By: Adalia WoodburyApr. 5th, 2013
With friends like the Republican Party, seniors don’t need enemies.
Americans work their entire lives to provide for their families.
Throughout that period we contribute to Medicare and Social Security in
the name of providing a safety net for the golden years of our lives.
Yet, the Republican Party continues to call these programs
“entitlements” as if they were an undeserved handout (unlike the bonuses
that executives get for destroying our environment, the economy or
We already know about the despised Ryan plan that seeks to replace
Medicare with coupons that won’t come anywhere near covering the costs
of premiums, co-pays and all those other wonderful goodies that come
with the private health care “system.”
It’s bad enough that corporatists seek to line insurance providers
pockets with policies that really amount to a Ponzi scheme. The trend
is toward creating a monopoly of high deductible plans. In other words,
it’s about paying premiums to insurance companies simply because they
exist while paying for more of our healthcare needs as if we didn’t have
As noted by Wendal Potter:
corporate health insurance isn’t about providing people with options
to suit their needs, nor is it about providing the security that comes
Even in 2008, the last year I worked for an insurance
company, my colleagues in the sales division were encouraging employers
to go “total replacement,” which means eliminating all choices except
high-deductible plans. Insurers have long used proprietary “studies”
supposedly proving that making people pay more out of pocket for medical
care will “incentivize” them to lead healthier lives.
It is about increasing profits by shifting more of the costs for
previously insured healthcare to the consumer. In other words, you pay
for healthcare insurance, plus you pay the costs for your healthcare
yourself. There are corporatists who will tell you that the more you
pay out of pocket, the more likely you are to live a healthier life
style. Of course, you’re not supposed to notice that earning enough to
feed your family, have shelter etc. would also contribute to living a
healthier life style. However, I digress. This is more of the same
mindset that sees healthcare generally and health insurance especially
as just another business.
I guess that’s why hospitals inflate costs
for over the counter items It doesn’t have a thing to do with
increasing profits. It’s all in the name of promoting a healthy
lifestyle. That’s as truthful as the claim that voter suppression is
about preserving election integrity.
Except when factored in with other corporatist policies, a healthier
life is the impossible dream at any age and more than impossible for
seniors. True enough, part of leading a healthier life means making
responsible choices like staying away from smoking. It also means having
enough nutritious food to eat and having shelter from the elements -
both things are increasingly elusive to Americans stuck in low paying
jobs, let alone people who want but can’t get work. For seniors, it
means going hungry for longer periods, as they see a bigger cut of their
income going to healthcare costs.
Even if we went with the notion that high deductibles will encourage
people to make healthy life style choices, I don’t understand how anyone
can accept a “system” in which the purpose of healthcare “insurance” is
profit, rather than providing healthcare from which we would have a
healthier (and more productive) society.
If people who don’t earn enough to lead healthier lives are charged
more for lacking the financial resources to lead healthier lives, that
means more people will be less healthy. We don’t need to try this out to
see where it leads. We only need to look at what poverty does to life
expectancy in developing countries, or look to the correlation between
increased poverty and illness along with the effects on life expectancy
in this country compared to the days when we had a vibrant middle class.
Obamacare does improve the situation since insurance companies are
now prohibited from discriminating against people with “pre-existing
conditions” albeit with premiums costing 3 times more than a “normal”
person. Naturally this goes with insurance policies that operate on the
premise of denying as many healthcare services as possible. Combine
that with a high deductible healthcare plan, and the reality is that
access to healthcare will only exist on paper.
Yes, it means that young people can continue on their parents’
insurance until they are twenty-six. Given that more young people are
working for minimum wage and without benefits, they won’t have to pay
insurance companies for the benefit of paying their healthcare costs out
This is the system that Paul Ryan’s coupons would partially buy for
seniors. In other words, seniors would see a reduction in their income
thanks to the chained CPI
and more of that money will go to health “insurers” that only provide “insurance” with hefty deductibles.
I’ll grant that of the possible ways to steal Social Security to line
the pockets of corporate America, the chained-CPI appears to be the
However, the chained CPI is a sleeping zombie that
penalizes people for having the audacity to live longer. The cuts get
deeper, meaning less money for the increasingly high costs of coupon
care, plus the increasing cost of paying for the healthcare costs aren’t
insured under healthcare “insurance”. It also means that seniors,
especially women, will go hungry more days per month as they get older.
After all, silly Americans, if you’re lucky enough to live to be a
senior, you’ll see that you are not “entitled” to food or access to “the
best healthcare system in the world.”
As noted by JOHN WOJCIK of People’s World
The “Chained CPI” is touted as taking into account that
seniors cut back when prices rise.”They are actually saying,” Johnson
wrote, “that because people have to cut back to cat food, then they
should only be getting enough to pay for cat food. The elites love the
‘Chained CPI’ because it helps keep the government from raising taxes on
the rich to pay back what was borrowed from Social Security and used to
give tax cuts to the rich.
The chained CPI will hit every senior hard, but especially women. According to the National Women’s Law Center
the chained CPI means if you’re 70 you’ll go hungry 1 day a month, but
if you commit the crime of living until you’re 95 you’ll be rewarded
with hunger 13 days out of every month.
When you combine
cuts to social security with the private health insurance system, and
hospitals padding costs for basics like aspirin and gauze pads, seniors
will have much more to worry about than if the Air traffic controller
will be there to guide their private jet, or if they have to pay full
price for a haircut.
Robert Reich explains
Even Social Security’s current inflation adjustment
understates the true impact of inflation on the elderly. That’s because
they spend 20 to 40 percent of their incomes on health care, and
health-care costs have been rising faster than inflation. So why adopt a
new inflation adjustment that’s even stingier than the current one?
If the best healthcare system in the world doesn’t get you, the
chained CPI eventually will. You’ll be glad to know, however, that your
sacrifice means the corporate elite will be able to build more
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