Conspicuous Consumption: The American Healthcare Boondoggle

We’ve often said, even before Obamacare really screwed it up, that one of the major problems in American health care is the disconnect between who receives it, and who pays for it. Since we pay for our insurance and our insurance pays for our healthcare, we are pretty much removed from the equation as to what we get for our money. The chart at the right indicates, if nothing else, that we spend an inordinate, not to say, ridiculously excessive amount on health care administration. This is an overhead cost, that essentially provides no value at all to the consumer. It happens because it is in no one’s interest (except the consumer, who isn’t in the loop) to reduce it. For instance, Daniel Flynn in The American Spectator tells us.

At St. Vincent’s Hospital in Worcester, Massachusetts, visitors immediately encounter a waterfall, trees, massive rocks, and a pathway for hospital-goers interested in a stroll all located underneath a glass atrium. The massive indoor nature preserve of sorts appears about half the size of a football field. It provides peace and tranquility in a place in need of such comforts.

Once one gets past the beauty and grandeur of it, thoughts run to the expense. Americans spend $3.5 trillion on healthcare annually. The lavish look of so many hospitals reminds that these institutions bankrolled in part by third parties — taxdollars and insurance companies — do not cut corners. The sheer majesty of so many big-city hospitals — and even, as this one shows, medium-sized city hospitals — acts as metaphor for the entire healthcare system. We waste a lot of money.

IU Health in Indianapolis boasts a monorail-like People Mover that shuttles patients, families, employees, and anybody else who cares to ride between hospitals for free. Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles offers deluxe maternity suites featuring such perks as access to a “personal doula,” “soft colors and recessed lighting to offer a soothing environment for laboring women,” and an “in-room refrigerator stocked with complimentary chilled juices and bottled water.” Even hospitals labeled “struggling” struggle to avoid lavish spending. The New York Postreported in 2016 that Brooklyn’s SUNY Downstate Medical Center paid consultants $83,000 for such frills as “pricey rooms at the Carlyle Hotel on the Upper East Side, a booze-infused ‘team dinner’ at the Docks Oyster Bar in Midtown, and sticker-shock limo bills.”

None of that is bad stuff, intrinsically. But at what cost, and how much of it is subsidized by those who would rather spend less, still receiving excellent care but without the fripperies. I don’t know about you, but if I’m sick enough to be in the hospital, I care quite a lot about the quality of the medical staff, and yes, the janitorial staff as well. I’m not particularly interested in a half a football field of tropical rainforest at the front door. My priorities just don’t extend to that.

Nor do I really wish my hard earned dollars be spent on lavish care without cost in the maternity ward, I’m fine with providing it, assuming the users want it and are paying for it. Same goes for my money paying for stays at hotels where I can’t afford a cup of coffee, most likely. These are consulting doctors, send them to Motel 6, if they want better, let them pay for it. I don’t blame them, but why am I (and you) paying for it, on top of what are most likely very high consultancy rates.

Here’s a different model.

Dignity Health St. Rose-Dominican Neighborhood Hospitals increasingly specializes in opening micro hospitals. Rather than 1,000 beds, they may contain a dozen. Some average 11-minute wait times for care. They deliver babies, replace knees, respond to heart attacks, and treat gunshot wounds. For care requiring more specialization and expense, such as cancer treatment, they might refer patients to larger institutions.

“We only transfer 5 percent, or sometimes in other locations, 4 percent of our patients,” Laura Hennum of Dignity Health St. Rose-Dominican Neighborhood Hospitals told CNBC. “We treat or discharge the vast majority of patients we see.”

The convenience and cost of such an institution appeals. Obviously, the basic idea appealed to Apple, which launches a series of well-publicized AC Wellness clinics to serve employees. Apple, like Amazon, Berskshire Hathaway, and JP Morgan Chase, thinks that a better, cheaper way exists to provide quality healthcare.

Micro hospitals appear as a small piece of this puzzle. Americans spend an average of over $10,000 per person on healthcare annually. The $3.5 trillion we now collectively spend looks to approach $6 trillion by 2026.

That sounds like a good model to me, at least for most of us. No frills, but prices we can afford, likely. I’ve said before that we will never solve our healthcare payment problem (our healthcare system has some problems, but they are a somewhat different set, and I don’t think solvable on the local level) until once again we are paying out of pocket for at least routine care, and routine can include more than we expect. There is no structural reason why we should need insurance for anything under about ten thousand dollars, and for many people considerably higher than that. We don’t use insurance to replace our car after all except after a catastrophic accident, yeah, too often we finance it, but that is a choice we make.

What we are beginning to see are private companies such as Amazon and Apple, moving into the field. Why? because it is a field rife with useless overhead, which might be fairly easy to cut, leaving a better financial experience for the customer (I mean us, not our insurance company) while being a pretty profitable venture, given some real management. It can go too far the other way, of course, cutting not only into the meat but the bone, but if we don’t do something health care is going to eat the economy.


Get Woke, Go Broke.

The title is stolen from a commenter at Ace’s because it is the perfect summary of the story. From Hot Air.

At what price does Twitter fame come? Corporate brands that offered virtue signaling to online mobs might discover that it’s more expensive than they thought. A new Morning Consult survey shows that every major brand that disaffiliated themselves from the NRA has suffered overall damage to their standing with consumers:

After the Parkland, Fla., high school shooting, several prominent companies ended their businesses relationships with the National Rifle Association — and some are facing backlash in public opinion, according to a new poll.

Morning Consult survey of 2,201 U.S. adults conducted Feb. 23-25 found increases in negative views of businesses that severed ties with the NRA after consumers learned of them. The poll’s margin of error is plus or minus 2 percentage points.

MetLife Inc., the insurance giant that ended a discount for NRA members last week, had a 45 percent favorable rating, compared to a 12 percent unfavorable rating, before survey participants were informed of that move. After learning of it, respondents with an unfavorable view of the company doubled to 24 percent, while its favorability rating was unchanged.

The chart’s left column shows the overall impact

All of these companies did get a boost from Democrats, but it turns out that it’s not enough to offset the overall damage to their reputations for tossing the NRA under the bus. That’s even more remarkable considering that only 14% of the sample had NRA members in their households. There is a distinct partisan split on this question, with that number rising to 23% among Republican respondents and only 8% for Democrats. Still, the relatively low numbers of NRA membership fall far below the backlash shown overall to these corporate moves.

On the other hand, 42% of all households in the survey own a firearm, including 28% of Democrats and 42% of independents; over half of all Republicans surveyed have a firearm in the house (55%). Twenty-one percent of all Democrats surveyed had more than three firearms in the house (38% of Republicans), showing that gun ownership is not partisan nor is enthusiasm for firearm ownership. A bigger differentiator is geography; only 15% of all urban respondents own more than three firearms, while 41% of all rural respondents do.

What about the millennials that these companies tried to woo this week with their virtue-signaling? Well, 43% of respondents below 30 years of age report having firearms in their households, roughly the same percentage as the other age demos, and 24% report having more than three of them. Twenty-one percent report that their household includes at least one member of the NRA, a higher percentage than any other age demo. They are more likely to want corporations to take public stances on social issues, but only slightly so when combining “very important” to “somewhat important,” and they’re slightly lessinterested corporate takes on political issues.

And when it comes to gun control, they turn out to be less interested than other age demos, too:

More at the link, but it seems to me there is a very old saying that applies here. “Shoemaker, stick to your last.”

The point of a corporation is to make money for the shareholders, anything that intentionally detracts from that is malfeasance by the management of the firm, and the employees bear the brunt of the cost. That is one reason why I tend to be slow with boycotts, but I’ve reached my limit, and these companies that intentionally insult my beliefs, and my fights, will have to do without my trade. For most of them, that’s an easy decision, I have no reason to deal with them in the foreseeable future. But they are no longer on my list of acceptable vendors.

From what I read, I’m not the only one, either. I wouldn’t be all that much happier if they were coming out in support of the NRA, by the way. If it’s in their interest to support the organization, fine, like say, Colt, for example, but if it’s just a generic corporation, well, why are you doing this? Yes, it is different for a company wholly owned by an individual (or family), it is quite appropriate for their organization to reflect their beliefs. While a corporation is (and has to be) a person for legal purposes, it is a limited thing. General Electric is not a citizen with a right to vote.

Best we keep it that way.

Parry, and Thrust Home

I don’t know if you’ve noticed but after the horrific murder of 17 people, aided and abetted by the incompetence of the FBI and the craven cowardice of the Broward County Sheriff and some of his deputies, the left has found that the absolute refusal of the normals to talk about so-called gun control, until the present laws are enforced, and likely not then because there is no need, is infuriating.

So they have decided that the way to make things happen is to use sympathetic people in charge of corporations, to essentially ban us from commerce. Well, they can try, but, if we are wise, there will be a price.

Delta Airlines has decided that the NRA no longer qualifies for group airfare rates. Under current law, they can do this (more later). But companies based in Georgia probably shouldn’t do such things.

Oops! That just might leave a mark on Delta shareholders.

That’s how it’s done. Good job, Georgia.

Not surprisingly Colonel Schlichter is walking point on this one.

We’re now supposed to give up our guns because it’s the 21st Century, people, and the cops will totally protect us and oh, you can’t dare criticize the FBI for failing to disarm yet another ticking time bomb and what kind of crazy nut would expect a police officer to actually confront a gunman?

Show of hands: Who thinks this stops, even slows down, once those mean old not-actually-assault weapons get banned? That liberals have taken a hard stand in favor of cowardice does not exactly fill one with confidence that once we give up our Second Amendment rights that we’ll be safer or freer. […]

Conservatism is not a suicide pact, and our principles are not a mandate to unilaterally disarm. We need to make them hate the new rules. Maybe they won’t learn anything, but at least they won’t win by cheating.

The liberal elite is using its social and cultural ties to those at the helm of big companies to essentially blacklist the NRA, and thereby the tens of millions of Americans who support gun rights. But oppression is oppression whether it’s done by a government bureaucrat or a corporate one, and our principle of non-interference in business assumes business stays out of politics. But now National, Hertz, and others are cutting ties to the NRA, and liberals are advocating banks do the same. Their intent is clear – what they can’t do in politics they will simply do by not allowing the representatives of people whose politics they don’t like access to the infrastructure of society. And we’re not supposed to do anything about it because, you know, free enterprise and stuff.  You know, our principles. […]

No. They are exercising political power. We have our own political power, and we need to exercise it – ruthlessly. The first step is an executive order at the federal level directing that no federal contract can go to any company that discriminates against an organization based on its advocacy or exercise of an enumerated constitutional right. We wouldn’t allow a company to do business with our federal government if it discriminated on other grounds, so why should we do it discriminate on political grounds? Why should taxpayers be subsidizing people who hate them? When those government employees start walking past the Hertz and National counters, the liberal jerks who run those companies are going to find that they’re posing and posturing has a price.

Next, Congress needs to pass a comprehensive non-discrimination regime designed to protect us into law and allow individuals and entities the right to sue any business that discriminates on the basis of the advocacy for exercise of any constitutional right. We need to make sure there are huge penalties for non-compliance – how about $1 million a day? We also need attorneys’ fees provisions for the plaintiffs as well, because we want to turn lawyers into bounty hunters seeking out these posers who are doing so much damage to our society by collaborating in the suppression of speech that the elite does not approve of.

And that is pure and simple lawfare with malice aforethought. It is also what has been done to conservatives in this country for decades. Why do it? Because it works. And because it is targeted, like a rifle, on a specific target, and not simply an IED. And most of all, because freedom itself must not go quietly into the night.

Frankly, I’m not, and I suspect COL Schlichter isn’t either, all that enthused at picking a fight against American businesses. But, I’ll pick that fight in a heartbeat against anybody, or any group, that thinks it is going to deprive me of my God-given rights. And that definitely includes those rights enumerated in the US Constitution.

Saddle up.


The Week – the Memes of America

So, something you haven’t heard the President say in years.

About time!

Have the Democrats simply gone completely barking mad, or have the conservatives simply found (with the President’s help) the proper way to counteract their silliness. I don’t know, but I sure do enjoy what the conservative memes say these days. Well done, guys and girls.

Pretty amazing when a Canadian professor becomes a hero of American conservatives, by taking apart a BBC newsbabe. I didn’t see that one coming, but it’s pretty great. Enjoy!


From Ace’s place. Interesting isn’t it, that a loud, raucous, sometimes extreme blog is the only one I know to run a weekly (or more often) prayer list.

Thanks, Fr Robert.

Pretty much, Cathy. When you make a bed so catastrophically, you’ll lie in it for quite a while.

The State of the Union was this week.




Wrong union, I reckon.

And, of course

As usual, mostly PowerLine and Bookworm (whose site I can’t get to for the link today, sorry Book!)


SOTU in a Nation of Dreamers

And so. I came home in the middle of the speech from a job site and listened to it on the internet, set as it usually is to the local BBC Station in Norfolk. It was quite the speech, and as usual, the analysis on the BBC was completely partisan. But as conservative we are used to that. The best write up I saw was on The American Spectator, no real surprise there.

[I]n all of the media’s blather about bipartisanship, it never acknowledges the Democratic radicalism that makes any national unity impossible. No sooner had Trump finished the State of the Union Address — a speech that could have been delivered by any Democrat before the radicalism of the 1960s and 1970s seeped into the party — than CNN was throwing a wet blanket on it. “There will be Democrats offended by the speech,” intoned Jake Tapper. “He was selling sweet candy with poison in it,” chipped in Van Jones.

What is the sound of one aisle clapping at the most basic and blameless expressions of nationalism, the nationalism that every functioning country on earth observes? Americans heard it Tuesday night. The Democrats couldn’t clap for the flag or fighting gangs (that elicited a groan from some of them). It couldn’t clap for the national anthem, secure borders, religious liberty, even vocational training. It saw poison everywhere, though they did perk up at Trump’s mention of second chances for criminals.

The Democrats have become the foreigners first party. Notice that one of the two official Democratic responses was in Spanish. The other one was delivered by Rep. Joe Kennedy III, whose digressions about “transgenderism” would have even confused his forbears. He too broke into a little Spanish during his response, before endorsing the open borders anarchism of La Raza. He approvingly quoted illegal immigrants who promised to “tear down” any future walls.

Trump’s speech contained few ideological edges. But Tapper, a former Democratic staffer, saw parts of the speech as “holding up a fist.” Other commentators, desperate to find something to attack in the speech, pronounced it “flat” and questioned its “cadence.” They liked that he larded it with a rainbow of “inspirational stories,” but turned their noses up at its policy ambitions, even though many of them (paid family leave and amnesty for Dreamers) represented substantial concessions to the Democrats.

Before the Democrats took their McGovernite turn, they would have agreed with almost everything in Trump’s speech and would have stood for much of it. Now it is a party of stale and geriatric radicalism. (Even Joe Kennedy III sounded like a young old fogey, delivering a speech that could have been written by George McGovern and Bernie Sanders.) And so the Democrats sulked through much of the speech. They fiddled with their phones and rolled their eyes even at the most banal lines. The black caucus slouched through Trump’s tribute to historic levels of black employment.

And that is what I saw as well, a Democratic party that has sold out its heritage as an American party to become the party of ‘Anybody but America’. It’s a sad turn, as I’ve often said my dad was a New Dealer, even though he was conservative because of experience. But the left has overturned any possible positive legacy from FDR, and there were several. Sad really, but hiding the truth doesn’t change what it is.

As Americans, it behooves us to remember at this time, as usual, we are an example to the world. Think about that, I, in Nebraska, listened to this speech from an American President, live. on a local station in East Anglia, England.

for wee must Consider that wee shall be as a Citty upon a Hill, the eies of all people are uppon us; soe that if wee shall deale falsely with our god in this worke wee have undertaken and soe cause him to withdrawe his present help from us, wee shall be made a story and a byword through the world, wee shall open the mouthes of enemies to speake evill of the wayes of god and all professours for Gods sake;

So wrote John Winthrop long ago. It was then and it is now, people around the world look to America to see how freedom works. Yes, those in mud huts around the world, but those in England itself, who wonder how they got so far off course, look to the basics of Anglo-American freedom, as we state it. Where America leads, others follow. And the President is correct, we lead where our dreams take us. If our dreams are small, as they have been the last few years, our leadership is as well, but when we again dream large dreams, large things will happen. Not because of our force, applied wantonly, but because people will see that light on a hill, and be drawn to it.

And so for the first time in a decade, the State of the Union is good, and improving, because once again the dream is alive in Americans, and as we are seeing, especially in Central Europe, when America believe in the American Dream, others will follow, and once again the sky will be lit with the glow of liberty.

The Week in Pictures is not Shut Down

Old words are the best! From Ace

Food For Thought

It was announced today that Jeff Bezos is now worth $105 billion. Here’s a picture of him, running his mighty online empire, in 1999. Makes me wonder what the hell I am doing with my life.

Huh! The world moves fast, you spend a day or two doing something real, and you miss a whole new fad. Very stupid one too.

Favorite Headline of the Week

As always, credit mostly to Bookworm and PowerLine. Have a good weekend.

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