Medicare for All right f***ing now motherf***ckers.

I was just trawling my Twitter feed for stuff to steal, when I came across a story I just had to retweet to @JoeBiden. You see, Mr. Biden does not support single payer healthcare, for reasons (*cough* conservative *cough* corrupt *cough*).

Here’s the story:

Seattle coronavirus survivor gets a $1.1 million, 181-page hospital bill

June 12, 2020

Remember Michael Flor, the longest-hospitalized COVID-19 patient who, when he unexpectedly did not die, was jokingly dubbed “the miracle child?”

Now they can also call him the million-dollar baby.

Flor, 70, who came so close to death in the spring that a night-shift nurse held a phone to his ear while his wife and kids said their final goodbyes, is recovering nicely these days at his home in West Seattle. But he says his heart almost failed a second time when he got the bill from his health care odyssey the other day.

“I opened it and said ‘holy [bleep]!’ “ Flor says.

The total tab for his bout with the coronavirus: $1.1 million. $1,122,501.04, to be exact. All in one bill that’s more like a book because it runs to 181 pages.

But don’t worry too much about Mr. Flor: he has medical “insurance including Medicare,” so he won’t have to pay the vast majority of it. In fact, he may not have to pay any of it at all, because it’s COVID and not, say, cancer.

Congress set aside more than $100 billion to help [for-profit] hospitals and [for-profit] insurance companies unnecessary evil parasites defray the costs of the pandemic, in part to encourage people to seek testing and treatment (including those with no insurance). As a result, Flor probably won’t have to pay even his Medicare Advantage policy’s out-of-pocket charges, which could have amounted to $6,000.

The insurance industry unnecessary evil parasite lobby has estimated treatment costs just for COVID-19 could top $500 billion, however, so Congress is being asked to step up with more money.

That would be more money for shareholders.

The author then says this:

It’s like we’re doing an experiment for what universal health coverage might be like, but confining it to only this one illness.

But that is not true. Since 1972, we have had a single-payer system for dialysis patients, courtesy of Richard Nixon. (Richard Nixon!) A few years ago John Oliver gave a rundown of the history and current state of dialysis care in the US:

  • USians are at increasing risk of needing dialysis: chronic kidney disease is the 9th leading cause of death in the country.
  • While the US spends more than any industrialized nation on dialysis care, we also have one of the highest mortality rates for dialysis patients in the industrialized world.
  • As Oliver says in the segment, “the story of dialysis is an amazing case study of good intentions being thwarted by bad incentives, poor oversight and profiteering.”

Or, you know, by capitalism. After all this is the United States we’re talking about: if there is a profit to be made on anything, there will be. Even (especially?) when one can profit from misery and death, which is the exact business model of for-profit insurance companies unnecessary evil parasites.

Exactly as you would predict, for-profit dialysis clinics engage in every egregious, illegal and deadly practice they can get away with to benefit their bottom line: failing to properly sanitizing dialysis equipment between patients, cash kickbacks to doctors for their referrals, overcharging the government for dialysis drugs and deliberately wasting them, and failing to inform patients of the lower financial cost and superior survival rates of kidney transplants, as required by law.

How John Oliver can make this story hilarious speaks to his enormous comic talent (and that of his writers and producers). Because it sure ain’t fucking funny.

Neither is this:

  • Two-thirds of people who file for bankruptcy cite medical issues as a key contributor to their financial downfall.

  • While the high cost of health care has historically been a trigger for bankruptcy filings, the research shows that the implementation of the Affordable Care Act has not improved things.

Imagine that. The ACA entrenched for-profit healthcare, and deliberately cut off any path to single payer. And, as is all too painfully clear now, it also entrenched employer-based health insurance unnecessary evil parasitism. How is that feature working out for everyone in the present economy?

Joe Biden will never, ever support single-payer. He suggested he would veto ‘Medicare for All’ over its costs, but anyone paying the least bit of attention knows that is a flaming pile of horseshit. Why, just this February – you know, before COVID-19 was A Big Fucking Thing and knocked millions of people off the job rolls and thus off their employer-based health insurance – The Lancet published an interesting study headed by researchers at Yale. Here’s the summary:

Although health care expenditure per capita is higher in the USA than in any other country, more than 37 million Americans do not have health insurance, and 41 million more have inadequate access to care. Efforts are ongoing to repeal the Affordable Care Act which would exacerbate health-care inequities. By contrast, a universal system, such as that proposed in the Medicare for All Act, has the potential to transform the availability and efficiency of American health-care services. Taking into account both the costs of coverage expansion and the savings that would be achieved through the Medicare for All Act, we calculate that a single-payer, universal health-care system is likely to lead to a 13% savings in national health-care expenditure, equivalent to more than US$450 billion annually (based on the value of the US$ in 2017). The entire system could be funded with less financial outlay than is incurred by employers and households paying for health-care premiums combined with existing government allocations. This shift to single-payer health care would provide the greatest relief to lower-income households. Furthermore, we estimate that ensuring health-care access for all Americans would save more than 68,000 lives and 1.73 million life-years every year compared with the status quo.
[Emphasis added.]

Physicians for a National Health Program has also been broadcasting the same thing for many years, and there are a lot of useful resources on their site to rebut conservatives like Biden & Co.

But you probably shouldn’t bother doing that. PROTIP: never waste your time and breath arguing with conservatives, unless you have an audience. (For example, my several tens of Twitter followers!) Joe Biden will not see my Tweet. Joe Biden already knows all about the baked-in evils of our present healthcare system, probably more than most. Whenever they point to cost as a reason to reject single-payer, Joe Biden and all conservatives in the Democratic Party are well aware that they are misdirecting and misinforming people. In other words, they are lying, and quite knowingly so. But that doesn’t mean lurkers and onlookers would not benefit from observing you knock down a conservative, or one of their cherished dogmas.

Here, get the t-shit, spark a conversation, and maybe slay a few conservatives yourself.


  1. blf says

    Related — I know I’ve mentioned this before elseblogs at FtB, apologies, but it’s still perhaps my favourite example of what a people-first national medical system can do — Here in France, early on during the first wave of the pandemic, just after lockdown started, a pre-planned & previously-tested scheme was put into operation: To free up space in ICU’s in hard-hit regions, non–Covid-19 ICU patients were transferred to low-impact regions by rolling high-speed TGV trains converted into mobile ICU hospitals. They could carry c.40 patients with their medical team, and had an emergency facility on-board in case of, well, emergencies.

    The system had been devised for use in catastrophes — major terrorist incident, natural disaster, pandemic, … — to do what it was used for: Free up hospital space in badly-impacted regions. And it had been tested, in October 2019 (as I recall), with a (simulated) terrorist incident. So they had both trained people and tested kit ready-to-go.

  2. says

    blf, that’s inconceivable, from a US perspective. I think what’s fundamental to societies where everyone has the same access to quality heath care is an underlying foundation of We Are All In This Together. There’s always an “us” to consider. Whereas here, society is so fractured and stratified by race, class, geography, education, immigration status, etc. that there is no underlying, unifying foundation whatsoever, no sense of “us” as a whole. Our dog-eat-dog ethos, grandiose notions of “rugged individualism” and bootstrap delusions do not benefit an interdependent social species. They are anti-human dogmas. But they are so deeply embedded in our culture, history and institutions, I don’t know where one could even begin to eradicate them. :/