How to Join Member's Area Private Library Search Today's Topics p Login
Main Forums Discussion Tech Talk Mature Content Archives
   Nav Win
 Discussion
 The Alley
 The price we pay   [ Page: 1  2  ]
 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24
Follow us on Facebook

 Moderated by: Ron   (Admins )

 
User Options
Format for Better Printing EMail to a Friend Not Available
Admin Print Send ECard
Passions in Poetry

The price we pay

 Post A Reply Post New Topic   Go to the Next Oldest/Previous Topic Return to Topic Page Go to the Next Newest Topic 
hush
Senior Member
since 05-27-2001
Posts 1693
Ohio, USA


0 posted 05-28-2003 11:58 AM       View Profile for hush   Email hush   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for hush

Have any of you had to do without medical insurance?

Do any of you know anyone who is (or are you) on Medicare, and can't get the prescriptions you need because you don't have coverage?

I was absolutely appalled today to drop of prescriptions for my mother, and find out that 15 doses of an anti-coagulant called Lovenox costs a whopping $1100?

I fear that the people who have always had medical insurance don't understand how desperate the situation is becoming. People who have never experienced having to spend an entire month's income on medications, having to get an extra mortgage, having to drive credit card bills so high that it's a struggle just to make minimum payments... people who have never had to go to these lengths just to survive may not know what a problem it is.

Just thought I'd make a little noise about it.

[This message has been edited by hush (05-28-2003 11:59 AM).]

Sunshine
Administrator
Member Caelestus
since 06-25-99
Posts 67715
Listening to every heart


1 posted 05-28-2003 12:09 PM       View Profile for Sunshine   Email Sunshine   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Sunshine's Home Page   View IP for Sunshine

Noise away, Hush.  Insurance premiums that come out of pocket before I see my paycheck are $500+ for two of us with increased deductibles...[that's for two folks]

we have friends who, because of one accident of their child several years back, and the wife's current medical problems with fibromyalgia...pay over $900 a month for coverage...for two folks...

I have a friend whose husband has Parkinson's...his medical Rx alone run $1500 a month...not including doctors, etc....

it's not a pretty picture.  I don't have the whole story - I don't know why the insurance companies "write off" so much in dollars when you DO have insurance and then when you don't...there's no write-off at all.  You would seem to think it might be the other way around.

To add to this, have you seen any large prescription company's portfolio?  [Let's see, let's talk Upjohn...]  Go get one.  Look at what they pay their senior citizen board of directors....

and I haven't even nipped the tip of the iceberg....



nakdthoughts
Member Laureate
since 10-29-2000
Posts 19275
Between the Lines


2 posted 05-28-2003 12:22 PM       View Profile for nakdthoughts   Email nakdthoughts   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for nakdthoughts

I don't have any medical coverage and had to cash in some ira's last year to pay  the bills..over $3000.00 at 5 drs and many tests before finding out $18 a month pills ( cheap because it is an old discovery) would solve my problem.
Midnitesun
Deputy Moderator 1 Tour
Member Empyrean
since 05-18-2001
Posts 29020
Gaia


3 posted 05-28-2003 12:54 PM       View Profile for Midnitesun   Email Midnitesun   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Midnitesun

I now find myself with NO insurance, making just a few dollars over the limit to qualify for Medicaid, and a documented heart condition that all the current providers (ie Blue double Cross/ Blue Cheesey and all the other major insurance ripoff companies) will exclude from any coverage policies. ie? I am totally at the mercy of the local General Hospital staff, IF and WHEN they have time to tend to me if I'm injured or ill. This, after having paid many thousands of dollars since age 18 for coverage I've rarely ever used. I just have to cover my own butt from now on until I'm old enough for medicare....if it still exists by that time.
thanks for letting me rant a bit
serenity blaze
Member Empyrean
since 02-02-2000
Posts 28839


4 posted 05-28-2003 01:54 PM       View Profile for serenity blaze   Email serenity blaze   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for serenity blaze

Somebody congratulate me. I will have medical insurance come July. This means I'll finally get my MRI, my pap smear, my mammogram, and somebody official can yell at me about my self-destructive habits.

But even with insurance--I'm wary. I watched my father struggle through the red tape of his HMO, to such a heartbreaking extent that he wanted "HMO" listed as cause of death on his death certificate. It took him seven months to see the specialist he needed to treat his lung cancer, only to hear the Doctor tell him that "time is of the essence." (I can't type my father's response here because it is against forum guidelines.)

I remember the day they made the appointment to see the specialist. The closest date they could get was six weeks away, and this was after being shuffled from doctor to doctor, useless tests and bloodwork repeatedly. Six weeks, and my father was losing weight at the rate of five pounds a week, already having dropped fifty. I did the math. (We ultimately gave up on appointments and began using the emergency room.) I'd also like to point out that during his treatment for lung cancer, my father suffered from a hernia, which was left untreated because the lung cancer was considered priority. Finally, FINALLY, after radiation treatments had weakened him, they performed surgery to remove the hernia which had grown to the size of a small watermelon. My father died at home four days later, at home, with his own clothes on, as per his wishes.

Small mercies. sigh.

But oh yes, "the price we pay"?

My father and my family paid the ultimate price, and yes, I am still bitter about that.
But at least my father can rest in peace now.


And now, I really have to laugh about my blessings of being able to see a doctor myself. Oh yeah, I've got a lot of confidence in that now...

(and thanks for listening. As you can see, I still just get so angry.)
Janet Marie
Member Laureate
since 01-22-2000
Posts 18986


5 posted 05-28-2003 02:07 PM       View Profile for Janet Marie   Email Janet Marie   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Janet Marie

A couple years ago, I worked for a "very well to do" surgeon, and I got a lesson in the reality of both how the drug companies and greed works.  The drug reps used to come to the office almost daily, expecting to be seen at the expense of patients waiting for already behind appointments schedules. They bring large quantities of samples of medications to give to the Dr. to hand out as samples to patients...
many of which are new & very expensive drugs not yet covered by insurance or generic alternatives. And they go to great lengths to get the DR's to push their product, offering these already rich MD's perks such a trips and so on and they also several times a year would hold "conventions" where they spent thousands of dollars on food and liquor while "smoozing" the DR.s for their profit.
They also pay unbelievable amounts of money for extended patents on new drugs, so that a cheaper generic cant be issued for years.

Hush...I wish I believed we could ever make enough noise to make this detestable abuse of the sick, elderly and uninsured be dealt with.
Politicians build their campaign platforms on these issue, but sadly we never see a change once they are voted in...because the same drug companies that seduce the medical profession, do the same with our political leaders. Many of us will recall the story in the news a few years ago about state legislators who had "heart & kidney" shaped swimming pools installed by a drug company, or the exotic vacations they sent our legislators on.

Then lets talk about the several Gulf War veterans I know that cant get coverage or prescriptions for the strange, illnesses they contracted while defending our country
in the previous go round with Iraq.

This whole topic of abuse by the rich and powerful is a very sad state of affairs
Its truly a tragic and disgusting black spot on our red white and blue.

As the mother of a sick child who went for 4 years without health insurance and filed bankruptcy over medical bills, and also watched my grandmother do without food to pay for her prescriptions -- I've written countless letters and emails and signed as many petitions and time after time the end result has been that the ones with the money and power decide for all.

Kari also brought up many good points that I sadly learned along the way

Thank you for listening... you have touched on nerve ending for many of us.
Temptress
Moderator
Member Rara Avis
since 06-15-99
Posts 7276
Mobile, AL


6 posted 05-28-2003 03:49 PM       View Profile for Temptress   Email Temptress   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Temptress

I am just glad I don't have to worry yet about wondering which of my precscriptions my insurance will and will not cover. Nothing too bad wrong with me yet. I do finally have a job where I am eligible for medical insurance through them now (much cheaper than going it on my own I think...unless someone knows something better?).

I went to the doctor a few weeks ago, and experienced, for the first time someone giving me one of those prescriptions that don't have a generic yet.

I got an antibiotic and this wonderful (saying that with ing eyes)thing that I could squirt up my nose to make me feel better. Imagine my joy...and imagine me wondering how putting something up my nose and choking on it could possibly make me feel any better!

Both were still more expensive than I realized. I couldn't use my insurance because they haven't sent me a card for the medical yet. The antibiotic had a generic, but the inhaler didn't.

Anyways...I hope I haven't gotten too far off the subject. When elderly people, people with illnesses like cancer, or children cannot get medicine or medical care because of how expensive it is, it makes me sad and very angry. I know there are more out there who need it and can't get it besides these groups though.

okay..rambling Jenn. This just struck a nerve because of my own visit to the doctor. Next time, I'll be more careful. I just assumed there was a generic for the inhaler because for everything else I've ever been prescribed there has been one. Next time? I'll ask.

You could hurt me with your bare hands. You could hurt me using the sharp edge of what you say. JEWEL

Sunshine
Administrator
Member Caelestus
since 06-25-99
Posts 67715
Listening to every heart


7 posted 05-28-2003 04:09 PM       View Profile for Sunshine   Email Sunshine   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Sunshine's Home Page   View IP for Sunshine

Always ask for the generic Rx from the doctor, Jenn...sometimes the pharmacist will ask if you have a preference, but you only usually find such consideration in a small town...

Sometimes I think I could cover my medical needs better if I took the money myself and made it work for me instead of letting them use it and my "now and then" needs would be covered myself, with money to spare...

but then we suffer the fear of "the big accident" or the "horrible disease" which can wipe you out in no time...which of course, once turned in, automatically UPS your insurance anyway when renewal comes around...and you're still paying hefty deductibles...it's a no-win situation...

but on the brighter side?

In our little town...some would call it a small city...our physicians are learning humanitarism...some of our heavy duty doctors [heart/lung surgeons] are now going to the patient's HOME to visit with the entire family to make sure everyone is comfortable with the upcoming procedure and to make sure that EVERYONE'S questions have been answered...some of our nurses are 10-15-20 years in the field and haven't forgotten what FEAR is....

so weighing the good with the bad?  If I have to be sick, I'll make sure my premiums are paid in order to have the care from the folks in the profession in my small home town...

which got slightly off the subject.
Ron
Administrator
Member Rara Avis
since 05-19-99
Posts 9708
Michigan, US


8 posted 05-28-2003 04:20 PM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

At the risk of getting creamed here, I'm going to have to play the combined role of Capitalist Pig and devil's advocate. Because there is still one thing much worse than paying too much for a needed drug.

U.S. drug sales are expected to approach $106 billion this year. That's revenue, not profit, but of that amount, the drug companies will spend $26 billion on research and development. The average cost for developing one single new drug is $800 million. That is money that will be tied up with no return on investment for 10 to 15 years while the drug is (maybe) being approved by the FDA. It's no accident that America leads the world in discovering new and better drugs, but if you're going to ask someone to gamble $800 million dollars for a decade and a half, you probably should expect them to want to make more of a profit than they could have done in the stock market. Otherwise, they have no incentive to discover those new and better drugs.

The one thing worse than paying too much for a needed drug is not having the needed drug discovered yet.

That is not to say there aren't problems with the current system. There are. The drug companies need to make a very good profit because of the risks they take, but it's questionable whether 18.6 percent of their revenue isn't maybe a little TOO good. Would they still be willing to gamble $800 million per drug if their profits were only 14 percent of revenue? Ten percent? It's hard to say where the ceiling lies, but be assured there IS a ceiling beyond which there will be no new drugs developed. A free market and natural competition "should" be able to find the ceiling.

Trouble is, the drug industry doesn't operate entirely in a free market. They are rather stringently controlled by the FDA, with the result that there are only about 600 drug manufacturers approved worldwide. And the American people can't even legally access many of those because of laws against importing drugs. One Congressman (Gil Gutknecht) recently said, "[The FDA] protects the pharmaceutical industry in the United States from any real competition." Sadly, without a truly free marketplace, the only answer seems to be price controls. Or, maybe, a little less interference from the government?

Of course, the FDA also protects the consumer, something we certainly wouldn't want to lose. But does it really need to take three to four years just to set up a new FDA testing program? At a cost of about $93 million a year? Every prescription you buy includes that hidden cost, tacked on by the U.S. government. We need the protection. But couldn't they perhaps provide it a little more efficiently and a lot more cheaply?

I expect, right about now, someone out there is frantically waving their hand and awaiting their chance to point out that most drugs are substantially cheaper when purchased outside the United States. A 30-day supply of the blood-thinner Coumadin cost $30 in America, but the same drug from the same exact manufacturer costs only $2.85 in Europe. Casodex, a drug often prescribed for cancer, costs $375 for 30 tablets in the U.S., and only $157 in Canada. The list of comparisons goes on and on, and a lot of people are quick to conclude the drug companies must be grossly over-charging their American customers. They may even be right, but they fail to realize a LARGE PART of the reason for that is because of those cheap drugs sold elsewhere.

There are exceptions, but prescription drugs are usually cheaper in other countries because the price has been regulated by the governments. The prices are fixed, not by the marketplace, but by agencies and legislators. A European buying Coumadin has to pay for production and shipping costs, plus a fair profit to the manufacturer, all of which is determined by a vote. An American buying Coumadin has to pay for production and shipping costs, a profit to the manufacture, AND the cost of developing the drug in the first place. Unfortunately, because America is one of the very few countries that doesn't price-fix drugs, we end up paying for most of the R&D while the rest of the world only has to pay for the cost of producing the pill.

The easy answer, unfortunately, isn't possible.

Deregulate the pharmacy industry and eliminate all artificial price-fixing in the world, and a free market system would determine the price of drugs fairly. They would almost certainly drop dramatically, but not below the ceiling under which the companies would no longer have the incentive to discover new drugs. That's never going to happen, though, because we need government protection against shoddy drugs and we have no control over international manipulation of prices.

The alternative is to join the rest of the world and arbitrarily set drug prices where we think they should be set. Unfortunately, if America sets prices as low as does most of the world, then no one will be paying for R&D any more. No company is going to invest $800 million dollars for only a four or five percent profit. And that new drug our sons and daughters need to survive might never be found.


Janet Marie
Member Laureate
since 01-22-2000
Posts 18986


9 posted 05-28-2003 07:42 PM       View Profile for Janet Marie   Email Janet Marie   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Janet Marie

Creamed Ron? Can I get that with a side of fries?    

As always there are two sides to the coin and four sides to every story, and all that you say is valid, but there is a line that gets crossed when greed is the inspiration over raising research money. How can they justify buying already wealthy doctors swimming pools and sending them on trips most of us tax payers wont ever be able to afford...lest not forget the elderly that cant afford their medicine. And it goes far beyond having doctors and politicians in their pockets...
As Kari mentioned above...ever see how the CEOs of these drug companies live?
20/20 and 60 Minutes have both investigated this problem, and it was appalling. One CEO owned 5 Luxury Estates in 3 countries, multiple yachts and the excess was insulting across the board of most of the major Drug CEO and also the same of the Insurance Providers.  

Medicade, Medicare, Social Security and most any "poor man" assistance is the first thing to get cut in the budget, Yet each state seems to have no problem finding the billions needed to build a new baseball stadium, or buy a new sports team.

No..there are no easy answers to such complex problems of an abused and over used system, but it wont take a rocket scientist to do the math, to know somewhere along the line "we" got very lost.





[This message has been edited by Janet Marie (05-28-2003 09:16 PM).]

Ringo
Deputy Moderator 10 ToursDeputy Moderator 10 ToursDeputy Moderator 1 TourDeputy Moderator 1 TourDeputy Moderator 1 Tour
Member Elite
since 02-20-2003
Posts 3696
Saluting with misty eyes


10 posted 05-28-2003 08:34 PM       View Profile for Ringo   Email Ringo   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Ringo

I have been without medical insurance for a couple of years, and have found out that medical proceedures are indeed inflated, as are medicines. I ended up in the ER one night as the result of someone crossing the center line and hitting me head on (almost) and the bill I got was... I am swooning just thinking about it. I didn't have to pay it, however, if I did...

Day after day I'm more confused,
So I look for the light through the pouring rain...

Temptress
Moderator
Member Rara Avis
since 06-15-99
Posts 7276
Mobile, AL


11 posted 05-28-2003 09:40 PM       View Profile for Temptress   Email Temptress   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Temptress

Amazing, Ron..
You come in and remind me that I should work hard to keep the balance of understanding that I usually have.

Thanks for all the information.


and Sunshine?
I'll definetely be asking for generics next time. I guess I just got lazy. Sitting in an emergency room waiting room for hours after a very difficult night breathing at work will do that I suppose.


You could hurt me with your bare hands. You could hurt me using the sharp edge of what you say. JEWEL

Ron
Administrator
Member Rara Avis
since 05-19-99
Posts 9708
Michigan, US


12 posted 05-28-2003 10:02 PM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

Janet, they can justify buying doctors swimming pools and sending them on trips because it's a part of doing business. I used to send my programmers to Vegas every year, for Comdex, because I knew it made me more money than it cost me. And if the drug company can convince a doctor to push more of the pill YOU happen to need, that's to your benefit as much as it is to theirs. The most expensive drugs are always the ones needed by the fewest people because it takes much longer to recoup R&D costs.

The way you apparently feel about luxury estates and yachts for the rich is pretty much the same way people in third world countries feel about personal cars and dishwashers for Americans. It's simply disgusting some can live so well while others live so poorly. But THAT is what Capitalism is all about. Being rewarded for what you do. Ready to give up that car you worked so hard to afford? And anyone who thinks a major CEO doesn't work for their money should try becoming one. It isn't an easy road, and the sacrifices made are every bit as staggering as the rewards.

Besides, the major leaders of ANY large corporation, whether in the drug, car, financial, or retail industry, can easily afford five luxury estates and multiple yachts. So can most ball players and movie divas. Surely, you don't think Bill Gates lives on Main Street, right next to the Jones's? Being rich isn't a crime. And if it is, most Americans are horribly guilty in the eyes of a much poorer world.

It's always tempting to point fingers at the executives of big companies, but they are really little different than you and I. You have a lot compared to many, and probably want more. So do they. You probably give to charity, they almost certainly give much more. You feel compassion for the people in Africa who are starving, but even though you maybe work in a restaurant or grocery store, you still know that going to bed hungry yourself isn't going to help anyone. The CEO's of drug companies may deplore high prices as much as you, but they know lowering the prices will last just about the twenty minutes it takes for them to lose their jobs. You are an absolutely wonderful and caring human being, and believe it or not, Janet, so are most of the CEO's. People are people, and usually those at the top are just as much at the mercy of the system as are those at the bottom. Their crosses aren't lighter, nor heavier, just different.

In a Capitalistic system like ours, there is nothing wrong with greed. I don't think our battle is with the normal human desire to succeed, but with stupidity. Look that up in the dictionary and you'll find it right after politician.    

And, yes, Janet, I happen to have a special on fries tonight. Would you like ketchup with those?    


Janet Marie
Member Laureate
since 01-22-2000
Posts 18986


13 posted 05-28-2003 10:35 PM       View Profile for Janet Marie   Email Janet Marie   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Janet Marie

Well, apparently I should have ordered Crow.

I didnt mean that I had it in for ALL CEO and the rich, or blame them for all this country's undoings and problems... and I wont ever have a problem with people being rewared for hard, honest work, but I'm sorry if this is simple minded and makes me clueless-- I do have issues with such high examples of greed and excess...God forgive me if I had 5 of everything, and sat on my riches while the people below me die going with out. There are (or should be) limits to what is rewards of success and hard work and what is over the top...

whats that old saying?..."He who dies with the most toys wins"

But I truly do understand your points and know all too well how things work...the world runs on the "haves and the have nots"....

quote:
In a Capitalistic system like ours, there is nothing wrong with greed.



I just wish I understood why does that fact seem to cost some so much more than others?

I guess I am just a naive and simple minded moth...but I still hold out hope and believe that "we" should be able to find a way for things to be more balanced and fair.


So...ya got gravy for my Crow?

hush
Senior Member
since 05-27-2001
Posts 1693
Ohio, USA


14 posted 05-28-2003 10:44 PM       View Profile for hush   Email hush   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for hush

Ron, the issues you bring up are very interesting... some of them, of course, I agree with wholeheartedly.

'The one thing worse than paying too much for a needed drug is not having the needed drug discovered yet.'

Yes, obviously a very compelling point, made even more so by the reminder that an automobile that we take for granted is more than some people will ever be able to afford.

Your breakdown of national price controls in other countries and how it affects us is interesting, I hadn't thought of that before. I guess an internationally set up delegation that could figure out a way to regulate safety standards for drugs and create a globally controlled market would be the fair way to go... but certainly not the easy way.

I do have to say something though.

'THAT is what Capitalism is all about. Being rewarded for what you do.'

My mother worked for twenty-plus years as a registered nurse. Even if she was pulling down the $3000 or so a month she was making before becoming disabled, there is no way she could afford to pay for her prescriptions.

Is our reward for working in America a health system which is completely unaffordable except to those who have insurance? There is no way to work off a 100K hospital stay... especially for the majority of citizens and workers. It just hangs there as an everlasting debt...

My mother was lucky enough not to be hospitalized while uninsured... however, Medicare leaves 20% of the bills unpaid, and my mother is a sick woman.

I understand all of the things you are saying... but it seems to me that that leads down a road to the cold equations of social darwinism... Hey, she's used up, so let's forget about her problems and focus our energies on those who are still young and productive.

I happen to believe that logic suffers without emotion... the disabled are not old greyhouds that can't run anymore, suitable simply to be discarded... at best, adopted out, at worst, shot and left in some ditch...

Not that it's right to do that to greyhounds, either.

To me, the idea of medical professionals being unable to receive proper medical care is akin to the injustice in paying some Indonesian worker in a Nike factory the equivalent of 12 cents an hour to produce sneakers that are sold for over a hundred bucks in the states.

Sometimes greed has nothing to do with maintaining a free market, and everything to do with destroying it. At least, that's what I believe... I don't have the information, facts, and statistics at hand to make a compelling argument... but I saw the 20/20 special on the issue, too... and I thought I remembered them saying that the prescription drug industry is the most profitable inustry in the U.S. I find something inherently distasteful about reaping mad profits from the suffering of others... I think a lot of other people probably do, too... that's probably why we don't have privatized fire and police departments...

I'm sorry, I may be ranting and sounding totally off the handle... I realize fully that this is an emotionally charged reaction I'm having here, and that logically, this probably sounds like donut holes minus the donut part (but, this is in the Alley for a reason) anyway so I'm gonna cut out right here and hopefully be able to be more thoughtful in the A.M.

Janet Marie
Member Laureate
since 01-22-2000
Posts 18986


15 posted 05-28-2003 11:05 PM       View Profile for Janet Marie   Email Janet Marie   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Janet Marie

quote:
I happen to believe that logic suffers without emotion
--------
Sometimes greed has nothing to do with maintaining a free market, and everything to do with destroying it



Amen hush...amen...thank you for saying well what an always over emotional moth couldnt say.

When did greed become good buisness practice?
or more so...why is it ok in the name of Captiolism?

signed,
clueless moth
Ron
Administrator
Member Rara Avis
since 05-19-99
Posts 9708
Michigan, US


16 posted 05-29-2003 01:59 AM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

quote:
God forgive me if I had 5 of everything, and sat on my riches while the people below me die going with out.

How many pairs of shoes do you own, Janet? Maybe you're atypical, but most women I know own far more than five. And what most women pay for those shoes would feed an African family for six months.

I am NOT saying owning shoes is a bad thing. You could give up all your shoes and go bare foot in the winter and it wouldn't be a teardrop in the ocean compared to all the suffering in the world. But when you ask for limits on what the rewards of success and hard work are, you have to wonder who will set those limits. You and I? Or a starving mother in a third world country? Excess is always defined as a lot more than the person doing the defining.

quote:
I saw the 20/20 special on the issue, too... and I thought I remembered them saying that the prescription drug industry is the most profitable inustry in the U.S.

I'm not sure if it's the most profitable, but the 18.6 percent of revenue I quoted earlier has to put them pretty close. Most Fortune 500 companies average around 4 to 5 percent. But then again, General Foods doesn't gamble $800 million every time they want to bring out a new breakfast cereal either. Economically, financial risk MUST be balanced by the potential for equal financial gain. When risk outweighs gains, investments move somewhere else. You don't go to the race track and bet on an old nag without getting 50 to 1 odds.

But here's the key point.

When gains outweighs risk in a free market, there is an immediate influx of competition. I see an industry that can manage an 18.6 percent return on revenue, and sister, I'm ready to open me a manufacturing plant tomorrow! The pharmacy industry should be FLOODED with competition, which would very quickly lower prices until the proper risk/gain balance was reached again. If prices dropped too far, as sometimes happens, the risk would soon outweigh gains and investors would move somewhere else. It's a balancing act, all handled silently and almost perfectly by the simple laws of economics. It is the beauty of capitalism.

Trouble is, it only works in a free marketplace and the pharmacy industry does NOT operate in a free marketplace. I can't open a manufacturing plant tomorrow, not without FDA approval. I can't even import drugs from another country and resell them here. Because the federal government is regulating competition, it has NO CHOICE but to also regulate profit margins. That's part of the stupidity I mentioned in my earlier post. They have interfered with a natural balance, just as if they had killed off a predator in the wild and then found themselves overrun with the vermin it once preyed upon. And they're apparently not smart enough to go get a shotgun to restore the natural balance they upset.

Unfortunately, in my opinion, they're probably not smart enough to restore the balance without tilting it too far in the other direction. Yes, I believe 18.6 percent return is too high. But no one has any real idea what it should be. If the government stopped limiting competition, the natural economical laws would set the risk/gain balance perfectly. Drug prices would be as low as they could possibly go and still insure the development of new and better drugs. If the government steps in, though, as it otherwise must do, and sets the prices too low as has happened in most other countries, all of the benefits will be very short term. In ten years, there will be no viable pharmaceutical industry because all of the investment money will have moved elsewhere. Drugs that could save lives will never be discovered. Anyone here from California? This is exactly what happened in the electric power industry and is why California now goes begging in other states for power. When government tries to manipulate supply and demand, they mess it up every single time.

quote:
I understand all of the things you are saying... but it seems to me that that leads down a road to the cold equations of social darwinism...


Amy, I understand your pain. And your anger. I sincerely hope you will forgive me, though, for suggesting that maybe you're seeing the glass half-empty. If your mother is having 80 percent of her medical bills paid, she's a lot better off than many. Yea, it could be improved. But in any other system this world has ever tried, it was usually a whole lot worse. And, far more importantly, your mother has available to her one of the best health care systems in the world. Maybe one of our Canadian friends will pop into this thread and describe the long waits to see a doctor there, where health care is far more socialized. One of the nice things about capitalism is its inherent simplicity. Reward people for becoming doctors and you have a lot of doctors. Take away those rewards, and twenty years later you'll have a shortage of doctors. No one will willingly invest ten very grueling years of their lives so they can make maybe $2,000 more a year than the local plumber.

Capitalism certainly isn't perfect. But the only alternatives are communism, which hasn't worked anywhere it's been tried, and socialism, which has had less than stellar success. In virtually every civilized country, pure capitalism has been tempered with some degree of socialism, such as Medicare and Social Security in America. Other countries, like Canada and England have gone further and, judging from the shortages they experience, it may have been too far. It's a balancing act to provide for those who can't provide for themselves, without removing the incentives for others to continue providing for everyone. We're not talking about social Darwinism, Amy. We all WANT to help your mother and the tens of thousands like her. But history, economics, and political science have shown rather conclusively that if we do it wrong, the ill won't just be broke. They'll be dead. Quality health care cannot be mandated. Someone has to pay for it, and continue paying, else it will cease to exist.

Redistribution of wealth is a solution with limited application. If handled through taxes, I think it can offer "some" relief. But carried to extremes, as we saw in the Soviet Union, it removes all incentives and results only in homogeneous mediocrity. You may cringe at the thought of sprawling estates and luxury yachts, but every single one of us NEEDS the rich. It is their money, in the form of investments, that gives us new drugs, better medicine, and life-saving inventions. Tell the rich they can't become richer, and all of that goes away.

The answer, I believe, is not to redistribute the wealth, but to increase the wealth. America has been steadily doing that for most of a hundred years. Inventions, business practices, and management have driven productivity beyond anything possible in the 1800's, and the poorest citizens today live better and longer than the middle class of any other era. That trend must continue and spread throughout the world, until there are no third world countries, and every human being has the personal resources to live prosperously and happily. It is the ONLY solution that need not bring more harm than good.

A pipe dream? Personally, I don't think so. Stop war tomorrow and all the money spent on defense would buy the entire pharmacy industry a hundred times over. Invent a process for clean nuclear fusion next week and in ten years our whole economy would be reshaped into something approaching magnificence. Realistically, of course, I expect it to take longer. I probably won't see. Amy's mom probably won't see it. Maybe, just maybe, Amy might. But only if we do it right.
JP
Senior Member
since 05-25-99
Posts 1391
Loomis, CA


17 posted 05-29-2003 02:31 AM       View Profile for JP   Email JP   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit JP's Home Page   View IP for JP

Y'all should try paying for my 2 dozen pills a day.

I'm supporting capitolism singlehandedly, when I die they may go out of business!
Janet Marie
Member Laureate
since 01-22-2000
Posts 18986


18 posted 05-29-2003 12:21 PM       View Profile for Janet Marie   Email Janet Marie   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Janet Marie

I hope you are right Ron...I would hope that my children see in their life time,
but I hope even more, that they see changes in the way we conduct ourselves when it comes down to money matters deciding the fate of others.

There is a fine line between greed and profit, and somewhere along that line we lost our conscious.  We see it all too often on the news ...
CEO's with 6 figure salaries stealing from stockholders and the company they run,
or as those TV investigations showed us...hundreds of employees are laid off, plants closed, retirements lost, or the workers are asked to take pay cuts and health insurance concessions by the same CEO's, owners and etc. -- who live like royalty and don't seem to think they should have to give up anything to save the same profit line they expect the lesser paid employee to accept in the name of "good business practices." We constantly hear about politicians who are owned by "big business", or have their own agendas, deciding for us all how our tax money is spent.  They cut out programs that are essential to the elderly, the sick, the poor, or the minorities, justifying it by stating that sacrifices must be made to balance the budget and with the next pen stroke vote themselves a raise.


I am all for Capitalism and understand there will always be those who have more and those who will never have enough, but if we lose our conscious for the bottom line, we lose so much more than profit.

Thank you for taking the time to explain things to us and show the other side, I am well aware my small room with a view can always use another perspective.  

Oh, and by the way... I'm not a shoe collector... I am Payless kind of girl
Opeth
Member Elite
since 12-13-2001
Posts 2224
The Ravines


19 posted 05-29-2003 12:35 PM       View Profile for Opeth   Email Opeth   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Opeth

Well, the unthinkable has just happened to me...I agree with Ron 100%
hush
Senior Member
since 05-27-2001
Posts 1693
Ohio, USA


20 posted 05-29-2003 01:38 PM       View Profile for hush   Email hush   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for hush

Janet... do you know where your Payless shoes were manufactured? How much the worker was paid? It was less than a worker in the U.S. would be paid...

and here's where it gets tough, because if that overseas worker was paid even the U.S. minimun wage... I'd probably be paying 30 bucks instead of 13 next time I need a new pair of sneakers.

I was talking to my boyfriend about the meat industry the other day... the fact that I think the conditions that stock animals are kept in is deplorable, and whether we have the right to cage chickens so tightly they can't move, or cut the tips of their beaks off so that they can't peck each other... and he asked whether it's worth it now that a low-income mother can feed her kids the proper protein they need.

There are no easy answers.

I understand that there are no easy answers when it comes to medicines and the medical industry. And I understand that a lot of this is the childish reaction "but it just isn't fair!"

Sometimes it's hard to be thankful for one of the best systems there is when it seems like there's no way to work within it.

And sometimes it's furstrating to hear people around you who bitch when their prescriptions went up from no copay to a five dollar copay...

but I guess it would probably be pretty frustrating for someone in South Africa who has AIDS and is busy trying to care for three HIV infected kids with no real medical support to hear me whining, too.

I guess I just wonder why a socialized healthcare system would have to mean doctors get paid little more than a menial labor worker. I mean, what about cops and firefighters? I don't personally pay them when my house is on fire, or when I'm being mugged... and yet, public service workers are paid very well. Is it just the amount of capital that goes into researching new medical technologies as opposed, to say, new crime-fighting technologies?

Thanks, Ron, btw for the economics lesson.
Sunshine
Administrator
Member Caelestus
since 06-25-99
Posts 67715
Listening to every heart


21 posted 05-29-2003 01:45 PM       View Profile for Sunshine   Email Sunshine   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Sunshine's Home Page   View IP for Sunshine


Hush?  
Severn
Member Rara Avis
since 07-17-99
Posts 8273


22 posted 05-30-2003 07:07 AM       View Profile for Severn   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Severn

Wow.

Without continuing on the discussion on capitalism just yet let me tell you what it's like here, for me personally.

When I went to uni for the last four years I had free medical care. I have a medical condition that I am on constant medication for - it cost me between $3-9 NZ dollars for a three month supply - government subsidised. This year, now that I am earning, I lost that ability to have such low costs, however it'll only cost me around $50 NZ dollars for a three month supply...

I've made an arrangement with my university doctor - when I need a top up prescription I'll email her and she'll mail it to me so I don't have to pay to go see her.

If I call an ambulance it costs $75 NZ dollars.
If I go to hospital as an outpatient - free.
If I require an operation - free. (Had one some years ago, to remove a cyst, all tests, hospital stay, operation - didn't cost a cent. The only thing I paid for - my initial visit).
To see my neurologist - whenever I want - free.
To get my bloodtests - free.
Free mammograms, free papsmears - except for the $20-30 doctor's visit fee.
A&E (accident and emergency) visit - $30-40 - considered an absolute exorbitant rip off that New Zealanders go out of their way to avoid.
Painkillers - pack of 24 extra strength Nuerophen $12 from the pharmacist. Lower strength - $3-5 from the supermarket. Can get the same type of medicine prescribed for even less, in greater quantities.

I have no medical insurance - it's an optional benefit here..I know of one person who has it.

On a wider scale:
If I had to go to a specialist for back pain or some such thing there'd be a fee, but not usually an extravagant one. $120 maybe?

People over a certain income threshold who require specialist care are means-tested (with an exception for the mentally ill in most cases). In these cases the middle classes can suffer the most when requiring some forms of specialist care...(cancer is often problematic - particularly when it's a rare form).

Most of the medicines that enter the country are assessed by the government and then placed on a government subsidy list. So, my medicine for example, is on that list...it was taken off for awhile but swiftly placed back on due to an uproar. All asthma medicine, for example, is on that list - low income families can often receive asthma medication at extremely low prices.

Due to the government subsidy system we often don't have the range or quality of drugs that America has - and that is often because if we introduced them we would end up bankrupting people...examples: top of the line cancer medication. There was a ten year battle to introduce medication under government subsidy for a rare form of cancer. Ten years.

Our hospitals have been understaffed and nurses have been striking over pay wrangles. In one terrible period new born babies were flown to Australia to receive care due to understaffed hospitals.

We have horrid waiting list problems...heart problems, hip replacements and so on - people just wait too long..whereas I understand that in the states patients with insurance can pretty much get treated immediately...(someone tell me if I'm wrong)..

However, despite these drawbacks our system has undeniable acessibility...for instance, most of our homeless people are homeless by choice - and all are able to walk into any hospital and have low-cost medical care.

The majority of New Zealanders have the security of knowing that they can get sick and get care that won't break their bank accounts and destroy a standard of living that is already hampered by illness.

On capitalism - I'll keep it succinct, although I could write an essay on the subject (and have done so heh). Go on all you want about the global capitalist system (because it is global, despite differing systems in other countries), and the cause and effect nature of it - but that's all it is. A system. Hence my problem that democracy creates true freedom - it's just another ideology. We are none of us free - as we commonly understand it.

Despite the drawbacks, I do believe that I couldn't have picked a better country in which to have a long-term medical condition..

My heart goes out to all of you who suffer under your own medical system...

K

[This message has been edited by Severn (05-30-2003 07:41 AM).]

Bonfirelight
Member
since 06-19-2003
Posts 88
London, England


23 posted 06-23-2003 08:14 AM       View Profile for Bonfirelight   Email Bonfirelight   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Bonfirelight

I've never had a problem with care here in England.
If i get injured i can go to the A&E and get seen, at worse in a couple of hours with say, a broken arm..not nice, but then i wouldn't have to wait that long if it was serious.
If i need an operation, again there is a wait, but again, if it is serious it's much less.
The cost of medicine is almost negligable in many cases, and free to many (Students, OAPs Low income families etc)
All paid for through our national insurance, which doesn't really seem to be a burden.
Then, ontop of that, IF you have money , you can go private, where the services are probably more comparible to yours in the USA.
as are the prices, although it is still suplemented by the national Insurance payments.

Yes, we have problems in some areas and sometimes you read awful stories of people being left to die on trolleys in hospital corridors. But these cases really are few and far.

much as we whinge, it's not THAT bad here!
Sunshine
Administrator
Member Caelestus
since 06-25-99
Posts 67715
Listening to every heart


24 posted 06-23-2003 09:57 AM       View Profile for Sunshine   Email Sunshine   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Sunshine's Home Page   View IP for Sunshine

Severn said,
quote:
We have horrid waiting list problems...heart problems, hip replacements and so on - people just wait too long..whereas I understand that in the states patients with insurance can pretty much get treated immediately...(someone tell me if I'm wrong)...

Most insurance companies here in the states want you to "prove" you need whatever surgery your doctor has suggested you have.  A true example of a close friend:  Last year her one doctor discovered a lump, mid-section.  She was sent to a second doctor for verification.  That doctor said "let's get it out soon, just to be on the safe side."  Family history indicated this could be a hereditary problem, as her mother suffered from lumps as well.  

Friend calls the insurance company.  They say that they will not cover the procedure.  She got the distinct impression from the person she talked to that "she wasn't worth having this surgery."  Now, this, with a well-known insurance company...when you are paying your high dollar premiums, and with two doctor's saying "let's have this done."

Knowing that she could not pay for the hospitalization herself, my friend put it off for six months.  When she went back to her initial doctor this year, he said "why are we putting this off?" and she said because the insurance wouldn't cover it, and she and her husband did not at this time have enough in the bank to cover it.  

He became angered and began his own calls to the insurance company.  He sent her to the second doctor for an updated diagnosis, only to find out the lump had grown, and it was now VITAL to have this surgery.  So he, too, got on the phone and raised holy heck.  

Upside of the story is that after extensive surgery, with not only one lump but several removed, we were pleased to hear that they were all malignant.  Had this surgery taken place last year, her surgery would not have been as serious as this was [they had to remove the lower lobe of one of her lungs][oh by the way?  She's NEVER smoked...] and fortunately, the tumors were benign.  However, had they been able to get to her last year, the tumor would not have damaged her lung to the extent it was had it not had time to grow.

So for folks in the states?  If your doctor and second opinion physician state "get in there" and the insurance companies give you a hassle?  Let your physicians know.  They may be able to turn the screws just a little faster.
 
 Post A Reply Post New Topic   Go to the Next Oldest/Previous Topic Return to Topic Page Go to the Next Newest Topic 
All times are ET (US) Top
  User Options
>> Discussion >> The Alley >> The price we pay   [ Page: 1  2  ] Format for Better Printing EMail to a Friend Not Available
Print Send ECard

 

pipTalk Home Page | Main Poetry Forums

How to Join | Member's Area / Help | Private Library | Search | Contact Us | Today's Topics | Login
Discussion | Tech Talk | Archives | Sanctuary



© Passions in Poetry and netpoets.com 1998-2013
All Poetry and Prose is copyrighted by the individual authors