California Reinvents Medical Tourism

Until very recently medical tourism was traveling from your home to find less expensive medical care, usually overseas. Medical tourists were leaving the warm embrace of the American Medical Association and the FDA to journey far from home. There were three motivations: Elective plastic surgery not covered by insurance, wanting to try an experimental procedure not covered or getting surgery done without benefit of any insurance at all.

That’s why breasts were being lifted in Brazil and hips replaced in India. Particularly courageous patients scheduled foreign heart transplants. I know all about this because I was almost a medical tourist myself. A few years ago we had what was laughingly called health insurance. Our deductible was so high you had to have been on life support for a week before coverage started.

I had a sports hernia, which meant the problem was on my dime. While pondering options, I devised an effective, temporary solution for the gym. After carefully folding a washcloth over the leak, I’d wrap myself with a giant Ace bandage.

Frankly, I liked my new slim waistline with only a hint of bulge in the intestinal wall. There were days when the Ace came loose and I trailed spandex out of my shorts like toilet paper stuck on a shoe, but it was a small price to pay.

The wife didn’t agree. Janet said it was gross and told me to quit procrastinating and get the hernia fixed. The medical tourism broker’s choice was Thailand or Oklahoma City. I couldn’t see paying $1,000 for an airline ticket on top of the procedure when the Okies were so much closer. Even then the procedure would set me back about $4,500.

That was still too much. In the end I opted for Dr. Amazon and bought a 12–dollar truss, which didn’t make me look as slim, but kept my lower tract in place.

California politicians have a proposal before the legislature that would totally eliminate my worries about cost. Instead of patients traveling overseas and paying for medical care, California politicos will have foreign patients coming to the Golden State and it won’t be to consult with me about trusses.

After the airline ticket or the coyote’s bill is paid financial worries are over. California taxpayers will cover the rest.

That’s just one of the disasters awaiting passage of what the LA Times terms “government–run universal healthcare.”

The Times description: “SB 562, would establish a publicly run healthcare plan that would cover everyone living in California, including those without legal immigration status…The state would pay for all medical expenses, including inpatient, outpatient, emergency services, dental, vision, mental health and nursing home care.”

Talk about no “pre–existing” condition worries. One doesn’t even have to be a pre–illness resident. Just make your way from the airport or border crossing to the hospital and watch the doctors scrub up. California welcomes Anchor Babies and Anchor Patients!

Lefty politicians claim the program will be paid for by what is nebulously described as “broad–based revenue.” This sounds ominous to me. California’s tribal Democrats oppose rounding up illegal aliens, but they have no qualms about corralling taxpayers and squeezing them until their wallets pop out like hernias.

Supporters of the bill were the usual suspects: Unions looking for guaranteed taxpayer–financed positions with permanent job security and clueless members of “Our Revolution,” a Bernie Bros conglomeration.

The support of the Saunders’ crowd is particularly interesting because Vermont tried a version of single–payer healthcare and it was so expensive it collapsed before it was implemented, which must be a record of some sort.

In Vermont the bill was passed and prior to the program’s kickoff the legislature got cold feet and commissioned a financial projection study. It found the cost would be $4.9 billion a year, which would double the state budget. To pay for it payroll taxes would have to be increased 11.5 percent, individual income taxes would jump 9 percent and a border wall would be built to keep rich people from fleeing to cheaper states.

The governor and legislature were so taken aback the plan was shelved.

Cost estimates for the Golden Fleece, I mean Golden State plan put the yearly total at more than double (there’s that word again) the state’s current budget of $180 billion. But there’s no need for California single–payer fanaticists to worry, their legislature never learns. They plan to seize the $50 to $100 billion the private sector currently spends on employee health insurance and then wait for the rest of the money to turn up.

In the meantime many trips are anticipated at taxpayer expense. Legislative “fact finders” are planning trips to Canada, Taiwan and Maryland to learn “best practices.”

The only place they won’t visit is Vermont.

The Car Dealership Solution to Health Insurance Costs

Bloomberg reports Obamacare premiums are scheduled to skyrocket up to 59 percent in Maryland, 38 percent in Virginia and 34 percent in Connecticut. A Baltimore 40–year–old would pay $715.00 a month for a plan with a $2,500 deductible.

Health insurance is costly for three reasons: Government interference, lack of price transparency and consumer overuse.

Here’s what would happen if we used car insurance like health insurance.

We’d expect oil changes to be covered after our $20.00 co–pay. There’d also be a long list of routine checks and diagnostics run each time your ride was in the shop, because the Dept. of Transportation requires mechanics to treat every vehicle like it was a 1961 DeSoto that had never had the oil changed.

Your $250.00 invoice would have itemized charges for GoJo, shop rags, coveralls, disposable ratchets, oil, opening the oil, oil filter and about a hundred other entries.

But that doesn’t matter, since after the co–pay, everything is free! Besides you feel sorry for DeSoto owners.

Later the car breaks down on the highway. You tell the CarFlight pilot to drop it off at the Mercedes dealer. Cost doesn’t matter once the deductible is paid, but you do demand a nice loaner while your car is in surgery.

Before leaving, you tell the mechanic to check the tires and see if they need replacing, because after all that’s what insurance is for, isn’t it?

Car insurance usage at that level would end our obesity crisis, because we’d soon be a nation of pedestrians. Obamacare would be joined by Obamacar.

Real Obamacare reform would require the health market to operate like the auto market.

I don’t mean the patient goes in the doctor’s office, negotiates for six hours and agrees on a price have his appendix removed. Then, in his weakened state, the finance manager pressures him into breast implants for the wife.

What I do mean is allowing consumer choice and provider accountability.

Smart consumers get an estimate before their car is serviced. If it’s too high, they talk to another shop. If it’s too much money to sink into an old car, you start shopping for new.

That’s price transparency. In health care we have price opacity. If you ask the hospital what it costs to have your appendix removed you get one of three replies: Uproarious, table–pounding laughter. Dead silence. Or thinly veiled contempt at such an ignorant question.

Price uncertainty might make sense if it was a brain transplant. Plenty of variables there, but that’s not the case with appendectomies.

The Annals of Surgery estimates 280,000 are performed each year. Producing a reliable cost estimate should be routine — give or take a sponge left inside.

Yet you can’t get an estimate because consumer knowledge is consumer power.

One way to begin imposing market discipline would be to require any hospital taking federal money to post turnkey prices for the 25 most common hospitalized surgical procedures; the 25 most common out–patient procedures and the 25 most common tests. All charges must match the best price offered insurance companies.

The howls this would generate from the medical–industrial complex prove how useful the information is. (More details on this in an earlier column here.)

And speaking of sponges, if you take your car in to the shop for an engine overhaul and a mechanic leaves a wrench in the crankcase, that car is going back to the shop. The subsequent repair–to–fix–the–repair is free.

That’s not the way it works with hospitals. Hospitals make money on their mistakes and get away with it because consumers send the bill to the insurance company.

That means higher premiums in the long run and it encourages incompetence. If the guy who works on your car has to fix his mistakes for free, the guy who works on your heart should, too.

People should pay for routine doctor’s visits out of their own pocket and save insurance for major expenses. When my family was between insurance policies I negotiated the cost of doctor’s appointments and lab tests by offering to pay in full right before I left. I saved 30 to 40 percent by taking the insurance company out of the equation.

Putting a middleman between the provider and the patient adds another layer of cost and bureaucracy. Hiding the cost of medical services encourages overuse.

Consumers can choose health insurance coverage options just like they can choose auto insurance coverage. Government “experts” requiring coverage simply guarantees a lifetime income to lobbyists and treats citizens like serfs.

My car market analogy isn’t perfect. Legislators protect in–state auto dealers from out of state completion, just like health insurance companies are protected now. It is certainly a start, though, and a vast improvement over what we have now.

Bystander Named Trump Blamed for Crash

Donald Trump is minding the people’s business in the Oval Office when he hears a commotion outside. He looks up and to his horror sees that the Resistance fence–jumper scheduled for Wednesday has gored himself on a spike and fallen on the White House lawn.

Trump grabs the nearest intelligence briefing and rushes outside in an attempt to stop the bleeding. Unfortunately the briefing book is so thin — the Deep State only trusts the opposition media with real secrets these days — that it has almost no absorptive power and the jumper bleeds out.

Is it Trump’s fault the Resistance jumper wasn’t wearing a p***y hat, which is great for absorbing blood? Or is it Trump’s fault the jumper’s tire sandals slipped and caused him to fall on the spike?

Of course not, so how is it Trump’s fault that House Speaker Paul RINO’s Obamacare Lite bill is still impaled on the fence outside the House?

Trump has proven he’s not exactly a demon on details, but Ryan’s small–ball bill didn’t bother to include the one Obamacare reform Trump promised on the campaign trail: Removing “the lines around the states,” which the rest of us refer to as the ability to sell health insurance policies across state lines.

That particular reform was coming on the promised “third prong,” which was supposed to arrive sometime in the indefinite future and contain “moderate Moslems,” a “deportation force” and a Mexican check for the wall.

As you know this version of “Obamacare reform” didn’t pass the House and in fact didn’t come up for a vote. I think there may be a silver lining to the legislative cloud. To learn what it is, please click the Newsmax link below for the rest of the column:

https://www.newsmax.com/MichaelShannon/trump-obamacare-lite-paul-ryan/2017/03/29/id/781380/

Ryan’s Obamacare Lite Is Another Travesty & Betrayal

Freshman Rep. Moira Walsh had an unusual explanation for some of the bad lawmaking in her state capital during an interview on Rhode Island’s WPRO, “It’s the drinking that blows my mind. You cannot operate a motor vehicle when you’ve had two beers but you can make laws that effect people’s lives forever when you’re half in the bag?

Too bad Moira isn’t in Congress. Booze would be a more acceptable explanation for Paul Ryan’s Obamacare replacement bill than the truth, which is this bill is a betrayal of conservatives seven years in the making.

As the Heritage Foundation points out this slap in the face protects the Democrat base that got free or heavily subsidized coverage at the expense of the GOP base that earns the money to pay for Democrat’s discount insurance.

As I’ve pointed out to friends in the past the price of an Obamacare policy isn’t bad if you remember your premium is buying for two policies: One for your family and another for the moochers.

Ryan evidently believes Republican meddling in the health insurance market is such a big improvement over Democrat meddling that he’ll rule for decades. The truth is the base didn’t vote to swap incompetent meddlers we don’t know for incompetents we do know.

Our mistake was believing the lie that once Republicans controlled all three branches of government they would repeal Obamacare.

My doubts began when “repeal” was amended to “repeal and replace.” Why replace Obamacare’s socialized medicine with the Republican’s Obamacare Lite?

A simple return to the situation that existed before the passage of Obamacare could mean a reduction of up to 30 percent in the cost of insurance premiums and the return of the missing doctors. That alone should be enough win re–election.

The insurance market circa 2008 will cause problems in the dependency class that doesn’t like their handouts interrupted. But I have news for Ryan and his RINO gang — they don’t vote for you anyway. Your voters are the people this bill continues to burden.

Ryan and the rest of his brain trust would rather betray the voters who supported them than risk headlines from the Opposition Media about taking free insurance away.

Ryan’s bill fails in three major areas.

First it does nothing to increase competition in the insurance market. Insurance companies still can’t sell nationwide, the “lines around states” Trump mentioned in the debate. This change alone would lower prices because companies would compete against each other. That’s why you can afford homeowner’s insurance and you can’t afford health insurance.

Second it does nothing to lower prices because the onerous and expensive coverage requirements for every policy are still included. If the consumer wants to buy a policy that covers him from Q-tip to transplant, fine he can pay for it. But if all he wants is major medical, he should be able to make that choice.

Finally it penalizes Republican states that didn’t expand Medicaid and rewards Democrat states that ran up a tab on Uncle Sam. The bill promises this will be phased out in the future, but we’re supposed to believe a Republican Congress that won’t boot 25–year–olds off daddy’s policy today will find the backbone to cut Medicaid tomorrow?

This debate isn’t really about health insurance and discussing it in those terms lets leftists set the parameters. This debate is about personal liberty. The liberty, as an adult, to make your own decisions regarding the future.

Government isn’t the national airbag saving the impudent and foolish from the consequences of their own stupidity. This only encourages more irresponsibility among the demographic whose only long–term commitment is a tattoo.

Healthcare isn’t a right. You don’t have the right to make someone go to medical school, graduate and then treat you for a price you think is reasonable, any more than you have a right to make the barber cut your hair.

I hope there are enough conservatives in the House to defeat Ryan’s disingenuous travesty. Because if they don’t it, means Obama won.

It’s obvious only difference between Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House and Paul Ryan is velocity. The train just moves slower and the conductor’s assurances are less believable under Ryan, but the final destination is still Greece.

Passage of this bill will raise a very pertinent question for conservatives: Why do you have a stronger belief in conservative principles and the power of the free market than the politicians who get your vote?

Why should we pretend anymore?

My suggestion next November is vote for the politician who promises to give away the most; at least he’s not a hypocrite. Maximize benefits now and hope the money doesn’t run out until after you’re dead.

Congressional GOP: The Dogs that Caught the Obamacar

Pity the poor Republican leadership in Congress. There they sit – paralyzed by the power for which they pleaded over the last four elections.

In 2010 when the GOP took control of the House they were powerless because Republicans didn’t have control of the Senate.

obamacare-crushes-middle-classIn 2014 Senate control fell into their hands, yet they were still powerless because Democrats controlled the White House.

Now they control the House, Senate and the presidency, but they remain powerless. This time because the left still controls the media and Jake Tapper doesn’t stand for re–election.

The Obama presidency was really the good old days. Congress could bravely vote to repeal Obamacare secure in the knowledge the bill would never take effect because Obama would veto it. And it he did.

All those votes were so many talking points in a re–election commercial. Now a vote to repeal Obamacare will pass and result in the Opposition Media’s veto. And our timid, public trough–feeders fear the consequences.

Damn, no one told them winning in 2016 would mean they’re now responsible!

So what are Congressional Republicans going to do? You’ll have to read the rest of my column on Newsmax to find out. Plus there’s a bonus: I answer the main arguments leftists have against repeal. Clip and save for your member of congress. Thanks for reading.

http://www.newsmax.com/MichaelShannon/Obamacare-premiums-repeal-replace/2017/02/23/id/775154/

 

NFL Advertisers Open Re–Education Camp for Fans

When I made political commercials I was often asked what the difference was between political ads and commercial ads. There are many similarities: Exaggerated benefits, bait and switch promises and sleazy, egomaniacal clients; but the main difference is political ads must make all the sales on a single day.

It’s Black Friday, After Christmas, White Sale, Tech Monday and Fire–Blazing Prices all taking place in a compressed 14–hour day with an unalterable deadline.

super-bowl-gagaSo you can imagine my surprise as I watched Super Bowl LI and saw millions of dollars of in–kind advertising for Hillary three months after the election!

I thought the left wanted to overturn Citizens United and get corporate money out of politics. Yet there was on corporate Super PAC ad after another. The only difference being instead of a brief title card at the end with “Paid for by Committee to Crush Republicans” the identification was for Audi, Budweiser, 84 Lumber and KIA, among others.

None of the subject matter had much to do with the products marketed by the companies footing the bill, although the Audi spot did have wheels. Instead the ads were what marketers call “borrowed interest.” Only in this instance they were borrowing the interest of topics that appeal to only half the country and insult the other.

Celebrity endorsement ads are all borrowed interest and potentially risky, particularly if RGIII was your celebrity. But when your borrowed interest ad involves borrowing Chuck Schumer’s thumb to stick in the eye of potential customers, it’s time to re–think your marketing strategy.

Or better yet, the customer’s buying philosophy.

You can discover the three ads I thought were by far the worst, along with my play–by–play when you click on the Newsmax.com link below:

http://www.newsmax.com/MichaelShannon/super-bowl-reeducation-camp-commercial-84-lumber/2017/02/08/id/772562/

 

Uncle Remus’ Solution to Obamacare Repeal

“Roast me! Hang me! Do whatever you please,” said Brer Rabbit. “Only please, Brer Fox, please don’t throw me into the briar patch.”

Uncle Remus Stories

Gullible Republican House and Senate members, convinced that repealing Obamacare also involves replacing Obamacare, are preparing to throw Democrats right into the middle of the federal briar patch that is their natural home.

repeal-obamacare-cartoon-heller-495x342

Sure Democrats are making a big deal out of the repeal of Obamacare — there are even rumors Obama himself cut back to golfing only six days per week — yet replacing Democrat meddling in the healthcare marketplace with Republican meddling is no improvement and worse still, gives Democrats an avenue to expand their interference in the future.

Think of Obamacare as one of those patients with a pre–existing cancer. The merciful response is to eradicate the cancer once and for all. There will be some pain and uncertainty, but in the long run the patient and the country will be much better.

Exchanging Obamacare for some jury–rigged replacement only means Republicans decided they want a tumor of their own. It makes federal intrusion into healthcare a permanent feature of modern life.

Our weak, vacillating GOP leadership faces a Treaty of Versailles situation. At the conclusion of World War I the allies wanted to end Germany’s war–making capability, but during negotiations the allies made a crucial mistake. They repealed the Imperial German Army and its General Staff, replacing it with a smaller Weimar Army. German bureaucrats just hid General Staff personnel in a tame sounding “troop office.”

When Hitler came to power the foundation of the Wehrmacht already existed, all he had to do was add manpower. That’s the danger for “Mitch McClellan” and Paul Ryan: Replacing Obamacare with the Wehrmacht–in–waiting. When the next Democrat Congress or president takes office they simply have to ramp up spending and “reform” the Republican replacement and we’re back where we started.

So what should Republicans do after repealing Obamacare? I have a four–point program that protects Constitutional government, taxpayers and patients. You can find all the details by clicking on the link below and going to my Newsmax.com Insider column.

Thanks.

http://www.newsmax.com/MichaelShannon/obamacare-repeal-replace-legislation/2017/01/12/id/768208/

 

 

Hospital’s Kremlin–Like Secrecy Suffers a Breach

Last week I wrote about the failure of Obamacare to reduce the number of uninsured. Today’s number of uninsured is about the same as it was before Democrats passed Obamacare. The only difference now is being uninsured is no longer synonymous with low income.

breaking bad hospital costDemocrats are spreading the pain!

Obamacare policies are so expensive and the deductibles so high that middle–income families are dropping their coverage.

If you missed last week’s column or just want to refresh your memory, please click here.

Health insurance is expensive because government at all levels — federal, state and local — interferes with the market’s price–setting mechanism and consequently consumers are not in the least cost conscious.

The analogy you’re probably most familiar with is the comparison between health insurance and car insurance. Experts point out car insurance is there to cover major expenses and emergencies and that’s why Jiffy Lube doesn’t send the oil change bill to Travelers.

If it did you would be choosing between paying for your car insurance and your child’s college tuition. The analogy is good in other ways, or as the tech types say: It’s scalable. Car insurance/health insurance can also produce a comparison in the area where the real cost pressure originates — the hospital. As a matter of fact, if car crash repair worked that same way hospital stays, no one could afford ObamaRepair, either.

So where am I going with this analogy? Why, to enlightenment! See for yourself by clicking on the magic Newsmax hyperlink below and read the rest of the column.

Thanks.

http://www.newsmax.com/MichaelShannon/Obamacare-Hospital-Hospitals/2016/04/22/id/725327/

Obamacare’s Fundamental Transformation that Failed

Obamacare this is going to hurtObamacare’s individual mandate is the lynchpin of the act. This provision that forces all citizens to buy health insurance — regardless of age, medical history or obvious death wish — is so important Chief Justice John Roberts prostituted his position on the court to uphold its obvious illegality.

The individual mandate was touted as the mechanism that would cause 20 million or so uninsured to finally get health insurance and stop burdening leftist consciences.

Without the individual mandate forcing the young and healthy to buy insurance so their premiums can subsidize the old and sick, the system falls apart. The revenue from health care frequent flyers is simply not enough to begin to cover the cost they impose on the system.

Just as socialism forces the hard–working to support the lazy, socialized medicine uses the premiums of the healthy to pay for the sick.

The theory was, if you can dignify this collection of wishful thinking and compulsion with that term, a large fine for not having insurance would be enough to coerce the uninsured into the system, thereby spreading the cost over a much larger revenue base.

Only the uninsured aren’t necessarily going into the system AND the Ferguson Effect could well mean the scofflaws won’t have to pay the fines either. The whole, depressing tale can be yours by clicking the magic hyperlink below. You won’t be sorry.

http://www.newsmax.com/MichaelShannon/obamacare-mandate-insurance-healthcare/2016/04/15/id/724106/

Competition Bombshell from Apple Proves Markets Work

The vast majority of high–end cellphone users are blissfully unaware the $200 they pay to upgrade their phone is a heavily subsidized price. Most of us think the $200 is bad enough, but if customers were paying full retail for their newer phone the price would be in excess of $650 for a model from Apple.

That’s a lot of money to pay in one big chunk for a device your teenager is likely to drop in the toilet.

Cell service providers cushion the blow by folding the rest of the cost into the contract. That’s why early cancelation fees are high. The company is recovering the cost of the phone.

This system worked fine as long as competition in other areas of the business was at a manageable level, but that’s changed. AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T–Mobile and other providers are cutting prices and beefing up bundles on minutes, data and contract length. Consequently, financing phone purchases is less attractive.

This is where competition works to your advantage. Apple knows if customers have to pay the entire cost upfront, sales decline as customers wait longer between upgrades.

So Apple will now finance iPhone purchases for $32 per month AND allow customers yearly upgrades. In addition, Apple includes its premier AppleCare service ($99/yr.) as part of the package.

Finally, Apple will give customers the option of switching cell carriers every year, marking the end of the two–year contract and repaying cell provider’s decision to stop financing phones.

What’s more, this instance of competitive creativity would solve many of the lingering, intractable problems of Obamacare. How? Click the link below to find out in my Newsmax column:

http://www.newsmax.com/MichaelShannon/Obamacare-Apple-Free-Market-Competition/2015/10/01/id/694256/