Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Support Our Annual Fund Drive! We only ask one time of year, but when we do, we mean it. Without your support we can’t continue to bring you the very best material, day-in and day-out. CounterPunch is one of the last common spaces on the Internet. Help make sure it stays that way.
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Health Care Casino

by JOE GIAMBRONE

Elite rule is system-wide and highly encouraged across organizations of all types.  It’s now approaching a religious concept, this power to lord over others and exploit one’s underlings for personal advancement.  Look for the Ayn Randians to establish some sort of church in order to qualify for tax-exempt status and to immortalize the Greed is Go(o)d mantra.

So, what is a “health care” company?  How do they make their money?

The bean-counters surmise that they can rake in a lot more money from fees than they will need to pay out to doctors and hospitals and drug companies.  They wager that the money they take in will enable them to – save for future payouts when people age?  No.  To pay out multi-million dollar bonuses to the creeps in charge today.  It’s a feeding frenzy, and grandma is on the menu, as are you.

Like the fractional-reserve banks, these companies don’t actually keep enough money on hand to pay out all of their medical bills if all of their members got sick at the same time.  Like say, an epidemic?  A pandemic?  A genetically modified food related illness?  Or how about the inevitable old-age conundrum?

These feel-good companies would collapse, hire a PR firm to tell us that they are too big to fail, and probably lobby for trillions in taxpayer bailouts. The multi-million dollar bonuses would resume, for a little while longer.  That is the world we live in today, strangely enough.

The Tea Party lunatics are incapable of grasping the real situation and seem to be impervious to all but propaganda delivered through a sneer.  There already exist “death panels” operating every day.  They aren’t part of the government, however, but the panelists do wear suits and ties.  Michael Moore’s Sicko documented their doings, as have a lot of other investigations and revelations by the families of those denied “coverage” — meaning medicine, treatment, surgery — by the for-profit, and quite shameless, “health insurance” casinos.

This is not rocket science, but how are these grossly inefficient, parasitic juggernauts so entrenched in their positions of power?  Other than the outright bribing of the officials and parties of corporate governance, a discussion which is passé at this point, there is a second front that screams out for attention.  It goes something like this.

InsureCo wants to do business, baby, and B2B is the sure way to go.  You get the executives of a firm to sign on to the “plan,” and you are assured profits for years to come.  But how to make the sale and cash that bonus check?

Well the plan needs a catchy name, that’s for sure.  And if we spend a chunk on advertising and get the name out there, we’re halfway home.  So, rather than pay for cancer treatments, what we should pay for is a slick TV commercial campaign.  We’re going to show America that we can hire authentic and attractive actors, just like any other industry.  Then we can flood the screens, the magazine, the Interwebs and the newspapers with our ads, so that everyone knows what we want them to know.

That’s just the background, the environment in which we swim.  Here comes the pitch.

“We can offer your employees the Branded Plan A, and that’s a hell of a plan.  They should be grateful for not being put on the street eating rats in back alleys, anyway.  You hit them with Branded Plan A, and they will literally sacrifice their children to your profit-making enterprise.”

Target executive thinks on it, reads a portion of the brochure.  “That sounds okay.  We’re committed to ‘providing’ health care to our drones and cogs.  It keeps them from coming back with assault rifles after we let a few go, studies seem to suggest.  But, I’m really not comfortable with Branded Plan A.  I mean look at all the deductibles and caps and restrictions.”

“But baby, it’s just like the other five competitors.  We all agree that the drones and the cogs can live with this plan (or not).  That doesn’t mean you need to.  You see, there’s Plan B, which is for upper management.”

“Plan B, you say?”

“Oh yes, have a look at this.”

“Ah.  Now you’re talking.  That’s the kind of coverage a person of my stature would require.  Everything is taken care of, everything.  It’s like a dream come true.”

“Sign on the dotted line.”

“Well, couldn’t the whole company go Plan B?  How much would that cost, really?”

“You don’t want to know.”

“Got it.  It’ll be our little secret.”

Thus elite rule is further promoted across the economy, across small, medium and large companies.  The elite two-tiered mindset is bolstered in numerous ways.  Class is firmly delineated.  Class animosities are heightened.  An environment of exploitation is further entrenched.  Why?

Because your boss controls your access to doctors, medicine and hospitals.  Your employer is intimately entangled with your health and your family’s health and wellbeing.  This system disadvantages the workers as it strengthens the bargaining power of the managerial class, those hoping to make the leap up to the elite ruling class.  The perks are real, and the game is clear: a plus for them is a minus for those below them.  This is a central facet of America’s current “health care” system, a quite dysfunctional system that wastes a significant percentage of the money that comes in, by siphoning it off as profits to various parties who have nothing to do with providing medicine to sick people.  It is clearly not about providing medicine to sick people, but merely to appear to do so.  Higher profits are assured by providing less medicine and treatment, not more.

In such a Frankenstinian, chaotic and immoral whirlwind as America’s for-profit casino “health care” system, the real crisis of escalating costs remains unaddressed.  There aren’t enough doctors and nurses, largely due to the excessive costs of medical school.  A shortage of service providers causes a spike in costs.  If America is truly interested in addressing its crises, it should focus on creating affordable education in the medical field and in other crucial fields, rather than what has now become an almost impossible burden for would-be doctors to bear.

The drug companies, and their monopolies, are also an aspect of this dysfunctional system.  A good deal of research to develop new drugs is done in universities and with public money.  Yet as soon as a potentially profitable breakthrough occurs, a private corporation claims a patent on this new work.  Public funding should mean public domain research and public ownership of the intellectual property, to be used for the good of all.  Once this public chain of ownership is worked out, more research funding should flow to public medical research and to the scholarships of up and coming medical researchers.

These are the areas which need attention.  If America is committed to fixing its health system, it needs to get away from the high stakes gamblers and back to doctors, nurses and medical scientists.  The parasitic middlemen have no place in the doctor/patient relationship.  They have no place in curing disease.  They just have no place.

Most of the industrial world gave these vultures the boot.  Private health insurance casinos were made extinct throughout Europe.  The health of their people radically increased as a result.  It is the United States that remains sick and on life-support, withering away and without much hope.  Obamacare is but a Bandaid on a zombie, and it will not cure what ails America.

I’ll throw in a little, forgotten anecdote that perfectly demonstrates the elite mindset, one that no one would have given a second thought to at the time, but it stuck with me.  Under Bill Clinton’s reign, a lot of brave, hardworking activists fought against GMO foods.  They demanded labeling and testing, the proof that these new organic compounds were safe before being unleashed on the population.

The Clinton regime, of course, sided with Monsanto and its lawyers and fought back any attempts to adhere to the precautionary principle before exposing the nation to potentially dangerous toxins and polluting the food supply.  That’s the background.

Clinton’s CIA chief, John Deutch, gave a puff-piece interview to a personality-centered pop magazine.  His topics did not include covert crimes of Central Intelligence all over the world.  Deutch did however tell readers that he personally had planted an organic garden.

While his administration was forcing GMO experimental foods onto the general population, Deutch personally opted to eat organic.  Elites can do that.  They have options.  The fact that Deutch, the CIA Director, a person of advanced analytical skills, had chosen organic was not lost on me.  Of course he had.  Anyone with critical faculties would choose likewise, if the choice was available.  If.

Joe Giambrone is a filmmaker and author of Hell of a Deal: A Supernatural Satire. He edits The Political Film Blog, which welcomes submissions. polfilmblog at gmail.

 

More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

September 27, 2016
Louisa Willcox
The Tribal Fight for Nature: From the Grizzly to the Black Snake of the Dakota Pipeline
Jeffrey St. Clair
Idiot Winds at Hofstra: Notes on the Not-So-Great Debate
Mark Harris
Clinton, Trump, and the Death of Idealism
Mike Whitney
Putin Ups the Ante: Ceasefire Sabotage Triggers Major Offensive in Aleppo
Anthony DiMaggio
The Debates as Democratic Façade: Voter “Rationality” in American Elections
Binoy Kampmark
Punishing the Punished: the Torments of Chelsea Manning
Paul Buhle
Why “Snowden” is Important (or How Kafka Foresaw the Juggernaut State)
Jack Rasmus
Hillary’s Ghosts
Brian Cloughley
Billions Down the Afghan Drain
Lawrence Davidson
True Believers and the U.S. Election
Matt Peppe
Taking a Knee: Resisting Enforced Patriotism
James McEnteer
Eugene, Oregon and the Rising Cost of Cool
Norman Pollack
The Great Debate: Proto-Fascism vs. the Real Thing
Michael Winship
The Tracks of John Boehner’s Tears
John Steppling
Fear Level Trump
Lawrence Wittner
Where Is That Wasteful Government Spending?
James Russell
Beyond Debate: Interview Styles of the Rich and Famous
September 26, 2016
Diana Johnstone
The Hillary Clinton Presidency has Already Begun as Lame Ducks Promote Her War
Gary Leupp
Hillary Clinton’s Campaign Against Russia
Dave Lindorff
Parking While Black: When Police Shoot as First Resort
Robert Crawford
The Political Rhetoric of Perpetual War
Howard Lisnoff
The Case of One Homeless Person
Michael Howard
The New York Times Endorses Hillary, Scorns the World
Russell Mokhiber
Wells Fargo and the Library of Congress’ National Book Festival
Chad Nelson
The Crime of Going Vegan: the Latest Attack on Angela Davis
Colin Todhunter
A System of Food Production for Human Need, Not Corporate Greed
Brian Cloughley
The United States Wants to Put Russia in a Corner
Guillermo R. Gil
The Clevenger Effect: Exposing Racism in Pro Sports
David Swanson
Turn the Pentagon into a Hospital
Ralph Nader
Are You Ready for Democracy?
Chris Martenson
Hell to Pay
Doug Johnson Hatlem
Debate Night: Undecided is Everything, Advantage Trump
Frank X Murphy
Power & Struggle: the Detroit Literacy Case
Chris Knight
The Tom and Noam Show: a Review of Tom Wolfe’s “The Kingdom of Speech”
Weekend Edition
September 23, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
The Meaning of the Trump Surge
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: More Pricks Than Kicks
Mike Whitney
Oh, Say Can You See the Carnage? Why Stand for a Country That Can Gun You Down in Cold Blood?
Chris Welzenbach
The Diminution of Chris Hayes
Vincent Emanuele
The Riots Will Continue
Rob Urie
A Scam Too Far
Pepe Escobar
Les Deplorables
Patrick Cockburn
Airstrikes, Obfuscation and Propaganda in Syria
Timothy Braatz
The Quarterback and the Propaganda
Sheldon Richman
Obama Rewards Israel’s Bad Behavior
Libby Lunstrum - Patrick Bond
Militarizing Game Parks and Marketing Wildlife are Unsustainable Strategies
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail