The Ironic Reason the Antivaxxer Movement Exists

March 18, 2014 on 3:14 pm | In Health Care, Logic | No Comments

I assume everyone has heard of the Antivaxxer movement. It was essentially started by Dr. Andew Wakefield. His “proof” that vaccinations cause autism was based on a poorly conducted study which relied on fabricated evidence. In other words, he had no evidence at all. And even worse, Wakefield conducted his “study” based upon payments from attorneys who wanted a scientific link, valid or not, so they could sue the manufactures of the vaccines.

So the sole reason Jenny McCarthy believes and promotes the idea that vaccines cause autism is because some attorneys bribed a doctor to conduct a faux study to create a false claim to give false credence to a future lawsuit.

But despite the proof that Wakefield’s study is without basis and the fact that no other study shows a link, McCarthy and millions of other parents continue to believe that vaccinations are harmful.

So why do they believe in such nonsense? Dr. Sydney Spiesel over at the Slate succinctly explains the rationale as follows. The antivaxxers continue their beliefs “because vaccines have been so successful at eliminating many serious infectious diseases that there is no longer any public perception of risk from the illnesses they prevent.”

In other words, if kids were still getting polio. Parents would fear polio. And if there were a way to avoid their kids from contracting polio through vaccinations, those same parents would rush to the doctor to obtain those vaccinations. But without that fear of polio, there is no rush. There’s complacency.

If an actress back in the 50s had tried to rail against Jonas Salk’s vaccine, as it and others eliminated polio as a threat, she would have been seen as a nut. No television program or magazine would have allowed her any time to spread her ignorance.

But the threat is gone. So McCarthy is given her time. And the fear she’s promoting outweighs the nonexistent fear of polio. So she’s winning.

It’s ironic, actually. The fact that vaccines eliminated so many health threats is the main reason McCarthy is allowed to publicly argue against vaccines.

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Insurance is not the solution to the health care crisis

September 16, 2011 on 3:50 pm | In General, Health Care, Logic | 1 Comment

Presidential hopeful Gov. Rick Perry was a little shocked recently. While at a town hall meeting, the question was asked about a hypothetical person who failed to obtain health insurance, but who needs medical treatment. Should the government step in and help such a person? To the Teabaggers and fans of Ayn Rand in the audience the answer was a simple “no.” The person should be denied care and should die for his failure to obtain insurance.

But that presupposes that private insurance is the solution to the health care crisis in our country. Private insurance is a solution, but is not the solution.

If simply buying insurance was the solution to health care, I’d probably agree with the teabaggers. If society offered a simple solution to a problem, and if you refuse to use the simple solution, maybe you should be allowed to fail. But it’s not that simple.

There are millions of people who are denied insurance due to pre-existing conditions. Are they supposed to die through no fault of their own?

And what about the children of parents who choose or who simply cannot afford to buy insurance? Are those innocent children supposed to die, through no fault of their own?

And there are millions of others who have insurance but are denied coverage for any variety of reasons. Are they supposed to die through no fault of their own?

The Right complained about “death panels” associated with ObamaCare. But what the Right conveniently ignores is that insurance companies already have death panels. Insurance companies employ bureaucrats without medical training, who make life and death decisions about who can receive coverage and about what procedures and medicines will be covered.

So, the Right is either incredibly ignorant about the situation or they’re lying when they argue that insurance is any sort of a solution to our nation’s health care crisis. I’m leaning heavily towards the latter.

The truth is that if the Right admits that insurance is not the solution, they’ll also have to admit there are flaws, gaps, and holes in our health care system that the free market cannot solve. And they’ll never admit that.

So the self proclaimed “pro-life” party will continue pretending that private insurance is the solution to our health care crisis, and will condemn to death anyone who disagrees.

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Obamacare is working?!

January 7, 2011 on 6:48 pm | In Health Care, Politics, Satire / Sarcasm | No Comments

The major health insurance companies around the country are reporting a significant increase in small businesses offering health care benefits to their employees.

Why?

Because the tax cut created in the new health care reform law providing small businesses with an incentive to give health benefits to employees is working.

Damn socialist small business owners, trying to help people live better lives. I hope they burn in HELL!

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The Right doesn’t give a frick about consensus

September 28, 2010 on 3:01 pm | In General, Health Care, Politics | 2 Comments

Quite a while ago I wrote complaining about Obama’s health care package. Despite having a majority in both the Senate and the House, he waited a year pushing his proposal. He conducted town hall meetings, he tried to form a consensus with the Right, he went on TV to explain his plan, etc…

In the end the bill which was passed was not what Obama or the Left wanted. Despite having a clear majority, the plan he wanted was destined to fail because of his desire to explain and compromise and build a consensus with those who oppose him.

A friend of mine responded in the comments to defend Obama and wrote that Obama did not want to be accused of pushing a plan down America’s throat.

The fact that Obama went WAY out of his way to have a bipartisan bill which the Republican unanimously rejected anyway will hurt the Republicans more than it will hurt Obama.

But that’s not how the Right operates. They don’t look at situations and facts objectively. 18% still believe that Obama is a Muslim, despite all the objective evidence against it and the complete lack of objective evidence in favor of it.

The Right doesn’t give a shit about compromise or building a consensus. It’s their way or nothing. (example 1, 2 and 3, 4) To them their positions are correct, and if you disagree with them, you’re guilty of treason.

Stephen Dodson is a Rightwinger who is angry about the health care bill which was eventually passed. He supports the Repeal Amendment which would allow the legislatures of 2/3 of the states to repeal any federal law or regulation. He says:

“There has to be some ways to control what the government is doing,” Dodson said. “It seems like right now they are not listening to what the voters are saying. It seems they are doing more things behind our backs and behind closed doors.”

See! That’s exactly what I’m talking about. Despite the fact that Obama bent over backwards trying not to shove anything down anyone’s throat, that’s exactly what the Right is accusing him of. It simply does not matter how much bending over the Left does. It will never be enough. To the Right any plan initiated by the Left is by definition the wrong plan.

When will the Left learn this? Until they do, the Right will always be in power in the US. Even with a majority in the House and in the Senate and a President in the White House, the Left is still powerless.

Update: You can find a great comic on this topic right here.

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It’s a problem when you think it’s a problem

May 10, 2010 on 8:59 pm | In Health Care, Logic | No Comments

I’m in the middle of writing up a long post on addictions when I came across this piece of shit from Ask Amy.

In a nutshell a wife wrote asking whether her husband is an alcoholic. He drinks when he first gets home. He never drinks after dinner. He rarely gets drunk. His drinking has never affected his employment.

Ask Amy’s response in a nutshell: If his drinking is subjectively a problem to you, then it is an objective problem he should fix.

That’s fricken asinine. Imagine if I wrote Ask Amy with the following question: My wife makes really good money but spends a lot of it on clothes, new shoes, and things around the house. We have plenty of money saved. And we have plenty of money set aside for our kids’ college. But I subjectively do not like it when she’s shopping because she’s not focusing her attention directly on me. I’m what’s important in our relationship, right? Shouldn’t she be focusing on me rather than buying and trying on clothes?

Would Ask Amy ever suggest that my wife should go to counseling to seek treatment to overcome her “shopping” problem? Does my wife really even have a problem merely because I find it annoying? Would Ask Amy ask,

Did your wife always shop or did it develop recently? This might be a sign of some medical problem that she should discuss at her next check up.

People do innocuous stuff all the time that we don’t like. Some guys watch a lot of sports and their wives don’t like it. Some women find a need to vacuum whenever men decide to watch TV. Neither of those are medical conditions. They’re merely quirks which define who we are.

If I were Ask Amy my response would have been:

Why do you feel a need to be the center of attention? Can’t your husband have two hours a day to do something besides worship at your fucking feet? Do your husband a huge favor and divorce him so he can have more than two hours of peace and quiet every day.

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Eating Fat Will Not Make You Fat/Give You a Heart Attack

April 22, 2010 on 3:10 pm | In Health Care, Logic | 1 Comment

I’m not posting this to offer my readers medical advice. I’m certainly not a medical professional of any sort. I’m posting this here so I don’t have to constantly rewrite this when I’m discussing this topic on various forums. Now I can simply link to this post to get my point across.

I’m referring mostly about the forums at the Consumerist. A site I generally love but the editors there have an anti-fat mindset. Every time a restaurant comes out with a new ridiculous food item, introduced for the sole purpose of getting bloggers and the media outraged about it, so the restaurant can get some free publicity, the editors at the Consumerist will decry its fat content.

KFC’s new Double Down sandwich is a good example. It’s a ridiculous sandwich. The intent to release it clearly was to get a bunch of free publicity. And the Consumerist was more than willing to help. Searching for the Double Down on the Consumerist on Google brings up article after article. “Is the KFC Double Down the Worstest Food Ever?” “The KFC Double Down: What A Restaurant Does When It Gets Desperate.” And of course, “KFC’s Bacon Sandwich On Fried Chicken “Bread” Starts Killing People Nationwide April 12.” That’s only three but there are plenty more. The Consumerist is simply obsessed with such promotions and always does its part to give tons of free publicity.

In the comments I’ll point out that despite the claims of the Consumerist editors, eating fat does not make you fat. And eating fat does not give you a heart attack. Time and time again I’ll get into these discussions and they’re tiring me out. Like I said, with this posting I can simply link to it and be done with it.

Eating Fat Does Not Make You Fat:

It certainly makes sense that eating fat makes you fat. We are what we eat, right? So obviously eating fat makes you fat.

But I’ll say it again, eating fat does not make you fat.

If you eat 2000 calories a day without any fat, you won’t lose any weight unless you exercise a lot. And I’m not not talking about 8 minutes abs. I’m talking about at least an hour of high intensity exercise per day. And even then you’d only lose a little bit. Because of the substantial amount of carbs you’d have to consume to eat 2000 calories per day, your body would not be able to burn off any substantial quantity of stored fat.

However, if you only ate 2000 calories of protein and fat per day, without hardly any carbs, you’d quickly lose weight. Because your body would not have any carbs, your body would be forced to burn stored fat. Depending on your weight, you’d probably lose about 5 pounds per week.

I’m not making the above comparison because I think someone should deprive themselves of carbs to lose weight. Once again, I have no medical training so I have no opinion on what you should do to lose weight. The point of the comparison is merely to show that eating fat does not make you fat. Clearly if eating fat made you fat, then eating large amounts of fat would make you really fat. But the opposite occurs. You actually lose weight. Why? Once again, eating fat, in and of itself, does not make you fat.

You can read more about this here. In a nutshell, the fat/blubber/love handles in your body is stored energy. Your body will not use its stored energy if your body has carbohydrates to use as energy. Thus the only way you can get rid of your fat, is to eliminate any carbs from your system first.

That’s why you may have heard that you have to continuously exercise 20, 40 or even 60 minutes before you can start burning fat. That’s because your body has to burn off its usable carbs before it can start burning off its stored fat.

I know what some of you are thinking. I’m an Atkin’s zealot. If that’s how you want to label me, that’s fine. But that label does not invalidate or falsify anything I’ve said before. Even if I’m a zealot (which I’m not) it’s a simple fact that your body will not burn fat when it has carbs to burn first.

And I’ll point out that a low carb/high fat/protein diet was not invented by Dr. Atkins. Way back in 1825 Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin wrote a book where he stated that people who wanted to lose weight could stop eating starches and carbs such as breads, rice, and potatoes.

And it’s a simple fact that wrestlers, boxers, body builders, and other athletes who are obsessive about their weight have used low carb high fat/protein diets well before Dr. Atkins was ever born.

And yes I realize Dr. Atkins died. At the ripe age of 72 he died. I find it simply amazing that people actually argue that because one person died, an entire diet must be wrong or bad for you. Would anyone think that, merely because Lance Armstrong got cancer, that bicycling professionally will give you cancer? Or merely because Madonna was born in Saginaw Michigan, that anyone born from Saginaw will grow up to be a slutty whore. (Well, that last one might be true.)

If you feel that one person’s death is valid evidence that a particular diet is dangerous or does not work… that’s your right to believe such nonsense. But it’s still nonsense.

I personally think Dr. Atkins was nutty, nutty like a fox. First he made millions selling books and giving speeches regarding a topic that Dr. Gott was able to explain simply as his “No Flour, No Sugar” diet. I don’t think Dr. Atkins was a charlatan, but he definitely knew how to get money out of people.

He also took the low carb/high fat-protein diet and turned it into a Scientology type cult. His zero-sum approach to the topic turned off a lot of people.

So, in summary, eating fat does not make you fat. Consuming more calories than your body can burn off makes you fat. Your body will not burn stored fat until it eliminates carbs first. Got it? Good….

But eating fat will give you a heart attack, right?:

After finally convincing people that eating fat does not make you fat they’ll argue, “But eating fat is unhealthy. It’ll give you a heart attack.”

However, not only is there no evidence to support that argument

The largest study ever to ask whether a low-fat diet reduces the risk of getting cancer or heart disease has found that the diet has no effect.

The $415 million federal study involved nearly 49,000 women ages 50 to 79 who were followed for eight years. In the end, those assigned to a low-fat diet had the same rates of breast cancer, colon cancer, heart attacks and strokes as those who ate whatever they pleased, researchers are reporting today.

…there is actually evidence which supports the opposite:

A 2006 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, based on data collected from 82,802 women, found that the subjects who consumed the highest percentage of their daily calories from fat (including saturated fat) did not experience an increased risk of developing heart disease later in life. In fact, women who ate the highest amounts of vegetable fat—from foods like olive oil and nuts—had lower risks of heart disease than women on low-fat diets.

I’ll conclude with a great summary of the issue from the same Slate article:

Thirty years ago, America declared war against fat. The inaugural edition of Dietary Guidelines for Americans, published in 1980 and subsequently updated every five years, advised people to steer clear of “too much fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol,” because of purported ties between fat intake and heart disease. The message has remained essentially the same ever since, with current guidelines recommending that Americans consume less than 10 percent of their daily calories from saturated fat.

But heart disease continues to devastate the country, and, as you may have noticed, we certainly haven’t gotten any thinner. Ultimately, that’s because fat should never have been our enemy. The big question is whether the 2010 Dietary Guidelines, due out at the end of the year, will finally announce retreat.

The foundation for the “fat is bad” mantra comes from the following logic: Since saturated fat is known to increase blood levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol, and people with high LDL cholesterol are more likely to develop heart disease, saturated fat must increase heart disease risk. If A equals B and B equals C, then A must equal C.

Well, no. With this extrapolation, scientists and policymakers made a grave miscalculation: They assumed that all LDL cholesterol is the same and that all of it is bad. A spate of recent research is now overturning this fallacy and raising major questions about the wisdom of avoiding fat, especially considering that the food Americans have been replacing fat with—processed carbohydrates—could be far worse for heart health.

Why Aren’t Vegans Fat?:

Of course someone will glance at everything above and argue, “But you must be wrong, because Vegans don’t eat much fat and they don’t get fat.”

First, I never said not eating fat makes you fat. You get fat from consuming more calories than your body can burn off. The question is: Do you want to burn off the carbs you just consumed or the fat your body has stored?

Second, Vegans can be fat, very fricken fat:

Update: Jan 3, 2011:

“Fat is not the problem,” says Dr. Walter Willett, chairman of the department of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health. “If Americans could eliminate sugary beverages, potatoes, white bread, pasta, white rice and sugary snacks, we would wipe out almost all the problems we have with weight and diabetes and other metabolic diseases.”

“The country’s big low-fat message backfired,” says Dr. Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health. “The overemphasis on reducing fat caused the consumption of carbohydrates and sugar in our diets to soar. That shift may be linked to the biggest health problems in America today.”

“Carbohydrates are a metabolic bully,” Phinney says. “They cut in front of fat as a fuel source and insist on being burned first. What isn’t burned gets stored as fat, and doesn’t come out of storage as long as carbs are available. And in the average American diet, they always are.”

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Glenn Beck’s advice for the Unemployed: Get a Damn Job!

April 8, 2010 on 1:25 pm | In Health Care, Politics, Religion | 3 Comments

Have you been laid off during this recession? Are you worried about how you’re going to pay your mortgage, feed and clothe your family, and provide basic medical care? Well thank the lord because Glenn Beck has a solution:

Beck and crew cited 2 Thessalonians 3:10 in the King James Version of the Bible, “For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.” Beck used this as a jumping off point to say, “That is the point. That is everybody’s problem with government handouts. Get a damn job. Now if there’s no jobs, I am there to help you out, but there’s nothing beneath anybody, no job beneath anybody, no job beneath anybody, there’s not, there’s not, and that’s a problem with humility and that leads to destruction. That is the answer. That is the problem with government welfare and everything else, get a damn job. If you’re not willing to work, then I am not willing to give it to you. The government is, and that’s the problem. That’s the difference between the government enslaving people and people giving charity.”

Thank you Mr. Beck for saving your country and its citizens. Those lazy unemployed fucks should just get a “damn job.” And of course this “damn job” will provide enough to pay their mortgages, save up 20K a year to pay for health care, provide sufficient food and clothing, and allow them to save up for their kids’ college educations.

But of course these unemployed citizens will unfortunately wake up from your retarded fantasy and continue living in the real world. But during that fleeting dream, you’ve made us feel just a little bit better. And for that I give thanks. Thanks, Glenn Beck, for sharing your retarded fantasy-world with us.

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It’s about fricking time…

March 24, 2010 on 1:44 pm | In Health Care, Politics | 3 Comments

The Democrats and Obama have finally signed into law a new health care bill.

My question: What the frick took so long?! He was sworn-in back on January 20, 2009. Throughout his term he’s had a majority in Congress.

What has he been doing for the last year? Attempting to get consensus from the Right. What the frick?!

When was the last time the Right compromised their positions? When they’re confronted with opposition they scream like school kids (example 1, 2 and 3) or pick up their toys and go home.

If Obama actually thought the Right would seriously come to the table in good faith and create a genuine compromise he’s an idiot.

He should have created the plan he wanted passed and had his majority in Congress vote and pass it within his first six months. The delay only gave the Right time to mobilize and create their asinine Tea Parties. It also gave Fox News a year to denigrate the plan which caused it to be watered down.

Could that be the reason for the delay? That maybe it was Obama’s plan to water it down from the very beginning? Mmm….

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Ebert on Healthcare Reform

October 28, 2009 on 5:20 pm | In Ebert's Quotes, Economy, General, Health Care | 2 Comments

Ebert has a editorial on his blog ripping a part the libertarian and free market objections to universal healthcare. I love this part the best:

It has been argued that universal health care is an offense against individual liberty. I’ve been told by readers that they’ll deal with their own health care, thank you very much, and have no interest in government interference. At root this is a libertarian argument; conservatives are more likely to oppose it on the grounds that it undermines the free enterprise system. They warn of a Nanny State.

But what, I ask libertarians, about your families? Your children? What if the day comes that you lose your job-based health insurance and can’t afford your own? What if you’re denied coverage? That’s their business, they tell me. I should butt out.

But it won’t remain their business if a family member suffers a major illness. I know from personal experience that few people have the financial resources to deal with such an illness, and I suspect no one reading this is ready to deal with two. You and I will end up paying for them, even though they were unwilling to help pay for us.

I’ve written about this previously. It’s simply impossible for a family to financially survive a catastrophic illness or injury without the government giving a handout.

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Paying for healthcare is not like buying a new pair of pants

August 30, 2009 on 2:58 pm | In Economy, General, Health Care, Logic | 3 Comments

I was watching a freemarketeer on some news show last night. He was totally against any healthcare reform. He was even against health insurance. His point was that because we the consumers do not directly pay for healthcare, there is no market incentive to drive down prices.

In other words, when you go for a checkup, because you’re not paying for it directly, you don’t look at the bill and say, “This is too high. I’m going to find a cheaper doctor.”

To drive his point home the freemarketeer rhetorically asked something along the lines of,

Why is it that healthcare is the only service we do not directly pay for ourselves? We pay for our own groceries. Our own cars. Our own clothes. But for some reason we expect someone else to pay for our healthcare.

His arguments are about as pro free market as you can get. It sounds so simple. Let’s solve the entire healthcare crisis by treating it like going to the mall. Everyone will be happy, we’ll get the exact care we need, and prices will be lower than ever.

It might sound simple, but that’s only because it’s complete hogwash.

We don’t completely pay for anything directly:

Healthcare is not the only service or product we do not directly pay for. When was the last time you directly paid for a road? A military airplane? The police who drives by your house? His police car? A fireman’s salary? That airport across town? Your public education?

You don’t even pay directly and completely for your groceries due to farm subsidies.

Did you go to a state university? You may have paid a tuition, but it was highly subsidized.

Which also means all of that college basketball and football you watch is also not directly paid for by you.

Heck, that local NFL football stadium was also likely paid for by public subsidies. So when you watch those millionaires play football, you’re not directly paying for that either.

Even oil companies, despite earning billions in profits, still get government subsidies to drill for oil and such.

Heck, I have to wonder if there is any product or service in the US that is not subsidized in at least some small way.

So healthcare is not the only service we expect other people to pay for. We expect the government and the private sector to subsidize and spread costs over large groups. Expecting the same for healthcare is no different.

Healthcare is catastrophic and unpredictable:

And even if we did pay for groceries and cars directly, which we don’t, the freemarketeer is still wrong that we should pay for healthcare directly. That’s because healthcare is catastrophic and unpredictable.

When we do our weekly shopping, we’re not suddenly faced with $65k bill for peas that simply has to be paid. When we buy a $30K car, we do so after fully researching our finances and either saving for it or obtaining a loan. The dealer doesn’t show up one day demanding payment for a car we neither want nor need.

Catastrophic and unpredictable events have always been paid publicly by the government, e.g., military, police, firefighters. Or privately by insurance, e.g., automobile, fire, healthcare or by organizations such as the Red Cross.

Of course some will argue that we should simply save a portion of our income, 40% believe it or not, just in case a medical emergency occurs.

However, relying on savings to pay for healthcare would simply not work. How would savings help a 21 year old guy who was diagnosed with cancer? Is he just supposed to die because he didn’t live long enough to save money? Of course not.

Here’s the main difference between healthcare and clothes, cars, and to an extent, even groceries. We choose to buy clothes. Accordingly, we can decline to buy when we are unable to afford them. However, there is no choice when it comes to healthcare. We cannot say to our son,

Timmy, money’s a little tight this week. We’re going to have to skip a few chemo treatments until I build up some more savings. No problem, right?

Even with groceries we can buy a cheaper brand or grow our own. Heck, we can save money by eating less. (Lord knows we should!) However, you cannot scrimp on chemo treatments for your son. There’s simply no generic alternative.

This “savings plan” gets worse. The average family income is about $50K. Let’s assume the impossible. You manage to set aside 40% of your income for unforeseen healthcare issues. (Of course you’ll also have to save 30% in case your house burns down, there’s a flood, hurricane, or whatnot. Plus 10% in case your car breaks down unexpectedly. I’m sure in the end you might have a few pennies to spend on food and a mortgage.)

Anyway, let’s assume you’ll need at least a quarter million dollars per each person in your family in case of catastrophic healthcare emergencies. The average family has five members. So you’ll need to save up $1.25 million to cover everyone in your family. By saving $20K per year, that means the average family will have to save for 62.5 years. So if you start your family when you’re 25 years old, you won’t be able to get catastrophically sick or injured until you’re 87.5 years old. Yeah, that’s a plan!

There are market controls on healthcare costs:

What I find most hilarious is the freemarketeer’s argument that insurance companies and the government have no control over costs when it comes to healthcare. What he’s conveniently ignoring is that insurers and the government do keep strict control over healthcare costs. Procedures have to cost no more than a specified amount before either the insurer or the government will pay. The healthcare industry does not set healthcare prices, the insurance industry and the government does.

Think about it this way. If a physician could charge anything he wanted for a procedure, why doesn’t he? If there was absolutely no control over what he could charge, then why aren’t mere office visits charged to the insurer or Medicaid for a trillion dollars? Under the freemarketeer’s theory, that could happen and mysteriously nothing could be done about it. He strongly argued that unless we pay directly for healthcare, there are no market controls on price. Yet, there clearly are such controls. Mmmm… I wonder where they come from?

Update – 9/2/09: I just came across an article on Slate about how medical prices are set. It’s actually quite disturbing.

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