In healthcare, what comes first: the chicken or the egg? – Part 3/3

October 30, 2012

What is better, universal health care as China offers its citizens or what Wal-Mart offers its associates/employees?  You decide.

From Making Change at Walmart.org, we learn, “Wal-Mart’s health care plans fail to cover hundreds of thousands of associates. In 2009, Wal-Mart claimed that 52% of associates were covered under their healthcare plan. The company has refused to disclose coverage rates for its 1.4 million U.S. employees since then. [4]

“Wal-Mart stopped offering health insurance to part-time employees (working less than 24 hours per week) in 2012. [5]

Taxpayers are forced to provide healthcare for Walmart’s Associates. Hundreds of thousands of Associates and their family members qualify for publicly funded health insurance. [6] Indeed, according to data compiled by Good Jobs First, in 21 of 23 states which have disclosed information, Wal-Mart has the largest number of employees on the public rolls of any employer. [7]

In fall 2011, Wal-Mart made it even more difficult for associates to get quality health care for themselves and their families. Beginning with the 2012 enrollment period, Wal-Mart rolled back health care coverage for part part-time employees and raised premiums for full-time employees by as much as 63% for non-smokers and their families and as much as 162% for smokers with families. . For employees earning $8.81/hour working an average of 34 hours per week, some of Wal-Mart’s 2012 healthcare plans would cost between 77% and 104% of the employee’s annual gross income. [15]

In fact, there is no universal health care in the United States. What is known as Obamacare in the US is not a universal healthcare plan that is run by the government. It is a healthcare plan that just expands health care through private sector health insurance programs with the government subsidizing the costs of health-care premiums for Americans that do not earn enough money to pay for it so huge corporations such as Wal-Mart will allow the government to subsidize its private sector profits. In addition, if Mitt Romney is elected president and he follows through with his promise to get rid of Obamacare, America’s health care will return to where it was in 2007 and 2008:

The percentage of people without health insurance in 2008 was not statistically different from 2007 at 15.4 percent. The number of uninsured increased to 46.3 million in 2008, from 45.7 million in 2007.

The number of people with health insurance increased to 255.1 million in 2008—up from 253.4 million in 2007. The number of people covered by private health insurance decreased to 201.0 million in 2008—down from 202.0 million in 2007. The number of people covered by government health insurance increased to 87.4 million—up from 83.0 million in 2007

The percentage of people covered by private health insurance was 66.7 percent in 2008—down from 67.5 percent in 2007 (Figure 7). The percentage of people covered by employment-based health insurance decreased to 58.5 percent in 2008, from 59.3 percent in 2007. The number of people covered by employment-based health insurance decreased to 176.3 million in 2008, from 177.4 million in 2007. Source: Census.gov

Maybe now, a few of China’s critics may understand why the Chinese Communist Party and most of China’s people continue to resist becoming a democracy similar to America. Don’t get me wrong. I love my country and I am willing fight for her again(if it was a real threat and not one based on malarkey and lies as Vietnam and Iraq were) as I did in Vietnam in 1966 as a US Marine, but she has some serious problems that will be difficult to solve regardless of who is the next president of the United States. In fact, I think if Mitt Romney is elected, the problems will become worse.

Return to In healthcare, what comes first: the chicken or the egg? – Part 2 or start with Part 1

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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In healthcare, what comes first: the chicken or the egg? – Part 1/3

October 28, 2012

Following the same logic as the title of this post, we should also ask, “Does a country exits without its people—not just the wealthy one percent but everyone?”

Studies show that the Mayan civilization (2000 BC – 900 AD) all but vanished overnight because the people walked away into the rainforest and stopped cooperating with the system of government and business that existed.

For this reason alone, every government owes its citizens a form of universal health care to help improve the quality of life, because a government cannot exist with public support.

In fact, every government has a responsibility to its citizens and that goes beyond just maintaining laws, an education system, police, fire-fighting services and a military to defend the country.

The least we should expect from our government is a basic universal health care system that rewards contributing citizens that live healthy lifestyles with more coverage at a lower cost.

On the other hand, citizens that live unhealthy lifestyles should pay more for anything beyond basic health care. When I say basic health care, I mean an annual checkup and treatment for health challenges that are not related to poor lifestyle choices. I do not think that working taxpayers should pay for the health care of a person that made poor lifestyle choices.

However, most universal health care plans do just that–take care of all citizens regardless of individual lifestyle choices.

At the end of 2008, China’s government published its reform plan clarifying government’s responsibility by saying that it would play a dominant role in providing public health and basic medical service. It declared “Both central and local governments should increase health funding. The percentage of government’s input in total health expenditure should be increased gradually so that the financial burden of individuals can be reduced,” The plan listed public health, rural areas, city community health services and basic medical insurance as four key areas for government investment. It also promised to tighten government control over medical fees in public hospitals and to set up a “basic medicine system” to quell public complaints of rising drug costs.

The plan was passed by the Chinese Cabinet in January 2009. The long-awaited medical reform plan promised to spend 850 billion Yuan by 2011 to provide universal medical service and that measures would be taken to provide basic medical security to all Chinese

For China, I found this from CNN, “Where in the world can you get universal health care?” dated June 29, 2012:

China announced an overhaul of its health system in 2009 to bring safe, affordable basic health services to all residents — a tall order for a country containing 1.3 billion people.

The government committed about $126 billion to reform the quality and efficiency of its health care, and ensure affordable and quality medication.

But the issue of equity in health care persists. “There are still significant disparities in health status between regions, urban and rural areas, and among population groups,” according to the WHO.

China has seen increased life expectancy and reductions in infant deaths, but health observers stated in the WHO report the need to improve delivery of care. Source: cnn.com

CNN.com says that Obamacare in the US is NOT universal health care coverage and that nearly 50 countries out of almost 200 have attainted universal or near-universal health coverage by 2008.  China was on the list of eight countries mentioned as examples. They were: Brazil, where free health care coverage is recognized as a citizen’s right; Rwanda; Thailand; South Korea; Moldova; Kuwait; Chile, and China.

As far as I know, none of these countries have ever gone bankrupt or have come close to bankruptcy due to this socialist policy. However, they also do not have a history of fighting wars with other nations.

This report from PBS News Hour in April 2011 explains why and how China is dealing with universal health care system for 1.3 billion people. It talks about the pros and cons of establishing reforms in health care in China.

I wonder how long it will take for China to build the infrastructure and adjust for problems in this new system before it is more competent to handle the demand.

For PBS to report on this topic, they had to have approval from the CCP in Beijing. I’m sure that China’s critics will only focus on the problems without considering or mentioning that instant gratification is unrealistic and it takes time to build the infrastructure for a new system of any kind.

Continued on October 29, 2012, In healthcare, what comes first: the chicken or the egg? – Part 2

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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Free to Lie – Part 2/3

July 13, 2011

I learned that three presidents caused most of the National Debt we have today: Ronald Reagan, who increased the National Debt more than $300 billion in two years; George H. W. Bush, who added another $700 billion in two years, and the last Bush that increased the National Debt by more than $5 trillion in eight years.

This means that President Obama came into office with a National Debt that was more than 10 trillion and the annual interest payment on that debt was about $400 billion or $1.2 trillion since he’s been in office, and the GOP and the Tea Party make it sounds as if the National Debt is his fault.

How many people in the US think of Social Security as a burden on the taxpayer? I admit, until I read a piece from the AARP Bulletin’s Social Security’s Enduring Truths by James Roosevelt Jr., the grandson of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who gave us Social Security, I thought the taxpayer was responsible to pay for Social Security of the program went broke.

However, I learned that was not the fact, which I will explain in Free to Lie – Part 3.

Meanwhile, did you know that China has a Social Security system?

In fact, China’s social security system is broken down into five distinct categories, which are:

1. Pension
2. Medical insurance
3. Unemployment insurance
4. Maternity insurance
5. Occupational injury insurance

To learn more, visit “China Briefing” and read Adam Livermore’s “Understanding China’s Social Security System”.

Continued on July 14, 2011 in Free to Lie – Part 3 or return to Part 1

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

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Free to Lie – Part 1/3

July 12, 2011

China’s central government is often criticized in the West for filtering the Internet and controlling what is published in China’s state-owned media.

The West should also be criticized for the exact opposite, which is allowing too much freedom to lie, which often leads to hate, bad politics and worse economic policy.

In fact, we seldom hear any criticism in the media of the lies and misinformation that appears in the West where abusing freedom of expression to mislead the public has become the art of repeating something that is not a fact until it is considered the truth.

Recently, I wrote “A Short History of the National Debt” and posted it at Speak Without Interruption, Authors Den and Scribd and plan to add it to Gather.

Before I researched the history of the National Debt, I asked myself how President Obama ran up the National Debt to $14.3 trillion dollars, because that amount was about all I was hearing from the Western media, the Tea Party and the GOP. I never heard an explanation of where that National Debt came from.  What I was hearing made Obama seem responsible for the entire amount.

After doing some digging, I learned a few facts.  I hesitate using the word “truth” to define anything, since the “truth” seems to be whatever anyone wants to believe, so I will stick to a few facts and let each reader decide what his or her truth is.

Continued on July 13, 2011 in Free to Lie – Part 2

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

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Recovering from a Beating by Mother Nature – Part 2/4

June 25, 2011

In this post, we will visit the recovery of New Orleans from Hurricane Katrina.

In March 2009, Planetizen reported that Citizen Recovery Efforts Hit Government Barriers in New Orleans.  It was a traumatic story about two New York architects wanting to do something to help the recovery that ran into a wall of dysfunctional government.

Roberta Brandes Gratz wrote, “When architects Anne Van Ingen and Wes Haynes set out to aid the New Orleans recovery effort by restoring a home in the Ninth Ward for low income buyers, they thought their work would be welcomed. But bureaucratic interference and misguided policies have turned a good deed into a nightmare.”


China earthquake response, faster than US Katrina response

On August 29, 2010, the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, News Ahead.com reported, “President Barak Obama acknowledged that recovery has been slow. He vowed to see that turf wars and red tape didn’t hamper recovery, and the 5th anniversary of the storm offers a measuring stick.

“New Orleans appears to be returning to its old self, but throughout the region, boarded-up houses, overgrown vacant lots, homelessness and a lack of essential infrastructure tell a story of continuing impediments to recovery.”

This link to the Documenting Disaster timeline provides a glimpse of the pace of reconstruction and challenges that New Orleans has faced since the hurricane hit New Orleans on August 25, 2005.

There is a “+” or “-” bar on the left of the screen that allows you to move the timeline from when the hurricane hit to when the only movie theater reopened in Chalmette on July 29, 2010.

Then on March 30, 2011, The Northerner, The Independent Student Newspaper of Northern Kentucky University (NKU) published a piece by Jill Liebisch about Kelsey Robinson and Stephanie Mathena and how they assembled a group of eight NKU students to travel to New Orleans to film a documentary and aid in various rebuilding efforts.

Their conclusion, “There is still a lot of work to do in New Orleans.”

Continued on June 26, 2011 in Recovering from a Beating by Mother Nature – Part 3 or return to Part 1

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

To subscribe to “iLook China”, look for the “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar, click on it then follow directions.


Barbara Walters on North Korea and China

November 29, 2010

Recently, Barbara Walters talked to President Obama about North Korea’s shelling of a South Korean island near the DMZ.

Obama said South Korea was one of America’s most important alliances (in Asia), which has to be true since South Korea has many Christians (about a third of the population). It also has a strong open market, capitalist economy and a democratic government.

However, although China is considered North Korea’s only friend and ally, the two countries are different today.

First, China left the autocratic Maoist revolutionary form of government behind soon after Mao’s death.

Second, China is a republic that appears to be moving toward democracy and has an open market economy similar to South Korea’s.

I said in a previous post, “China’s reluctance to put public pressure on Pyongyang to step off the warhorse might be because the Chinese feel it would be like pressuring a family member.” Source: China and North Korea

That may no longer be the case.

Austin Ramzy writing for TIME says, “The news, delivered at a rare Sunday press conference, was that China was calling for emergency consultations between itself, North and South Korea, the U.S., Japan and Russia… it was a welcome call for calm by the North’s key ally.”

Many in the world should be glad of China’s relationship with the Hermit Kingdom. If it weren’t for China, there would be no one North Korea would listen to.

Walters also was in China with President Richard Nixon in 1972, and she paints a picture of China about thirty-eight years ago that vividly offers a contrast to today’s China.

Then in April 2009, Walters asked Jiang Zemin (China’s third president after Mao died) what happened to the famous “tank man” of the Tiananmen Square incident of 1989.

Walters says, “Did you execute him? We heard he was arrested and executed.”

Zemin replied that he did not know what happened to the man. Then he said he thinks the man was never killed.

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

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A Matter of Distance and Perspective

July 7, 2010

President Obama demonstrates that he does not understand the Chinese thought process in his response to President Hu Jintao of China over how to handle North Korea’s recent sinking of the Cheonan, a South Korean naval ship.

The New York Times Asia Pacific section reports that President Obama has accused Beijing of “willful blindness” toward what North Korea has done.  Some American officials say this was an act of war. Obama indicated the way China is handling this would not solve the problem.

There are two voices to pay attention to. Leon E. Panetta and China’s spokesman, Qin Gang. Mr. Qin said, “China is a neighbor of the Korean Peninsula, and on this issue our feelings differ from a country that lies 8.000 kilometers distant. We feel even more direct and serious concerns.”

Leon E. Panetta, the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, said he believed that the sinking of the Cheonan was part of a succession struggle in North Korea.”

America tends to handle crises of this kind like a bull in a China shop, and what gets broken doesn’t hurt the US homeland. China, on the other hand, will handle this issue like delicate surgery.  One wrong move could end in disaster.  After all, who is closer to that nuclear bullring and how can Obama understand when China’s shoes won’t fit his feet?

See China and North Korea

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. 

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