Minnesota Conducts Fun ‘Experiment’ On Its Olds, Poors

  let them eat vouchers

beat it, poorsGuess what happens when middle aged people are given a $400-per-month voucher to purchase health care in the Free Market. Guess! Just guess! Did you guess?

Yay you are right probably, if you guessed that a voucher of $400 per month is insufficient to cover the costs of health care for a senior citizen who is too young to qualify for Medicare, too broke to afford a steep deductible, and makes too much money to qualify for state medical assistance.

Judie Nyholm has not had health insurance since July, when the 61-year-old Brooklyn Center resident was dropped from MinnesotaCare.  “One month came up, and I had $52 a month too much for one month, so they dropped me and told me that I could go on the Healthy Minnesota Contribution Program,” Nyholm said. [...] She is the subject of an experiment being discussed on both the state and federal level. Instead of relying on state-subsidized, government-based health insurance, Nyholm became eligible to receive a state voucher of $395 monthly to buy health insurance on the private market.

Oh what a FUN EXPERIMENT to be doing on this nice older lady. Science is so fun, isn’t it? We hypothesize that this experiment will end up killing or bankrupting a few people by the time it’s run its course, and maybe some others will become increasingly infirmed or seriously inconvenienced. But that’s OK, it’s only going to affect Poors and Olds so who cares, really. It’s just an experiment! One someone’s mom, or spouse, or neighbor, no biggie.

Nyholm, who [earns approximately $19,000 per year] from Social Security benefits and [a] part-time job, said the health insurance available to her is either too expensive or inadequate. She said one option that mirrored her $30 monthly premium for MinnesotaCare would have required her to pay a $10,000 deductible before insurance kicked in.

[...]

Another option was a $5,000 deductible that required Nyholm to pay $261 a month. Nyholm said that deductable is also too high, so she decided to pass on the voucher and go without health insurance.

Well look who’s not taking personal responsibility for her life!

Here’s how we can fix it though. We can let the state of Minnesota give people’s private, personal health information to insurance companies so the insurance companies can find ways to entice all kinds of new customers.

Republican state Sen. David Hann of Eden Prairie is chief author of the Senate bill that created the new program and also sits on the board for the Minnesota Association of Health Underwriters, which lobbied for the bill. Hann said the state should share more information with insurance companies about the people who need coverage.

“What some of the insurance folks are saying is that you should allow us to know who those people are who are eligible so we can go and invite them or reach out to them and say, ‘here’s some things you can look at,’” Hann said.

Yeah lady, here are some things you can look at, and while you’re at it, the insurance companies can look at your private health information, you don’t mind do you? Because maybe they can come up with more free market solutions to help part you from those taxpayer funded vouchers.

If only we could hold an election wherein we soundly reject the candidate offering vouchers as an alternative to government-subsidized healthcare, that would surely send the message…

[MPR News]

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Kris E. Benson writes about politics for Wonkette and is pursuing a doctorate in philosophy. This will come in handy for when they finally open that philosophy factory in the next town over. @Kris_E_Benson

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167 comments

  1. BaldarTFlagass

    "She is the subject of an experiment being discussed on both the state and federal level."

    You know who else conducted medical experiments on unwilling subjects?

        1. Rebootably_Joe

          I was honestly tempted to include a warning, since some of the crap on that page is pretty fucking awful; whenever I need my daily dose of dispair and rage, I read the one about the "vitamins".

      1. Giveusabob

        There does at least seem to have been some mild progress in involuntary medical "experimentation" since the 1800's. They've stopped using boiling water.

        The 1846 journals of Dr. Walter F. Jones of Petersburg, Virginia, describe how he poured boiling water onto the backs of naked slaves afflicted with typhoid pneumonia, at four-hour intervals, because he thought that this might "cure" the disease by "stimulating the capillaries."

  2. jakegittes

    I'll take the $400.00 per month to help pay for my cat food (which I share with my cat). Then, when I get sick, I'll do what Bush and r(M)oney both told me to do: Drive down in a limo to the ER. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.

      1. thatsitfortheother1

        If your proceedure costs less than one whole chicken, do they make change with an egg salad sandwich or something?

    1. drbill0620

      Yes – and don't forget the repooplican tag line about not having to "stay in your apartment and be sick" but get thee to the Emergency Dept.

      1. thatsitfortheother1

        Just because they don't run.

        The Brits drink warm beer due to Lucas electronics in their refrigerators.

          1. James Michael Curley

            In our bike shop in the '70's we had a sign:

            "'Tis better to light a single candle than to curse Lucas."

          2. thatsitfortheother1

            My friend had a Triumph that kept blowing fuses. He took it to the dealer and they gave him a whole box of fuses.

          3. memzilla

            Damn right. Also, the 1969 Jaguar XKE had, as an integral part of its transmission, 6 1/2 feet of yarn. (Source: employer who owned one, who ran a garage.) Seriously.

          4. YasserArraFeck

            What's not to love about old British cars? Leather seals, genuine Coventry cardboard panels, slow-flow corrosion-resistance system (nay-sayers might mistake this last one for constant oil leaks – what the hell do they know?)

    1. bureaucrap

      More like $10 to buy a beater. The product you're trying to purchase works only intermittently, causes a great deal of aggravation, and is almost certainly not going to be there when you really need it.

    2. weejee

      Jags are made by the Colonials doncha know. First Ford bought Jaguar, then they sold Jag to Tata in India. Upside, since the Brits don't make 'em any more, is that they no longer leak oil.

      1. BaldarTFlagass

        And the taillights probably don't quit working before you get your license plates in the mail anymore.

  3. BaldarTFlagass

    “What some of the insurance folks are saying is that you should allow us to know who those people are who are eligible so we can go and invite them or reach out to them and say, ‘here’s some things you can look at,’” Hann said.

    Hey Senator Hann, can you make sure to give those insurance folks my phone number, email address, and home address too? And maybe my social security number, while you're at it.

    1. bikerlaureate

      I'd be surprised, and somewhat disappointed, if State Sen. David Hann's personal information hasn't already been "shared" with every corporation in the world, just in case he's eligible for a great deal somewhere or other, so they can go and invite him or reach out to him and say, "here's some things you can look at."

  4. noodlesalad

    This is another case of TAKERS instead of MAKERS. She's just taking medicine, instead of making it out of moonshine, mushrooms and walleye guts. STOP TEH SOCIALIZISMS!

    1. BaldarTFlagass

      ‘here’s some things you can look at'

      *opens trenchcoat and flashes little old medicare-ineligible lady*

  5. skoalrebel

    $400? Fuck yeah, I'd be all over that like a priest on an altar boy. [spit!] I'm the sort of self-reliant patriot who takes responsibility for his health, so I'd use the money to buy some dip. [spit!] Self-medication has been the key to my success.

  6. Serolf_Divad

    Will $500 buy enough morphine that, at least she'll feel somewhat comfortable as she's dying from the diseases she can't afford to treat?

    1. James Michael Curley

      Morphine Sulfate 30 Mg – $96.25 a box of twelve suppositories.

      But you get tow kicks in one.

  7. actor212

    She said one option that mirrored her $30 monthly premium for MinnesotaCare would have required her to pay a $10,000 deductible before insurance kicked in.

    Can't she just borrow $20,000 from her father and have two years' worth of deductibles?

        1. NorthStarSpanx

          Romney should be rearin his head all up in there with healthcare solutions the way Santorum reared it for the UN resolution on denying Int'l disability rights.

  8. mbobier

    What — you don't think it makes sense to expect someone with an annual income of $19,000 to buy private health insurance with a $10,000 deductible?

    Math makes my head hurt. Especially Republican math.

  9. EatsBabyDingos

    Geeze, it's not like they just gave her a leach and a razor for bloodletting. That's reserved for the truly poor.

  10. BadKitty904

    I presume that all members of the Minnesota legislature are now using said voucher system for their own health care, instead of their current plush medical benefits, paid for by the taxpayers?

  11. Monsieur_Grumpe

    You know, us Minnesotans voted out a lot of Republicans this last election which turned both houses from Republican to Democrat. Somehow we missed this human turd named Hann. I blame myself for only voting once.

  12. BigSkullF*ckingDog

    I am currently making money for my pap smear by growing replacement organs for the rich in my abdomen. Bootstraps, people!

  13. jodyleek

    And, it actually gets a little worse…

    ST. PAUL, Minn. — A Republican state representative who steered legislation through the House to drop thousands of people from the state-run MinnesotaCare program is an independent contractor for an insurance brokerage firm that lobbied for the change.

    State Rep. Steve Gottwalt, R-St. Cloud, led the GOP effort to cut spending in the state's Health and Human Services budget when the Republicans controlled the Legislature. Now, both he and his Senate counterpart (David Hann) have business links to the insurance industry, which has some other lawmakers asking whether the arrangement violates ethics rules.

    Gottwalt, who served as chairman of the House Human Services Reform Committee, sponsored a bill that was designed to divert some recipients of the state-subsidized health insurance program MinnesotaCare to the private insurance market.

    Months after the legislation passed in July 2011, Gottwalt obtained a license to sell insurance and became an associate with a firm that pushed for the bill.

    Gottwalt contended there was no conflict of interest and that he was not breaking any laws or rules.

    1. actor212

      Oh yea, no conflict of interest there!

      Next, Gottwalt introduces a bill declaring his driveway an interstate highway and eligible for federal snow removal.

    2. Weenus299

      Well, I guess on the upside to this and other shitty news from the Midwest, my Wisconsin wife is no longer demanding that I move up there, where it's fucking cold. It's way better in … wait for it … south carolina, purposely lower-cased.

    3. Ruhe

      Some other lawmakers are "asking whether the arrangement violates ethics rule"…They're asking? What's to ask?

  14. Weenus299

    Holy shit that is the most awful demonstration program I've ever heard of, that would actually waste millions of taxpayer dollars in that voucher money would go directly to insurance companies, and insurance companies wouldn't pay squat on items and services.

    And that's my snarky comment. That is how fucking disturbing this is, that public servants would even consider releasing private health information to insurance companies – which defies federal law, by the way. Shit jesus happy birthday in a manger.

  15. not that Dewey

    My college economics professor told us that economics is an inexact science, because we "can't run controlled economics experiments on people". Turns out, he just didn't wait long enough.

  16. AncienReggie

    I miss the underpants. I mean, Newsmax is cute and all, but almost never makes me think, deeply, about sex.

    1. BaldarTFlagass

      I guess those pics are completely random depending on your server or something. I've got Smokin' Joe Biden in his Rocky Balboa getup.

      1. gullywompr

        Or the model got creeped by all the fapping, and asked that it at least not be on the site's home page.

  17. CrunchyKnee

    Insurance company profits are more valuable than any hu-man life. Well, except for maybe the CEOs of said insurance companies. But, they have no need for vouchers and such, so, it is all good, as the kids say.

    USA USA USA!

  18. calliecallie

    Judy Nyholm, 61 years old, would have been in her 20's in the mid-1970's, just like the character on the Mary Tyler Moore show. Looks like she's made it after all. Or not.

    Jesus, what has happened to this country?

  19. christianmuslin

    I have an idea, it's an experiment. For lack of a better term, lets call it universal health care for all who reside in the U.S., regardless of their status.

    Then we can move on to something real that is more challenging to solve, like an educational system that is more affordable to all, actually teaches people the value of reason, to read and write, logic, two foreign languages, the sciences: social, life, physical, and ends with 3 months of actual Marine Corps boot camp. This would be followed by 3 years of actual government service, either military or Peace Corps. Then we can experiment with how best to incorporate an educational voucher for college or technical training.

    All teachers would have at least a master's degree from a university with a physical campus and they would receive an income and benefits comparable to corporate employment.

    I can dream can't I?

  20. LibrarianX

    Providing adequate health care options only encourages people to get sick. Clearly, these people just aren't tough enough.

  21. HistoriCat

    Hann said the state should share more information with insurance companies about the people who need coverage

    Sure Sen. David Hann, let's do that. Right after you strip naked, let us take a few photographs of your lumpy, pasty carcass and then give you an alien-abduction style anal probe. Because that's basically what you want to do to us.

  22. DahBoner

    $400 vouchers are VERY USEFUL as bandages to stem the blood flow from an accidental stabbing or something.

    But, haha, not going far at a hospital where they purposely don't have any drinking fountains so they can charge $4000 for a plastic cup of ginger ale…

  23. LibertyLover

    This "experiment" isn't science. It's Social Darwinism, which apparently is the only kind of Darwinism that Republicans believe in.

  24. James Michael Curley

    OT: The guy who hands out the pay checks just came around with the stubs for the 'yearly bonus'. They are usually paid in the first pay check of the year but I asked them to consider paying the bonus out before 12/31/12.

    First I had to instruct that if it is paid out before 01/01/13 we get the 2.25% tax reduction from the Social Security tax break which expires on 12/31/12. The likelihood that this tax rate reduction will be continued is absurd when the Great Orange Bonner is arguing for cuts to Social Security costs.

    Second, for the two (Republican) wazoos who actually make greater than $250,000 AGI getting it now is a win/win because they have their tax rate reduction now and even if the Great Orange Bonner gets his way their tax rate will not go up but it isn't going to get any lower.

    But what do I encounter? Both these assholes (one being the company's CPA) are under the assumption that if the Great Orange Bonner gets all he wants (Because Obama will have to cave to the 'majority of the elected congress'.) they will get an additional tax rate cut.

    It is no wonder I am working for a company which less than 10 years ago made $2.6 billion per year and they are now going out of business.

    1. JustPixelz

      Ask them how many jobs they created with their Dubya tax cut over the past 10 years. (Buying stuff doesn't count, because everyone buys stuff.)

      1. James Michael Curley

        When I started with them fifteen years ago there were 19,000 employees worldwide. Then the trust which actually owns the company decided to sell everything off to stuff the pockets of the heirs to the dead dude who started the company in 1940 (mostly with WWII contracts).

  25. Guppy

    Oh, $400 may not be enough for actual medical science, but it can buy one hell of a happy ending from the local homeopathic chiropractic massage parlor.

  26. JustPixelz

    If vouchers are so great, let's just have Medicare buy retiree's health insurance on the market directly. The massive savings they'll get (according to GO-Pee'ers) can go into the fund or a huge party And we can start getting those (presumed) savings immediately instead of waiting for 55 year-olds to enroll and opt for vouchers. It's a win-win-win-win. Market efficiencies, lower costs, immediate savings, less hassle for seniors.

    Unless the purchased insurance costs Medicare more than self-insurance. Then we'll have to raise taxes on Repubicans to cover the gap.

  27. poorgradstudent

    But having to do the research to find good affordable insurance and dealing with insurance company red tape is far better than having to deal with government red tape, for some reason! And at least you have the freedom to choose your own doctors, even though you can't afford them…and insurance companies won't truly let you pick your own doctors anyway…

  28. Steverino247

    Why don't they just give half of these folks syphilis and then track them for 20 years. Same thought process if you think about it.

  29. barto

    And of course the insurers will invite the people with pre-existing conditions to line up first for some things to look at – like moving to Canada! I hear Vancouver's nice.

  30. bravo_sierra

    Wait, why is having a $10,000 deductible for $30 a month better than having no insurance at all? What's the max out of pocket with that plan? Without insurance, she'd still have to pay for the first $10k of medical expenses but she'd be utterly screwed if she gets really sick. I'm not saying Minnesota's little experiment is a good idea, but it doesn't seem like she made a good decision here.

  31. notanncoulter

    ‘here’s some things you can look at,’” Hann said.

    some pictures of puppies and kittens… taped to the inside of the lid on your coffin!

  32. decentcitizen

    This always was a terrible idea if you are trying to provide access to healthcare. Of course, it's a great idea if you're trying to save money by limiting access to healthcare.

  33. Biel_ze_Bubba

    Giving a for-profit health insurance company all of your medical information, before they decide if you'll get to even "look at" a policy.

    What could possibly go wrong?

  34. NinjaCat_Baba

    From the magically powers from health care vouchers, it can provide recipents with adequate health care ***IN PAPER ONLY***

  35. ttommyunger

    No real progress is going to be made in this field until we quit talking about acquiring insurance and start talking about delivering healthcare to those in need.

  36. rebeccavegas

    I learned the hard way that if the only insurance you can get has a ridiculously high deductible, you buy it anyway. Better to be underinsured than uninsured. Also, who needs to eat?!

Comments are closed.