Saturday, March 17, 2012

Health Care PRICES in the United States are OB (out of bounds), Costing Nearly Double the Amount Paid in Germany

For various personal reasons, I have recently been confronted with researching health care costs in America and have been absolutely APPALLED at the exorbitantly high prices in the USA in comparison to Germany, where I am domiciled.

Not only that, but Americans get LESSER quality health care in the United States in spite of those doubly higher prices.

What goes on?

With a hat tip to CaryGEE, I found an article by Ezra Klein at the Washington Post Wonkblog asking and explaining

Why an MRI costs $1,080 in America and $280 in France.

As Ezra Klein writes:
"In 2009, Americans spent $7,960 per person on health care. Our neighbors in Canada spent $4,808. The Germans spent $4,218. The French, $3,978."

And yet, Americans are getting LESS for their money. Health care in the USA is not nearly up to the quality standard that we have here in Germany, at half the price.

Klein notes:
"On Friday, the International Federation of Health Plans — a global insurance trade association that includes more than 100 insurers in 25 countries — released more direct evidence. It surveyed its members on the prices paid for 23 medical services and products in different countries, asking after everything from a routine doctor’s visit to a dose of Lipitor to coronary bypass surgery. And in 22 of 23 cases, Americans are paying higher prices than residents of other developed countries. Usually, we’re paying quite a bit more."
Are pharmaceutical and health care companies in America immensely profitable? More profitable than elsewhere. Yes. Do they invest a lot more in America? No.

It is a business, for private profit, at the expense of YOUR health.

Many citizens are going around foolishly trying to repeal the Obama Health Care law, whereas the real PROBLEM lies elsewhere. As Klein writes:
"The 2010 health-reform law does little to directly address prices....

“There is so much inefficiency in our system, that there’s a lot of low-hanging fruit we can deal with before we get into regulating people’s prices.” says Len Nichols, director of the Center for Health Policy Research and Ethics at George Mason University. “Maybe, after we’ve cut waste for 10 years, we’ll be ready to have a discussion over prices.”"
10 Years?

You know, America became a great country because it was historically more efficient than other countries and did away with many obstacles that hampered progress.

Today, it is exactly the opposite. Inertia is a mark made in America.

10 years is a long time to correct gross failings in the system.

And for all of you out there who have to find an affordable nursing home for your loved ones or yourself when the time comes -- good luck.

Remember, that in your choices of the people you elect as your lawmakers and representatives, you contributed to the faulty system you have -- and which you too will have to face, soon, down the road.

New Office Designs Can Be Open and Play Down Hierarchies, Emphasizing Light, Mobility and the Opportunity for Contact

At the New York Times Business Day, Lawrence W. Cheek reports that New Office Designs Offer Room to Roam and to Think, starting out with the NBBJ design of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation headquarters in Seattle which is about 50/50 open and private. Examples are also given of designs by NBBJ made for companies wanting substantially more private quarters.

The ultimate test is surely provided by the parameters of productivity and success. We can see the arguments for both types of office organization, although when I worked at Paul, Weiss et al. in New York City, the law firm had an open door office policy, with some necessary exceptions for private conferences, etc., that worked quite well.

"Real Science" and Misbehaving Scientists: JoNova Revisits Climategate and FakeGate

JoNova: Science, carbon, climate and tax writes:

"[so and so] entirely missed the big story in ClimateGate, which was how trusted scientists were flagrantly breaching standards of honesty, good practice and transparency, and were admitting doing scandalous adjustments including "hiding declines", dodging FOI’s, and colluding to manipulate the supposedly anonymous peer review process. And [so and so] largely missed the big story in FakeGate too, of how an allegedly top researcher ... stooped to impersonation, trickery and theft to "win" a debate about science. If stealing-to-save-the-atmosphere is permissible, then isn’t adjusting-the-data, or ignoring-inconvenient-data also "helpful"?"

We at LawPundit are not at all interested in the individuals involved in these things and thus never mention their names if we need not do so.

What interests us is that ClimateGate I and ClimateGate II and FakeGate represent the tip of the iceberg in mainstream science, broadly defined to include the humanities, which functions more like a criminal conspiracy than an objective search for the truth.

Read also, James Delingpole at The Telegraph in Climategate: the corruption of Wikipedia

Who can you trust?
No one.
That is why the world has so many lawyers.

Litter Law: Do YOU Bother? Polluters and the Environment: Imposing Big-Time Fines on Offenders and Hiring Litter Police to Enforce the Laws

The really good guys do not litter. Which are you?

Does your town, city, region, state or nation have "litter police"? They should!

As a political centrist, the Law Pundit takes a middle-of-the-road stance on most subjects, but not on pollution, where we favor draconian penalties.

People who litter are one our pet peeves because those people are polluting OUR WORLD. We would assess massive fines and substantial required community refuse service on litterers (and polluters), just like they do in Singapore. Elizabeth Weiss Green has a story about that at U.S. News & World Report in You Litter You Pay-Big-Time.

Not only is the livable land being polluted increasingly by litter, but one of the consequences of littering worldwide is also the increasing pollution of our oceans and waterways with plastic and similar items that are biodegradable only with difficulty. See San Diego Coastkeeper about the oceans.

There are those of us in this world who do the work and make life worth living on this planet, trying to improve things.

There are a mass of "others" who take the attitude that "someone else" will always clean things up for them, so that they litter and pollute the world with impunity.

Look around at the people you know. Whether someone litters or not is a mark of people's character. The really good guys do not litter. Really good guys keep things clean. If someone never cleans their car or lets their personal property go to the dogs, then he or she is also not going to take care of people around them, like family, either, are they? Some people do not bother. Part of the function of lawmaking is to make sure people DO bother.

Research has discovered that laws foreseeing high fines for littering are not enough alone to stop littering. People have to expect to be caught and penalized before they stop polluting the environment, and this applies to all kinds of pollution, not just littering. See Litter Fines from the Washington State Department of Ecology on the problems involved in enforcing litter laws.

The solution is simple: "litter police". Every community should have people who are paid by the government to enforce litter and pollution laws and there should be enough of them so that citizens everywhere know that they could easily be caught for littering or pollution and have to suffer heavy penalties as a result.

Do your schools have required classes on littering and pollution? Well, they should! It is far more important to have a healthy attitude about litter and pollution in our modern world than learning how many feet you find on a caterpillar and/or similar esoteric subjects focused on in the schools.

At the same time, communities have to put up enough wastebaskets, refuse bins and similar refuse containers in public places to meet the demand, and these should be emptied regularly rather than be allowed to fill and overflow, as one often sees. MAINTENANCE is a virtue forgotten in many governments.

Similarly, communities can not be detracted from litter, pollution and garbage clean-up simply because some citizens use public refuse containers for their normal garbage instead of paying for having that garbage collected, like normal citizens. You are always going to have to deal with "contras", people who are unteachable, and when one does identify who they are, they should be sentenced criminally to years of public refuse work in the spirit of the following anecdote.

I relate here the true story of a troublesome camp child in the Berkshires (Berkshire Mountains, Massachusetts) who was caught throwing stones at other children. The brilliant camp counselor (one of the Cravens) took that boy to a nearby quarry and had him throw stones all day long, until he could not lift his arm. I dare say that child never threw a stone at anyone again.

Both general and specific deterrence are greatly important aspects of the law, and one has to know how to obtain them by proper measures. If you get to the point in society where the only alternative you have left in enforcement is to put people in jails and prisons, then you have failed, and there is a lot of failure in legal systems around the world.

First-to-File Patent System -- What Does it Mean?

John Villasenor at the Brookings Institution
opens up a new series of articles
on the America Invents Act (AIA)
in Untangling the Real Meaning of "First-to-File" Patents.

Hat tip to John W. Rooney

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