Friday, June 29, 2012

Bryan Fischer: I Never Said I Didn't Believe in SOCIAL Darwininsm!

Reader Bob was kind enough to call our attention to this timely column by radio rant show host Bryan Fischer, who -- just this once! -- puts aside his usual anti-gay crusade to solve the problem of rising health care costs.  (I don't want to give away the ending, but it involves you making a series of spectacularly stupid and ultimately fatal choices, beginning with your decision to read a column by Bryan Fischer.)
Bryan Fischer: Bringing down health care costs so easy a caveman could do it.
Well, first off, it appears that Bryan has confused those politically correct Neanderthals offended by the use of troglodyte stereotypes to sell car insurance, with the lizards and domestic fowl which act as spokesmodels for life insurance companies.

Oetzi the Ice Age Mummy says, "In my day, we didn't have government mandated health care, and yet somehow I managed to climb nine thousand feet into the Alps, despite arthritis and a bad case of whipworm.  In fact, I used to be an adventurer like yourself, until I took an arrow in the knee."
If we want to bring down the cost of health care, it’s easy. What we lack is not the way but the will.

The way is simple.
The simplest solution is usually the correct one, and the nice part is, Occam's Razor can also be used to lance boils, shave off cancerous moles, and perform other money-saving forms of self-surgery!
First, eliminate the federal requirement that hospitals have to treat any patient who shows up. That’s the place to begin.
Well, if that's the solution, then we'll probably have to begin outside, since we'll need to clear a space where we can stack the bodies of untreated coronary and gunshot victims like cordwood.  I suggest we mark off a section of the parking lot with traffic cones (there'll be fewer visitors anyway) or maybe tear out those shrubs near the ER entrance.
Get government out of telling hospitals who they have to do business with.
Maybe this whole business model is flawed to begin with, and instead of dealing with sick people, hospitals should be doing business with Fiberglass insulation manufacturers, or novelty gearshift knob wholesalers.
There is simply no way to control the cost of health care if hospitals are obligated to provide healthcare to all regardless of their ability to pay.
It's Economics 101.  Taking a commodity and making it rare and something that only the rich can afford is the best way to drive down prices.
How long would a mechanic last if he was required to fix every automobile anybody brought to his shop, regardless of ability to pay? He’d be broke and out of business in a week, and pretty soon there would be no mechanics for anybody. We’d all be riding bikes to work.
Is the mechanic tax exempt, like a non-profit hospital?  Does he accept automobiles on Medicare or Medicaid?  Do our car insurance premiums go up if he performs an emergency water pump replacement on an indigent 1977 AMC Gremlin?  And if mechanics are treating cars like people, does that mean doctors get to start treating patients like cars?  ("I'm afraid your father has a faulty heart valve.  Now, we can replace it, and you might get a few more years out of him, but between the parts and labor, you're better off junking him for the scrap value.")
People need medical care, you will say. Right. People need to eat, too. How long would a grocer stay in business if he was required to offer food to everyone who walked in the door regardless of their ability to pay? He’d be broke in a week, and then nobody would have food.
Or the government could issue Food Stamps, thereby permitting poor people to feed their children, while simultaneously allowing Mr. Drucker to maintain his quaint corner grocery and continue to live the Hooterville Dream.

But I think I see where you're heading with this Bryan, and I have to admit, between the starvation and the withholding of medical care, you may have finally solved the problem of our permanent underclass.

There was no such emergency room law prior to the one Ronald Reagan - yes, that smaller government, government-is-not-the solution Ronald Reagan - signed in 1986. For the first 200 years of our life as a republic, hospitals through charity and charitable donations offered health care to the neediest among us, and did so without anybody having to order them to do it.
It's baffling that Congress would go to the trouble of drafting and passing a law -- let alone that Reagan of all people would sign it -- to solve a problem that didn't exist.  But then, I felt the same way about the Clean Water Act, since for the first 200 years of our republic, polluting industries were scrupulous about saving their noxious effluent in Mason jars in the basement, much like Howard Hughes' bowel movements.

Anyway, I don't remember anybody worrying about doctor bills prior to 1986, although that could just be the result of this untreated head injury.
Most hospitals were started by Christians or Christian organizations, and will find a way to offer care to the indigent whether the federal government is standing over them with a cudgel or not.
I always thought Community Health Systems, Inc. was a huge, for-profit corporation, but apparently it's an order of Carmelite nuns who rebranded.
The American people, because of the spirit of Christianity, are the most generous people on earth, which they prove time after time when disasters hit anywhere in the world. Let’s not insult our own people by saying they are not generous and compassionate enough to help the needy with medical care.
So if you need a couple thousand dollars to get that abscess taken care of before you die of blood poisoning, just organize a telethon for yourself, or persuade Bob Geldolf to write a song about you.
Health insurance should be for emergencies, not routine maintenance. We don’t expect auto insurance to cover oil changes and tire rotations.
And that analogy would work brilliantly, if people were born with warranties.  ("I'm sorry, Bill.  If we'd detected your cancer earlier, we could have done something, but now,'s 25 Years or 25,000 Miles and you're 26 and a half.  Your parents should've bought the Extended Warranty when you were zygote.")
 It’s there for accidents. And so health insurance should not be there for checkups but for major events.
This may come as a blow to insurance companies, who often prefer to pay for mammograms rather than mastectomies, and prescription birth control rather than pregnancies, because they're cheaper, but if we're going to make Bryan's plan work, we're all going to have share the pain.
If people paid out of pocket for all medical expenses up to a high deductible, they’d be much more careful about their use of medical services and they’d take better care of themselves in the meantime. The cost of medical services would come down as health care providers lowered prices to attract business.
Having a heart attack?  Master the Art of the Deal and meet the Hospital's fee schedule with a low-ball counteroffer, then watch 'em sweat!

In the meantime, I look forward to the day when Big Pharma, desperate for business, is forced to open the equivalent of those "day old" bakery outlets, where they'll sell stale and expired medication at marked down prices.
Consumers would have an incentive to take good care of their own health and use medical services sparingly, because every dollar they save they get to keep.
Well, "keep" in the sense that it'll go right into your health savings account.  "Sorry, son, I wanted to save for your college education, but I had to put that money away in case I needed a hip replacement.  But don't be mad -- the joke's on me, right, since the bank just failed.  Oh well, good thing I never had to do that Sophie's Choice thing like your uncle Jim did, when both his kids were in a car accident and he could only afford to save one.  I know that was a tough decision, but I still think he shouldn't have done it with a coin flip.  At least, not in the Gift Shop."
Right now, employees using employer-provided insurance have zero incentive to reduce the use of medical services. In fact, the incentive, perversely, is the other direction. Employees who make healthy lifestyle choices and rarely need medical care wind up with nothing to show for it, other than higher premiums to pay for other employees who don’t look after themselves.
No offense, Bryan, but wages are stagnant in this country, and if my employer isn't giving me a raise this year, then I'm gonna take it out in free colonoscopies.
Third, get rid of all government-mandated coverage requirements.
Honestly, you can probably get five, maybe six uses out of a good hypodermic needle before it's too dull to break the skin.
A huge driver of the cost of insurance is that government regulators, including Benito Obama with MussoliniCare
...have a policy of hanging all patients upside down by their heels, which is pricy, although admittedly effective for lower back problems and gout.
...require insurance companies to cover a host of treatments, whether the consumer has any interest in them or not. 
 Many people are under the misimpression that insurance companies routinely attempt to breach their contract with policyholders by denying coverage, because it pays off financially -- sick people often being too sick to fight back.  In truth, it's because insurers are the only entities in the health care industry who are willing to stand up and defend your leisure time hobbies and interests.  Sure, some doctor might think you need "emergency surgery" to repair your "ruptured femoral artery," but what if your insurance agent realized, during the ten minutes you spent together in his cubicle while you signed the paperwork, that your interests and aptitudes really ran more toward getting a pressure bandage and a quick trip in a wheelchair back to the loading zone?
 Let’s allow insurance companies to offer a range of packages and allow consumers, cafeteria style, to decide what kind of coverage they want.
Hey, we still can't do this with our cable channels, even though giving up ESPN or the Game Show Network isn't nearly as likely to kill you.
If they will never resort to acupuncture, why should they be forced to pay for it?
Exactly.  I'm pretty confident I can predict, with 100% accuracy, what kind of accidents and diseases I'm going to suffer, and the only thing I need to insurance against is having my soft palate impaled on a scale model of a church steeple, like Timothy Dalton in Hot Fuzz.
Highly paid lobbyists get state regulators to mandate coverage for all sorts of things, whether it’s psychiatric care or chiropractic care, that many consumers would not purchase if the choice was left up to them. 
I'd recommend that Bryan consider checking the "psychiatric care" box on his insurance coverage menu, but as D.Sidhe has pointed out in the past, there's a difference between being an asshole and being crazy, and like the common cold, there is no cure for being an asshole.
Let’s get employers out of the health-care-providing business and let them give the money they spend on premiums to their employees in the form of raises.
Or to themselves in the form of bonuses. Either way, it'll be a glorious blow to Big Chiropractic.
I flat out guarantee you that employees who are spending their own money will be more frugal about the choice of insurance products than their employers are.
Hell, I have insurance, of a sorts, through Mary, and I've still been putting off back surgery for the past three years because we can't make the deductible.  But imagine how much for frugal I could be, with the right disincentives!
If ObamaCare is shot down by the Supreme Court, as it certainly should be, the possibility of major health care reform will be sitting right in front of us. We can preserve the status quo, which nobody likes or should like, or we can make reforms that will reduce costs and improve access to health care for every American for decades to come. It will be time to choose. Let’s choose wisely.
I'm sure Bryan has heard the bad news by now, and, considering his passion for the subject, is undoubtedly taking it hard.  I'd like to help, and considered buying him a box of tissues (the nice soft ones, with Vitamin E and aloe), but alas, I also expected the Supreme Court to overrule the Affordable Care Act, so most of my money is tied up in Burial Insurance, and there are substantial penalties for early withdrawal.

 All in all, an elegant solution, Bryan...but as usual, Mystery Science Theater 3000 got there first.


Bill S said...

Bryan Fischer truly is the World's Biggest Asshole, isn't he? He's bumped Mike Adams from the top spot, which is quite an accomplishment.

Carl said...

Most hospitals were started by Christians or Christian organizations

Long Island Jewish and Cedars Sinai has a sad...

Carl said...

Bill, I think it's time for another round of "Worst Wingnut" pageant, dontcha think?

Cole said...

I dunno, Fischer is like Uncle Asshole, white-haired old bastard who is a complete and utter asshole by nature...Old School, if you like.

Mikey is a young-gunner with pretensions. He's the tight asshole that likes it personal and rough. The fucked up Cousin Asshole you only see once or twice every other year, who cranks up the assholishness whenever he senses he's being annoying.

I don't think I can compare the two--apples and oranges; a matter of taste.

I personally find Adams to be the most grating kind of asshole in that I frequently hope to see a news story that he's accidentally shot his own balls off and bleed to death because he won't allow the woman paramedic to treat him.

Fischer I'd be satisfied if he just went senile, his well-trained family packes him off to the cheapest old folks home they can find, where he sits drooling in a murky corner, dependent on that Christian charity for the rest of his days.

LinGin said...

Bryan, Jonathan Swift called. You're doing it wrong. It's supposed to be satire.

But what a relief to find out that Fischer isn't just a homophobe. He hates everyone.

JoeBuddha said...

OK, I've officially had it. I like to point and laugh as much as the next guy, and the rethug clown car has had a lot of amusement value. This, however, is beyond snark. May this "person" find the emergency room packed and unavailable the next time he needs it.

Helmut Monotreme said...

Would it really be that much of a savings for society as a whole if everything we saved on health care had to go for running snowplows year round to clear the corpses of the un- and under insured off the streets?

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

Just like Jesus said, right Bryan?

"Fuck the poors and the sick, because they've got no monies."

Anonymous said...

Well, should we call Bryan Fischer's plan the...."Final Solution"?

D Johnston said...

Yet another example of how different people see the world. Most of us view health care and insurance as a major life purchase, like a new car or a house. The chronically dim, on the other hand, want to treat it like a consumer purchase, such as a pair of distressed jeans or a box of Lipton. In fact, there's your solution - we need to start selling health insurance at Wal-Mart. We can sell it like cell phone plans - in fact, why not use the same kiosks? That'll keep people from focusing on those impulse buys like antibiotics and blood work.

(It's hard to make this funny, isn't it? Fisher's three point plan is basically: 1) Let poor people die, 2) Let middle-class people die, 3) Let really sick people die. My old Chinese history professor had a term he used to describe people who allowed others to suffer and die needlessly. He called them "moral horrors." Fits, doesn't it?)

Chris Vosburg said...

Most remarkable of all is the fundamental error underlying Fischer's opinion: his belief that hospitals supply free medical care to the indigent.

They don't. They are recompensed by the state and federal government, at princely emergency room rates, for treatment of those who cannot afford to pay and may only require something as simple as treatment for an infection (perhaps an antibiotic prescription and nothing more is needed).

And as a result of it having been made illegal, by the Bush admin, to negotiate drug prices in the US with pharmaceutical companies, this is again recompensed without a blink by state or federal government, at princely rates.

Allow me to illustrate with a personal story: I suffer from emphysema as a result of chasing the camel for some 45 years, and it shows. There are of course, remedies for this; you've probably seen them expensively advertised on TV.

Spiriva is sort of the rolls-royce of COPD meds, and I recently had some big fun at the local Walgreen Drugstore attempting to fill a 90-day scrip.

They wanted $850. No I'm not kidding, and I actually asked for a glass of water on the spot so I could execute a proper spit-take in response (a Chinese Fan, if you're curious, as ably demonstrated by Joel in one of the MST3K eps). The Walgreen pharmacy staff was not amused, but, well, fuck them very much, they deserved it.

So, I'm buying meds online. Because it's coming from outside the US, the price is roughly a quarter of the Walgreen price (with free shipping!), and that's for the genuine brand name Spiriva-- a generic is also available from India for about a tenth of the Walgreen price-- which I haven't tried yet, because I'm sort of new to this, and want to take it one step at a time.

But, see, that's my point: Big Pharma charges what they do in the US simply because they can; they can't elsewhere because of government regulations regarding the cost of meds-- in virtually all other countries.

That's fucked up. Way fucked up.

Chris Vosburg said...

Also, for further disheartening news about just how badly broken our health care system in the US is, check out this LA Times article on the disparity in pricing identical treatments for cash paying customers and the insured.

I have only a single answer, and that is single payer, at the federal level, and fuck all else. There really isn't any other way to go. If, as the constitution tells me, the point is to provide for the general welfare, then what else?

Anonymous said...

If you don't have insurance, doctors, dentists, hospitals, and everyone else in the health care industry will charge you more money than people who are insured. Then again, even if you have insurance that's no guarantee that the company will honor your policy. I wish that Obama would have just opened up Medicare to everyone who wanted to join, because for-profit insurance is simply legalized theft.

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

I have only a single answer, and that is single payer, at the federal level, and fuck all else.


Chris Vosburg said...

Anonymous writes: If you don't have insurance, doctors, dentists, hospitals, and everyone else in the health care industry will charge you more money than people who are insured.

Uh, we seem to be missing a step here. Actually, the LA Times article I cited above concluded that the exact opposite is true.

An example from the article:

Los Alamitos Medical Center, for instance, lists a CT scan of the abdomen on a state website for $4,423. Blue Shield says its negotiated rate at the hospital is about $2,400. When The Times called for a cash price, the hospital said it was $250.

If you're indigent, then the tab is picked up by the state or federal government at the highest rate, but if you're actually proposing to pay for it yourself, the cost is less. Much less.

D Johnston said...

If you're indigent, then the tab is picked up by the state or federal government at the highest rate, but if you're actually proposing to pay for it yourself, the cost is less. Much less.

So you're telling me that when the government contracts with private organizations and there's little or no oversight, the private groups have an incentive to inflate the bill? I'm shocked!

Chris Vosburg said...

The deeper the pocket, the higher the bill, D, and again, that is fucked up.

When we finally go single payer, as inevitably we will, it will necessarily be accompanied by oversight into cost, but I doubt I'll see this in my own lifetime. My nieces will, and that's all I can hope for.

Grung_e_Gene said...

Oh capital! Are the irish poor back on the menu?

But, clearly Bryan Fisher reaction could never be as delicious as Mean Jean Schmidt's near orgazm over the CNN/Faux News claim that the mandate was struck down...

StickIt said...

Employees who make healthy lifestyle choices and rarely need medical care wind up with nothing to show for it, other than higher premiums to pay for other employees who don’t look after themselves.

What is this guy smoking? Last year this time I was on the county and paid a $15 copay to visit the doctor. Now I'm an employee with a full medical plan -- and a $40 copay for a primary care visit to the SAME doctor. Of course, I'm making twice as much money so it's OK; I'm willing to pay a little more to help people who don't have as much. And I'm not even a christian!

Keith said...

If Bryan doesn't like Obamacare, he ought to move ... to Canada!

heydave said...

Whenever I see Bryan, I wonder if he likes gladiator movies.

Stacia said...

One of the single most destructive memes regarding health care is the idea that people can just "make healthy lifestyle choices" and eliminate medical issues altogether. Unlike Reaganomics, this meme has a trickle-down effect in that everyone is judged, unfairly and harshly, about every aspect of their lives, especially if said aspect can be linked to a person's socioeconomic standing.

I'll never forget a bit on ABC radio news about a decade ago where some health professional (allegedly) practically sniffed her nose into her face as she said black people have worse health than whites because they accept fat people socially. Whites, she said, were better because they shamed their fatties. It was presented completely straight, though by the time I got online that night I noticed the news articles had been toned down.

Recently there was even a news article about a study that claimed people who vote Republican were healthier. Such horrible propaganda, and it easily takes hold in our culture because of our delightfully Puritan beginnings.

And my guess is Bryan has health problems that he doesn't believe for a second are all his fault.