance to "get an education" that you did. Not everybody was taught how to make "good lifestyle decisions".

    Um, yes, he explicitly said he thinks poor people are only poor because they're stupid. Being too poor and ergo stupid to have health insurance is just a natural and just consequence. You think pointing out that not everyone was as lucky and privileged as he is going to sway his opinion, as if he didn't realize when he made that statement? No, he clearly thinks that if he hadn't had any advantage and started in the same situation as any poor person, he'd end up in the same place he is today because his natural awesomeness would just shine through. That lazy or dumb poor people exist is all the proof he needs, while the existence of lazy, dumb, but amazingly arrogant rich people isn't proof of anything at all.

  • Re:Slashkos (Score:4, Insightful)

    by pjt33 (739471) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @02:43PM (#29137611)

    The English class system is extremely complex, but it's largely a question of attitudes (and to a lesser extent tastes) rather than money.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 20, 2009 @02:44PM (#29137637)
    I think we know that the quality of the food contributes to the obesity problem. Poor people tend to eat lower-quality, processed foods high in carbohydrates derived from corn and proteins derived from soy -- and a little bit of McD's used-to-be-a-dairy-cow burgers. Throw high rates of alcohol consumption and a sedentary lifestyle promoted by Bread & Circus television into the mix, and it's not surprising really.
  • Re:Slashkos (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CRCulver (715279) <crculver@christopherculver.com> on Thursday August 20, 2009 @02:45PM (#29137681) Homepage

    Bring up a kid watching mom walk to the mailbox on the first of the month and you can forget em seeing the value of getting an education and a job.

    The combined experience of the Nordic countries for half a century now should stand as proof that, even if everything in life is provided for you, the vast, vast majority of people still go out and work for a living.

  • by phantomfive (622387) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @02:45PM (#29137685) Journal
    It's really easy to blame insurance companies, especially since the Democrat party has been on the propaganda trail blaming the insurance companies, but they've actually been quite acquiescent about the whole thing. I'm not sure why you would think otherwise, unless you naturally want to blame insurance companies for everything.

    The problem is when we make our goal single-mindedly to favor a single payer system. What exactly would that reform do? Why exactly would a person not trust Bush and then trust the government to run our health care? Better to identify specific problems in the health care system, and eliminate them. Not everyone is insured? There are solutions, some of which were supported by insurance companies. You can't get insurance with a pre-existing condition? Sure, it's a problem, and believe it or not, insurance companies have proposed a solution by which they will no longer consider pre-existing conditions.

    You may not like their solutions, but that's ok, we can come up with a solution. But believing that a single payer system will magically solve everything is just silly. Such a drastic overhaul of any system is likely to cause more problems than it solves.
  • Re:Slashkos (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 20, 2009 @02:47PM (#29137723)

    That's great, if you're positioned to receive that best care or you subscribe to the lotto mentality that so many Americans do. Otherwise, it's beside the fucking point. Why should most people give a shit if a country has the best stuff, if they have no realistic chance of ever getting to use it?

  • Re:Wait, really? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by XanC (644172) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @02:51PM (#29137793)

    But that's what insurance is.

  • Re:Slashkos (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nschubach (922175) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @02:53PM (#29137809) Journal

    For example, recent studies have shown that it can take up to 2 DECADES for both sexes to recover economically from a divorce, and that even after "recovery" they never make up all the lost income. So they didn't have a crystal ball

    I find this funny, because if people were actually (morally, fiscally, and socially) allowed to live with each other to find out if they are compatible matches... we probably wouldn't have so much of this. Some of this though is poor personal choices and carelessness. (ie: kids having kids) But while there are laws/taxes/etc. preferring marriage to living single, this will continue on indefinitely.

  • Interesting :-) (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Fujisawa Sensei (207127) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @02:53PM (#29137811) Journal

    These sound like the conservatives who protest health care reform and screaming about 'death committees'.

    You know, the same people who take guns to presidential rallies because they can. Then scream about Bush protesters, who are exercising their freedom of speech, as being un-patriotic. while applauding the so-called "free speech" zones.

  • Re:USA vs Europe (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 20, 2009 @02:53PM (#29137817)

    So my life expectancy is longer if I ignore some of the things that might kill me? Brilliant.

  • Re:Wait, really? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by GameMaster (148118) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @02:56PM (#29137889)

    "There were no charitable organizations or free clinics that he could have gone to? (doubtful)"

    You have no personal experience with trying to get medical care while poor do you? Are you just talking out your ass? Charitable organizations willing to cover the medical bills for a major illness are few and far between in this country. Even if you happen to be in an area where there is one, you still have to get them to accept you as a case and, often, there is a huge waiting list. Don't agree? Then, put up or shut up. Name off a few such agencies yourself. If they're so common, then you must know some by name.

    "I also doubt that not having health care was the primary concern for this death. What was the cause?"

    Ah, the old "blame the victim" game. You know nothing about this person's situation but you are ready to assume the worst about them because it fits your personal agenda/beliefs. The truth is that not having health care leads to an inability to see a doctor for regular checkups or even minor treatment. In fact, as others have pointed out, you aren't guaranteed any health care at all unless you have an immediate emergency (and a terminal condition doesn't count until you are minutes away from death). Many serious illnesses (such as Cancer, AIDS, Gangreen, Rabies, etc.) are either easily treated if found early leading to either a cure (for gangreen and Rabis) or a vast increase in lifespan (for Cancer or AIDS). These same illnesses are virtually impossible to treat if they're only addresses minutes before they kill the patient.

  • Re:Wait, really? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by BlueKitties (1541613) <bluekitties616@gmail.com> on Thursday August 20, 2009 @03:06PM (#29138045)
    Yes, bad things happen under our system, but I have a feeling this report is just propaganda. The timing is a little *too* perfect to be a coincidence.
  • Re:Slashkos (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Prien715 (251944) <agnosticpopeNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday August 20, 2009 @03:08PM (#29138071) Journal

    Isn't it a bit cynical?

    None of the plans the Dems are proposing have the gov't take over the health care. The most they're proposing is a public option. The main objection is that it's a trojan horse -- the gov't will run health care and this is the first step. However, that would be another bill, that people can vote against if they'd like.

    I used to be a little conservative, but in my view, the Republicans aren't anymore. They stand for big government (so long as it's used for spying and pork barrel military projects) and restricting freedom (USA PATRIOT Act). And while the Dems went along for the ride, they've not gotten out of the car.

  • what exactly is this ignorant aversion to socialism all about?

    if a guy breaks his leg, do you walk by him in the street?

    no, you help him up

    that's all universal healthcare is, on a societal scale. the cost of NOT helping those with medical need is far greater to society than helping those who are in need: a guy who can't provide for his family, a guy who can't show up for work, a mother who can't care for her chidlren, etc.: these situations have cost. add them up, and getting these people healthcare they can't afford currently means FINANCIAL SAVINGS for society

    why is it you are so propagandized you can't see this?

    did you ever actually stop and consider what "socialism" actually means on a philosophical level rather simply kneejerk in mindless propagandized ignorance?

  • by Abcd1234 (188840) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @03:15PM (#29138217) Homepage

    Let me get this straight- in the US, our lowest classes are so well fed, with so many calories, that they become overweight.

    I know! It's like people who somehow dehydrate on a boat, even though they're *surrounded by water*! Because, as we both know, just like food, it doesn't matter what's in it or where it came from, it's all equally good for you, right?

  • Re:Slashkos (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bzipitidoo (647217) <bzipitidoo@yahoo.com> on Thursday August 20, 2009 @03:16PM (#29138241) Journal

    An angle I hope we can all agree on is low costs. And that our current system fails badly on this point.

    In some ways we treat our cattle better than ourselves. Of course we have near total control over what they are allowed to eat, something we can't reasonably impose on one another. But there are gentler ways to encourage better dietary habits. First is having good foods available, at good prices. Then, cattle get "free" regular checkups and treatment, because it makes economic sense to nip health problems in the bud, when they are easiest and cheapest to treat. Many of us don't get regular checkups, and we as a society pay for this. The ranchers who ignored the health of their cattle were soon ex-ranchers. A person is surely worth more than a cow. Chronically unhealthy people cannot contribute as much to our economy. We would get back more than we paid out if we instituted regular checks and simple treatments. Once every year or whatever appropriate time period for whatever conditions are being checked, everyone should be given checkup. And I do mean "given", for free. It still wouldn't really be free, because people have to travel, and perhaps wait. We would need further incentive to get people in for their checkups, perhaps a small payment, or perhaps a fine if they don't come. You'll have all the choice you want. We're just going to make bad choices worse, and good choices better, that's all.

    Sometimes the only way you can get your health insurance to stop ignoring some problem is let it fester until you have to go to the emergency, and even then you have to fight fight fight with them to stop them from weaseling out of the bill, and watch those doctors carefully because many will pad the bill. This costs us all.

    I have an anecdote to share, about just how wasteful we are. My father is old, and the circulation in one of his legs isn't the best. He suffered bruises on both legs and a cut on his better leg in an auto accident. Normally, these would simply heal up in a few weeks. No need for extraordinary care. Got some stitches for the cut, and that took care of the better leg. But, a few days later, his bad leg worsened. Being a holiday we waited one more day before seeing his regular doctor, who instantly sent him back to emergency. They cut his leg open to remove all the clotted blood that had collected. Then they packed him off to a wound care facility to deal with that surgical cut. There, he was fitted with this Wound Vac. Used it for 6 weeks, visiting once each week. I had no idea just how much that vacuum pump cost until it was all over. It turned out to be $1100 per week to rent it, and the most infuriating thing about that affair was the doctor had him keep the Wound Vac for one more week, unused, "just in case". Couldn't buy one, and there was no alternative except traditional care which they assured us would take twice as long. Patented device. Per visit, the doctor charged $400 and the hospital charged some $800 for facilities, then there was $100 more for supplies. Then, a nurse came to his house 3 times a week to change the bandages. $170/hour for that. The insurance chopped those ludicrous prices way down, and passed on 10% to us, yet they still played little games. Tried to characterize those visits as "emergency" so they could nail us with an additional $100 emergency copay.

    So, a bruise racked up over $2500 per week in nominal expenses. I wonder if they could have used these newer surgical techniques that make only very small cuts, instead of the near 6 inch incision they made, and so saved on this whole wound care business. Of course, they have no incentive to do that. But here's the real kicker: the leg very likely would have healed on its own if only he had known to keep it elevated for a few days after the accident so the blood would circulate. A sawhorse with a sling, which we could have easily rigged up ourselves, no need for insanely expensive medical equipment, could have saved some $15000 in medical expenses not to mention the many inconveniences he suffered. How could the doctors have missed that one? Incentives again. They get paid for providing quantities of care, not outcomes.

  • by Latinhypercube (935707) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @03:20PM (#29138327)
    The truth is there is almost NO SOCIAL MOBILITY in the US or anywhere else. The wealth the average American accumulates in their lifetime is INSIGNIFICANT compared to the wealth that is INHERITED. So essentially the parent post is saying he is happy with the poor and uneducated staying that way ( or dying as quickly as possible ). Which I consider to be SOCIOPATHIC.
  • Re:Slashkos (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tomhudson (43916) <barbara.hudson@b ... h u d s o n .com> on Thursday August 20, 2009 @03:20PM (#29138337) Journal

    Ya know, i'd agree with a lot of your post, but to say the higher death rates are due to guns and lack of health care, that's idiotic.

    Canada and the United States share a common culture, same foods, etc, but the murder rate in the US is 3x what it is in Canada (4.2 instead of 1.4). If you remove US homicides committed by guns, the murder rate is the same. This is quite ironic, given that Canada has more firearms per capita then the US - Canada just does a better job of gun control.

    As for the lack of health care in the US, the US has more people who have no coverage than the entire population of Canada. People without health care will die of untreated chronic conditions, as well as treatable acute conditions that are not tended to in time.

    Canada -- Life Expectancy: 78 years (men), 83 years (women) (UN) - average is 80.4 years.

    Also, the US infant mortality rate sucks [phac-aspc.gc.ca] 7.8 per thousand as opposed to 5.6 in Canada - almost 40% higher.

    Yes, we need to get people to take responsibility for themselves. Allow doctors to refuse repeated treatment to smokers who don't quit, Ditto for alcoholics and crackheads and people who thing that "all you can eat" is a order from god, not a suggestion. Give custody to the other parent when one continues to smoke, binge drink, do crack, and/or over-stuff their pie-holes.

    Make them "pay at the pump" with additional sin taxes on sweetened soft drinks, junk food, booze and simply ban the all-you-can-eat buffets outright.

    Make it as socially unacceptable to be fat as it is to smoke - people get fat one bite at a time, and want to lose it without the hard work that going on a diet calls for. A waist is a terrible thing to mind, but so is seeing a couple of 400 pounders of blubber at the next table in a restaurant. Cows eat more gracefully - and they take more time to chew.

  • Re:Wait, really? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nedlohs (1335013) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @03:22PM (#29138379)

    Because you should be able to buy fire insurance after your house burns down.

    Do you have the slightest clue how insurance works?

  • Re:Wait, really? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mcgrew (92797) * on Thursday August 20, 2009 @03:23PM (#29138399) Homepage Journal

    We like our food fried, butter is your friend, etc

    That's my grandmother to a T. She grew up in a rural area where food was cooked in lard, bacon eggs and toast for breakfast, plenty of pork, butter, etc.

    Her doctor told her she had high cholesterol and she had to get the cholesterol down or she'd die. The doctor died instead. So she got a new doctor, who told her the same thing. He died, too.

    Five doctors later, she finally died - at age 99 when she fell in the nursing home and broke her hip.

    But you know...I've come to the conclusion, that there is Quality of life, vs Quantity of life.

    Grandma outlived my Grandpa, who died as a result of an industrial accident, then a second husband, who died of cancer (also work related, he was a non-smoker). She outlived three of her four sons, all of her brothers, sisters, and friends. When she was 95 she told me "I don't know why people want to live to be a hundred. It ain't no fun bein' old!"

  • Re:Slashrush (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jnaujok (804613) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @03:25PM (#29138447) Homepage Journal
    Let's see: Just shy of 72 years ago, my grandfather arrived in this country with $32 and unable to speak the language. He lived in a ghetto style apartment with a brother who had come over to America from Europe 18 months earlier. He spent a week learning enough English to get a job in a machine shop for about $1 an hour.

    In short, he was just about as low as you can go on the totem pole in America.

    40 years later, he died, living in a house he had built and paid for, on 40 acres of land overlooking a river. He had married and had a daughter (my mom). He left a small, but not unsubstantial amount of money behind.

    My parents were lower-middle-class, but my dad managed to start his own tool and die business, (he was also the son of pennyless immigrants who came from Germany in 1919) and lived a comfortable, if not extravagant lifestyle.

    I was able to go to college, working to pay for most of it, and get a degree in Computer Science, my brother has a degree in Chemistry and Math. We have both made good livings, and live on the high-end of middle class, bordering on upper class.

    My parents weren't given anything. They didn't grow up in a mansion. Their parents literally had *NOTHING* on coming to America. Nothing was given to them either. They lived through the Great Depression and World War II. About the only break my parents ever had was that my dad *wasn't* drafted to go to Vietnam.

    I've been saving money, I've bought used cars, I've paid off bills, and by the time I retire, I'll have enough money socked away that, were I to choose to do it, I could reasonably provide for my children for the rest of their lives.

    I did all of that *WITHOUT THE CHARITY OF OTHERS*. All I had to do was make good choices and work at what was important. No, my parents weren't drug addicts (surprising, being teens in the 60's), but they worked their way up from nothing. No one gave them a house or car or college education. They worked for everything they got. It takes one good decision to break the cycle, but you would rather claim that no one can make that decision, and that the "privileged few" are somehow so enlightened and empowered that they should make decisions for the poor. But you ignore the consequences.

    Had my grandfather come to the United States and been told, "Nope, you can't work your way up on your own. Here's your free money, and free house, and free education from your government because you can't do it yourself," do you think he would have ever become more than a mooch off of society?

    Although, given his personality, he would probably have spit in the face of someone who tried to do that. And that's the point. If you have a government who can come into a home and tear up a family for a "good" reason, then they can do it for a "bad" reason too. If they can give you health care, then they can take it away from you too. And government builds *nothing* - they produce no products - they only take from the people. Every penny spent by the government was first earned by someone else's work, and then stolen at gun point (because only a government can steal money out of your wallet and then throw *YOU* in jail if you resist) from the person who earned it.

    That grandfather knew exactly what a government that hands out health care and registered guns "to cut crime" and who complained about people "earning too much money" was like, because he came from Germany in 1938. His family would lose everything the next year when all their money and land was seized because they were "too rich" and the money and resources were needed by the Third Reich. That's what a government that can give you anything can do -- they can take *everything* away from you.

    I donate more money to charities each year than Obama and Al Gore put together (according to their released tax returns -- though, admittedly, that's not hard) because I know "there but for the grace of God go I," but I do it *voluntarily*. The same way you should if you feel pity for those people.
  • by XanC (644172) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @03:27PM (#29138475)

    The expansion to a "societal scale" is the problem. It's the difference between me helping the guy up, and me hiring a bunch of goons to hold guns to other people's heads to force them to help him up.

    But the point of your original post, and of mine, was that we can agree to disagree, and go our separate ways.

    Is your movie almost done?

  • Re:Wait, really? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by xaxa (988988) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @03:32PM (#29138545)

    You should certainly be able to buy fire insurance on your next house.

  • Re:Slashkos (Score:2, Insightful)

    by KDR_11k (778916) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @03:33PM (#29138549)

    Vitamin D doesn't have to be absorbed from food, the human body will produce it when exposed to sunlight.

  • Re:Wait, really? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mean pun (717227) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @03:36PM (#29138613)

    Wait, wait, wait. Exactly HOW did Obama want to prevent cost overruns ? Because there's (of course) a catch. All snake oil salesmen have catches. Big catches. So what's the catch ?

    Well, I'm just an outsider, but the catch seems to be that the medical sector (insurers, doctors, pharmaceutical industry, etc.) will make less profit. And yes, that seems to be a big catch. Oddly, most handwringing doesn't seem to be about that. Well, at least not openly.

    Regarding those `death panels', that is so obviously a non-starter for any politician who wants to be reelected (or has a hart), I am surprised any people fall for that propaganda. Political discussions in the USA are often not very subtle, but really. Aren't the people that bring up that kind of nonsense just laughed away?

  • Re:Slashkos (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jmorris42 (1458) * <jmorris.beau@org> on Thursday August 20, 2009 @03:39PM (#29138671)

    > However, that would be another bill, that people can vote against if they'd like.

    No it wouldn't. Let the public option pass (or the co-ops that are Freddie Med) and the logical conclusion is single payer. Jacob Hacker[1] was correct when he said:

    "Someone told me this was a Trojan horse for single-payer. Well, it's not a Trojan horse, right? It's just right there. I'm telling you. We're going to get there, over time, slowly, but we'll move away from reliance on employer-based health insurance as we should, but we'll do it in a way that we're not going to frighten people into thinking they're going to lose their private insurance. We're going to give them a choice of public and private insurance when they're in the pool, and we're going to let them keep their private employer-based insurance if their employer continues to provide it."

    > I used to be a little conservative, but in my view, the Republicans aren't anymore.

    Amen to that. But remember this: Almost all Conservatives are (at least nominal) Republicans but many Republicans are not Conservatives. Especially so for Republicans who have been in elected office for long or live in the New York/DC corridor. It is our task to find and elect leaders who can correct this problem... while fighting the Socialists currently in power. Yes it was probably a needful thing to turn the Republicans out into the wilderness in response to the 'spending like drunken sailors' and corruption during the Bush years. But Obama and Princess Pelosi as the result certainly proves the Law of Unintended Consequences.

    [1] And if anyone asks who he is I say two things, 1) YOu are too uninformed to be discussing this issue intelligently and 2) Google is yer friend.

  • Re:Slashkos (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dkleinsc (563838) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @03:44PM (#29138755) Homepage

    To a very high degree of correlation, the 'poor' aren't living in poverty because of a lack of money. They lack money because they have make poor lifestyle decisions that RESULT in a lack of money. Things like failure to get an education (or worse reject the value of knowledge entirely), become a single parent, waste money on substance abuse or Xbox... but I repeat myself.

    This is completely wrong. Assume a mythical capitalist society in which there are no drugs, no Xboxes, and no single parents. No one has done anything particularly stupid in their lives. Question: In this mythical society, who's job is it to clean bathrooms, and what do they get paid? Somebody has to do it. Somebody is at the bottom of the totem pole, and the bottom is not going to be a pleasant place to be. In a capitalist society (e.g. many Latin American nations) without a welfare system or minimum wage, working full time (defined as 60 hours a week) will not be enough to survive on in any developed nation.

    See, what your argument essentially boils down to is "The poor are poor because they're bad people. That means that I don't need to feel guilty because I'm unwilling to pay $100 to prevent someone a mile down the road from me dying." I highly suspect you don't actually know any really poor people. You don't know a guy who is flat broke because he was a good barber but now has shaky hands due to nerve damage he sustained in Vietnam. You don't know a woman who worked in a shop making donuts every day of her life and can only pay the bills because she eats only donuts she can take home from work. You don't know a father with an engineering degree who can't support his family because he ended up in this country in order to escape massacres in Bosnia and doesn't speak English well enough to convince employers of his skill. (For those who are wondering: Yes, these people actually exist. I'm personally acquainted with each of them.)

    For some real insight into what the life of a poor person in the US is really like, I recommend either Barbara Erhenreich's Nickled and Dimed [barbaraehrenreich.com], or Morgan Spurlock's pilot episode of his show 30 Days.

  • by 0xdeadbeef (28836) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @03:53PM (#29138925) Homepage Journal

    since the Democrat party

    Holy retard shibboleth Batman!

    Shouldn't you be at a town hall meaning, screaming about birth certificates or something?

  • Re:Wait, really? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 20, 2009 @03:57PM (#29138977)

    Mark my words, if I could not afford to pay for my medical treatment...[snip]...I would gladly accept death.

    Bullshit.

  • Re:Slashkos (Score:2, Insightful)

    by sandmaninator (884661) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @04:06PM (#29139163)

    Another cause of obesity in the US that is absent in a lot of other countries is that the US is designed around automobile transportation. Walking and biking are strongly discouraged by the design of our roads and the spread-out nature of our cities and towns.

  • Re:Wait, really? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by geekoid (135745) <`moc.oohay' `ta' `dnaltropnidad'> on Thursday August 20, 2009 @04:15PM (#29139321) Homepage Journal

    And?

    She's an exception. Good for her, and I hope those genes have been passed on, but it doesn't mean you should gorge yourself on fried food everyday.

  • Re:Not entirely (Score:2, Insightful)

    by GeekWade (623925) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @04:18PM (#29139363)
    The areas mentioned in the summary as hardest hit is the Deep South, this is some of the most fertile land in the US. No, it is not the endless fields of grain like the Midwest, but its fields are cleared from a pine forest that stretches from Texas to the Atlantic. Fresh vegetables are simply everywhere. Wild game is everywhere. The whole of the region mentioned is inundated with feral hogs [usda.gov]. Oh, and lets not forget that this is a region known for eating just about anything - Mmm, possum and armadillo.

    If you want to think outside the box a little, just about every town in the US as a livestock feed store of some sort. With hunting season coming up deer corn is relatively expensive, but even the extra fancy glossy bag stuff is $6-7 for 40lbs. You can feed quite a few mouths with 40lbs of corn. Sure, it is not sweet corn, but we are thinking cheap. If you buy in bulk it gets even cheaper.

    I don't see many people going with the livestock feed option, but instead of grabbing the frozen pizza, potato chips, and ramen noodles they could hit the section of the store with the 5-10lb bags of rice and beans. Combine this with some veggies grown in a few flower pots, some wild game, and you have a much better diet. Sadly, that is not nearly as convenient, and if there is one thing we Americans are it is lazy.

    I will not claim to know the root of the issue, but it has something to do with lifestyle choices or the lack there of. It is not a question of money. There are very few truly poor Americans. They may have little of no earned income, but that does not make them poor. I know plenty of people on various flavors of welfare. Most you would guess by looking at them that they are typical middle class families. They all have current generation video game systems, cell phones, fashionable clothing, boats, motorcycles, ATVs, and they all smoke & drink. Maybe they could shift some of the money that I roundaboutly provide them with to healthier lifestyle choices so that I don't also have to pay for their oxygen tanks and scooters when they get older. I seriously doubt it though.
  • Re:Slashkos (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 20, 2009 @04:22PM (#29139403)

    I would count that as a failing of the health care system. Health care is not just about fixing someone's arm when it breaks it's also about preventative care. Obviously that is a complete failure in the US, as evidenced by the obesity problem. Other countries do a lot more to educate people on healthy eating, exercise, and taxes/subsidies on foods that are unhealthy/healthy.
    So yes, obesity is the problem, not the treatment of its symptoms, but the rate of obesity is due to the failure of the health care system to give a rats ass about preventative care. If insurance companies were allowed to charge more for obese individuals (that can't prove they have a valid medical condition causing their obesity), we'd see this reversed pretty quick.

  • Re:Slashrush (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SoupGuru (723634) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @04:26PM (#29139481)

    I did all of that *WITHOUT THE CHARITY OF OTHERS*. All I had to do was make good choices and work at what was important.

    What do you consider charity? Roads, sewer, power, education, fire and police protection, the security of an army?

    For every person you show that has pulled themselves up by their bootstraps by making all the right decision, I can show you a person that also made all the right decisions and still got cancer or got plowed into by a drunk driver... and that's it. One unfortunate incident and your life changes dramatically for the worse.

    I won't deny your hard work in getting to your position now - in fact, I congratulate you for it. But get off your high horse and admit that your success is likely equal parts hard work and luck with a little state-sponsored encouragement thrown in.

  • Re:Slashkos (Score:3, Insightful)

    by apoc.famine (621563) <apoc.famine@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Thursday August 20, 2009 @04:28PM (#29139507) Homepage Journal

    I recently lost half my salary, because I was stupid enough to go back to grad school for a second time. Because of that loss, I'm trying to still eat healthy, on less money than before. It's hard. I love cooking, and am pretty good at it, but fresh food costs a lot more than junk food. I'm knowledgeable enough to know how to buy in bulk and freeze stuff, and defrost it in time for dinner. However, that puts me a step above those with less education, and especially those with a minimal culinary background.
     
    Healthy stuff takes more knowledge and effort to cook than nutrition-poor food. Boxed Mac and Cheese is filled with bad shit. However, it's easy to make. My mom's homemade Mac and Cheese is substantially healthier, made with fresh ingredients, and is substantially harder to make. In fact, it takes a recipe, a casserole dish, and some cooking skills to make it.
     
    It's not just the cost that keeps the poor eating bad food - it's also the time, effort, and knowledge required to deal with healthy food.
     
    There's a chicken breast purchased on sale a month ago almost thawed in my fridge right now. It's going to be far healthier than if I had stopped at KFC, but such a meal will take significantly more planning, cooking equipment, and other ingredients.
     
    If you're ignorant and/or poor, you don't necessarily have all the tools to make a healthy dinner. In my case, I'm going to make a fairly inexpensive dinner of baked chicken breast, rice pilaf, and green beans. It will cost the same or less than a dinner I bought at KFC, and give me substantially higher quality food. However, I know a lot of people who wouldn't be able to do this, who aren't even poor. They just lack the knowledge and tools to make it happen.
     
    Add "too poor to buy good food" to "unable to prepare good food", and it's obvious why the poor have an obesity problem.

  • Re:Not entirely (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DerekLyons (302214) <fairwater@gmFREEBSDail.com minus bsd> on Thursday August 20, 2009 @04:32PM (#29139573) Homepage

    One thing I learned about the US that is hard to grasp for someone from say Holland is that there are areas in the US where you just can't buy produce. No vegetables.

    And these areas [of the US] would be... where exactly?

  • Re:Wait, really? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by t0rkm3 (666910) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @04:34PM (#29139637)

    No, healthcare in America is the furthest bastard stepchild from insurance you can find. And I write claims adjudication software for the insurance industry. Have a heart attack, but the insurer finds that you forgot to mention that when you were 12 you had an appendectomy? Denial of coverage. Insurer decides that the treatment, available in every Trauma I in the country, is 'experimental'? Denial of coverage.

    Really? Interesting. I've never been denied coverage for anything. Tonsillectomy to treat chronic hypertrophy of the tonsils... pre-existing. No problem. Congenital perforation of the abdominal wall (3 umbilical hernia) Covered. My ex-wife's Crohn's disease... across three different changes in service? Covered. My Dad's HBP ? Covered.

    Incidentally, most states have a High Risk plan that you can buy into. They are intentionally affordable and subsidized by the standard payers. Usually the insurance companies have to cover a percentage of the High Risk pool equivalent to their percentage of market share in that state.

    Change insurer for non-medical reasons (premium, employer change, so on)? Welcome to waitlist hell, and scrutinization for pre-existing conditions, even though the populace's preponderance for a given condition didn't change as a result of your enrollment.

    Man... You life sucks. I've never been subjected to these circumstances despite changing providers at least 10 times.

    It's a bastardized, one sided situation, and where health insurance is your ONLY realistic option, because collusion and collaboration between insurance providers has ensured that most healthcare rates are jacked up way out of the realm of ordinary affordability, it's very delineating, you either have, or you have not.

    Agreed. To a certain extent. However, I have a great many people in my family that are dirt poor and have pre-existing conditions. We manage to get them care and coverage either through a Medicare/Medicaid plan, direct negotiation with healthcare providers, or channels through charities and/or no-profits. I have the poorest relatives that you could imagine, and I've yet to see one suffer from a condition because of money. Sometimes ignorance, often obstinence, but never money.

    Pop Quiz: Do you really think your overnight stay in emergency had an actual cost of $12,000? Do you wonder why the same chiro treatment costs $50 without insurance, but they bill the insurance provider $165 for it? Do you think that the insurance carrier is covering that $115 out of the grace of their heart, or because they employ such amazingly stellar investment gurus that they can do so on the return from the dividend from your premiums?

    Where's that bridge and that "for sale" sign?

    It may take footwork, but you can get everything you need, even if you have something as horribly expensive to treat as Crohns.

    Anecdotally, when I lived in London my future wife's flatmate had a sick grandmother that they flew out of country to get treatment because the last time she had the same sort of problem, she nearly died while waiting.

  • Re:Slashkos (Score:4, Insightful)

    by zstlaw (910185) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @05:04PM (#29140041)
    Except what you say is demonstrably false. (I rant here but I drop some links later and have fact checked)

    1. After cutting the upper-class taxes there was a recession. Regan did it in the 80s and Bush did it in the last decade. Each time the economy stagnated. Progressive policies are very good for the economy as Poor people spend money. That money revs up the economy and keeps it going. People saving money or investing money does not actually rev the economy in the same way but they get all the benefits (see link on growth of economy later in this post)

    2. I agree that there is some problem in American school systems. But most of the problem is that American culture of apathy and short attention spans. Kids don't have the attention span to finis...

    3. You talk abut how socialism is such a weak systems but Russia had essentially 3rd world infrastructure and yet was a superpower on par with the US for most of our lifes. I don't think we could have done the same given the same infrastructure as them with government that we have. Also most of Europe does quite well with higher standards of living. Also I grew up on welfare. None of my family is on welfare anymore but it was a critical service when dad walked off and refused to pay child support. Since my family has worked directly with the poor (Health services and counseling) I think I have a better idea of who receives welfare than you do. It is often those with medical problems, mental problems, or even drug problems. Drug problems you say? Well let them rot! Well that is the problem. You have a drug conviction and suddenly you can't get many jobs, or and you can't get funding for college. How and the hell do you handle these people? You either put them on welfare or you throw them in jail which is still state funded living. But yay you are still hard on crime and the war on drugs goes on! Rah rah!

    But what really incensed me with your post was your assertion that people have an easier time getting ahead in America. BZZZT! Nice try the US is harder to advance out of poverty and it is getting harder all the time. For all our vaunted freedom you can move around in the middle class, but if you want to be an executive you really NEED be in the right class or society to get your funding or to land that job due to your uncle's connection. There are some people who manage to found a company and build it to that level, but what are we talking about one in ten million? I get better odds at the lottery.... Every company founder I personally have known has gotten kicked out when the company stabilized and an interm CEO (who gets along with the VC and board) has been appointed to manage the continued growth of the company. I have yet to personally meet someone who actually manages to fight off the wolves and make it past upper middle class. But hey, they exist, I mean we see them on TV.

    And before you rip on my liberal ideal with no real world backing let me drop some links. http://www.nytimes.com/packages/html/national/20050515_CLASS_GRAPHIC/index_03.html [nytimes.com] I see those darn Scandinavian countries are more upward mobile despite their socialist trends and higher standard of living! Yes click around on that link and you will see the US is actually HARDER to climb out of poverty. But don't worry your capitalistic master are having a great time jerking your leash. You know that when the economy is growing rapidly the middle class still shows no upward mobility? http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2006/04/b1579981.html [americanprogress.org] but I guess the upper class sees great returns on their investments.

    Basically the American dream is a great PR piece to help insure there is cheap labor to fill factories. But Rah Rah for Capitalism. The idea that giving the money to private companies is also fallacious they tend to be very good at maximizing profit. (FOR

  • Re:Wait, really? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JDevers (83155) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @05:07PM (#29140069)

    Are you fucking serious? This guy is talking about a family member with a potentially life threatening illness that can't be treated due to inequitable nature of our society and you suggest he eat a zero carb diet?

    Of course cancers feed off sugar, cancer is YOU gone haywire, your body metabolizes sugar preferentially and so would cancer. But just like the rest of your body, any cancer (other than a brain tumor, and your body WILL PRODUCE the glucose needed to feed your brain and then a brain tumor) could metabolize any other source of energy as well.

    Let me guess, your suggestion to someone with a bad computer virus would be to unplug the PC as the virus feeds off of electricity.

  • Re:Not entirely (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rho (6063) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @05:18PM (#29140197) Homepage Journal

    You have a point about the cheapness of frozen prepared food and how unhealthy it is. But the idea that produce is hard to find isn't true.

    One of the poorest places in the States is the Mississippi Delta. However, if you plant your foot in the dirt there you'll grow more toes. Growing vegetables is easy, very cheap, and foolproof in most of the places where poor people live (the South).

    Produce in the grocery store is expensive, true. There are a lot of reasons for that, but frozen vegetables are crazy cheap. They're as healthy as anything fresh. Bad decision making is the primary cause of obesity, not unavailability. And very, very few people are making $0.50 decisions with food. At that level of poverty you're into food stamp territory.

  • Re:Wait, really? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Jaysyn (203771) <jaysyn+slashdot@ ... m minus math_god> on Thursday August 20, 2009 @05:26PM (#29140297) Homepage Journal
    No, because most of my countrymen are functional retards unfortunately.
  • by ArcherB (796902) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @05:39PM (#29140463) Journal

    The only health care program that really works is the single payer option.

    More accurately, a single payer system that will cover you if you need it to. Companies should always be welcome to compete against the single payer system... if they can make money, then good for them!

    And that's the problem. No company will be able to compete with a tax payer funded health care system because the government can mandate which patients a doctor sees and how much they will be paid.
    First, the government will decide how much to pay for each procedure. This is how they will "save money". They do this now with Medicare/caid.
    Next, once a few doctors refuse to take government funded patients because they lose money on them, the government will mandate that a doctor may not refuse treatment to a government insured patient.
    The doctors, who are now overwhelmed with government-funded patients and losing money on every one will have to raise prices on non-government-insured patients to make up the difference. The private insurers will be the ones paying the bills.
    So, with private insurers having to pay more than before and more than the government, they will have to raise their rates, causing them to lose customers to the government option until the government option is all that is left.

    At this point, the government will have control over life and death!

    Seriously, how can a private company compete with a insurer that is tax-payer funded and can literally write the rules?

  • by ArcherB (796902) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @05:44PM (#29140495) Journal

    Works fine from where I'm sitting (UK). Always been able to access it, never had treatment refused. The same is true for everyone else in my family.

    Funny. The BBC [bbc.co.uk] disagrees.

    The NHS cannot, and never has been able to, offer every treatment to everyone who needs it.

    The NHS is funded from taxes, and it spends more than £42bn every year - £779 for every person in the UK. But it is not a bottomless pit of funds and some treatments have to be restricted.

    Raising taxes to pay for every possible need is politically unthinkable, as it would require a massive increase in income tax to raise enough revenue to make a significant difference to spending.

    This means some treatments have to be restricted, or rationed.

    Guess you have been lucky to not need any of the restricted or rationed treatments.

  • What a crock.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by plasmacutter (901737) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @06:19PM (#29140917)

    It's really easy to blame insurance companies, especially since the Democrat party has been on the propaganda trail blaming the insurance companies, but they've actually been quite acquiescent about the whole thing.

    this is the image they have cultivated, but its a lie.

    The truth is while the insurance companies themselves claimed they were for reform, they shadow-funded several groups which are out there right now undermining reform and propagating lies through TV spots and astroturfing.

    Hint: those TV spots you see talking gloom and doom are NOT from the RNC, and certainly not the democrats. Theyre the health reform version of "hands off the internet", the notorious anti-neutrality astroturfing group.

    I can tell you as a person who is "uninsurable at any price" because of crohns while 600 lb men get coverage for gastric bypasses that the insurance companies ARE to blame, they are responsible for every single massive lie being propagated today. It's vicious, ugly, and criminal what they're doing to make sure people like me, who are crippled by easily managed chronic conditions, remain bankrupt and suffering.

    You may not like their solutions, but that's ok, we can come up with a solution. But believing that a single payer system will magically solve everything is just silly. Such a drastic overhaul of any system is likely to cause more problems than it solves.

    yes, there are so many horrible problems that every other industrialized nation has one, and anyone in those nations suggesting getting rid of them is marginalized as a dingbat (if they say so from a political office, they don't have it in the next year).

  • Re:Wait, really? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jeremymiles (725644) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @06:39PM (#29141087) Homepage Journal

    Negative sir. That's the honest truth. If I walked into the hospital tomorrow with no money, and a life ending ailment. I'd live out the rest of my life to the fullest, but I can accept death. I don't know why you can't accept that life ends... sometimes premature.

    If you were drowning in a lake, and there were people standing by the lake who were capable of pulling you out and saving you, and those people just stood there - would you then accept death?
    I suspect you'd spend your last few minutes being extremely pissed off and wondering why the hell they weren't throwing you a rope.
    They weren't throwing you a rope because it was too much hassle, or too expensive.

  • have you ever dealt with an hmo?

    do you know how much paperwork are current system entails? how much money is wasted in the shuffling around of forms between entities and fighting about line item approved and denieds?

    a government system would be chock full of bureaucratic waste, just as you say

    and it would still be more efficient and less wasteful than what we currently have!

    wake the fuck up you propagandized fool

  • by SETIGuy (33768) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @07:28PM (#29141527) Homepage

    Because you should be able to buy fire insurance after your house burns down.

    Do you have the slightest clue how insurance works?

    Here's what would happen if fire insurance were like health insurance.

    Under this system fire insurance is provided by your employer, who gets a group discount from the insurance companies. Neither your employer nor the insurance company is allowed to disclose how much the insurance costs, because they both consider it a trade secret. Once a year, in November, you get the chance to change your fire insurance company if you are unhappy with them. But since you probably haven't had a fire, what is there to be unhappy about?

    If you lose your job, you lose your fire insurance but the insurance company is required by law to allow you to pay an exorbitant sum to continue your insurance for 6 months. They will also allow you to buy a cheaper plan, which will replace your house with a tent if it burns down. By the way, the most common way to lose your job is to have a house fire.

    If you are self employed or unemployed, you might be able to buy insurance. It will be much more expensive than the group plans that employers get. You will also be disqualified if you have had a fire in the past, smoke, or have been seen with matches or a cigarette lighter.

    The way the fire insurance system works is that your insurance company will provide you a list of twenty fire inspectors. You are required to have a fire inspector in order to get access to a fire station. You will call all twenty and their secretaries will tell you that they aren't taking any new clients. You will eventually get taken on by one of them because your mother is one of his clients.

    The inspector is paid a flat fee per year per client by the insurance company. He gets paid this amount whether he inspects your home or not. Each time he does inspect your home he might get a small payment from the insurance company, but you need to give him a $20 additional payment. This is to encourage you not to get your home inspected. If your home has apparent problems that need further investigation, the inspector does not get additional payments from the insurance company. If your home needs repairs to prevent a fire, the insurance company will pay for them, but the inspector might get charged a fee for referring you to a contractor. This is to encourage your fire inspector not to refer you to a contractor to perform repairs.

    The fire inspector contracts with a fire station to handle emergencies. It might not be the closest fire station to your home. None of the firefighters working at the fire station are employees of the fire station. They are all independent contractors who are paid by the person who has a fire, or by the insurance company. The only employees at the fire station are the 35 people they have on staff to handle billing the 65 insurance companies that they contract with.

    If you have a fire, the first thing you do is call your fire inspector. If he agrees that there is a fire, he will call the insurance company to get authorization to call the fire station. Some fraction of the time these authorizations will be denied.

    When the fire station gets the call they will also call the insurance company for authorization. When each fireman gets to the house, they will ask for a copy of your insurance card before putting out the fire. If any of the people involved forgets to get authorization, they won't be paid by the insurance company. They will either bill you, or eat the expenses.

    Fortunately it was just a minor fire entirely contained in a frying pan. After the fire has been put out, and a contractor has started repairs, you will receive a bunch of bills that have "THIS IS NOT A BILL" written on them. You will get one from each fireman, one from the fire station, one from your fire inspector, one from the contractor who is repairing your house and one from each of the construction workers the contractor has hired. They will come wit

  • by plasmacutter (901737) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @07:35PM (#29141589)

    I wouldn't say the American system is perfect, I'm sure it isn't, but based on evidence from Britain, getting the Government involved on such a large scale is probably not going to help.

    Maybe there is some other sort of reform that could be applied here?

    here's the difference right now:

    US system: huge bureaucratic hassle in which the bureaucrats have a serious financial incentive to make sure you are not treated.

    British system: huge bureaucratic hassle in which the bureaucrats DONT have a serious financial incentive to make sure you are not treated.

    instead of one set of forums in the british system, there are different sets of forms from office to office and provider to provider in the US system. For appointments you are asked to arrive 1 hour early specifically to sign forms, which must then be checked through about 15 different entities before they'll see you (unless you go to the emergency room, which charges you about 100x what the treatment actually costs)

  • Re:Slashkos (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sjames (1099) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @08:33PM (#29142035) Homepage

    I think it's kind of funny the way conservatives maintain that the public option will be so crappy it's worse than nothing AND it will destroy the market for private insurance AT THE SAME TIME!

  • Re:Not entirely (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DerekLyons (302214) <fairwater@gmFREEBSDail.com minus bsd> on Thursday August 20, 2009 @10:26PM (#29142771) Homepage

    That's a study of places that "don't have access to supermarkets", not of places that "don't have access to vegetables". They even admit their conclusions are flawed because smaller markets were excluded from the study.

  • by timeOday (582209) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @10:44PM (#29142873)

    I too can take the distribution of age at death, cut it in half and argue that the lower part's age expectancy is dramatically lower than the upper half.

    No, you are missing the point, which is that the gulf is getting wider [plosmedicine.org]: "There was a steady increase in mortality inequality across the US counties between 1983 and 1999, resulting from stagnation or increase in mortality among the worst-off segment of the population."

    People doing these studies are quite often bozos which start from the answer (we need socialism and redistribution) and work backward.

    Which facts argue in favor of capitalist health care? You haven't cited any. Costs are lower and life expectancy is higher in countries with socialist health care. Can you dispute that, or do you simply feel the ideological considerations are more important?

  • Re:Slashkos (Score:3, Insightful)

    by RobinH (124750) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @10:46PM (#29142893) Homepage

    Hi. Canadian here. Not sure where you're getting your numbers. The idea that Canadians have more firearms per-capita than Americans is something that needs a really really good citation. This article [reuters.com] from Reuters says the US has 90 guns per 100 Americans and Canada has 30 guns per hundred Canadians. I did find a reference to your murder rate numbers [nationmaster.com].

    "the US has more people who have no coverage than the entire population of Canada" - Um, I think California has more people than the entire population of Canada - yep, Wikipedia says California has 36.7 million and Canada has 31.6 million. So this is a pointless statement.

    Now, there has been a lot of misinformation in the US news about Canada, and particularly the Canadian health care system. First of all, the system being proposed in the US is *not* a universal health care system like Canada has. In my opinion, as a person who has used both a US "HMO" and the Canadian system, the Canadian system only works because (a) you can't "get ahead" by scamming the health care system. Remember the Canadian system doesn't include medications, so there's no scamming pain meds or anything. You basically get doctor's visits and hospital visits paid for. Not sure about you, but I want to spend as little time in those places as possible, so there's little incentive for people to "scam more health care" from the system, and (b) EVERYONE has to use the system. This includes the hospital administrators, the politicians, their families, etc. There's a built in incentive for everyone to make the system work well, because everyone has to use it at some point in their life.

    I'm a fiscal conservative, so public health care is something I look on skeptically, but I have to tell you that the Canadian system is brilliant. It needs constant supervision and tweaking, but it really is great. I've started to realize that while I'm generally pro-market, the one place I really think it makes sense to socialize is any type of insurance. Look at insurance this way: everyone is supposed to agree to share the cost of some high risk, low occurrence event, like theft, fire, accident, or health related expense. In an ideal world, the amount paid to cover expenses is equal to the amount that people have to put into the pot, perhaps adjusted by their risk level (so choosing to live in an earthquake zone or choosing to smoke might cost you more). Obviously it takes effort to administer such a program (you have to prevent fraud, keep track of the money, etc.) but this shouldn't be much more than the overhead expense of a well run charity, some of which frequently have administrative expense ratios below 5%. But then you throw insurance companies into the mix and they realize that their entire reason for existing (profit) is to maximize the amount going into the pot and minimize the amount going out. Therefore, they hire armies of lawyers, draft convoluted insurance policies, spend exorbitant sums on marketing, and ultimately none of that money and effort is being spent on bettering the world, like it would be if we spent it building infrastructure or investing in new technologies, like "good" companies do. The number I've seen is that insurance companies have administrative ratios of 30% to 50%.

    If you go into my doctor's office in Canada, there is one woman behind the counter doing all the paperwork for the entire practice. Walk into a US doctor's office and there's at least 3. That's because if you're a doctor in Canada, you have one insurance company to deal with, and if you're a doctor in the US you have hundreds, and you have to narrow it down to maybe 30 or 40 that you're going to deal with. You have to be familiar with all those different forms, etc. That a huge overhead expense, and it doesn't contribute to providing the patient with better healthcare (indeed, it makes it harder to get effective

  • Re:Wait, really? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by linuxguy (98493) on Thursday August 20, 2009 @11:48PM (#29143253) Homepage

    Calling Sarah Palin a moron is insulting to morons everywhere.

    Palin is the assumed leader of a highly retarded group of people. When she speaks of death panels or really anything, the rest of us talk about it, sure. But we are mostly laughing at her while we wondering how could she possibly be this retarded. Trust me, this is not a good thing and nothing to be proud of.

  • Re:Wait, really? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by salmacis2 (643788) on Friday August 21, 2009 @02:33AM (#29143941)
    So, when you drive, do you build your own road? If someone burgles you, do you conduct your own investigation? It's not an affront to your pride to accept Government run healthcare, any more than it is to use Government-run libraries, schools, etc.
  • by mcgrew (92797) * on Friday August 21, 2009 @08:17AM (#29145393) Homepage Journal

    Of course, the government option will have to be as good as any private insurance, right? Otherwise why have it?

    Because a whole lot of working class people DON'T have it.

    Next, it will have to cheaper than private insurance. The whole point is universal coverage. That means the poor should be able to afford it as well.

    The current system gives no health care to the poor at all until it's too late. Then they're admitted to the emergency room, where thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars are spent on them despite the fact that they're past helping. The indigent actually have insurance; it's called "Medicaid". It's the upper lower class and the middle class who can't afford insurance and who can't get medical care until it's both too late and incredibly expensive.

    I'd point to my late friend Linda [slashdot.org], but she's not a good example. She stayed away from the doctor out of fear; had she seen a doctor I don't know if she could have been saved ot not, but she would have suffered a lot less. But in her case it wasn't the system's fault.

    I now know you can die of cowardace. But may who who could be saved and WOULD seek medical treatment can't. You're paying for this, as the hospital eats the cost of treatment for those without insurance as part of their operating expenses. You insurance company is paying for people who they're not insuring, and that cost is passed on to you in the form of your insurance premiums.

    That's why the US dosn't have the highest life expectancy, and why it has the highest cost per capita. There is no more wasteful system on earth.

    Well, tax the rich, of course

    See above. You're already paying a tax, only the government doesn't collect it, your insurance company does.

    So now you have a competitor to the private sector that is just as good or better than the private sector, at half the cost.

    The insurance companies' costs go down, because they're no longer paying for patients who aren't insured.

    It is financed by the American taxpayer so it can profit is not a concern.

    That also cuts costs -- the middleman is gone.

    Oh, and it can make it's own rules because it has the backing of the United States Congress

    The insurance companies make the rules now. Congress is accountable to YOU, the insurance companies are only accountable to their stockholders.

    How long do you think it will take before every private health insurance company is out of business?

    Not soon enough, in my opinion. They're nothing more than parasites.

    If an insurance company screws over enough of its customers, word gets out and it loses its customers and goes out of business.

    Nope, because most of its customers don't have a choice -- you're insured by whatever company your employer decides on.

    I agree with the rest of your post.

  • Re:Wait, really? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by CmdrGravy (645153) on Friday August 21, 2009 @08:18AM (#29145405) Homepage

    If you really did just pay your own way for everything you'd get absolutely nowhere and be living in a cave rubbing two sticks together to make a fire. The whole point about society is that everyone depends to some extent on everyone else.

    Maybe you have a car, or a truck that you have been lucky enough to afford to buy. The reason you could afford to buy it is because hundreds of thousands of other people have bought the same truck allowing the manufacturers to bring the price down to something you could afford. To live truly according to your purported principles you'd eschew this sort of communist system and contract someone to build you a truck entirely from scratch relying on nothing developed by anyone else. Good luck affording to buy that truck !

  • Re:Wait, really? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by hairyfeet (841228) <.bassbeast1968. .at. .gmail.com.> on Friday August 21, 2009 @01:20PM (#29149095) Journal

    I'm saying that there is no mutherfucking reason why simple copper and vitamins in a saline solution, without even requiring a nurse or doctor to give it (my sis had a port and my mom is a nurse) should cost $1600+ fucking dollars, that is what I am saying!

    Your "free market" shit don't work in medicine, just as it don't work in teleco. It don't work because a few companies have gotten "too big to fail" and the whole thing has devolved into a "fuck them harder than they are fucking me" between the drug manufacturers and the insurance companies with the working poor getting fucked by all.

    And isn't it funny how so much of the civilized world can actually afford health care for all, while the USA, a supposed 'superpower" has so many of its people living like a third world country, with more ending up down every day? Maybe if we didn't have bloodsucking leeches and legal bribery....err I mean lobbying by major insurance companies and drug manufacturers we wouldn't be in this mess. And the truly sad part is so many of those that are now listed as disabled could actually work if they could afford their medication. I have a relative right now who is extremely bright and could work instead of being stuck at home on disability, but the medication that keeps him from being crippled costs $89000! and he will lose it if he goes to work, since all the education in the world won't give him a starting pay that will allow him to feed himself and pay for his medication.

    So PLEASE for my sister, my cousin, and all those that are currently being buttraped by the medical system, quit believing the crap you see on Faux Spews. Sure if you are rich the system works, but the gutting of the middle class is quickly turning this country into another Brazil, where the poor live in wretched squalor while the rich enjoy their new Hummer. Sadly this country is fulfilling the punch line from the late George Carlin's joke all too often now- "You know why they call it the American Dream? Because you have to be asleep to believe in it".

    As for the one who expressed his sympathies, thank you. The worst part is their dad got hooked on drugs when they were little (which is why I call them "my boys", because I had to fill the father role almost since birth) and now that he has gotten clean and sober they most likely won't get a chance to really know him as he has hepatitis C and if he doesn't get approved for disability soon he will die because he simply can't afford to live. He of course can no longer hold a job since the hep C has made him so bloated he looks like a corpse that has been left in the sun, and the constant puking isn't something most companies will want around.

    So in all likelihood the boys will lose both parents sooner than they need to because they simply can't afford to survive in our current situation. It is bad enough now that my late sister's doctor says they even have a name for it -"CATL" which stands for "Can't afford to live", which he says he sees all to often as folks can't afford anything but ER care, which is often too little too late. How fucking sad that in this country we should even have an acronym like that.

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