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Thursday, May 01, 2014

Conceptually Challenged

From the New York Times, The Problem with Free Health Care.

A woman over 40 can have a free screening mammogram. But if she notices a breast lump and goes to her doctor to have it evaluated, she’ll pay for a diagnostic mammogram.

There are ten other instances in the op-ed, every one of them demonstrating, just like Phil Robertson and "racist", the ongoing Progressive #WarOnWords.

41 comments:

Clovis e Adri said...

Skipper,

We must be reading different links, what your point here by invoking this war on words thing?

The message I read in that op-ed has little to do with that.

Susan's Husband said...

Clovis;

The word "free" is being redefined to mean "paid for by someone else's taxes" instead of actually free - that is, without cost.

Clovis e Adri said...

AOG,

Well, thanks, I've lost that.

And maybe I've lost that because, well, there is an unfair play going on here. It is just so clear in that context that "free" means "free for that insured person", as in opposite of "free as without cost for anyone in the whole process".

So I think that war on words is being raged by Skipper in this post.

Susan's Husband said...

Clovis;

I don't think it's clear to most people and I think that's very deliberate. I interact with ordinary people as well you lot and that is precisely what they think it means - at no cost to anyone.

Clovis e Adri said...

AOG,

---
I interact with ordinary people as well you lot and that is precisely what they think it means - at no cost to anyone.
---

I don't quite get what you mean when you classify me as outside the range of ordinary people. Am I some kind of alien for you because I happen to endorse public health care?

See that the language is pretty much the same anyone would use when discussing private health care. If your private insurance (before ACA) happened to include some procedure you wouldn't pay for, upon using said procedure you would say it was "free". I don't think the term usage changed within ACA context, and that's why I disagree with Skipper and you here.

erp said...

Actually as has been scientifically proven -- There Is No Free Lunch -- and it boggles my mind that a grown man thinks anything is "free."

The tax payer is picking up the tab and when there is government interference, the huge number of bureaucrats on the payroll add a hefty number to the tab.

As I've said before, my husband and I spend, on insurance premiums (neither Medicare* nor supplemental insurance nor Part D drug coverage is without cost to us), drugs and related medical items upward of $12,000/year on top of the considerable taxes we pay on our income.

*Remember: It is illegal for an insurance company to sell health insurance to someone eligible for Medicare usually after age 65)

Clovis e Adri said...

Erp,

Sorry, but you are telling me all your house spends with health care per year is $12.000?

And you think that is too expensive?

I don't get it, your complaint then is that you are not getting it for free? Who knew you were such a fan of public health care too.


Hey Skipper said...

Economically speaking, there is no such thing as "free".

Every time that word appears in this op-ed, it really means "taken" or "subsidized" or "via forced generosity" etc.

OK, so a couple of those examples were pejorative.

But "subsidized" isn't -- it is the perfect word to describe exactly what is going on.

The presence of "free", however, is a sure sign that the author's vocabulary is at least one word shy of requirements, or that he is too stupid to twig Econ 101 day one, or a propagandist.

Those aren't exclusive-ors, BTW.

erp said...

We also pay a hefty income tax which includes Medicare and have been paying upfront premiums since 1965. Yet the popular opinion in the media is that us oldsters get everything free.

I'm complaining that I can't buy health insurance from a private insurance company that has to compete with other companies in the open market.

Clovis e Adri said...

Erp,

I guess it doesn't matter a bit for you, but I don't know one elderly couple in Brazil getting a good insurance for such low price. And mind you, $12.000 represents a lot more here than in the US. And be also assured they are paying more taxes than you.



Skipper,

---
But "subsidized" isn't -- it is the perfect word to describe exactly what is going on.
---

No, it is not. Because the author was not explaining how ACA is financed, but only drawing attention how it may lead to wrong incentives *from the point of view of the insured user*. From that same point of view, his use of the word "free" was flawless.

If you cared to pay attention, he even shortly mentioned the possibility of making the "free" screening a paid one (again, from the poinf of view of the insured), so it would not lead to the mentioned bad incentive. That would mean *lesser costs* for the taxpayer sustaining ACA.

I wonder if aren't you a bit "conceptually challenged" in order to not take notice of that passing line.

erp said...

Clovis, I'm confused again. I thought Brazil had single payer health care? So don't your old country men and women get free health care?

Why can't you understand a simple declarative sentence: Medicare is not good insurance.

It's the only insurance permitted us and it's very expensive considering we paid for it for 34 years before we became 65 and continue to pay for it since then even though it only pays 80% of costs. We are also bound by nonsensical rules and regs made by bureaucrats, not medical professionals.

I could write a book, either a tragedy or a farce, about my husband's recent hospital stay for a hip replacement.

He's lucky to have gotten out of the hospital alive and that was only because I was alert and made a LOT of noise actually threatening to call 911 if they didn't take some action to lower his BP (the nurse in charge didn't want to bother the doctor because it was Sunday night) and this before Obama's scam is even in effect.

Susan's Husband said...

Clovis;

No, I would say "it was paid for by insurance", I would not say it was "free".

I will also correct my view and consider you the most ordinary of people from now on.

Clovis e Adri said...

Erp,

---
Clovis, I'm confused again. I thought Brazil had single payer health care? So don't your old country men and women get free health care?
---
I already explained here we have both public and private systems, but I guess you are only being sarcastical, so never mind.

Our public system works pretty bad, with few exceptions. Yet, as I also mentioned here, that's not true of every public health care system, Europe presenting a few good examples.

The concept that every public thing must be corrupt, inneficient and worthless is not a law of nature. It is quite probably a law in Brazil's nature, but not everywhere.


AOG,

---
I will also correct my view and consider you the most ordinary of people from now on.
---
Thank you. I much prefer the company of Homer Simpson than of Mr. Burns.

erp said...

Clovis:

Excuse my assumption that the elderly are the beneficiaries of public largesse.

How is it determined which system one must use? Are people forced onto the public system or is it voluntary?

We differ in our estimation of Europe's systems.

Bret said...

Clovis wrote: "It is just so clear in that context that "free" means "free for that insured person""

That's how I interpret it too, but English is a 2nd language for me too ("C" is my first language :-).

Clovis e Adri said...

Erp,

---
How is it determined which system one must use? Are people forced onto the public system or is it voluntary?
---
There is only one determinant: your pocket.

People who can pay, go to the private one. It creates a double taxation, of course, since you can not opt out of paying taxes that eventually pay for the public one too.

But then you are allowed in the public one too, even if you have a private insurance. Anyone will be treated regardless of anything else. In theory. In practice, a good part of the public system is the hellish inefficient thing you imagine ACA will create in the US.

The irony here is that I probably live all things you fear to become, yet I am the only one not radicalized against a public system. I can explaint that, but it would take some background on what it is like down here.

erp said...

Clovis:

Again, you miss the point. It is the public system that is radical.

Bret said...

Clovis wrote: "...it would take some background on what it is like down here."

Would you do a guest post here?

erp said...

Bret, great idea!

Clovis e Adri said...

Bret,

Wow, thanks for the invitation.

The problem is, I sincerely wouldn't know how to begin a post about that.

Think of it: how do you explain your country for people who never saw it?

I constantly get here so many things wrong about yours, and I had the advantage of watching you guys in movies and TV for my whole life. Maybe I could suggest some movie for you too, but I can't think of any that would be both representative and accessible for foreigners.

And there is the problem also that you are talking to a physicist nerd, I am probably a litte bit far from the standard Brazilian around...

Hey Skipper said...

[Clovis:] ... the author was not explaining how ACA is financed, but only drawing attention how it may lead to wrong incentives *from the point of view of the insured user*. From that same point of view, his use of the word "free" was flawless.

Good point. I don't think it was "flawless", in the sense that, while grammatically correct, it is conceptually misleading. Like you say, though, within the context of the article, it is defendable.

However, there are several problems. First, the title: The Problem with Free Health Care

Second, by the end of the thing, I still have no idea how much the genesis of the article -- screening mammograms -- cost.

Towards the end, there is this: We need people to consider medical care carefully, and that’s what cost sharing is all about.

Cost sharing. Hmmm. Sounds like another place where "subsidy" would be a better choice.

And I couldn't help but notice this in the conclusion: It was just fibrous tissue, but as a result, insurance companies put a rider on her policy disqualifying her from coverage for breast cancer.

That just begs for come background, along the lines of mentioning whether the woman in question already had health insurance, or was free-riding.

There goes that word again.

Susan's Husband said...

I had the advantage of watching you guys in movies and TV for my whole life

That's a disadvantage.

Clovis e Adri said...

AOG,

---
That's a disadvantage.
---
Why so?

Clovis e Adri said...

Skipper,


---
That just begs for come background, along the lines of mentioning whether the woman in question already had health insurance, or was free-riding.
---
How is that information important at all in the context of the op-ed?

Susan's Husband said...

Clovis;

Because that material is produced by people with very strong ideological biases that are distinctly different from much of the USA. You'll get a very distorted view of American society with that as a reference.

Peter said...

I take the point of this post, but I still can't shake the image of a seven year old Skipper lecturing his friends about how the free toys in their Happy Meals aren't really free. :-)

I second the suggestion Clovis do a guest post.

Clovis e Adri said...

AOG,

---
You'll get a very distorted view of American society with that as a reference.
---
What, are you telling me Star Wars does not faithfully portray America?

I can't believe that.

You are so much like Darth Vader, for example, I am sure they've got something right.

Hey Skipper said...

[Clovis:] How is that information important at all in the context of the op-ed?

In two ways.

One rule, okay, maybe that is too strong, but certainly a very strong guideline is that an Op Ed should never introduce a new idea in the conclusion. Never mind that the Op Ed isn't about that at all, it also frames as a settled conclusion that which wasn't argued in the first place.

In so doing, it risks serving purely as propaganda if the details are that this woman chose to forego health insurance. Indeed, that is likely the case.

If so, and due to where this factoid is placed, we have no way of knowing, then parasitism is the problem, about which the ACA has done precisely nothing.

A bigger question is why the NYT Op-Ed page has gotten to be so shabby. Any editor worthy of the position should have thrown this back with red pen all over the concluding para, at the very least.

Harry Eagar said...

erp, you know who thinks something is free?

Sean Hannity. he said government grass is free.

I think Skipper may be on to something about redefinitions but is looking in the wrong place to find it.

(Life is too damn short to rush out to read everything that gets the rightwing in a twist but I will guess that there is a good financial reason having to do with managing costs to encourage screenings at no cost while charging ordinary fees for treatment.)

erp said...

Harry -- King of the Non-Sequitur

What does Hannity have to do with anything? Especially anything I say? I never have, nor would I ever, reference him as speaking for me, nor have I ever I agreed with everything or even much of anything he says or has said in the past.

Does that clear it up for you?

You must define rightwing before using it. In fact, even the original inventors of rightwing conspiracists like the Clinton's no longer use the phrase, but have moved on to: "What difference does all that make, now."

Get with the program please.

Harry Eagar said...

'Actually as has been scientifically proven -- There Is No Free Lunch -- and it boggles my mind that a grown man thinks anything is "free." '

Tell it to Hannity.

In fact, capitalist businesses always treat the environment as something 'free.' Look up the history of Utah Lake.

Hey Skipper said...

[Harry:] Sean Hannity. he said government grass is free.

So why does so much grass in the west belong to the federal government?

In fact, capitalist businesses always treat the environment as something 'free.' Look up the history of Utah Lake.

In fact, collectivism always treats the environment as something 'free'. Look up the history of the Aral Sea.

Annoying Old Guy said...

Skipper;

Or Easter Europe, or China.

Harry Eagar said...

'In fact, collectivism always treats the environment as something 'free'.'

Really? Always? Is our collectivist government (your description, not mine) doing so?

As it happens, I know one of the very, very few people besides Cliven Bundy who has run cattle in that part of Nevada. It required 800 acres per cow, and he went broke.

Harry Eagar said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Annoying Old Guy said...

well, there's the whole wind turbines vs. endangered avaians for one example of that.

Harry Eagar said...

I am not such a big fan of wind farms but I am aware that each farm is required to do an EIS on likely impacts on threatened species, to have a remediation plan and to report regularly on actual results.

I know of no private business in history that did that on its own.

I find it beyond amusing that you and Skipper are arguing that US businesses are as good as state operations in backward Russia, but there is evidence you are wrong: they are not as good:

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-05-13/russia-bans-rocket-engine-sales-to-u-s-military.html

Annoying Old Guy said...

If so, why do wind farms get special legal exemption from environment regulations?

I know of no private business in history that did that on its own.

You need to get out more. Every big tech corporation I've worked for does that kind of thing and brags about it. Or you could look at the dolphin free tuna movement but then you wouldn't be able to make that claim anymore.

Annoying Old Guy said...

Golly, look at that. Some more information that's inappropriate for Mr. Eagar.

erp said...

aog, some time back I posted an article about areas out west devastated by the relocation of wolves and how after they were brought back the environment has rejuvenated. I didn't keep the article, but it went into great detail.

Harry, I am still waiting for you to explain the New Yorker cartoon Clovis posted to him. You remember the great days of Mike Quinn, Albert Shanker & Bertram Powers, the infamous killer of your trade.

You must be so proud of these thugs and others like them. Civil service unions have led to bankruptcy ala Detroit all over the country, the teachers' unions have destroyed our public schools and newspaper trade unions began the long slide to obscurity of the print media.

Mazel tov.

Hey Skipper said...

I find it beyond amusing that you and Skipper are arguing that US businesses are as good as state operations in backward Russia, but there is evidence you are wrong: they are not as good: