Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Coming Epidemic, Part III

20% of TB cases are antibiotic-resistant in large swathes of the world.

There is only one drug that will treat the most virulent of these antibiotic-resistant tuberculosis, and it's unclear how much longer that will be true. The death rate from this variant of TB, if untreated, is 100%. ONE HUNDRED PERCENT.

As explained in earlier editions of The Coming Epidemic, antibiotic-resistant tuberculosis is just one of the diseases that occur when you do not have universal health care. Drug-resistant TB develops when TB is inadequately treated due to lack of universal health care, which is why the former Soviet Union is one of the big epidemic places right now once the Soviet medical system disintegrated in the aftermath of the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Now, I hear you saying, "But that's not me. I have health insurance." But the thing is, antibiotic-resistant tuberculosis doesn't care that you have health insurance. It'll infect you just as readily as it'll infect some uninsured person. And if that one drug quits working, you will die, just as surely as the uninsured person.

Some folks say we can't afford universal health care for all Americans. That is short-sighted. Given the facts, I say that unless you have a death wish, universal health care ought to be right up there with food and water on your "to buy" list. Money doesn't do you a goddamned bit of good if you're dead, after all.

-- Badtux the Health Care Penguin


  1. A: "antibiotic-resistant tuberculosis" is caused by an overuse of antibiotics. It is neither political nor economic. Simple evolution (sorry bible thumpers ;-)) creates the problem.

    B: Clinton does *not* want universal health care.. She simply wants to insure (nuk-nuk ;-)) that every american pays (or has paid for them) an insurance company every month of their entire life. She in no way cares about the lack of health care already given to those with other than the *best* insurance. In america, 'health care' is accorded based on ones financial worth. Clinton in no way wishes to stop this. She, instead, simply wishes to cause the poor to carry a greater burden of the costs of living of the wealthy.

    Face it people, Rep/Dem is good cop/bad cop.. When being interrogated.., er questioned, both cops want to put you in jail.. so also do both politicians want to take your money.. The dems might offer a jar of vaseline before they turn you around.. Me, I want to solve the problem.. which won't happen as long as people support the problem. It also won't happen until health care is taken away from big business.

    Sorry folks, the only candidate as bad as Clinton was Huckabee & fortunately, he's gone.

  2. Actually, antibiotic-resistant tuberculosis is caused by an *UNDERUSE* of antibiotics. The common cause, as explained earlier in my "The Coming Epidemic" series, is when the person feels sick and goes to the hospital emergency room and gets a round of antibiotics there, but then cannot afford to buy the further rounds of antibiotics needed to completely cure the TB. The result is that the TB is weakened, not killed, and the most-resistant TB organisms are the ones that are strongest and reproduce best.

    In other words, our current health care system is the worst of all worlds when it comes to creating antibiotic-resistant organisms. In someplace like the Congo where no antibiotics are available at all, people simply die, and the organisms die with them. In places like Denmark where there is 100% health care coverage, the organisms get killed by the several rounds of antibiotics needed to kill them. Here... the organisms get knocked back a bit by the first round of antibiotics, but there are no subsequent rounds because the patient can't afford them. Thus only the most antibiotic-resistant organisms survive and thrive in the end. (And BTW, TB has a 100% death rate if not treated at all, so you can't say that use of antibiotics to treat TB is "overuse" of antibiotics by any means).

    Regarding the Clinton health care plan, I examined it closely and while she hides it well, in its details it *is* a universal health care plan. I agree that it would require significant subsidies for lower-income people to be fair. But from the overall viewpoint, it is a universal health care system with just a weird way of taxing people to pay for it (that is, rather than call a tax a tax, she calls it an "insurance premium"). In particular, her tax (excuse me "insurance premium") is not scaled to income, thus does hit lower and middle class people harder than upper class people. But with sufficient subsidies it could be made fair, and her plan includes sufficient money for such subsidies.

    Not that it matters, since Hillary is history. Instead we have Obama's limp-ass "health care plan" that is neither universal nor feasible (as explained in earlier posts on this blog)...

    -- Badtux the Health Care Penguin

  3. Bobby said... "antibiotic-resistant tuberculosis" is caused by an overuse of antibiotics.

    Not quite. Most resistant bacteria are created by a half-assed use of antibiotics. Proper use of dose and duration pretty much kills the bacteria before it can mutate. Underuse kills off the normal bacteria and encourages the slightly different ones to survive and replicate as a new strain.

    Universal healthcare would ensure that everybody has access to the proper antibiotics in the proper amounts, but it can't force them to take them per instructions. That is actually a major part of the problem.

  4. Aaaaah, the penguin is faster than I am.

    Another part of this issue is the fact that more businesses want universal healthcare to help alleviate the cost and strain of health plan management. The smaller the biz, the harder it is. We may eventually end up with universal healthcare because business demands it.

  5. Sure, I think that you should have universal health care if you want to help take care of all the baby boomer's that are starting to retire and want to live for fucking ever because they are afraid to die.

    Picture millions of old fucks in health care centers in 20 years demanding that you take care of them , and keeping them alive for like forever.

    In damn good comfort I might add. Good luck with that. Now Mr. Smart Ass Know It All, create me a good health care plan that will do all that for me.

    And tell me what part of your wages you are willing to chip in for it.

  6. Maybe the looming threat of imminent death will persuade those people who don't want to pay for the "freeloaders" (or the poor as some others like to call them) in our society to start thinking about the greater good for us all.

    Of course thinking that way lays you wide-open to accusations of being a communist, but I would rather be alive to refute the charge than be a dead "patriot", thanks.

  7. I stand by what I said. Under use is still over use when antibiotics are routinely prescribed for any complaint. There are many more things than TB which are developing resistance due to this. As for lower income people needing/getting help.. Yah, right. You do live in america, eh? The problem now is that lower income people don't get help.. & anyone seriously believes that is going to change? As for all of us using the medical system as it is.. In short, we don't. For whatever reasons, it is not acceptable. Yet, we would be required to support, with our hard earned dollars, the mess which is called "The U.S. Health System" (more accurately known as the "if you can afford it, we'll keep you barely alive while draining your last dollar" scam.

    Sorry, that bird don't fly. I stand by what I said. Clinton does *not* care one whit about we, the people. She cares only about her supporters.. you know, the insurance industry.

  8. Please give me one instance where the Clinton health care plan forces people to buy private insurance. You can't. She explicitly has a public Medicare-like fund in her plan. I repeat, she explicitly has a public Medicare-like insurance fund in her plan. You can choose to buy private insurance under her plan if you wish, but you don't have to -- you can buy into the "FamilyCare" plan instead and tell those greedy insurance companies to go f*** themselves.

    Please go read her plan again, because what you just said directly contradicts the black and white of her plan.

    -- Badtux the Literate Penguin

  9. ok, Hillary requires all americans to have insurance. That, I believe most people will agree with. You mention 'tax credits' & 'medicare like' public plans. Let's look at the later by looking at her 'shared responsibility' thing. To Hillary, shared responsibility means we, the unsuspecting sheep (remember your 'wolves' story?), have the responsibility to search thru the plans, read the fine print & generally stay on top of which company is shafting.. er, over-charging/under-covering. Meanwhile, those with more time & money - basically, the upper end management of america & above - will have the wherewithal to search for & buy the better plans while the vast majority of america - basically the working class - will pay to support the plans of those lucky wealthy. This is the way the present auto/home/life insurance industry works. Is there any reason to believe the so-called 'health care' industry will be different? Essentially, Hillary (the insurance industry) wants us all to pay into the system so they can sweep more money for themselves. Again, just as in the auto/home/life insurance scams, those who need to use their insurance will also find their rates increasing. That is Not universal health care. It is fleecing the sheep once again. Universal health care is "you need care, you get it. Your name is needed only for long term records." Period. That isn't at all what Hillary wants.

    Back to the 'medicare type' thing.. It will be "Hey, you're still breathing, get out of here" while the wealthy will have "ooo,poor you got a liddle splinter, let me take it out & give you a week off from work at the hospital" & the vast majority of working americans will pay for both & get little more than the poor.

    Hillary does not want to give americans anything, she wants to take more.. I don't have life or home insurance & I pay as little as possible for auto ins. I (& many others) won't use a hospital, yet Hillary wants to make me directly fund the largest business in the u.s.

    What we need is a FICA type thing with-OUT a cap on taxable wages (as in FICA, what a scam that is!), covering any person who walks into a hospital/clinic. That is universal health care.

    An aside, the cap on FICA wages putting the burden on working class america shows exactly the mind set of the wealthy taxing.. er, insuring us.. fleece the workers, give to the wealthy.

    bobby, the rational, learn from experience, monkey

  10. Actually I agree with you that the ideal solution here is a single-payer plan that is predicated upon a payroll tax. I've even worked the numbers and discovered that the increase in the payroll tax needed to make this happen would not be all that onerous -- basically, a 5% payroll tax would do the job on top of current Medicaid/Medicare taxes.

    That said, Hillary's plan is essentially the same as the Dutch and Swiss plans and has the potential to work (this is not to say that Congress won't fuck it up and break it, as you predict, just that it works for the Dutch and Swiss). Obama's plan, on the other hand, simply won't work -- unless everybody contributes to the universal health insurance fund, any mandates upon health insurance companies that they cover pre-existing conditions results in a health insurance death spiral because why would you buy health insurance *before* you're sick in that case?

    In short, Hillary's plan has the possibility of working. Obama's plan can't work, period, by its very nature. Neither plan is what I would want in an ideal world, but Hillary's plan at least has the potential to work, even though, as you point out, it would be very easy to fuck up her plan enough to make it very broken too.

    - Badtux the Health Care Penguin


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