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HistoricalPEGuy (63.43)

Universal Healthcare is Already Here

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February 23, 2008 – Comments (8) | RELATED TICKERS: UNH , ANTM

From Texas, I had to tune into the Hillary vs Obama debates.  It was quite painful - not because I'm against dems, but because I just don't like politics that much.  The libertarian platform is the only thing that makes any sense to me - and they haven't got a prayer - Ron Paul is the closest thing (and used to be libertarian) and he's never had a shot.  Looks like I'll be voting libertarian again...

Anyway, the healthcare reforms that are being proposed are grabbing my attention.  Healthcare for all!  Plus, the insurance companies are going to run it.  Every government contractor knows that you keep your margins high when you deal with government contracts.  All the insurers are going to milk the government to maximize profits.  They have to, its unclear what the future holds.  To get it passed, congress will be forced to pay a huge sum of money to get the insurers to play ball.  How can I say this loud enough.  BUY HEALTH CARE PLANS NOW BEFORE EVERYONE REALIZES THIS SIMPLE FACT.  Good news, they are on the cheap!

Many people think that "socialized healthcare is bad".  I'm not saying they are wrong.  In fact, I tend to agree.  However ---- WE ARE ALREADY THERE!

I took my son to the emergency room the other day after bumping his head.  He's fine, no worries.  We had a CT scan and it was just a minor fracture of the skull.  The staff of the hospital was amazing.  They explained everything, were great to deal with and treated our child like he was the only kid in the hospital.  Wonderful.  After it was all done, it was time to declare my insurance.  At the pay window, I gave the teller my information.  It was taking a while, so I asked a simple quesiton:

"What if I didn't have insurance, what would happen"?  She was in a very sharing mood that evening.  "Nothing", she responded.  "I'd act all miffed and say 'how will you pay', but I already know the answer.  You don't have insurance and you can't pay.  We take down their address and make a big stink about how we're going to follow up, but we never do.  If you don't have insurance, you simply don't have to pay".

Her candid comments blew me away.  We already live in a society of socialized health care - you just have to go to the emergency room to get it.  Maybe the dems have it right.  Why should hospitals have to foot the bill?  Maybe we are so knee deep in this quagmire, we don't have any other alternative. 

Fact: Healthcare is already socialized.  Sorry, but its true.  With the dems coming, its time to pick the right plan.

In any case, the entire healthcare sector will profit - WLP and UNH are favorites of mine.  Hospitals need a closer look, but I think there is a big opportunity there.  A nice chunk of their cost structure will get placed on the governments balance sheet.  That smells like increased profits to me.

--HPEGuy

 

8 Comments – Post Your Own

#1) On February 23, 2008 at 10:19 AM, LordZ wrote:

Insurance is the biggest rip off. For instance, automotive insurance, its interesting how you pay your premiums, yet when you have an accident, you are then forced to get an attorney and then sue your own insurer to get the money you should be entitled to in the first place, then you have to split the proceeds with your attorney.

 WOW.

 As for healthcare, why can't things just be affordable ? WHy are the premiums so freaking huge and the costs to get basic treatment so outlandish, why do we charge certain people different rates. As to the story of the boy, my experience would tell me that they would have the patients information as to health care  insurance status well determined before any treatment was done, and maybe just maybe because he didnt have any insurance, maybe the treatment options change. Then if the patient does pay, most often they overcharge someone who doesn't have insurance.

Its amazing that for over 10 years I had insurance, part paid by my former employer and part paid by deductions from my check.

The insurance totally sucked, seemed like it didnt pay for much  and then it was only an 80 / 20 plan. Anyways, my work never afforded me the opportunity to see any type of doctors as they forced me to work a lot, never had a sick day, never went and seen a doctor. Well long story short, I got tired of bull crap and events happened to where my employer and me parted company, then I was offered to continue that crappy coverage with me paying the full premium. Well that premium was ridiculous and it has me wondering as to what is fair and just.

So now I don't have any type of insurance, hell to be cute they screwed me out of paying my last dental visit which I took my schedule day off instead of coming to work for a stupid meeting. Had I remained employed I probably would have been fired for taking my day off to see a dentist that one schedules 6 months in advance.

Anyways that POS company was RCII

Rent A Center for those of you who don't recognize the stock symbol.

Although that company wanted to go from good to great

Instead they have gone to the dogs and their financials tell the picture, an employer of choice LMAO hardly.

An employer of desperation.

Anyways I find it ironic that I'm writing this and bashing my old employer on the weekend which in RAC life is so important :LMAO

2 words for ya...

F

U

:-)

 

 

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#2) On February 23, 2008 at 10:23 AM, LordZ wrote:

O history the F U was directed too RCII

 

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#3) On February 23, 2008 at 12:49 PM, GS751 (27.64) wrote:

I agree with LordZ don't when ur son walks in they ask u for ur "healthcare card"  To scan it and make sure they get their $$$$.  Healthcare is one of those necessary evils.  Most of the jacked up prices come from the process that it gets to you, buying going from a company to an agent etc.  I wish there were more publically traded insurance companies like GEIKO, who market directly to customers and cut out the agents 15% minimum fees.  That is where the money goes to the agents, and compnies float to invest in hedge funds and bonds.

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#4) On February 23, 2008 at 10:36 PM, HistoricalPEGuy (63.43) wrote:

Seriously, I was never even asked about my insurance - not once until it was all over.

The reason its not affordable is because you have to have tons of schooling just to even look at a sick kid.  Its down right silly.

Many professions do this - Dentists, not Hygenists, are only allowed to perform the most basic of tooth care.  Interior Designers have now convinced law makers that it should be illeagal for an untrained person to say "A handicap ramp needs to go here".

If we are going to get serious about health care, we've got to have different classes of service.  When you fly, you can go on a "low fare" airline, sit in coach on a nicer airline or sit in first class.  What you pay is what you get.  This is true for just about any real free-market service in the world.  Good, Better, Best.

We are now finally seeing some clinics pop up in Walmarts and grocery stores.  About freaking time.  We need more and it needs to go bigger.  Where's the 2 year degree that let's you attend to people with minor injuries and health problems?  Where's the 4 year degree that allows you to do more?  Why can't nurses have more power to take care of people?  Why must a doctor always have the final word?

The more stratifications, the better.  Let's let more people enter the medical industry.  The lower class is systematically being denied access to meaningful jobs in the healthcare industry because of the huge barriers to get in.

Why can't we let the super rich go to amazing hospitals and pay through the nose?  Why must it all be "equal"?  It doesn't make any sense.  But here we go.  Everyone gets the same care - which lowers the bar for everyone.

That said, I don't think Universal Healthcare will be all bad.  More people will be able to have access to care.  There will be a way for people to see doctors more often and have a chance to actually prevent disease rather than waiting until things get really bad.  Let's not over do the anti-socialized rhetoric, because we already have socialized healthcare.  This train has left the station.

Aside - We also have socialized Auto Insurance.  Why do you think you have to pay a premium for the uninsured? 

-- HPEGuy

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#5) On February 25, 2008 at 4:37 AM, StockSpreadsheet (69.08) wrote:

I took a friend of mine to the emergency room several years ago.  He had a compound fracture of one of his toes suffered during a basketball game, with the bone sticking through the bottom of his foot.  They wouldn't look at him until we filled out a ton of paperwork, and their first question was who was his insurance carrier and did he have his insurance card on him.  (This took place in a hospital in Phoenix.)  They wouldn't give him anything for the pain until they had seen him, and he had to wait in line in an overcrowded emergency room until the people that were ahead of hiim on the list got seen.  My friend ended up self-medicating himself for the pain, (through the use of about half a bottle of vodka).  After finally getting in to see someone, he had a row with the doctor, (don't know exactly what had happened as I wasn't allowed into the examining room with him), and I ended up taking him to another hospital a few miles away to finally get treated.  I just remember getting pissed off that the first thing that the nurse asked for was his insurance card and didn't care in the least what was wrong with him.  (And since he couldn't stand on his foot, he was sitting down and I was doing all the talking to the nurse.)

I have always read that one of the reasons that our healthcare costs are so high in this country is that we have so many uninsured people in this country.  Since by law all emergency rooms have to treat whoever goes in there, all the uninsured go to the emergency room whenever they get sick.  Since the emergency room is the highest-cost section of the hospital, then all of the uninsured end up using the most expensive part of the hospital to get treated in.  Since they can't pay, the hospital has to eat the costs and try to recoup them through overcharging anyone that does have health insurance.  This is the reason that so many hospitals are closing their emergency care facilities, since they often have trouble recouping all of the costs.  It has been said, (usually by people that want some sort of national government-funded healthcare plan), that we could save a lot of money by covering the uninsured through the government, since then they could get cheap preventative care early in their illness through a regular doctor instead of expensive care through the emergency room after their illness has gotten really bad through neglect, (or at least, from not seeing a doctor that they couldn't afford early in the illness when it was more easily treated).  Not sure if I buy this arguement or not, especially since anything government-funded ALWAYS costs more than something that people have to pay for themselves, since people are fairly frugal with their own money but freely spend other people's money, (and politicians are the worst of the lot).  

I think that if the government gave everybody an allotment card, good for a set amount of money, that the person could then use to shop around for a healthcare plan and buy coverage a la carte, then that would be the best of both worlds, but then the politicians wouldn't have control, and they don't like that.  That is what my former employer did.  They gave us a set amount of money that they would fund our benefits with.  We then took that amount of money and chose what benefits we wanted, (medical care, dental care, vision care, long-term disability care, medical savings plans, etc.).  Anything that went over the amount the company provided us would be paid for out of payroll deductions.  I thought this was a pretty good plan and let everyone get whatever was most suited for them.  I think it would be good if the government adopted a similar scheme.

The reason that is always given on why there is pretty much one level of care in this country is lawyers.  If you go into the emergency room after bumping your head, they don't know how serious the injury is.  They have to run tests.  Supposedly, a nurse doesn't have the knowledge on how to read the results of these tests.  If the nurse were to accidently, (or due to lack of knowledge), tell you to "take two aspirins and call back in the morning" and you ended up having a concussion or a cerebral hemorage, then that would have been terrible advice, (especially the hemorrage part, as aspirin thins the blood and could make the bleeding worse), and you would probably end up suing the hospital, (or your relatives would if you died from your injuries).  Therefore, hospitals err on the cautious side and usually force you to see a doctor first, though you might be able to see a nurse for the followup.

I have been treated by medical practitioners before, usually with my consent beforehand.  I used to get bad bronchitis every winter.  Every winter I would go to the doctor and every time he prescribed the same medication and after 2 - 6 weeks my bronchitis went away.  One time when I went in he asked me if I would see the nurse practitioner or an intern for my diagnosis, and he would review the findings for final decisions, (since he was my primary care physician).  I told him I didn't care who saw me as long as I got my antibiotics since I knew exactly what was wrong with me, (having been through this several times already in past years).   The person listened to my chest, reviewed the data taken by the nurse, (temperature, blood pressure, etc.), and then told me that I had bronchitis and that I would need antibiotics.  The level of care was fine, the person had a good bedside manner and I got the drugs I needed.  Three weeks later, my bronchitis was healed and I had no complaints.  If I thought I had something more serious, I might have been less willing to see somebody other than my doctor, (or at least a fully certified doctor), but in this case I had no concerns about it.  (Of course, if they hadn't given me my standard prescription, then I would have had a problem with it and would have demanded to see my primary care physician, but that didn't happen so wasn't an issue.)

It will be interesting if a Democrat gets elected president if we do get some nationalized health care system legislated.  I just hope that it is reasonable, cost-competitive and convenient.  I don't hold much hope for this happening for any government-funded system, as such almost never happens, but maybe it won't be a total screwup and might actually benefit a lot of people.  I think the next four years are going to be very interesting.

Craig 

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#6) On February 25, 2008 at 1:05 PM, HistoricalPEGuy (63.43) wrote:

Great comments, Craig.  I too think the next four years will be interesting.

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#7) On March 21, 2008 at 4:23 PM, dwot (46.63) wrote:

I was just having a thought...  Historical PE probably doesn't work well in a recession...  Well, probably lots doesn't work...  Have you changed your investment approach at all?

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#8) On March 25, 2008 at 12:44 AM, HistoricalPEGuy (63.43) wrote:

Hey dwot - its definitely something to think about when earnings aren't stable.  I don't know if I'll ever change my strategy, just remember to think about the E part of P/E.  In a recession, you have to somehow factor in lower P/Es.  In some cases, you don't have to.  Look at MAN (Manpower)  --- I like the P/E so much it scares me, mostly because the E is solid and based almost entirely on France and other international markets.

Good question - yes, I always need to revise and rethink my investing approach.

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