I got this in my email yesterday, and had to laugh my ass off. You'll see why when you look at the title.
I'm not even going to lead into this one; I'll just say it's typical Coulter; red meat and pure BS for the droolers who will believe anything she says without question. I'm just going to dive right in.
Once more, my comments are in red…
by Ann Coulter
Posted 08/19/2009 ET
Updated 08/19/2009 ET
(1) National health care will punish the insurance companies.
Okay, this is vintage Coulter. Take an extreme minority position and impute it to all liberals.
The above is not a reason for national health care. It is also not a component of any of the health care bills currently before Congress. But here's the question; if the above is a lie, and national health care doesn't punish private insurance companies, then why is the industry so dead set against it?
Once again, it's that cognitive dissonance that everyone on the far right of the political spectrum shares.
To my surprise, I actually agree with a couple of the points she makes next. But overall, it's still Ann Coulter, so one can expect here to lie and contradict herself pretty consistently...
You want to punish insurance companies? Make them compete.
As Adam Smith observed, whenever two businessmen meet, "the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices." That's why we need a third, fourth and 45th competing insurance company that will undercut them by offering better service at a lower price.
I agree with this, which means she's preparing to contradict herself. She's insinuating that the problem right now is a lack of competition, and that IS a PART of the problem. Ironically, HR 3200 -- the bill Coulter and her ilk are railing against most vociferously -- actually creates a competitive environment for the private insurance companies. These people simply don't get the concept of irony, however, so it's not all her fault.
Tiny little France and Germany have more competition among health insurers than the U.S. does right now. Amazingly, both of these socialist countries have less state regulation of health insurance than we do, and you can buy health insurance across regional lines -- unlike in the U.S., where a federal law allows states to ban interstate commerce in health insurance.
Before I start refuting this nonsense, I would like to point out, once again, that the United States is 37th in the world when it comes to basic health care statistics. France is first in the same survey, and Germany is 25th. Just sayin'…
I'm going to start with the last statement first. States can't "BAN interstate commerce in health insurance" or anything else. Most states have strict regulations and requirements on all insurance, and states have traditionally regulated ALL insurance for a very basic reason, which is called state sovereignty. It's not the same level of sovereignty as nations enjoy, but it covers the people and the property of tat state. Insurance covers people and property, and the states have greater sovereignty over the citizens and property of their state than does the federal government . Even when health care reform passes with a public option, it will most likely be administered by the states, just as Medicare and Medicaid are right now, with the federal rules and regulations serving as a baseline for state regulations. That's why Dennis Kucinich was able to insert an amendment into the current bill allowing states to set up single payer; as long as the benefits of state regulations exceed the standards set up by the federal government, states can do what they want.
Now, about the French and German systems...
The French system, called Sécurité Sociale, is a hybrid system, remarkably similar to our Medicare system, and (ironically?) remarkably similar to the system currently being debated by Congress, that these loons are whining about. The French government provides 70% of all health care funding in France, which is a far greater percentage than is currently being proposed by HR 3200 and its off-shoots. The reason private insurers aren't highly regulated in France is because they only provide supplemental insurance, just as private insurers do here under the Medicare Part B program. Just like the system being proposed here, the French health care delivery system is entirely privately run.
The German system is actually the oldest universal coverage system in the world; it dates back to 1880, and was set up by Otto von Bismarck. Every German is required to carry a health insurance policy, no exceptions. How much Germans pay is based on their income, but most people pay 14%, split evenly between employer and employee. The insurance itself is private, but non-profit, and Coulter's assertion that there is little regulation is absurd; German regulation of health insurance is among the strictest in the world.
So, look at what Coulter chose to compare here. One system, considered the best in the world, is almost exactly like the system that would be set up under the Obama health care plan, and the other is actually far stricter and more rigid than the Obama plan. Nothing like undermining your own position by making up "lies" about your opponents and then proving them right. Only right wing logic allows such a thing, dontcha know...
U.S. health insurance companies are often imperious, unresponsive consumer hellholes because they're a partial monopoly, protected from competition by government regulation. In some states, one big insurer will control 80 percent of the market. (Guess which party these big insurance companies favor? Big companies love big government.)
I am sure as hell not going to argue with her characterization of health insurance companies. But she's wrong about big insurance preferring the Democrats. Their support is pretty much evenly split between the parties. And it's one of the main reasons we're going to tackle political finance reform once we pass the health care reform bill. Legalized bribery, regardless of party, has to be done away with.
Liberals think they can improve the problem of a partial monopoly by turning it into a total monopoly. That's what single-payer health care is: "Single payer" means "single provider."
Now, this is just an out-and-out lie. Single-payer only has to do with INSURANCE; it has nothing at all to do with providers. Canada and Britain both have a single-payer system, but only the British medical system socializes the health care delivery system. Canada's provider system is almost completely privatized.
It's the famous liberal two-step: First screw something up, then claim that it's screwed up because there's not enough government oversight (it's the free market run wild!), and then step in and really screw it up in the name of "reform."
You could fix 90 percent of the problems with health insurance by ending the federal law allowing states to ban health insurance sales across state lines. But when John McCain called for ending the ban during the 2008 presidential campaign, he was attacked by Joe Biden -- another illustration of the ironclad Ann Coulter rule that the worst Republicans are still better than allegedly "conservative" Democrats.
It's impossible to fix 90% of the problems with the system by simply creating competition, because a lack of competition isn't even the biggest problem. The biggest problem is the ever-increasing numbers of people who are cut out of the system, and can't get insurance. The uninsured cause an incredible level of inflation, because their bills go unpaid. In fact, if we were to increase competition under the current system, without changing anything else, we would likely exacerbate the problem. Think about it. If premiums are driven down by competition, and nothing else about the system changes, wouldn't that increase an insurance company's incentive to drop people, and refuse to pay for health care?
Remember the private health insurance business model, which is to do everything possible to prevent spending on health care, and preserve every dollar you collect and call it "profit." How is competition supposed to magically fix a system based on such a warped economic premise?
(2) National health care will "increase competition and keep insurance companies honest" -- as President Barack Obama has said.
Note that Coulter's purpose here is ostensibly to clear up lies we liberals are telling. So, why is a direct quote from President Obama (hey, she left out the "Hussein;" is she slipping?) declaring his intent with the legislation he's proposed on health care considered a "lie"? And more importantly, if you're attempting to clear up lies, isn't it best to tell the truth yourself?
Government-provided health care isn't a competitor; it's a monopoly product paid for by the taxpayer. Consumers may be able to "choose" whether they take the service -- at least at first -- but every single one of us will be forced to buy it, under penalty of prison for tax evasion. It's like a new cable plan with a "yes" box, but no "no" box.
Obama himself compared national health care to the post office -- immediately conjuring images of a highly efficient and consumer-friendly work force -- which, like so many consumer-friendly shops, is closed by 2 p.m. on Saturdays, all Sundays and every conceivable holiday.
But what most people don't know -- including the president, apparently -- with certain narrow exceptions, competing with the post office is prohibited by law.
Expect the same with national health care. Liberals won't stop until they have total control. How else will they get you to pay for their sex-change operations?
Can you say "irony deficient"??
In fact, HR 3200 actually creates a competitive environment where nothing exists currently. Even she admits there is little to no competition currently.
The bill creates an insurance exchange, in which all insurance companies licensed to operate in a particular state AND the public insurance option, are offered to every employee signing up for insurance. There is nothing preventing insurance companies from competing, and in fact, countries such as France and Canada actually have an extremely healthy and robust private health insurance system.
Now, about the Post Office. The Postal Service was created as a monopoly by the US Constitution, but the Postal Service itself has allowed exceptions to its monopoly, and has quite a bit of competition. Ask FedEx and UPS whether they're able to compete and make money. But there is no way a private corporation would be able to deliver letters from one side of the country to another, or to extreme rural areas of the country, for less than a half dollar. Many economic analyses have been done over the years, and it's been determined that privatization of all mail delivery would end up costing the economy more than the current system. Just like the current state of health insurance does.
The parallels to the Post Office are actually quite striking. The people who would suffer most under a privatization of the Post Office would be those people who choose to live in the middle of nowhere. Private companies could easily deliver mail in and between cities for a profit, although I doubt that they could do so for less than 50 cents. But they would have to charge an arm and a leg to make a profit on rural delivery, which means that they would likely force rural people to drive to a large city or town for their mail.
But just as people who live in rural areas have a right to mail delivery (which would take a constitutional amendment to repeal), those folks without insurance have a right to health care at some point. Someone has to insure them, or you simply can't fix the system.
(3) Insurance companies are denying legitimate claims because they are "villains."
Obama denounced the insurance companies in last Sunday's New York Times, saying: "A man lost his health coverage in the middle of chemotherapy because the insurance company discovered that he had gallstones, which he hadn't known about when he applied for his policy. Because his treatment was delayed, he died."
Well, yeah. That and the cancer.
Assuming this is true -- which would distinguish it from every other story told by Democrats pushing national health care -- in a free market, such an insurance company couldn't stay in business. Other insurance companies would scream from the rooftops about their competitor's shoddy business practices, and customers would leave in droves.
This is vintage Coulter; just plain cold blooded. But it also undermines the right wing's main arguments against health insurance reform.
This is why this is not just an economic issue, but a moral issue, as well. How much is the life of a loved one worth? How much would an extra year, or even a few months, with your mother, father, brother, sister or best friend be worth? What if the chemotherapy was just short of being successful when the insurance company pulled the plug on the treatment? Beyond that, why does a goddamn insurance company have the power to play God, and decide who lives and dies, based on their financial bottom line? Have we become so incredibly cynical as a society, that we can only see lives in terms of dollars and cents?
Yes, the cancer killed him. But the insurance company killed him faster than the cancer might have. To imply otherwise is characteristically (for Coulter) cold hearted and immoral.
Doesn't this constitute "rationing"? Isn't that what everyone's afraid will happen when the government offers a public health insurance option? Won't they cut off care right in the middle, when they decide you've had "enough" care? You mean, the current system already RATIONS care, and people like Coulter actively oppose attempts to change it? How odd...
And what is this CRAP about health insurance companies and a "free market"? Can we stop this deception? Please? Health insurance is not a consumer commodity, and to think otherwise ignores several realities. First of all, health insurance companies don't make money by producing goods and services. The only way they can make money by "saving" (in this case, meaning "not spending") money. In a competitive environment, premiums would be competitive, but it doesn't solve the two basic problems facing for-profit health insurance companies. How do they charge less for premiums and increase profits every year, without denying insurance to all but the healthiest people and/or denying as many claims as possible? As I said, those are the biggest problems with the system.
If only customers had a choice! But we don't because of government regulation of health insurance.
Speaking of which, maybe if Mr. Gallstone's insurance company weren't required by law to cover early childhood development programs and sex-change operations, it wouldn't be forced to cut corners in the few areas not regulated by the government, such as cancer treatments for patients with gallstones.
Quite obviously, insurance companies aren't required by law to cover much of anything, and they absolutely are not required to cover sexual reassignment surgery. In fact, the Heritage Foundation's blog notes that such procedures are currently forbidden, but that some "liberals" want to include them in universal coverage.
If she's going to follow the talking points, she would do well to be more accurate.
And there is no excuse for an insurance company to refuse continued coverage of cancer treatment due to gallstones; none. If private insurance companies can’t make money by doing the right thing by the people who pay them good money for their coverage, then they're making the best case possible for a public option, don’t you think?
(4) National health care will give Americans "basic consumer protections that will finally hold insurance companies accountable" -- as Barack Obama claimed in his op/ed in the Times.
You want to protect consumers? Do it the same way we protect consumers of dry cleaning, hamburgers and electricians: Give them the power to tell their insurance companies, "I'm taking my business elsewhere."
That incredibly ignorant observation actually serves to demonstrate why health insurance CANNOT be a market-based activity.
I sometimes go several years between dry cleaning trips, and the worst that can happen should they screw up is, I'm out a suit. Of course, if I don't have insurance, and I pass out in the dry cleaning shop to pick up the dry cleaning I dropped off five days earlier, because I contracted a disease when another customer sneezed on me, I could potentially lose everything due to the expense.
Electricians are extremely heavily regulated, and their work is usually subject to inspection. Of course, if the electrical contractor screws up and I get electrocuted, if I don't have health insurance, I could end up losing the house before I can get a chance to get the electrical work redone, because of the bills I'm left with.
If a hamburger tastes like crap, I am out a few dollars and a meal. Of course, if that hamburger makes me ill, and I either don't have health insurance or that health insurance company, I could very well die, or at least be financially ruined.
See the problem? Health care is an absolute necessity when we need it, and there is no way to predict when we will need it. Health insurance is NOT a consumer product. In fact, this example allows me to prove that it's NOT a consumer product, subject to market forces.
If I pay for dry cleaning, I'm entitled to dry cleaning. If I pay for a hamburger, I get a hamburger. If I pay an electrician to do electrical work, I'm entitled to his best work. If we are to consider health insurance as a "consumer product," it's the only one I'm aware of that I can pay for over the course of many years, even decades, that they can simply refuse to deliver because they don't want me to have it.
(5) Government intervention is the only way to provide coverage for pre-existing conditions.
This one is just asinine.
I'd like for someone to find me someone -- anyone -- who is looking for, um, "coverage for pre-existing conditions."
What we object to is the constant denial of benefits to people who have been paying for them religiously, and to base that denial on such specious claims as "pre-existing conditions."
The only reason most "pre-existing" conditions aren't already covered is because of government regulations that shrink the insurance market to a microscopic size, which leads to fewer options in health insurance and a lot more uninsured people than would exist in a free market.
The free market has produced a dizzying array of insurance products in areas other than health. (Ironically, array-associated dizziness is not covered by most health plans.) Even insurance companies have "reinsurance" policies to cover catastrophic events occurring on the properties they insure, such as nuclear accidents, earthquakes and Michael Moore dropping in for a visit and breaking the couch.
If we had a free market in health insurance, it would be inexpensive and easy to buy insurance for "pre-existing" conditions before they exist, for example, insurance on unborn -- unconceived -- children and health insurance even when you don't have a job. The vast majority of "pre-existing" conditions that currently exist in a cramped, limited, heavily regulated insurance market would be "covered" conditions under a free market in health insurance.
What, exactly, is preventing a free market in the insurance system? And please don't tell me state regulations, because that is, in a word, pure bullshit. These companies have billions of dollars; there is no way they can't buy themselves into a market, if they really want to. The problem is, they make a hell of a lot more money by controlling geographic areas. And as I touched on earlier, they are the only industry other than Major League Baseball, with a specific antitrust exemption in the law.
There is nothing so magical about a free market, especially in an industry that doesn't actually provide a product. Think about what health insurance does. They collect money from policyholders, and in order to make a profit, they have as a goal to spend as little of that money as possible. It is simply not possible to expect for-profit insurance companies to offer insurance to everyone, which is the only thing that will save the current system from collapse. And to expect them to simply go against their instincts and pay every claim that comes their way because they're a part of that magical "free market" is just plain nonsense. The reason every other industrialized country in the world has a huge public component to their health insurance system, even if they still have a relatively strong private insurance industry, is because they can't be expected to handle 100% of the risk and still make a profit. It's the same reason why the government picks up the slack when there's a natural disaster; private insurance can pay most claims , but when a catastrophe hits, they simply don't have the capital to pay absolutely every claim.
I've hit my word limit on liberal lies about national health care without breaking a sweat. See this space next week for more lies in our continuing series.
More lies? You haven't uncovered one yet. But I'll be glad to unmask yours next week… see ya then...