Matthew Holt

Voices from the deserving mob

From the (UK) Independent. Real quotes from real people attending the free care in LA this week:

“I had a gastric bypass in 2002, but it went wrong, and stomach acid began rotting my teeth. I’ve had several jobs since, but none with medical insurance, so I’ve not been able to see a dentist to get it fixed,” she told The Independent. “I’ve not been able to chew food for as long as I can remember. I’ve been living on soup, and noodles, and blending meals in a food mixer. I’m in constant pain. Normally, it would cost $5,000 to fix it. So if I have to wait a week to get treated for free, I’ll do it. This will change my life.”


She works for a major supermarket chain but can’t afford the $200 a month that would be deducted from her salary for insurance. “It’s a simple choice: pay my rent, or pay my healthcare. What am I supposed to do?” she asked. “I’m one of the working poor: people who do work but can’t afford healthcare and are ineligible for any free healthcare or assistance. I can’t remember the last time I saw a doctor.”


“You’d think, with the money in this country, that we’d be able to look after people’s health properly,” she said. “But the truth is that the rich, and the insurance firms, just don’t realise what we are going through, or simply don’t care. Look around this room and tell me that America’s healthcare don’t need fixing.”

And that last one is the money quote.

And despite all the good people in Community Health Centers do, I’m really worried that a good liberal Bob Herbert is so impressed that he thinks that they’re almost a good enough solution. After all there are plenty of FQHCs in Los Angeles—but somehow they’re not meeting the needs of these legions of anonymous poor people. And even if they were, I can’t believe Bob would be in favor of separate but equal.

And it’s clearly true that the rich (or at least some of those not so badly off) simply don’t care—or at least aren’t thinking about these people when they spread their idiotic propaganda, or show up to shout down Democratic Congress people.

And that’s why, despite all the problems, I am in favor of health reform even in its current limited state passing. Because somehow we have to get help to these people—which means getting them into the system not hoping that charity care will get them by.

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15 replies »

  1. about 6 months ago I was trying to find a carrier that would cover it. Had a small group client with a long time employee that was 500 pounds and about to die. Small group plans wouldn’t cover it, medicaid wouldn’t, I beleive Medicare would but it is impossible to get it approved we where told. What surprised me was the cost. 8 years ago when it seemed like 20% of the people where dieing they cost 40K plus. Now that insurance doesn’t cover it and people but it own their own its around 10K.
    Almost makes you think the cost of all care would drop considerably if people paif for it and only insured large catostrophic claims.
    What I was reading the success rate is 100 times better then it use to be.

  2. Whether someone had health insurance or not would hardly matter today in the case of a gastric bypass or other types of bariatric surgery since very few plans cover bariatric surgery whether insured or self-insured, primarily due to outcomes like the one cited in this post. It is possible some plans might have covered it in 2002. Of course torts have something to do with the subject of covering bariatric surgery as do evidenced based medicine guidelines.
    Is bariatric surgery coverage going to be one of the mandated benefits of Obamacare?
    Matthew are you suggesting it should be covered?

  3. Peter you can’t link to national labor stats when discussing CA super markets. CA is heavily unionized. Other parts of the country are not. CA grocery stores are not made up of entry level part timers.

  4. “5-6 hours a nite”
    I would look at your lengthy rants Nate as a sign of sleep deprivation.:>)
    “Sleep deprivation can adversely affect brain function.[11] A 2000 study, by the UCSD School of Medicine and the Veterans Affairs Healthcare System in San Diego, used functional magnetic resonance imaging technology to monitor activity in the brains of sleep-deprived subjects performing simple verbal learning tasks.[12] The study showed that regions of the brain’s prefrontal cortex displayed more activity in sleepier subjects. Depending on the task at hand, the brain would sometimes attempt to compensate for the adverse effects caused by lack of sleep.
    The temporal lobe, which is a brain region involved in language processing, was activated during verbal learning in rested subjects but not in sleep deprived subjects. The parietal lobe, not activated in rested subjects during the verbal exercise, was more active when the subjects were deprived of sleep. Although memory performance was less efficient with sleep deprivation, greater activity in the parietal region was associated with better memory.
    A 2001 study at Chicago Medical Institute suggested that sleep deprivation may be linked to more serious diseases, such as heart disease and mental illnesses, such as psychosis and bipolar disorder.[13] The link between sleep deprivation and psychosis (psychiatric disorders) was further documented in 2007 through a study at Harvard Medical School and the University of California at Berkeley. The study revealed, using MRI scans, that lack of sleep causes the brain to become incapable of putting an emotional event into the proper perspective and incapable of making a controlled, suitable response to the event.
    A 2002 University of California animal study indicated that REM sleep was necessary for turning off neurotransmitters and allowing their receptors to “rest” and regain sensitivity which allows monoamines (norepinephrine, serotonin and histamine) to be effective at naturally produced levels. This leads to improved regulation of mood and increased learning ability. The study also found that REM sleep deprivation can alleviate clinical depression because it mimics selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI).
    This is because the natural decrease in monoamines during REM is not allowed to occur, which causes the concentration of neurotransmitters in the brain, that are depleted in clinically depressed persons, to increase. Sleep outside of the REM phase may allow enzymes to repair brain cell damage caused by free radicals. High metabolic activity while awake damages the enzymes themselves preventing efficient repair. This study observed the first evidence of brain damage in rats as a direct result of sleep deprivation.[14]
    Animal studies suggest that sleep deprivation increases stress hormones, which may reduce new cell production in adult brains.[15]”
    A large (over 1400 participants) study in 2005 showed that sleep deprivation severely affects the human body’s ability to metabolize glucose, which can lead to early-stage Diabetes Type 2.[10]”
    Are you one of the “non-complient” people that cost the rest of us higher insurance rates?

  5. wrote the editor, asked why if she is making 50K plus a year she can’t afford $160, we’ll see if they respond. If they are anything like NYT, NPR, or the rest of the lefty media I have questioned in the past the request will get deleted without responce.
    I am curious, Matt, Peter, Margalit and others who strongly beleive in reform, when you hear stories like this don’t you care if they are accurate? Doesn’t it bother you in the least that so many important facts are just left out? You are suppose to rely 100% on the jornalist that this person can’t aford insurance even when common knowledge says she should be ok.
    That is my major gripe with social programs, the left claims they are trying to help scott or liz or someone who really needs help, but the actual programs implemented don’t help these people sufficently but always help millions more who didn’t need help in the first place.
    Medicare was a major failure in that way. 85% of seniors needed no help paying their bills. Americans wanted the 15% that needed help to get it and some sort of catostrophic protection in case they get hospitalized for a year. Medicare did the exact opposit, it had time limited benefits so was no help in catostrophic situtions and didn’t fully help the 15%.
    This reform was supposedly about the uninsured and cost yet it leaves most of the uninsured still uninsured and adds 1 trillion in cost. It does the exact opposit of what the left claimed they where trying to accomplish.
    Are you all the partision and political or do you just not put 2 and 2 together? Democrats have never delivered what they claimed they where with healthcare.

  6. “it is safe to assume she is a member of the Union, makes 50K plus a year, and has some of the best healthcare benefits in the country”
    Assuming full time employment.
    “and nearly 32 percent of employees working a part-time schedule”
    “Part-time workers who are not unionized may receive few benefits. Unionized part-time workers sometimes receive partial benefits.”
    “Average weekly earnings in grocery stores are considerably lower than the average for all industries, reflecting the large proportion of entry-level, part-time jobs.”

  7. The Article says;
    “She works for a major supermarket chain”
    All the major chains in CA are unionized, so unless the journalist, used losly, misspoke it is safe to assume she is a member of the Union, makes 50K plus a year, and has some of the best healthcare benefits in the country if she would pay her $160 after taxes.
    The poor journalism skills leaves it up to the reader to deduct most of these facts, all the more reason any serious discussion should never link to such drivil. The article was clearly meant to play on the emotions of people that are quick to react and not think through all the facts.
    5-6 hours a nite, plenty of time to sleep when I die, or my real estate empire comes to be or one of my artist writes a half decent song, or the federal government hires me to administer medicare.

  8. “1 full time and 2-3 part time jobs and you can enjoy some of lifes finer things.”
    Sleeping wouldn’t be one of them.
    “Grocery clerks are making well north of $24 plus excellent benefits.”
    Assuming they work for unionized wages.

  9. Easy ones first, I don’t make $17 an hour, I just work a TON of hours and jobs to make as much as I do. 1 full time and 2-3 part time jobs and you can enjoy some of lifes finer things.
    linking to post behind paid subscrptions is playing dirty Matt!
    I think when a service is so overpriced that you can drive 2 hours and get it for 1/4 the cost you drive drive the two hours.
    Yes the strike was about the two tier pay structure and reducing benefits, the 2007 contract undid all of that. Grocery clerks are making well north of $24 plus excellent benefits. Unless they put in writing she collects carts I assume they left it out becuase she is making 50K plus a year. Poor journalism by the writer needs taken up with them. If they could report basic news wouldn’t be up for debate.
    $17 an hour is still 3K per month, she can afford the $200 which pre-taxed means she is only paying $160.
    The fact they are eligibile for medicaid and schip under current guidelines doesn’t change the fact they are eligibile and choose not to sign up. If they where to all sign up the state and federal government would not be able to fulfill their promise of coverage but my statement and point is 100% accurate. They have access and choose not to take it. You can’t argue that.
    I guess my American typing doesn’t translate to your proper King’s english, I never said half the uninsured make over 75K I said half are eligibile for medicaid. Only 14 million can afford coverage, that is around 28% which is not really close to 50%.
    I apologise for the 10+ lines but that is just unfair. Like major violation of one of my rights under one of those amendment things.
    I would like to read the health affiars article if it cost something less then $12. Is it that good of an article?

  10. I do care about the uninsured, but I care about senior citizens too. We can care about both!
    I’m also worried that our concern is being taken advantage of by those who are anxious for their physician friends to make “the incomes they deserve.” (To judge by the frequency of that phrase in commercials, it is one that people have a weakness for.)
    There are many changes we could make in order to improve our system. I believe that we could look at a wider range of options than we have been offered so far, instead of being told that we have to choose between one group or the other.

  11. A simple solution to a complex problem:: “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. The government should pay 100% of the cost for every person to get preventative medicine. Treatment or cures should be handled by a system that is close to today’s system.
    1- This gets the government off-the-hook for deciding who gets what
    2- The government gets the most bank for its buck
    3- People will flock to get their portion of free medical treatment (prevention) with the knowledge that if they don’t get the free prevention, they have to pay for the treatment / cure. The result, less need for treatments and cures, where early detection and treatment are helpful, e.g. cancer.

  12. Oh, and the canard that half the uninsured are rich and are choosing not to buy insurance–another steaming heap of crap comprehensively disproved in this Health Affairs article.
    But don’t trouble yourselves with the facts, Nate

  13. Nate–10 lines buddy
    a) To be charitable, you’re wrong; the Safewway strike was about the employers REDUCING health benefits for new workers and charging their employees more, in order to compete with other grocers (Walmart and more) who don’t cover their workers or offer such good benefits. You don’t know where she works, but I’m sure that for a $17 an hour worker $200 is a lot more than it is for you.
    b) You think that the poor (passport or none) should be leaving the country to get health care? You really think that’s the best option? And what happens if she turns up in an emergency room?
    c) Just explain to me how half the uninsured–a number which is BS in and of itself but lets ignore that–can sign up for Medi-Cal when the state of California is cutting children from S-CHIP, and reducing Medicaid spending drastically. This is one of the biggest pieces of crap spouted by nutjobs like you, Gingrich, Manikw et al and you all know it’s bullshit.
    The one really true statement is that “the rich, and the insurance firms, just don’t realise what we are going through, or simply don’t care”
    She’s talking about you, buddy.

  14. you swallowed this hook, line, and sinker. What do sob stories that hide the truth add to debate? Living in CA you should know most of these are BS. Do you know and hide the facts since most readers are outside Ca and might not be so quick or are you really that blinded by the partisan politics you will believe anything?
    “Liz Cruise was one of scores of people waiting for a free eye exam. She works for a major supermarket chain but can’t afford the $200 a month that would be deducted from her salary for insurance.”
    Have you already forgotten the grocery strikes? This was 2 years ago the new agreement started;
    “The United Food and Commercial Workers announced the results from Sunday’s voting Monday.
    The victory will change the lives of 65,000 Southern California grocery workers and turn their jobs into solid, middle-class employment again, Zazueta said”
    “Pay increases are retroactive to March 5, and employees will receive annual raises through the term of the contract, which expires March 6, 2011. For example, grocery clerks and meat cutters — the bulk of the workers — will see their pay rise $1.65 an hour over the next four years, with annual hourly increments ranging from 35 to 50 cents.
    The previous top wage for first-tier employees was $17.90 an hour. Under the ratified contract, all workers will receive a raise of 50 cents an hour immediately, boosting the top pay to $18.40 an hour.”
    “Preventive healthcare will be covered for all employees and will include routine physical exams, mammograms, prostate cancer screenings, baby care and childhood immunizations.”
    If she can’t afford $200 a month for some of the best coverage in the country it is because of other personal spending decisions not any problem with our healthcare system. She has no one to blame but herself.
    Julie Shay who can’t go to Tijuana, why would that be? A passport cost $70, I don’t believe for one second she doesn’t have cable TV or a cell phone she could have gone without for one month to get her passport. She choose not to spend her money on a passport and thus choose to be in this situation.
    “Well, fast forward now 66 years, and we’ve got about the same number of people, about 49 million people, here in the US, who don’t have access to healthcare.”
    BS, half the uninsured are already entitled to FREE insurance and CHOOSE not to sign up, that means they have all the access to healthcare they need and just don’t need it. Another 14 million or so make 75K a year, to claim they don’t have access to healthcare is just more lies from a progressive left who are scared to death of honest debate.
    Then they end the article with more misleading data to confuse the masses.
    How do you claim you care about reform and want to fix the system then use lies and phony data to justify it. If you really want to fix things why don’t you check the sob stories at the door and sit down to discuss facts?

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