Healthcare in America: No Pony for Us

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Wise up, America!  Only the richest little girls get ponies (Scene from “Gone with the Wind”)

W.J. Astore

The comedian and political commentator Jimmy Dore has a great sketch about Americans not getting a pony.  The “pony” in question is taxpayer-funded, single-payer health care.  Only the most naive or gullible or spoiled Americans could possibly believe they deserve such a pony — this is an argument advanced by Democratic sages like Hillary Clinton, among many others, like Nancy Pelosi.  She’s supported today by “sensible centrists” like Joe Biden and “Mayor Pete” Buttigieg, who argue that Medicare for All is wildly impractical and crazily expensive.

As my wife quipped, for “sensible centrists” and their ilk, we don’t get a pony — but we do get to pony up.

Yes, Americans get to pony up — and up — and up, in the form of high insurance costs, deductibles, co-pays, and the like.  And let’s not forget the high cost of life-giving prescriptions, such as insulin, which under our wonderful private systems have soared in price.

Those who attempt to sell Medicare for All in America, like Elizabeth Warren this weekend, are dismissed as delusional.  Take this headline at Reuters: Republicans, Democrats, ‘SNL’ attack Warren’s U.S. ‘Medicare for All’ plan.

Wow!  Everyone is against her — even liberal comedians at Saturday Night Live (SNL).  No pony for us!

Yet, as Jimmy Dore pointed out in his skit, other countries and peoples get ponies.  The Canadians do.  The British do.  The Germans.  The French.  The Italians.  The Japanese.  And so on.

Want a pony, America?  Better move to Finland.  Or Hong Kong.  Or Greece.  Or New Zealand.  Or Tara.  Because you’re not getting a “pony” here.

19 thoughts on “Healthcare in America: No Pony for Us

  1. Right on, a great metaphor for the situation, but there’s also the rest of the story:

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6211719/

    $95T by 2050!!

    Non-Communicable Diseases (and an aging population) threaten to reduce our economy to one that spends more of GDP of healthcare than anything else, regardless of whether we get our pony. We are not a nation of people that do our best to live a healthy lifestyle and that’s the greater part of the healthcare burden.

    Also, if we could get a pony like other nations have, assuming (big assumption) it’s also a pony that’s as cost-efficient as theirs (They have healthcare costs about 50% lower per capita.), we’d at least make some progress, but if we can’t make our pony as efficient as theirs and if we can’t beat the NCD epidemic by getting the majority living healthily??

    So, I say Yes we deserve a pony, but that won’t necessarily save us from ourselves. How can we fight NCDs? Maybe make getting a ride on the pony depend on how well one is doing on living healthily? How can we make sure that the single-payer pony is also more efficient? Cost-controls on all healthcare procedures and on doctor fees? Windfall profits taxes on Big Pharma? Other ideas?

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    1. I would be interested in knowing whether the high NCD macroeconomic burden could be explained by either poorer health in the US or whether it is the result of insurance companies and Big Pharma charging too much money because they can. It is probably a combination of both, see e.g. high obesity rates in the US. But smoking rate of US is 17% and in Germany 30%, so there is evidence for both sides of the argument. This would then suggest that skyhigh rates by Big Pharma are a bigger causal factor for the high macroeconomic burden then is poor public health

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      1. Daan — It is an indisputable fact, per statistics (shhh, don’t tell Kellyanne Conway!), that when “the American lifestyle” (McDonald’s, Popeye Chicken, use your SUV to go 1/4 mile to buy a few groceries, etc.) gets adopted in formerly “backward” (i.e. less-developed) nations, their cardiac, diabetes, hypertension, etc. problems start to rise almost immediately. “Food for thought” (sorry, couldn’t resist!).

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        1. Yes true but I was talking about comparing the US to other industrialized countries, those that are also exposed to sugar, fast food etc. but also have universalized healthcare
          But you are right, fast food is an American invention I suppose

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    2. Greg Horrall — A number of (many, or most, even?) private health insurance plans offer rewards (reduced premiums) for improved lifestyle choices. A logical policy, but not THE solution. Because those plans are probably prohibitively expensive to get into in the first place! And there’s the nub: profit motive is all that’s driving the whole damnable system.

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  2. If we want the pony without ponying up MAYBE we should DEFUND THE PENTAGON. You see the rest of the world doesn’t sped half or mre of it’s treasury on an Imperial military and $400,000 VR helmets that only fit ONE (count ’em i) pilot.

    The other option is to elect “Vermin Supreme” for president. He’s promising ‘ponies for everyone’!

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  3. The best thing the ACA did for me was to sign up with the VA, which was one way of meeting the requirements. Since then I haven’t had more than $35 in copays (as non-combat assignments ’68-’72, combat would have been zero) per year. Last year it was $30. That includes regular exams, labs, vaccinations, ultrasound and so on (BP machine the first year), including a constant contact outreach from them in the form of either phone calls, texts, postcards and email alerts and links to web page articles from the VA in the eVet service.
    I have a couple of friends with Agent Orange exposure. They are also happy with their treatment, although one of them had to go to court to get the classification (he serviced radios on the spray planes).
    There are some things I would like included (dental) in the regular items but on the whole this is the start of a good example for a national health care system. The VA hospital I go to is always busy as all get out but they get you in.

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  4. And look no further than the % of national budgets the countries listed expend on war preparations to know how they can afford close-to-universal healthcare. But the Corporate Dems will instantly start gnashing their teeth at any suggestion to start withdrawing US troops from abroad. What a system!!

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      1. Isreal is subsidized by the US and Russia mil budget doesn’t impact its economy, which is pretty hard to compare you know? After all, when the Ru economy crashed after the US assisted Yeltsin coup Time magazine bragged about happened, no one went homeless. No one pays rent.

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  5. Who can maintain that we have a democracy beyond appearance?

    Congress, in bipartisan concord, goes right along with open ended funding what is essentially a destruction of dollars: the military. The beneficiary? Private business.

    Our health care system, literally vital to us, is maintained as a huge transfer of wealth to a middleman that contributes nothing to our health: private insurance. The beneficiary? Private business.

    Congress, again in bipartisan concord, makes a tiny, well off country of 8 million the number one recipient of our foreign aid, by far, a country/colony that has been practicing ethnic cleansing for 70 years right up to this moment, blatantly flouting the liberty and justice for all that the U.S. claims to value. Yet this U.S. backed eternal punishment of the Palestinians brings no notice as we get in a sweat over letting down the Kurds!!! The beneficiary of Israel love? Private business…relating to the military dollar destruction above as all that Israel aid returns to purchase weaponry from the U.S. BTW, did you notice Sheldon Adelson, casino billionaire and #1 Israel lobbyist sitting front and center at Trump’s inauguration? And Adelson got exactly what he wanted as our embassy was moved to Jerusalem.

    The military, health care and Israel, these three issues alone (so many many more could be given) are proof of the total corruption of a form of government that is supposed by its nature to give power to the people but is completely captive to big money. As the frosting on the cake, add in a president who makes agency heads of people dedicated to undoing what those agencies were designed by Congress to do. Then he tells his people not to obey the law and testify before the House. And nothing happens.

    America you are hanging by a thread.

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      1. Wow…10 minutes of real content with the PM showing mastery of the issues and a positive can-do attitude. The takeaway for a viewer is that things will be better tomorrow than they are today and the person in charge is working on it with a will.

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    1. I heartily agree, Clif!! But please note that USA was designed as a republic, affording “democratic rights” like casting a ballot, being accorded “due process,” etc. Not to preach to the choir too much, but the problems really ballooned when corporate lobbyists were “somehow” (amazing!!) permitted to purchase Members of Congress to do their bidding. I know “my own” member of House of Reps, a Democrat, is a total slave to the Pentagon. He is a worthless turd, by Forrest Gump!!

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      1. And the Supreme Court, supposedly the defender of the Constitution…goes right along with the corruption by big money in Citizens United. Years back, the SC declared corporations to be persons thus allowing them to benefit from the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment. That says to me that anything can be declared the law. Don’t get me started on the complete disregard of the wording of the 2nd Amendment of the 18th century to make it mean we all are to be armed in the 21st.

        Ben Franklin told us we have a republic if we can keep it. It looks now like we may not when a widely known con man gets elected to the presidency and the Speaker of the House carefully limits impeachment charges when a flood of blatant offenses beg for redress. All three parts of government working against design!

        Trump’s fans delight in his confounding THEIR GOVERNMENT, in place to protect them from just such as he. As a kid growing up I was educated to believe democracy was robust and steady. The evidence at the time seemed to support that. Today I realize why democracy has in history been thought to be weak, unreliable, subject to the mob, prone to bringing dictatorship, giving some anxiety even to the founding fathers who hedged it by limiting the vote. Currently we have both the weakness of corruption and the weakness of popular rule on full display.

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    2. thank you, clif brown. your comments are parlous-appreciated. the arrant and errant subsidizing of israel in the face of their unspeakable neglect of the beseiged, beleaguered, and their [i include the US here] slow genocidical campaigns against palestinians is a never-ending cauchemar.

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  6. In Australia, they have universal healthcare. You pay 2% of your income into the kitty. 2.5% if you’re rich. For about $300 per month for a family of 5, you can upgrade to private health insurance too if you like. So, its a hybrid public-private system. The parallel private system takes the financial burden off the public system but everyone pays into the public system if they have an income.

    Life expectancy in Australia is longer than in America.

    On the other hand, my niece had a rare from of cancer and had to travel from Australia to the United States for life-saving care.

    The US has great medical care but a lousy medical insurance system.

    In the end though, we’re splitting hairs. I’d prefer to be in the care of either of these systems than, say, that of Cuba or Vanuatu or Nigeria.

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