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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An Unhealthy War of Words

March 17, 2010

Both China and America face a crises in health care, because many in both countries cannot afford it.

Emperor Wudi (Han Dynasty, 141 BCE) may have made the right choice. Wudi wanted to make sure that peasants could afford salt and iron so his government controlled the prices. The private sector that sold these commodities was upset, because they couldn’t amass the great fortunes they wanted.

Emperor Wudi - Han Dynasty

After Emperor Wudi’s death in 87 BCE, a great debate (similar to the debate over health care in America today) took place.  It was called the “Debate on Salt and Iron”.  It pitted the advocates of a strong central state against those favoring more autonomy for local elites—people who owned businesses in the private sector. In the end, the government program that controlled the prices of essential commodities was abolished.

The results—

1. The imperial court became more concerned with an extravagant social life and stopped doing their job running the country. Greed became rampant.

2. Powerful families manipulated the emperor and his ministers—like corporate and special-interest lobbyists in America today. For a few, fortunes grew while many peasants had to go without.

3. Revenues declined and military affairs were neglected.

4. The Han Dynasty collapsed.

Health is an essential commodity, and Bill Maher makes a good case for this in his piece at the Huffington Post.

To learn more, read “China’s Health Care During Mao’s Time” http://wp.me/pN4pY-br