Dr. Gray's Straight Talk

Honest and blunt healthcare discussion and advice.

Posts Tagged ‘Universal Health Care’

Schoolchildren WILL Eat Healthy Lunches

Posted by Dr. Gray on Monday, August 31, 2009

Great news for parents: Schoolchildren are willing to eat healthy lunches. The days of corn dogs, tater tots, sloppy joes and french fries are slowly being replaced with apple slices, turkey hot dogs and vegetables.

For years people have underestimated children’s willingness to eat healthier foods and schools’ ability to produce appealing, nutritious lunch options. According to a recent University of Minnesota study, school lunch sales don’t decline when healthier meals are served. Children will eat fruits and vegetables if they are presented to them. Moreover, nutritious lunches don’t necessarily cost schools more to produce.

The research, published in the Review of Agricultural Economics, evaluated five years of data involving 330 Minnesota public school districts to determine compliance with federal standards for calories, nutrients and fats. Results suggested that nutritious foods like fruits and vegetables are actually less costly than processed foods, which offsets the higher labor costs involved with producing healthier lunches.

Change is always tough – to make healthy lunches a reality, many school districts will have to adjust by upgrading their kitchens and training their staff to prepare fresh, whole foods in bulk. But if the results achieved in Minnesota can be replicated on a national level, healthy eating at school can finally be a regular part of American life.

To Your Health, January, 2008 (Vol. 02, Issue 01)

Dr. Gray’s comments: You want to show me real “health care reform?” This study was done two years ago and many other similar studies have proven this again and again. For years, we’ve known that providing healthier meals to our schoolchildren actually costs the school district less than providing processed, enriched, frozen, crap. We’ve also known that, although they complain, kids prefer the healthier meals to the other crap. Do you know the number one health affliction in our kids today? … Obesity. Why? Because we are feeding them crap! They’re getting processed, enriched, sugary, artificial junk that their bodies don’t recognize as real food. And we’ve known this for years! But how many of your kids continue to get lunches consisting of chicken nuggets, tater tots, rectangular pizzas, and nachos? Next time someone from the government says they want to “improve health care” in this country, ask them why they won’t improve what they’re already doing before they try to screw the rest of it up!


Posted in General Health, Nutrition, Political | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Does Your Insurance Pay For Oil Changes?

Posted by Dr. Gray on Monday, July 20, 2009

Last time, we talked about the importance of maintenance care and the role it plays in keeping your car from breaking down. We also discussed how this same level of care and respect needs to be extended to our bodies. If you change the oil in your car, or do a tune-up to avoid potential problems… how much more important is it to do the same for your body?

In most states, we are now required to carry automobile insurance. Even with “full coverage,” we understand that this is for unexpected, unearned, and excessive costs. If you’re in an accident, insurance will cover your return to pre-accident status. Car get stolen? Insurance will help you replace it. Tree fall on your car? Auto and homeowners insurance will make good. However,… does your insurance pay for an oil change? Does your insurance cover tire replacement? What if you need a new battery? Need a front end alignment… does insurance cover that?

No? Why not?… Because that’s not what it is for! Insurance, as mentioned above, is for unexpected, unearned, and excessive costs. General maintenance is not unexpected. It is not unearned. And the cost is not excessive. General maintenance is an expected necessity due to the normal affects of normal use. One could argue that many repairs are not covered by insurance because they don’t meet these three requirements. If your alternator quits working, it may be unexpected when it happens but it has been earned by use over the many miles and hours the engine has been running; and the costs are not excessive to have it replaced. If your brake pads wear out, that is expected, earned… and again, the costs are not excessive. Transmission faulty? Both unexpected and can be cost excessive, but you’ve most likely earned (meaning caused) that trouble. Therefore, it’s not covered.

So who pays for these costs that are not covered by your auto insurance? You do, of course, and you pay it willingly because you know it keeps the car doing what you’d like it to do. Insurance will be there if you are in an accident. You will be covered if your car is stolen. Warranties (another form of optional insurance) cover you if something goes wrong within a certain time frame, but again, only if those problems are unexpected, unearned, and have excessive cost… and you pay more for the warranty. In fact, some things may be covered by your insurance, but you still may choose to pay anyway because it doesn’t exceed your deductible. And… if you submit those costs to your insurance plan, you know they’re going to raise your rates.

Health insurance and your responsibility for your own health-related decisions are no different.

If it’s so important to cover these auto expenses out of your own pocket, why is it so difficult to place that level of importance on your health care decisions? Think about it. When you need a general check up, why should you expect your insurance to pay for it? If you do expect them to pay for it, you realize that you are paying more in higher premiums than they will ever cover in general costs, right? If you need treatment for a mild sinus infection, are the costs “unearned or excessive?” If you work in the yard all weekend and throw your back out, do you refuse to visit your chiropractor if the insurance doesn’t cover it?

Furthermore, when you submit general/simple/ordinary expenses for reimbursement, your insurance company uses that information against you to raise your premiums and justify “the rising cost of health care.” While reimbursements go down, premiums go up, and coverage diminishes, you’re getting less and less for your insurance dollar… all because you didn’t want to cover a brief office exam.

What’s you best alternative? Sign up for a low-cost, high deductible catastrophic coverage insurance policy with an attached tax-free health savings account. Your costs stay low, you’re covered if anything serious happens, and you pay for your own general health care with pre-tax money. What’s even better? Your doctor’s office will love you, because they know they’re getting paid now… without all the billing expense… and without the wait. In fact, most health care facilities I know offer a 10-25% discount for paying at the time of service. Need a little more care than you can pay right now? Most offices will let you make payment arrangements, and you pay them out of the health savings account which saves you a bundle on your income tax.

Don’t kid yourself… universal or government-provided health care won’t fix this problem. The real rising cost of health care starts with our individual expectations that someone else is responsible for it.

Posted in General Health, Political | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

When Government Plays Doctor

Posted by Dr. Gray on Wednesday, May 6, 2009

A good friend of mine posted a wonderful piece recently that I felt worth reposting here.

This week, concerns about swine flu have dominated the media and many government officials. While the American people should be made aware of infectious diseases and common sense preventative measures, much of the hysterical reaction from government only serves to remind us how detrimental to your health it can be when government plays doctor.

As a physician, I have yet to see any evidence that justifies the current level of alarm. Influenza typically kills around 36,000 people every year in this country and hospitalizes a couple hundred thousand. So far there are only a handful of confirmed deaths attributable to this strain, and most of those sickened have or will fully recover. Every death is tragic, but I see no reason to deal with this flu outbreak any differently than we typically deal with any other flu season. Instead, government in its infinite wisdom is performing even more invasive screening at airports, closing down schools and sporting events, and causing general panic.

We had a similar outbreak in 1976, with only 1 death from the flu, but mandatory vaccinations killed at least 25 before the program was abandoned.

When government gets involved in healthcare decisions, the cure is so often worse than the illness. And yet, this administration will likely consolidate the government’s power over your health with sweeping new reforms that are already being discussed in the Senate.

Government has not improved healthcare, and has not made it cheaper. Quite the opposite; costs have skyrocketed, and quality has gone down in many ways. Gone are the days of the country doctor making house calls, or of voluntarily giving away medical services at charity hospitals. The bureaucratization of healthcare these past 45 years has made things worse. It saddens me as a doctor that physicians are less and less accountable to patients, but more and more accountable to government red tape, insurance companies and attorneys. It seems so perverse to me that important medical decisions that will directly affect the lives of all or nearly all Americans are being hashed out behind closed doors in Washington rather than between doctors and patients.

There is perhaps nothing more valuable to a human being than his or her health, which is why I’ve always considered the practice of medicine so crucial to our well-being. Any intrusion by government into the privacy and trust between doctor and patient is detrimental to the art of medicine. It distorts the whole dynamic of who the client really is when doctors must answer more to government or insurance companies than to their patients. The best solutions to improving quality and lowering costs of healthcare would be measures that put decisions back into the hands of patients and doctors, where they rightfully belong. I have introduced HR 1495 The Comprehensive Healthcare Reform Act, which promotes health savings accounts and tax deductibility of healthcare costs as an important step in this direction.

The unfortunate reality of this recent health crisis, as with any crisis, is that it presents opportunities that the unscrupulous will take advantage of, while the fearful become more compliant.

Wow! Pretty profound… yet truthful… statements. I wonder if we can really understand and take to heart what he has said. Let’s break it down, huh?

  1. Although tragic, the swine flu situation is being blown out of proportion for ulterior motives
  2. That motive involves more government control over your health care decisions
  3. Increased government involvement has actually caused the rise in health care costs over the past 45 years
  4. Increased government involvement has also led to a decrease in the quality of care provided
  5. You and your interests are becoming less and less important with the expanding role of government

When are we going to wake up? How far must government go before you learn that they do not have your best interest in mind?

A couple years ago, there were outcries because The Patriot Act was seen as an invasion of privacy and freedoms. Yet, when the government proposes to take total control of your health care decision making ability… nothing. What was the most complained about provision of The Patriot Act? Wiretapping of overseas phone calls. Phone calls… oh the outrage! But now… they want control of YOUR PERSONAL ABILITY TO MAKE YOUR OWN HEALTH CARE DECISIONSand nothing???

Partisanship is not only detrimental to individual and collective good, it is also STUPID. Wake up people. Take a whiff of that crap they’re shoveling before you swallow it whole.

Posted in General Health, Political | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

What Is “Phantom” Coverage?

Posted by Dr. Gray on Thursday, March 5, 2009

Although it’s not getting much play in the media right now, it should be. “Phantom” coverage refers to the latest trend in insurance coverage whereby a policy is sold touting that it has great reimbursement rates and is a good deal for the patient and doctor. Unfortunately, that’s not how it plays out.

In these policies, the insurance company raises the deductible and copayment amounts to the patient… followed by a global fee cap on reimbursement to the health care provider. What’s a “global fee cap,” you ask? Under a global fee cap, reimbursement for services are capped at an arbitrary amount regardless of the procedures provided or needed. As you can probably imagine, these cap amounts are obscenely low. Current average? $42.00.

Yup. Forty-two dollars. If you are a regular patient coming in for a quick tune-up, brief exam and adjustment only, the maximum reimbursement to the office is $42.00. If you just fell down the stairs and have potentially broken your arm which requires a thorough examination and x-rays… $42.00. How’s that? If you have a serious injury, how would you like your doctor or hospital making sure you only got $42.00 worth of investigation… because, honestly, after that they are losing money.

Well, what about that makes it “Phantom Coverage?” In conjunction with the $42.00 fee cap, they have raised the patient’s copay to $40-50.00. So… the patient still pays the entire amount anyway! If that’s the case, why pay the insurance company in the first place? Think about it… you’re paying the insurance company $300-1000 per month for what? To screw the health care facility? To decrease the quality of care you receive? What’s the point.

My advice? Tax-deductible health-savings account tied to a high-deductible, low cost policy that is only used for emergency purposes. I know of relatively few doctor’s offices that will not work out arrangements to pay for your care over time, or won’t give you a time-of-service discount. Quit bending over for the insurance companies. The economy’s been weak lately, but that’s not been reflected in the bottom line of the insurance companies.

Why do you think there is such a big push for universal health coverage in this country, and the massively powerful insurance lobby hasn’t been fighting it? If the government were providing the insurance, they’d be out of business, right? Wrong… they’ll be the ones contracted to administrate the policies, so the politicians won’t look like the one’s rationing care.

Wake up, America.

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I warned you…

Posted by Dr. Gray on Tuesday, February 24, 2009

President Obama is scheduled to lay out his budget in a congressional address this evening. Get ready for some serious duplicity and confusion… more about that later. First:

My last post to this blog, which has become one of the most read, detailed the health care ramifications that were insidiously hidden in the recent “stimulus” bill. I received a few emails from those not willing to publicly comment and defend their socialist master. They stated that I was being overzealous in my accusations and that Obama’s plan wasn’t to take over and control health care… just to make it safer. Well, I am looking forward to being proven correct this evening, and expect each of you to contact me again admitting you were wrong.

Through all the rhetoric, bloviating, and yes we can hyperbole this evening, pay attention when he begins discussing health care. He will make statements about “out-of-control” medical costs, yet will not tell you the truth about those costs. (Read this and this) He will talk about “health care coverage for all,” without mentioning rationing of care and lack of choice. He’ll talk about “the uninsured” without mentioning that it’s just a percentage of the total population that has remained consistent for decades. He’ll tug on your heart strings, without noting that 15 million of those “uninsured” live in households with incomes above $50,000 per year… yet choose not to buy insurance. He’ll forget to mention that another 15-20 million of those “uninsured” are children or lower income families that are eligible for state assistance… yet choose not to enroll.

Pure and simple?… The idea of people providing for their own health care with their own money is frightening to those who like big, expensive government subsidies that bribe voters with their own tax dollars.

Back to the “duplicity and confusion” comment… Here’s the deal, folks. Obama inherited a $400 billion deficit, which is a crime in itself. However, within one month of being in office, that deficit now sits at 1.3 trillion (that’s a “T”). Obama, and the other Marxists in Congress, need to slam the economy with as many of these massive programs as quick as they can so massive deficits can be blamed on the previous administration. Now, they want to nationalize one fifth of the entire economy of the country… with this one program. They’re already in the process of nationalizing the banks, Wall Street, the auto industry, and the mortgage industry. They’ve got your money… now they want your blood.

One question… how are we going to pay for this?

Obama will tell you that he’s going to “tax only the rich.” Really? You ever heard of one rich person or company that didn’t pass on their extra costs to the customer? So, regardless of all the rhetorical crap about only taxing the wealthy, he’s taxing YOU! But, Obama said 95% of people will see their taxes cut under his plans… you still believe that? If your taxes go down $10.00, but it costs you $15.00 more to buy daily goods, who paid the extra tax? You did! If your company is taxed at a higher rate leaving less money to reward their empoyees so you don’t get that raise you’re due for, who paid the taxes? You did, moron!

Medicare is currently slated to run out of money in 2016, only seven years from now. So… we’ve known for years that Medicare was failing, and now it looks like it’s going to fail three years earlier than recently thought. Instead of discussing alternatives, they want to make it universal and mandatory?! How does that make any sense? “Maybe if we throw more money at it…” (<– click the link)

Enough for today. Bend over America.

Posted in Political | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

Your Health Is No Longer Your Choice

Posted by Dr. Gray on Thursday, February 12, 2009

I am relatively dumbfounded right now. As part of this latest act of socialism from our federal government, they have completely done away with privacy and freedom with regards to health care. DID YOU HEAR THAT AMERICA? One of the most basic and cherished privacies we have enjoyed… the freedom to guide and direct your own healthis gone.

Yes. Slipped into the Porkulus bill, is an entirely new bureaucracy in Washington known as the National Coordinator of Health Information Technology. Sounds beneficial, huh? Yeah… let’s coordinate information. But wait. What does that really mean? Well, there are so many ramifications to this we’re going to have to look at them one by one:

  1. Mandates that all medical records will need to be kept electronically. – While this sounds good on the surface, this is just the start of the nightmare. Requiring electronic records means that several hundred thousand health care offices around the country, from medical doctors to dentists to chiropractors down to rural nurse practitioners, will be forced into a huge financial investment in new computers and software in order to comply. Think that’s all? Nope… don’t forget all educational institutions that have any health-related program. Who do you think is going to pay for this? The doctors? The hospitals? NO! WAKE UP! Those offices, hospitals, doctors, and schools will just raise their prices to cover the new expense… so you pay for it.
  2. Mandates access to those medical records by the federal government. – Yes, now that all of your health care information and secrets are in electronic form, the government wants access to review them any time they want. How would you like the government knowing all the details about your drug rehab? Or alcoholism treatments? Abortion? Sexually-transmitted disease diagnosis? Pregnancy status? Blood test results? But, why would they want this information?…
  3. Establishes a new federal bureaucracy that removes doctor or patient choice and discretion. – Although the National Coordinator of Health Information Technology sounds harmless, its true purpose is to monitor treatments to make sure your doctor is doing what the federal government deems appropriate and cost effective. Now, don’t miss it… did you really read what that sentence said? They want to “monitor” your treatments to make sure your doctor is doing what the federal government deems “appropriate and cost-effective.” In other words… it does not matter what you want, or what your doctor recommends… you are going to do it their way, or else. According to Tom Daschle, who’s book these policies are based on, doctors have to give up autonomy and “learn to operate less like solo practitioners.” What’s meant by “or else?”…
  4. Establishes penalties for non-compliance. – Doctors, health care offices, and hospitals who are not “meaningful users” will be subject to penalties, fines, injunctions, and/or charges. “Meaningful users” is not defined in the bill. That definition and the increasing stringency of enforcement will fall to the Secretary of Health & Human Services. So, if you decide that you don’t want to do what some bureaucrat in Washington says you should, good luck finding a health care practitioner that will provide an alternative because he faces fines, loss of license, or even jail. Wooo hooo… hooray for slavery! Isn’t socialism fun? Now… can you imagine a politician sticking their neck out and being the one responsible for denying and rationing health care? Of course not, so… What penalties will your doctor face, and who will make these “tough” decisions that elected politicians won’t?
  5. Establishes another expensive bureaucracy known as the Federal Coordinating Council for Comparative Effectiveness Research. – The goal of this new group is to slow the development and use of new medications and technologies because they are driving up costs. In other words… Punishment and rationing of care will be meted out by this group so the politicians won’t be associated with their decisions to place their cost savings ahead of your health.

Do you realize this Porkulus bill allocates more funding for these bureaucracies than for the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines… combined? There is nothing “stimulating” about these new provisions. But, why would they stick something like this in a “stimulus” bill, you ask. Well, in 1994, Tom Daschle supported President Bill Clinton’s failed massive health care overhaul. He said the main reason for failure was “debate and delay.” In other words, when people actually sat down and talked about it, they realized that not only could we not afford it, but we didn’t want it and it would not be the best option for the citizens of this country. A year ago, Daschle wrote that the next president should act quickly before critics mount an opposition. “If that means attaching a health-care plan to the federal budget, so be it,” he said. “The issue is too important to be stalled by Senate protocol.” So… the people be damned, we need to sneak this in before anyone can actually figure out what we’re doing.

Congratulations, sheeple. You’re getting the unintended consequences of what you voted for. Land of the Free… right. Home of the Brave… where? The American populace isn’t brave anymore. Neither are they free. Newsweek’s cover article this week states, We Are All Socialists Now. It’s not an discussion or article that even hints that this goes against everything The Constitution stands for… it’s an article saying that we are all socialists now… and anyone who opposes it better fall in line. I found this quote particular telling: “The sooner we understand where we truly stand, the sooner we can think more clearly about how to use government in today’s world.” You get that? The sooner you understand where you truly stand… There you go. Where do you truly stand? Newsweek has made it clear where they stand. They choose bondage. They’ve relinquished their freedom. They will capitulate to the almighty federal government at their own peril. No longer free… no longer brave…

Welcome to the United Socialist States of America.

Posted in General Health | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

A Voice For Chiropractic Patients

Posted by Dr. Gray on Monday, January 26, 2009

The American Chiropractic Association has established a new website and organization to bring chiropractic to the people on a grass roots level. This new group is called ChiroVoice, and we all need to sign up in support of this endeavor. As our country moves in new directions, and the new administration is considering a more active role in the health care arena, we need to ensure that our representatives know what we want and need.

Through this chiropractic advocacy network, we will be working to ensure that:

  1. Congress does not restrict your access to essential chiropractic services
  2. Congress does not limit your coverage for chiropractic services within Medicare
  3. Insurance and managed care companies do not deny patients’ access to the essential chiropractic services they need

Membership is free, and will only help to protect your rights as a chiropractic patient. Please take two minutes and sign up for this worthwhile cause. Click on the logo below, and it will take you directly to the sign-up page.

Please Click Here To Support Chiropractic!

Please Click Here To Support Chiropractic!

Posted in General Chiropractic, General Health | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

America… the best country money can buy.

Posted by Dr. Gray on Monday, December 29, 2008

I love this country… let’s get that straight. Know what I love about this country? The freedom to affect our own governance. A government “of the people, by the people, and for the people.” Unfortunately, that fact has been lost, abandoned, or bastardized by nearly every member of our current federally-elected representatives.

The people have no bearing on political direction… well, not exactly… we have relinquished our control. We have allowed ourselves to be duped into thinking the government actually cares about the people. Our forefathers knew the corrupting influence of money and power and designed The Constitution for the protection of the people and the states… from the federal government. Now, however, we are promised “hope and change,” and assured that the government will take care of us. We’ve gone from JFK’s “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask instead what you can do for your country,” to “Gimme… buy my vote… whaddya gonna do for me?… I shouldn’t have to pay for that, the government should give it to me.”

Here’s the truth… If you’re on the government tit, someone else is going to decide when and on what you feed. You are no longer free. This past election year, I was disgusted by both sides of the aisle vying to sell their vote for the most government cheese.

Our government is now based solely on the whims of the highest bidder. Control based on paid advertisements drives the networks to tell you the news they want you to hear, in a way that makes you believe what they want you to believe. Lobbyists in Washington finance the election and re-election campaigns of representatives in order to influence the voting habits of those representatives. The American public sits in their recliner bought on credit from Nebraska Furniture Mart and lazily wonders how else they can get something for nothing… and the politicians, like marketers, are jockeying to buy the most votes. If they can’t get it legally, they just cheat. It’s pathetic.

Want some proof that our government doesn’t give a crap about you? Proof that you’ve been bought right along with your representatives in Washington?

What were the big issues in the past election? Health care… insurance coverage for all… drug coverage… energy… big business bailouts… the real estate market… and schools. Okay. There are the issues the politicians and news agencies told you were important this election cycle.

Now, here is the list of the top ten lobbying groups for the past ten years:

  1. Pharmaceuticals/Health Products – $1.5 billion
  2. Insurance – $1.1 billion
  3. Electric Utilities – $1 billion
  4. Computers/Internet – $820 million
  5. Business Associations – $745 million
  6. Education – $727 million(excludes money from teachers’ unions, so this figure should be much higher)
  7. Real Estate – $696 million
  8. Oil and Gas – $687 million
  9. Hospitals/Nursing Homes – $649 million
  10. Miscellaneous Manufacturing and Distributing – $613 million

Wow! Look familiar? Let’s see: health care covered by #1, 2, and 9; energy covered by #3, and 8; big business bailouts bought with #4, 5, 7, and 10; real estate covered by #5, and 7; and schools covered by #6. Looks like that about covers it, huh? Congratulations… you’re a pawn. A bought-and-paid-for commodity who is blind to reality. You were so intensely interested in Obama versus McCain, that you failed to notice that neither will be different from the other.

America… the best country money can buy.

Posted in General Health | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Sick In America – Part Six

Posted by Dr. Gray on Monday, October 13, 2008

Let’s wrap it all up. Much of this episode gives real-world discussion and evidence of how and why returning to a more free market-weighted system will be more beneficial, for more people, for less money, with more advancements, etc.

Hope you all enjoyed this video series. Since it has become such a hot topic, I may write a post with more of my own personal feelings about how health care should be run in this country. Perhaps we could get a good dialogue going in the comments section.

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Sick In America – Part Five

Posted by Dr. Gray on Monday, October 13, 2008

Only one more part after this. Thanks for following along everyone.

This episode begins to discuss different alternatives to universal health care, or the current trend of employer-sponsored insurance in America. What does it all boil down to? Taking more personal responsibility, and an active role in one’s health care process. This may be the best segment in the series.

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