Editorial

Another example of toxic health care system surfaces

ACHTUNG: This is not a “fair and balanced” article. It is an editorial by the editor.

“The love of money is the root of all evil.” — The Apostle Paul

Darlene Lohroff

It’s been said as a joke for some time now that the United States of America’s version of health insurance for the not so well to do is GoFundMe.

It’s not a joke.

The latest to join the growing network of common everyday folks who are going into severe debt through no fault of their own is our neighbor Darlene Lohroff, one of the hardest working local citizens I’ve ever known.

My wife and I have noticed in the last week or more that she hasn’t been around. We’ve joked for a long time that if you hear a lawn mower, weed wacker or outdoor household tool running, it’s probably her. With that underground lawn sprinkler, she has spent a lot of time cutting the grass at her house.

But she also has been spotted many times welcoming nieces, nephews and other Lohroff clan members to her swimming pool in hot days just like these.

But lately things have been quiet and the work that’s being done around her home has been taken up by relatives. So you might say that in our neighborhood, Darlene is conspicuous by her absence.

Today we learned through Facebook that she’s been hospitalized with a physical ailment that has required a second surgery. We hear tell Darlene is reluctant to have the second procedure done, despite the pain she is enduring, because of the massive expense. Thus, the Go Fund Me.

So here we go again — another sordid example of the world’s richest country saddling the not so rich with a health care system they cannot afford. And to quote the infamous Deep Throat from the Watergate caper, “Follow the money.”

It has been stated here quite often that America’s health care is the costliest on the planet, yet it doesn’t have the best outcomes. And far too many honest, hard-working people go bankrupt as a result of this unfair system that is defended not just by right-wing conservatives, but also moderate neoliberal Democrats.

When Joseph R. Biden was running for president a couple of years ago, he was asked what he would do if both houses of Congress approved a Medicare for All bill and it arrived on his desk. He replied that he would veto it.

The infamous Koch Brothers, eager to prove just how costly this “socialist” universal health care project is, funded a study to come to that conclusion. Imagine their disappointment when the study confirmed that over 10 years it would save the people and the government a heck of lot of money.

So why do we have to put up with such a system that doesn’t work for us? Refer once again to Deep Throat’s explanation.

We collectively do not solve problems, and politicians beholden to rich corporate donors are the reason. We live under a political system of legalized bribery. And politicians work for the rich and status quo, because the wealthy are doing quite well, thank you.

Our politicians have done nothing in too long a time to deal with health care costs, systemic racism, gun violence and deaths, climate change and many other serious issues. Too many of them do the bidding of the insurance, health providers, gun lobby, prison industry, fossil fuel industry, banks and credit card companies. They don’t do the bidding of the people, except for emotional and dog whistle issues such as abortion, LGBTQ issues, Black Lives Matter and even banning children’s books.

So when I examined the slate of candidates for state offices for 2022, I saw virtually no one talking about problems that really matter. And I’ve said it many times, but I’ll say it again, the purpose of government is to solve problems and be a fair referee.

I hope it’s not too late to help Darlene Lohroff, a good person and a good neighbor. Our system has let her down, and too many of us have to use this corrupt system to lend a hand.

3 Comments

  • Well explained and states the health care issues being ignored by ego law makers to help their own and garner high political contributions.
    Politicians encourage the “GO FUND ME” for themselves.

  • “Most Americans have no idea that the United States is quite literally the only country in the developed world that doesn’t define healthcare as an absolute right for all of its citizens. That’s it. We’re the only one left.

    The United States spends more on “healthcare” than any other country in the world: about 17% of GDP.

    Switzerland, Germany, France, Sweden and Japan all average around 11%, and Canada, Denmark, Belgium, Austria, Norway, Netherlands, United Kingdom, New Zealand and Australia all come in between 9.3% and 10.5%.

    Health insurance premiums right now make up about 22% of all taxable payroll, whereas Medicare For All would run an estimated 10%.

    We are literally the only developed country in the world with an entire multi-billion-dollar for-profit industry devoted to parasitically extracting money from us to then turn over to healthcare providers on our behalf. The for-profit health insurance industry has attached itself to us like a giant, bloodsucking tick.

    And it’s not like we haven’t tried. Presidents Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Jack Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson all proposed and made an effort to bring a national health care system to the United States and they all failed.

    “Dollar” Bill McGuire, a recent CEO of America’s largest health insurer, UnitedHealth, made about $1.5 billion dollars during his time with that company. To avoid prosecution in 2007 he had to cough up $468 million, but still walked away a billionaire. Stephen J Hemsley, his successor, made off with around half a billion.

    And that’s just one of multiple giant insurance companies feeding at the trough of your healthcare needs.

    Much of that money, and the pay for the multiple senior executives at that and other insurance companies who make over $1 million a year, came from saying “No!” to people who file claims for payment of their healthcare costs.

    This became so painful for Cigna Vice President Wendell Potter that he resigned in disgust after a teenager he knew was denied payment for a transplant and died. He then wrote a brilliant book about his experience in the industry: Deadly Spin: An Insurance Company Insider Speaks Out on How Corporate PR Is Killing Health Care and Deceiving Americans.

    Companies offering such “primary” health insurance simply don’t exist (or are tiny) in almost every other developed country in the world. Mostly, where they do exist, they serve wealthier people looking for “extras” beyond the national system, like luxury hospital suites or air ambulances when overseas. (Switzerland is the outlier with exclusively private insurance, but it’s subsidized, mandatory, and non-profit.)

    If Americans don’t know this, they intuit it.

    In the 2020 election there were quite a few issues on statewide ballots around the country. Only three of them outpolled Joe Biden’s win, and expanding Medicaid to cover everybody was at the top of that list. (The other two were raising the minimum wage and legalizing pot.)

    The last successful effort to provide government funded, single-payer healthcare insurance was when Lyndon Johnson passed Medicare and Medicaid (both single-payer systems) in the 1960s. It was a hell of an effort, but the health insurance industry was then a tiny fraction of its current size.

    In 1978, when conservatives on the Supreme Court legalized corporations owning politicians with their Buckley v Belotti decision (written by Justice Louis Powell of “Powell Memo” fame), they made the entire process of replacing a profitable industry with government-funded programs like single-payer vastly more difficult, regardless of how much good they may do for the citizens of the nation.

    The Court then doubled-down on that decision in 2010, when the all-conservative vote on Citizens United cemented the power of billionaires and giant corporations to own politicians and even write and influence legislation and the legislative process.

    Medicare For All, like Canada has, would save American families thousands every year immediately and do away with the 500,000+ annual bankruptcies in this country that happen only because somebody in the family got sick. But it would kill the billions every week in profits of the half-dozen corporate giants that dominate the health insurance industry.”

  • Is there a go fund me for Darlene , I would be happy to help she is a wonderful girl from a wonderful family.

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