Many people write or speak to tell us what we should think. Some want to be believed because they are experts, or think they are. Some want to be believed because they claim to speak for us. Some have had revelations. Others want us to trust them because they communicate through prominent media outlets. Many tell us what we should think. I write to encourage my readers to think for themselves. I write to ask you to inquire. Question me. Have fun.

  
Comment of the Day
Less fight more work

Jul 30, 2017

The fight over Obamacare repeal is over, at least for now. The GOP can start to work on a new proposal that each of us can look at it, and then compare how my particular health care solution would play in it, as compared to Obamacare. In a television interview, HHS Secretary Tom Price said that Obamacare “may be working for Washington, it may be working for insurance companies, but it’s not working for patients.” Maybe it is time to consider patients’ involvement in the preparation of an Obamacare alternative? It could be that Obamacare repeal failed just because it has been prepared by Washington with consultation from insurance companies. Let us start with addressing 19 health care issues that politicians avoid talking about.

PREVIOUS COMMENTS
How to pay for the wall?
Apr 04, 2017

If you want to build the wall, pay for it with your own money. How much of your own money are you willing to donate? Trump received 62,979,879 votes. If each of Trump’s supporters voluntarily donates at least $1,000, which corresponds to about $42 per month for the next two years, and if we encourage those who are more affluent to double their donations, then Trump can have on hand about $100 billion, which may suffice for a substantial piece of the wall. Hence, all of you who are talking loudly about spending my money on building this wall, stay away from my wallet, but open your own wallet and send money to the “Build the Wall Fund.” Put your money where your mouth is.

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What is wrong with Russia?
Dec 22, 2015

It appears that Russian leaders cannot free themselves from the medieval concept of regional influence, where weaker neighbors were subdued into becoming serf states. Is anyone capable of explaining to them that in these times of a global economy, any influence comes from economic strength? Russia, thanks to its size, natural resources and well-educated labor force, has everything that it takes to maintain a dominant position in the region, just by maintaining free trade with all its neighbors. It can do so without military interventions in Georgia and in Ukraine. Russia has everything that it takes to be a respected wealthier neighbor, to whom everyone in the region would turn for help when needed. Instead, it is a bully and a hooligan. It would take so little to change that. But it is so hard for Russia to do it. 

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Closed mind for closed borders
Nov 19, 2015

Known to some as a libertarian, Llewellyn H. Rockwell Jr. speaks against open borders. His argument is that it is an infraction against private property. He misses the point that most people migrate just because Mr. Rockwell’s neighbors want them on their private property – for picking apples, washing the dishes or writing a computer code. Then, Mr. Rockwell wrongly laments that those foreigners invited by his neighbors violate his private property rights by loitering in the public spaces that he frequents. He wants the government to deny the rights of his neighbors to do on their private property whatever they wish, so he will not need to face immigrants in the public spaces. Mr. Rockwell left the train called “liberty” at the station called “xenophobia.”    

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They do not know…
Sep 14, 2015

Mr. Trump says: “A lot of what I’m doing is by instinct.” I prefer that our President would make decisions based on systematic due diligence. The instinct that guides Mr. Trump in his professional life arrives from his vast experience, starting when he was growing up under the mentoring of his successful father, followed by a solid education and years of practice. Mr. Trump's confidence is misguiding, as it gives his supporters the illusion that someone who mastered real estate dealing can be equally skillful as President. It is similar to the illusion surrounding Dr. Carson, that he can be as good a President as he is a brain surgeon. If both gentlemen were humbler, they would realize that they qualify to be President equally as much as Mr. Trump qualifies to conduct brain surgeries and Dr. Carson to run Mr. Trump’s real estate empire. The problem is not that they do not know many things they should; the problem is that they do not realize that.

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Freedom cannot be legislated, its restriction can
Mar 31, 2015

Indiana voted in the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. In his WSJ piece, Gov. Mike Pence claims it was needed to protect the religious freedoms of Hoosiers. Every legislative act by its nature limits someone’s freedom. The only way of increasing freedom is by identifying existing laws that curb personal liberties and then eliminating them.  Hence, if Gov. Pence sees that under some circumstances, the religious freedoms of Hoosiers are not respected, he could correct the situation by eliminating laws causing this problem. We have the Bill of Rights, and it suffices. No “enhancements” are needed.

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Greed-driven health care
Feb 27, 2015

The solution to our health care crisis is in the implementation of more market-driven mechanisms into our health care policy. This is the only way to give patients the freedom to make decisions regarding their care between them and their doctors; not having these decisions made by faceless bureaucrats. The biggest obstacle in implementing a change of this kind is in a deep public conviction that the introduction of the free market into health care will result in doctors, hospitals, the pharmaceutical industry and everybody else involved being guided by their greed, not the best interests of sick people. The biggest challenge in overturning Obamacare is not in Washington. It is in winning the argument with Americans that free-market-driven health care can serve their needs much better than the government-distributed one.

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We need life-cycle health risk insurance

Among opponents of the health reform proposal, the public option draws most of their criticism. Pundits speculate whether Obama will drop it or not. All the energy put in debating the public option is futile. It misses the problem.

The problem is that we have 47 million uninsured. When they show up at the hospital door, we cannot turn them away for humanitarian reasons. We end up with many people using medical services but not paying for them. It causes high health insurance premiums for those who still have insurance, resulting with even more people who cannot afford to buy it. As the President once said, it affects all of us, and every one of us is just one job change away from losing health insurance.

What is most upsetting is being denied health insurance based on preexisting conditions. Life is a preexisting condition. We are denied insurance because, for the bureaucrats in insurance companies, a calendar year is a convenient term for an insurance contract. It has no correlation with the human life cycle. Instead of one-year health insurance, we need lifelong health insurance. One may notice that presently insurance companies do not offer policies of this kind. This is the core of the problem.

When scrutinizing health insurance policies as we have them now, one can almost say that they are not insurance policies at all. A big portion of them cover routine medical care. We pay a high monthly premium so that when, once a year when we see a doctor due to bad flu, we pay a $20 co-payment instead of the full charge of around $100 per visit. For all practical reasons, this part of a typical insurance plan it not an insurance at all. It is a health maintenance plan: something similar to the extended warranty plans offered for cars, TVs, refrigerators, etc. Most people do not buy these plans, as it is better to put some money aside and spend them when the major repair is needed than paying in advance.

Only a small portion of our current health insurance plans are indeed insurance, as they cover the high cost of our major health problems. However, for one year only. If we acquire a chronic illness, we are screwed, as we could be dropped at contract renewal based on preexisting conditions.

What we really need is a life-cycle health risk insurance covering only expensive medical care. After agreeing on this, we can debate if it should it be offered as a public plan or as private insurance. Waging a war over the public option before even agreeing what it should be is like debating something that we agreed to disagree on, without defining what it is. There is no chance for any constructive conclusion.

This health risk insurance would step in and cover expenses above some predetermined per-year limits, cumulative limits for consecutive years, and cumulative limits over the person’s lifetime. For minor medical care and for preventive care people could pay as they do now. Some would pay out of pocket as needed. Some would sign up for health maintenance plans. Many would use Health Saving Accounts, which gained popularity in recent years, and would perfectly complement health risk insurance. The poor would continue using Medicaid.

Lifelong health risk insurance could work only if it were common. However, in order to be common it does not need to be mandatory. We can make life cycle health insurance obligatory and punish those who would not obey, as we currently do with car liability insurance. However, despite the fact that most states require car insurance, we still have a meaningful population of uninsured drivers. Life is never as perfect as envisioned by bureaucrats. Hence, instead of a stick, we might use a carrot and offer hefty tax breaks for people who buy health risk insurance. This would require changes in the tax code, but we would stay within the established practice that health insurance premiums are tax deductible.

Many chronic and expensive to treat diseases are related to obesity, smoking, drug overuse, and generally unhealthy lifestyle. An insurance company providing health risk insurance would make a bigger profit if most of those they insured would lose weight, stop smoking, and start exercising regularly. Hence, they would make policies which promote a healthy lifestyle. The trick in reforming the health insurance system lies not in taking away profits from insurance companies, but in changing the paradigm in such a way that their greed would guide them to provide better health care.

It does not work this way now as too many regulations constrain free market mechanisms, giving too much advantage to those players who can pay their lobbyists the most. Many politicians, when approaching any problem, see additional government regulations as the only possible solution. It never even crosses their mind that some problems could be the result from previously introduced regulations, and that the best solution might be in eliminating some of the existing regulations, not in introducing new ones. Many people see the possibility of resolving or at least mitigating our major health care problems by removing presently existing constrains on competition.

This was not the point of view of the authors of the health reform proposal. Now, when the cards are on the table, support for the public option is fading away as opponents focus their critique on the government’s overreaching. On the other hand, vocal opponents advocate market based solutions; however, none of them has brought any comprehensive proposal as an alternative to the public option. If President Obama would limit the public option to basic life-cycle health risk insurance as outlined here, he can have the last punch in this heated debate. First, health insurance companies do not currently offer lifelong health risk insurance; hence – by definition – the public option would not compete with insurance plans offered by the private industry. Second, the onus in the debate would be shifted onto the opponents of the government proposal, as they would be asked to produce a commercial option for life cycle health risk insurance. Unless this happens, Obama may say, the public option is on the table.

A version of this text was published by Huffington Post

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About me

I was born in 1951 in Gdansk, Poland.
Since my high school years, I have interest in politics and love for writing. During my college years, I started writing to student papers and soon became freelance author to major Polish political magazines.

In 1980 I wrote a book “Czy w Polsce może być lepiej?” (“Could it be better in Poland?” – this book is available only in Polish) analyzing major problems in Poland at the time and outlining possible solutions.

I was among those Polish political writers who by their writings contributed to the peaceful system transformation that finally took place in 1989. Since 1985, I live in the Chicago area. I went through the hard times typical of many immigrants. Working in service business, I have seen the best and the worst places, I met the poorest and the richest. I have seen and experienced America not known to most of politicians, business people, and other political writers. For eleven years, I ran my own company. Presently, I am an independent consultant.

My political writing comes out of necessity. I write when I see that the prevailing voices on the political arena are misleading or erroneous. Abstract mathematics and control theory (of complex technological processes) strongly influenced my understanding of social phenomena. In the past, my opponents rebuked my mathematical mind as cold, soulless, and inhuman. On a few occasions I was prized for my engineer’s precision and logic.

I have a master’s degree in electronic engineering with a specialization in mathematical machines from Politechnika Gdańska (Technical University of Gdansk).

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