Category Archives: News

healthcare thoughts

It’s interesting to me how supporting government-run healthcare has become more or less standard for Democratic candidates.  I can’t argue that people – all people – should have access to healthcare, but I feel a lot of people don’t understand that what people get with government-run healthcare is not the same as what we get here.  I can mainly speak to Ireland and the UK, so that’s what I’ll talk to.

  • If you are in the hospital in Ireland, you’ll likely find yourself on a ward.  If not, you’ll be sharing a room.  As far as I can tell, wards don’t even exist on US hospitals anymore, except maybe in the ICU or whatever.  Private rooms are not a standard thing like they are here.
  • If you need some kind of treatment for something that’s not life-threatening, you’ll likely have to wait.  A long time.  Here’s a random example of an article on patients waiting 9 months or more to get shots for macular degeneration.  I didn’t KNOW that people had to wait a long time for that treatment, but I guessed they did.  My dad has macular degeneration, and it’s terribly time-critical to get treated.
  • When my American grandma got cataracts, she made an appointment and got them removed.  When my Irish great-aunt got cataracts, she got put on a waiting list, and a year later, she got them removed.
  • In Ireland, people unsatisfied with public health care pay for private health insurance.  15% of health care expenditures came from private insurance, and 40% of Irish people have some type of private insurance.  My aunt found a lump in her breast.  She was unsatisfied with the care she was getting from the public healthcare system, so she sought private treatment and surgery to have it removed.
  • Healthcare is like an HMO.  I’ve enjoyed being on a PPO for over a decade.  As a kid, my parents had an HMO which was super annoying because you couldn’t just go see a doctor if you had a problem.  You needed a referral.  Not a huge deal, but public healthcare tends to follow the HMO model – your GP is a gatekeeper.
  • Education requirements are WAY less to qualify as a doctor in other countries outside the US.  It takes five years to qualify as a doctor in Ireland.  In five to six years, you can qualify as a surgeon or specialist.  That’s out of high school, folks.  I actually think this is a good thing, but unless the model is changed, doctors here are going to expect to be paid more.
  • GPs in Ireland make $77,000 a year.  GPs in the US average between $140,000 and $190,000 a year, depending on the source.  And we have trouble finding enough GPs even at that salary level.
  • As far as I can tell, Medicare is great in the US.  But the rest of us are subsidizing it heavily.  Not only that, I’d assert that the US subsidizes healthcare around the world through paying through the nose for pharmaceuticals and advanced operations and equipment not available elsewhere.  New treatments are debuted in the US, and after they’ve been shown to work well, they move to the rest of the world.  A random example of British kids trying to get to the US for cutting edge cancer treatment.  Cancer treatment is very effective in Europe, but many of those effective treatments were developed and paid for here.
  • Despite the fact that a full 12% of Americans are uninsured, cancer survival rates are comparable between the US and Europe.  12% of Americans don’t even have healthcare, but survival rates are the same.  Why?  Shouldn’t they be much higher in Europe?  (It varies with type of cancer; for some types, survival rates are higher in the US, others higher in Europe, but comes out roughly even overall.)

I honestly believe healthcare will not be any cheaper whatsoever if we go to governement-run healthcare in the US.  I suspect that globally, the rate of advancements in healthcare will declines.  I would LOVE to see the US stop subsidizing drugs for the rest of the world, and perhaps government run healthcare would enable that.  I do believe it’s a moral obligation of this country to provide healthcare to all its citizens.  I’m not sure Medicare for all is the way to do that.  Maybe it is.  If Medicare for all IS the right answer, I definitely would be in favor of a gradual expansion – gradually reduce the eligibility age and add in children at the same time.  So, year one, move eligibility to age 55 and also make all children under 1 eligible.  People could still retain private insurance if they wished, but I imagine many or most wouldn’t.  Private insurance would experience a slow decline over the next 30 years while it adapted to a role more similar to that which it plays in Europe.

 

vaccine rant

This is completely, wildly insane.  I hope she sues and gets a huge payout.  I’ve had various medical advice over the phone many times that I’ve declined to take because the situation on the ground changes.  A child beginning to act and look healthy is a perfect example of this.  The woman’s concerns about harrassment because she doesn’t vaccinate do call her judgment into question, but a doctor should not be able to call the cops on you because you fail to take your kid to the ER with a temperature of 102 “just to make sure” he’s OK.  And with guns drawn?  Are you f-ing kidding me?

Sometimes I feel like I’m living in communist Russia.

Another example: a town in NY refuses to allow unvaccinated *children* in public.  Now, in case your wondering about this “community” that has so many unvaccinated kids, it’s Hasidic Jews, you know, religious extremists with views most of us don’t agree with.  But to not allow them to go in public over the measles?  Are you kidding me?  When people came back from Africa with frikking Ebola they were still allowed to go in public (which I thought was nuts).  Also, why does this apply only to children?

To me, the next obvious step in the vaccination war is not hysteria over the 8% of children who aren’t vaccinated for the measles.  92% is more than enough to ensure herd immunity.  In my opinion, it’s not worth trampling on people’s civil rights to save less than one life per year.  How about we ban a few guns instead, given the 33,000 people die a year from gun fire?   The media loves to portray anti-vaxxers as yuppy moms who’ve watched too much Jenny McCarthy.  But many or most measles outbreaks occur in obscure religious communities or among recent immigrants – Hasidic Jews (2018), Somali-Americans (2017), and Amish (2014).  Other outbreaks have been imported from overseas.

Every time there’s an outbreak, there’s a rush to pass more restrictive laws impinging on people’s freedoms.  Why?  We’ve had consistent 92% vaccination for decades, which is more than enough to keep people safe.

Instead, the obvious next step in the vaccine campaign is to go after adults who don’t get vaccinated for the flu.  In a typical year, more than 10,000 people die from the flu.  According to the CDC, around 40% of adults get the flu vaccine, but they have a lot of uncertainty in the number.  This has been flat since at least 2010.  Even with the uncertainty, it’s pretty clear a hell of a lot of people are not getting vaccinated.  Why are companies not required to verify all their employees get vaccinated, or sign forms stating conscientious objection?  I am well aware that the flu vaccine is not 100% effective, but I bet that with 92% flu vaccine compliance hundreds and maybe thousands of lives could be saved.  It seems like this would be much better bang for our buck than passing draconian laws forcing a small minority of parents to vaccinate their kids for the measles or take them out of school.  They might better also step up efforts to get children vaccinated against the flu – CDC estimates less than 60% uptake for children on the flu vaccine.   Why is evidence of flu vaccine not required to attend school?

sad things

One of the things about the internet and social media is that you get exposed to so much tragedy.  The friend of a friend, a toddler, nearly drowned and was left with a brain injury a couple years ago.  My friend posts about it, and it breaks my heart.  Just the utter pointlessness of it and also hopelessness.  A little girl, age 2, dealing with a second recurrence of leukemia.  A girl who attended my elementary school died of leukemia.  I’m guessing anyone reading this blog who went to my school and instantly remember her name.  But she was the only one I knew of as a child.  Today, people share and you hear all these tragic stories.  No child should ever have cancer.  It’s just so utterly unfair and ridiculous and harsh.  It breaks my heart.  Then the father of one of the children who died at Sandy Hook committing suicide.  I wish I didn’t know about Sandy Hook.  New Zealand had a massacre and they changed their gun laws.  We lose 20 six-year-olds and change nothing.  But just thinking about that poor man and his beautiful child murdered just is hard to wrap my mind around.

On one hand, it seems absurd to get upset about the tragedies of strangers.  I’ve cried tears over these people who I’ve never met.  On some level, this seems ridiculous.  On the other hand, to not be moved by such tragedy, even of strangers, seems heartless and cruel and callous.  But I wish I could go back to the days when I just didn’t know about so many sad things.

anyone but Trump?

Elizabeth Warren?  No.  Sorry.  Don’t agree with her views and very not thrilled that she claimed to be Native American.   Bernie Sanders?  Seriously, no.  Check out his enacted legislation list: https://www.govtrack.us/congress/members/bernard_sanders/400357 Zilch.  Biden?  Ideologically, I’m more on the same page as him, but the man is 76.  Can we not get a candidate under 70?  Is that too much to ask?

I’m really waiting for a Democratic candidate to emerge that I can actually support, as opposed to just an “anyone-but-Trump” vote.  Anyone?  I just saw that Beto O’Rourke might run.  Two thoughts in favor: Irish last name, and Sarah likes him.  Maybe I could like him too?

grandstanders and compromisers

There’s been a lot of talk about who’s running for President.  So far I’ve been extremely underwhelmed by the Democratic nominees, though I have to admit I haven’t read about all of the min detail.  But presidential candidates from both parties tend to be flashy and obnoxious.  Hillary was an exception . . . and she lost.

Anyway, it looks like they may avert a government shutdown.  From CNN:

“In a sign that made it look like a shutdown was increasingly likely, talks broke down over the weekend, but four members of that group — the top Democrat and Republican from both the House and Senate Appropriations committees — kept meeting Monday to try and broker a deal.”

What I’d like to know is who are these four lawmakers who were willing to stick it out and negotiate with people they probably don’t like and try to compromise?  Their names aren’t even listed in the article.  I’m guessing their compromise will be unpopular with everyone, and so they’re not seeking attention over it, but I want to know who they are, so I looked up the names:

  • Richard Shelby (R-Alabama)
  • Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont)
  • Nita Lowey (D-NY)
  • Kay Granger (R-Texas)

Sadly, they are all as old as the hills, or I’d want one of them to run for president, instead of the current crop of grandstanders.

sexting

From the NYT:

After years of hearing about the dangers of youth sexting, researchers at Drexel University set out in 2015 to find how common the practice is among adults. And after interviewing 870 people, ranging in age from 18 to 82, they discovered that sexting is “more common than generally thought,” as the American Psychological Association primly observed. Fully 88 percent of adults reported swapping sext messages at least once; 82 percent had sexted with someone in the last year. Far from being a threat to our relationships, sexting correlated strongly “with greater sexual satisfaction, especially for those in a relationship.”

Do you believe this?  88%?  I’m skeptical that 88% of adults have ever owned a cell phone.

I’ve never sexted via text, but let’s assume instant message services count.  Then yes, I have sexted (especially if you consider the benign love-texts from Jeff sexts.)   H and I definitely exchanged some mildly erotic messages in the early days of relationship.  I find texting slow and painful, and hence have never felt the urge to sext on that platform.  Within the last year, though?  I don’t think so.  In fact, I can say with high confidence, not.  Is there something wrong with me?  Are we selling ourselves short on sexual satisfaction by not?  Should I ask my husband to begin sending me pictures of his nether regions?

I also will admit to have taken, on film, some questionable photos as a 20-year-old.  Those no longer exist, thankfully.  And, I can’t imagine being in Jeff’s position and having those broadcast across the country fro all to ogle.

I do think we should give teens a break.  Sending and receiving sexts seems pretty darn normal, photographic or no.  I think you can actually get charged with a crime for doing this, which seems absurd and not in keeping with the times.

Some more interesting perspective from the article:

It’s only going to get worse (or better, depending on your perspective) as we’re rapidly establishing new and welcome cultural norms about hitting on people. It’s increasingly unacceptable to hit on someone at work or in a classroom or on the street. So we do it online. We swipe left or right and start swapping texts with a stranger. The conversation quickly progresses from flirty to dirty and, before we know it, we’re exchanging nudes with that stranger.

Virginia Democrats

Gotta love Virginia and politicians in general.

Governor: Democrat, dressed in blackface and picture was put in his yearbook.  Denies that he’s in the picture but acknowledges having dressed in blackface on at least one other occasion.  Democrats call for his head.  He refuses to step down, saying this happened 35 years ago.

#2 in succession: Democrat, black, has not admitted dressing in blackface but has been accused by a credible source – a professor at Scripps College – of forcing her to have oral sex.  Basically, he appears to have raped her.  And then he described her, per NYT, as an “expletive” in a private meeting – bitch perhaps?  Or worse?

#3 in succession: Democrat.  Called for the Governor to resign over blackface incident.  Now it comes out that HE also dressed in blackface, in 1980.  Now claims that he’s learned from the incident 40 years ago.  Guess those extra 5 years made all the difference over the governor!

#4 in succession: A Republican. Sexual assault and blackface status still unknown.

Honestly, if I had some free time, I’d do a comprehensive search / investigation of all the politicians who’d dressed in blackface and publish it.  My guess?  50% of white male politicians over 50.