Morning Links

Tuesday, January 10th, 2012

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74 Responses to “Morning Links”

  1. #1 |  Comrade Dread | 

    Competition is only going to drive down the prices of young, healthy individuals.

    No insurance company out to make a buck is going to bid low to get access to the Senior market, the Middle Aged market, and those with preexisting conditions.

  2. #2 |  Contrarian | 

    “I looked at a recent statement from a much cheaper blood test, billed for $145, and the provider got a whopping $15 from my insurance ($0 paid by me). 10% of their quoted rate.”

    I’ll do you one better. My kid had tests where the bill was $1100. The provider settled with the insurance company for $110 — and paid nothing, I paid the whole $110. So in effect I got a 90% discount simply for having insurance. In most other lines of business this would be illegal, but medical providers have an anti-trust exemption.

    Now, how did these tests come to be? I had the kid in for a regular checkup and the doctor said she was worried about something-or-other (I don’t even remember, the tests all came back negative), let’s test him. Who am I to argue? But if I didn’t have insurance, and this happened to me, I can’t imagine ever goint to the doctor again unless I was obviously dying (assuming I could get a doctor to see me without insurance, a big if).

    In our current system living without medical insurance is not choosing to self-insure — it’s living without health care.

  3. #3 |  Inkberrow | 

    An irony is that many commenters here and elsewhere will deplore Greece’s new policy while continuing to imagine that the Santorum issue (sorry) is different in kind. It’s barely a difference in degree—Greece and Europe perhaps out of sight around a corner down the slippery slope—as the celebrated Penumbras of Privacy inevitably coalesce around a fundamental right to freedom of intimacy.

  4. #4 |  M | 

    Moderate weed smokers thought to have stronger lungs than nonsmokers:

  5. #5 |  JOR | 

    “Murder has always been, and always will be, socially acceptable to a lot of people in some situations.”

    The same is true of theft and rape. It’s always been acceptable to steal from rival clans or tribes; in a “civilized” context this translates to gangs (including law enforcement agencies) rationalizing their robberies as All In The Game, or God’s Work, or whatever. As for rape, not only has it been common and seen as justified in warfare throughout history, but it has (essentially) been the standard sexual relation between men and women until fairly recently – there were marital exemptions in laws against rape into the 1970’s/1980’s (in America, mind, not Afghanistan). Even today there is a sort of masculine cultural undercurrent of “personal responsibility” that often results in victim-blaming (radical feminists call this Rape Culture, hindered as they are by tribal tunnel vision, but it’s really much bigger and deeper than that). A lot of it is just world bias, but a lot of it also is the thoughtless smuggling in of tribal/egoistic norms or moral intuitions under the guise of Logic and Common Sense.

  6. #6 |  lunchstealer | 

    Yeesh! My stepson made a bad tackle during football practice and spent a long weekend in the hospital with 4 fractured vertebrae and a serious concussion. It took an ambulance ride, ER, multiple X-rays and CTs, and a 4 night hospital stay to rack up that kind of bill.

  7. #7 |  lunchstealer | 

    Full recovery, BTW.

  8. #8 |  Dana Gower | 

    More pardons:

  9. #9 |  EBL | 

    As livestock, I take exception to being blamed for your urges. Control yourself people.

    And as for Jon Huntsman’s insults, I find two of them very offensive.

  10. #10 |  Hal_10000 | 

    “Four-hour ER visit billed for $20,000.”

    There is zero useful information in that article. What tests did she have done? What condition was she in? What doctors did she see? Is the initial bill or the eventual insurance amount (usually a fraction of the initial charge)?

  11. #11 |  StrangeOne | 

    I would kind of like to see the medical industry completely deregulated. When you take into account the number of people that go without (due to lack of insurance or available medical staff and facilities) vs the number of potential cases of malpractice, I think at worst it would be a wash and more realistically could be a marginal improvement.

    Like a lot of government problems these days medical care has become a Gordian Knot of over-regulation, corrupt incentives, and rent seeking industries. Time to cut the whole damn thing out and start over.

  12. #12 |  Mike T | 


    Competition in the healthcare industry in general would benefit seniors, provided it is coupled with increased access to medical training (accreditation is currently crippled by pro-AMA regulations), price transparency and a basic policy of criminalizing obvious cost-shifting between customers.

    What people on the left don’t seem to understand is how fundamentally non-market-like the healthcare industry actually is. Think about it for a moment and you’ll realize that it does not–at all–for the average person behave like a normal market. When was the last time you saw a full break down of all service fees for a medical practice? When was the last time you saw a hospital actually boast of how you can see its “low, low prices” for all of its services on its web site?

    Aside from lawyers, no one else really behaves like this. If I want work done on my house, I can call a builder I know who’ll give me a quote that is accurate down to a few hundred dollars and then go to another builder to see if he can match or beat that. Don’t even waste your time trying that with healthcare.

  13. #13 |  Mike T | 


    People tend to underestimate how these factors combined with health insurance has completely distorted the relationship between provider and buyer. Seniors are, as a class, the richest segment of society. They of all people should be able to price shop and find the best deals and bargain hard. However, the insurance cultural norm has made it so that they just buy a policy and the policy “just handles it all for them.” That’s terrible for their position as buyers.

  14. #14 |  Mike T | 


    Even today there is a sort of masculine cultural undercurrent of “personal responsibility” that often results in victim-blaming

    A long time ago, my family was listening to Rush Limbaugh rant about the injustice of a particular situation. A middle class woman had jumped over a number of security fences at a zoo to take a close up shot of a big cat. One thing lead to another and the woman died a horrible death. The poor cat was euthanized because of the woman’s abject stupidity and irresponsibility, and Rush Limbaugh found it unconscionable that the zoo was fighting to spend their insurance money for the big cat on the cubs instead of awarding it to her family.

    The point of this is that you sound exactly like Rush Limbaugh when you argue that people who knowingly expose themselves to danger deserve sympathy. Not all victims are created the same. There are enough honest victims who never put themselves in harms way, but harm seeks them out that we don’t have to waste our energy on those who either make no attempt to avoid harm or actively seek out people or things that can bring harm to their doorstep.

  15. #15 |  Radley Balko | 

    The lack of price transparency in my family’s situation does not appear to have been caused by any particular government policy or intervention. Rather, healthcare industry players simply have all of the bargaining power and no incentive to compete on price.

    The lack of transparency in the health care industry is directly related to a bad government policy.

    This story explains it all pretty well:

  16. #16 |  Stanely Ketchel, Middleweight | 

    Check out this link to the Clarion Ledger with respect to Hailey the Yazoo Pig Boy Barbour’s pardon list:

    Not just killers, but also armed robbers, kidnappers, burglars and thieves, recidivist DUI-sters including former federal agent Harry Bostick, Gregg Patrick Gibbs DUI killer (the most dangerous of all, their victims are random, unlike wife-killers — who amongst us has not wanted to murder a spouse?)

    It’s true the two legged swine took a pay cut to be goobenor but boy did he make up for it his last day in office. God alone knows how much money changed hands.

    I know, I know. It’s legal. And in his own words, “Anything I have is for sale, except my family.” Don’t make him an offer on one of his completely corthless kids.

  17. #17 |  Stanely Ketchel, Middleweight | 

    errata: should be “completely worthless kids”

    Well they shoudn’t be but they are.

  18. #18 |  KristenS | 

    Here’s the plan:
    1) Move to salubrious Greek island in the Aegean
    2) Run around town nekkid
    3) Profit

  19. #19 |  c andrew | 

    Re: the zoophilia story.

    Does anyone else remember the Tom Lehrer bit about the college man “who majored in animal husbandry until the caught him at it one day…”

  20. #20 |  Sky | 

    Regarding Haley Barbour’s pardons….there were actually 210 of them.–abc-news.html

  21. #21 |  Deoxy | 

    “Murder has always been, and always will be, socially acceptable to a lot of people in some situations.”

    The same is true of theft and rape.

    Not really. Theft and rape were generally viewed as OK to do against “them” other clans, other countries, etc – basically, “the enemy”, to oversimplify a bit. That is, it was OK against certain targets.

    Killing someone is generally OK in certain situations – self defense, defense of another, property defense. WHO it was wasn’t all that important*.

    * with the obvious exception of social-power issues, where some groups could successfully punish another group for it, even in those cases, but that goes to the “them” point above – abusing “the other” for your own gain, as a group/tribe.

  22. #22 |  ck | 

    The lack of transparency in the health care industry is directly related to a bad government policy.

    This story explains it all pretty well:

    Thanks for the link, Radley. I believe I had read that article back when it came out, but it’s a good piece that deserves a second read. However, I’m not seeing where it explains how the lack of healthcare price transparency is caused by government policy. The discussion of price opacity is on page 4, and the only mentions of public policy are these:


    Keeping prices opaque is one way medical institutions seek to avoid competition and thereby keep prices up. And they get away with it in part because so few consumers pay directly for their own care—insurers, Medicare, and Medicaid are basically the whole game.

    This is plausible, maybe even likely, but the article provides no empirical evidence. And in any case, he is claiming that this causal mechanism is present in private insurance as well as government-provided insurance.


    It’s astonishingly difficult for consumers to find any health-care information that would enable them to make informed choices—based not just on price, but on quality of care or the rate of preventable medical errors. Here’s one place where legal requirements might help. But only a few states require institutions to make this sort of information public in a usable form for consumers.

    This appears to be decrying the lack of a government policy. Now, I’d support laws requiring medical providers to disclose prices and patient ratings, but then, as I said before, I’m not a libertarian.

  23. #23 |  Mike T | 

    Some of you who are skeptical about the cost-shifting and lack of transparency might also want to look at this:

    This sort of collusion and practice cuts down lines that liberals, libertarians and conservatives alike can all agree need to result in swift legislative changes and criminal prosecutions, not more more regulations (it’s like regulating a Colombian drug cartel into a legitimate business instead of regulating a medical marijuana dispensary)

  24. #24 |  Dan | 

    News FLash: Former actor Troy McClure moves to Greece.