Thursday, July 23, 2009

Got any pliers?

We begin our adventure at 1915 Hours Eastern, 23 July 2009……

Okay…it’s T-minus 45 minutes and counting until once again my television viewing is interrupted and curtailed by an address from The Messiah, His Obamaness. This week’s interruption is so we can all be lied to about Health Care, or at least fed enough mushroom food (i.e. bullshit) to keep everyone appeased until it’s too late. It was slated to be a 9:00 PM address, but it was moved forward so that NBC can air its interview with Susan Boyle. Moving a healthcare reform speech from a jumped-up community organizer in favor of a frumpy Scottish woman who sang her way to stardom on “Britain’s Got Talent”…this country seriously has some ate-up priorities.

The basic crux of things (and admittedly I have done very little homework on this because it’d drive me batshit to read all the articles) is that we are looking very shortly at being forced into “free” government healthcare. That, my friends, is Bad Medicine.

Why? Well, the glaring question when it comes to Free Healthcare is of course: who the hell is gonna pay for it and how?

The answer is simple. You & me. The American Taxpayers. We’ll pay for it by getting jacked by the Feral Gummint™ into paying higher taxes. And then we’ll pay by receiving shitty healthcare.

What’s that, you say? This is America, Steve; how can we get shitty care from the greatest healthcare system of doctors and other medical professionals in the galaxy?

Because, friends, you get what you pay for. When you ain’t paying for it, you tend to get crap.

Wait…let me clarify. Generally, when you pay a bit more for quality, in general quality is what you get. And when you buy cheap shit at the Dollar Store, you’re getting some cheap trinket painted in lead-based Chinese paint that’ll break in a week.

In other countries where socialized medicine has been the norm for many moons, the quality of care kinda, well, sucks ass. And that’s what awaits us: Generalized Suck-Assedness. Why do you think that everyone who can afford to COMES HERE for treatments?

Wake the hell up and smell the Oxycontin, America. Why the hell do you never really hear about people packing their shit and leaving America for heart treatments overseas, or cancer treatments overseas, or brain surgery or reconstructive plastic surgery or to have 600-pound tumors removed or giant hemangeomas removed? That’s because we have the best here, and other places have Generalized Suck-Assedness.

Why do so many Canadians hop the border and pay for treatment here out of their own pockets rather than stay at home? Because Canadian facilities either suck, or you’re waiting weeks/months for a doctor visit. I have family in Toronto that have run down to Buffalo rather than wait. For many years the Fraser Institute in Canada has published a list of waiting times in the various Canadian provinces based on the care needed. In some cases the wait can last for months.

The problem with socialized government-controlled healthcare is that you have no real say-so in anything. Some governmental bureaucratic wonk will decide by committee whether or not you need an MRI or need to see a specialist or if you’re sick enough to have a surgery. Doctors will have a certain number of patients that they’ll be allowed to see on quota and after that, well, then “Screw the next patient because I can’t see any more no matter how sick they are”….

Over in Jolly Olde England, the headlines concerning the National Health Service (NHS) scare the shit out of me:

FROM LONDON'S DAILY MAIL, June 2008: “Twice Katie asked for a Pap smear test, but was told she was "too young" to need one. Now 24, she is dying from cervical cancer…”

FROM THE YORKSHIRE POST, March 2008: “A man with terminal cancer has been refused a drug by the NHS that could extend his life, despite offering to pay part of the cost himself. ... David Swain's offer to meet the monthly £2,000 cost of Erbitux was refused, he said, because the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence ruled it was too expensive.” (Well, that comes out to be $3294 a month; a bit steep admittedly, but the dude was gonna pay for it. However, they said "Go ahead and die)

FROM THE TIMES OF LONDON, March 2008: “Health service dentists have been forced to go on holiday or spend time on the golf course this month despite millions of patients being denied dental care. ... Many have fulfilled their annual work quotas allotted by the National Health Service and have been turning patients away because they are not paid to do extra work. This is despite the fact that more than 7 million people in Britain are unable to find an NHS dentist.”

Indeed, The Times of London ran a story in 2006 asserting: “Patients are being denied appointments with consultants in a systematic attempt to ration care and save the NHS money, The Times has learnt. . . . Leaked documents passed to The Times show that while ministers promise patients choice, a series of barriers are being erected limiting GPs’ [general practitioners] rights to refer people to consultants.”

FROM LONDON'S DAILY MAIL, July 2009: “Thousands of rheumatoid arthritis sufferers face a lifetime of agony because they are not being treated quickly enough, a report says. Guidelines state that patients should receive treatment within three months of the first symptoms appearing. But the average wait is nine months - and GP’s are not trained well enough to know what help to offer.”

Back in February of this year came the story of 42-year old Iraqi War vet Ian Boynton who asked more than two dozen dentists in East Yorkshire to take care of his teeth, which were causing him severe pain. But since he couldn't provide private insurance, he was turned down, he said. Instead, the former British Army medic removed a tooth with a pair of pliers in 2006, and eventually removed 13 of his own teeth inside of two years. The dude couldn’t find any local dentists who wanted to take on any new patients with the government health insurance and he had no other form of insurance, so he took matters into his own hands.

Ian Boynton and his Magical British Smile. Dude is 42 but looks 72. Gotta love free healthcare!

British dentistry has long been the butt of jokes. Here in the States, dentists generally recommend that you get at least a cleaning every six months, and a full exam in addition at least once a year. Most private insurance carriers, including mine, are cool with that. Over in Dear Olde Blighty, the NHS guidelines call for a checkup every two years and they find it almost absurd that a dentist would want to see you that often, calling it “exploitive”. (

They tried to make me brush with flouride but I said No No No...

Recently Dave Gahan, the singer for my favorite band, Depeche Mode, came down sick with gastroenteritis in Greece on tour and they had to cancel some shows. Dave is an English citizen living in L.A., but rather than go back to the UK for some free healthcare, he didn’t even stay in Europe. He flew back to his well-paid doctor in the U.S. of A., where in addition to the gastroenteritis his docs found and removed a malignant tumor in his bladder.

Look, in countries with socialized medicine, you’re waiting days to weeks to get an appointment, and weeks to months for treatments if you even get approved. And then you’ll get your illegal immigrants or transients who drain the system even farther.

Does that sound like your idea of a great health-care system? The British press — as well as the media in other countries with socialized medicine — regularly runs stories about patients who are denied treatment because they are too old or too young or too sick or just too costly. Do you want some government hack determining whether or not you get a referral to a specialist, or a second opnion, or an? expensive test? Or if you’re really sick enough to get your gall bladder out now or two months from now?

Granted, our health care system here isn’t perfect. Each week I watch 15% of my paycheck get swallowed by insurance premiums. I very very seldom use my insurance, but I gotta have it, just in case. It was quite handy when I had my vasectomy last year, a procedure that cost me only $70 out of pocket instead of a grand. But each year my premiums go up, oddly enough at the same rate as my annual pay raise. What the fuck is THAT all about? I never actually see my pay raise because the extra ducats just go to Blue Cross.

Try pricing out an ambulance ride. In looking around the web, I read where one patient was charged $6200 for a 110-mile ambulance trip. Another source said that the average trip was about $645. Hell, if you need a helicopter medevac flight, you’re looking at a good $50,000 or so. An aspirin that costs me $4 a bottle at WalMart for 24 pills costs you like $16 a pill in the hospital. My mother in law paid $13,000 for her gall bladder surgery a couple years back. Her husband is a self-employed trucker so without insurance, it was a major devastating expense. But they cut her a break; if she’d had insurance the carrier would have been billed over $15,000.

We’d be better served to reform the healthcare system as it exists today rather than gutting it putting us all on the Gubmint Tit™. Sure, The Messiah can say all he wants that we’ll all still be able to choose to have our own private insurance if our employers provide it, or we can use the government’s…but face the facts.

In today’s shitty economy, where everyone is cutting employees and cutting wages and cutting benefits, how many semi-scrupulous employers are gonna say “Hey, why should we offer up insurance when you can get it free off the government?”, and just up and eliminate the expense of offering insurance? Trust me, kids, it’s gonna happen.

Fast-forward to 2138 Hours Eastern on 24 July.

No, I did not watch the speech last night. Why watch bullshit when I could watch something better, like “Rescue Me” on FX?

However, my buddy Guest Blogger Chris offered up this recap when I asked him via text message what I missed:

“OK, in a nutshell: I am the best; healthcare is good; immigrants good, U.S. bad; we’re sorry; blah blah blah ad nauseum. Rinse, lather, repeat.”

*sigh* seems I didn’t miss shit last night.

The government can’t bugger it up too badly, can it? I mean, it’s gotta be just like running the DMV, right? That’s always a pleasurable experience. They do great with the postal service. I mean, they only raise the rates every three months or so. And folks is just lining up to get on Amtrak. My local train station in North Charleston looks like Beirut circa 1984.

Yeah. Can’t wait to have this big, open-faced turd sandwich stuffed down our throats. It’s coming. It’s inevitable, just like it’s a shoe-in that Her Wise Latinaness will ooze her Jabba the Hutt-looking ass onto the Supreme Court. They own the House. They own the Senate. They own the Oval Orifice. Soon they’ll own the Supreme Court.

And you know what we’ll own?

The fucking bill.

Someone should bring the Wise Latina Solo & the Wookie...


j summ said...

not fair to put winehouse on here. with all the meth she's ingested it's a wonder she has any teeth at all.

Mancman said...

As a British Dentist, I can only say...avoid social healthcare at all costs!

I used to work for the NHS, now I only do private work and spend a great deal of time picking up the pieces for patients who were regular attenders at NHS practices.

Most of them still have to pay for NHS work, and doing dentistry on the NHS is like working with your hands tied behind your back.

Within the core of the NHS are many thousands of dedicated healthcare professionals, who are all World class, they too are hampered by bureaucracy and politics. There is a culture of fear and bullying from management, many of whom are paid more than senior doctors to be government "yes-people", and to massage statistics.

An example of management's great ideas is shown below, this took place at 9am on a weekday in the main car park of one of the biggest hospitals in Europe. PR people and the like are paid good money, that should have gone into proper healthcare, for this sort of crap. creativeconern, the PR bullshitters behnind this idea described it as a great way to "engage with people".

I've got news for creativeconcern, people don't come to hosptial to be "engaged with" they come to be treated for illnesses.

Enjoy and look forward to your American taxes being spent on this sort of horror!

The Lightning Man said...

Thanks so much for taking the time to not only read my post, but for commenting as well. I'm glad that you pointed out how hampered you doctors are under this sort of socialized system and that it's not so much a lack of ability but rather a lack of being able to do what needs to be done under the thumb of the government.

Again, Doctor, thanks very much for coming by.

sue said...

I liked your comment on Gray Headed Brother's blog.

Krystal said...

That scared me...

Nrq? said...

I used to live in France and I love socialized health care. You don't have to worry if a doctor is in your "network," you don't have to wonder if giant bills for you "percentage" of the cost will come in the mail, doctors actually have time to talk to their patients, no one worries about whether they can afford the drugs or treatment they need. And the French are healthier, spend less on healthcare, and live longer than Americans - as do many Europeans. America pays more per capita on health care, receives less of it, and is less healthy than just about any industrialized country. We die younger, we have more heart attacks, we weigh more...Wake up America! Get off your fat asses and join the rest of the industrialized world!

The Lightning Man said...

I actually rather like my health insurance. Insurance is just that, insurance. You pay for it in the event you need it, just like with your car. Should we just get rid of car insurance too and have the government repair our cars when some asshole runs into it?

I'm in good health over all and have never worried about the cost of prescriptions for myself or my wife. In fact, her monthly scrip costs us four dollars, less than a fancy cup of French coffee. I had an elective procedure done 18 months ago that cost me a whopping 70 dollars instead of a thousand, it was over in 12 minutes, my pain meds were about 5 bucks, and I had the consult done WHEN I WANTED, not weeks, and had the procedure scheduled and performed within a couple DAYS, not months.

I'm not ready for some government lackey to decide whether or not I can have a procedure or even see a specialist.

According to, "France's rate of heart disease is actually similar to that of neighboring Italy, Spain, and southern Germany - lower than many countries in the world, but hardly as remarkable as reported in the '80s and early '90s.

The French drink one-and-a-half times more per capita than Americans and their death rate from liver cirrhosis is more than one-and-a-half times greater than that in the United States. According to WHO, France has the sixth highest adult per capita alcohol consumption in the world. (The U.S. ranks 32nd.) Alcohol may be involved in nearly half of the deaths from road accidents, half of all homicides, and one-quarter of suicides, according to the French equivalent of the U.S. Institutes of Health. And while coro­nary heart disease may be less pervasive in that country of 60 million people than in many others, it is still the number one cause of death. "

The London School of Economics reported in 2007 that "Previously ranked by WHO as the best performer, the French health system is not without problems. It has traditionally operated with little regard to efficiency or cost containment. It has the highest rate of pharmaceutical use in the EU, while, until recently at least, there has been little attempt to incorporate cost effectiveness into policy making."

And the French chain smoke like bonfires.

j summ said...

maybe the french are more healthy. sure ain't cleaner. personal hygiene ranks somewhere below national defense, and giving a cat a bath is easier than getting most french women to shave.