Sunday, July 16, 2017

Close Encounters, by the Numbers

Close Encounters of the First Kind are events in which a person or persons witness one or more Unidentified Flying Object's (UFO’s).  Specifically, if seen within 150 meters (492 feet); it’s an encounter of the first kind.  There have been millions of such encounters through recorded history. The first recorded sighting in America was documented back in March of 1639, within the diary of John Winthrop, Massachusetts Bay Colony founder and governor. Therein (his diary) he recorded the trials and triumphs of his fellow Puritans.  A more recent example of Close Encounters of the First Kind occurred in Huston, Texas in August of 2014, when, a multitude of UFO sightings were reported by a broad spectrum of citizens.

Close Encounters of the Second Kind are when the events result in physical effects. This can include a wide range of contact events such as interference in the functioning of a vehicle or an electronic device; unusual animal behaviors; physiological effects such as paralysis or heat and discomfort experienced by the witness; or physical trace evidence such as crop circles, imprints in the ground, scorched or otherwise unnatural vegetation, and or trace evidence of one or more chemicals left behind.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind are UFO encounters in which an alien creature is a part of the event.  Such creatures include humanoids, robots, or humans who often seem to be occupants of or pilots of a UFO.

Close Encounters of the Fourth Kind describes a UFO event in which an individual is abducted by the UFO’s occupants.  Such encounters with “other-world” beings are not related to the supernatural or with divine beings; instead, such contact entails a real-life experience by an unwilling or reluctant human that’s native to Earth and is often complicated further because the event may seem hallucinatory or dreamlike to the participant.  Close Encounters of the 4th Kind are rarest of all UFO encounters and hardest for the public to accept as factual experiences.

Although alien abductions have become commonplace events, most are “explained away” by naive disbelievers of the existence of intelligent life beyond earth or are simply debunked by government cover-ups.

However, as with most things of significance, there are a few flagship cases that simply have not been explained away:

The first alien abduction of the 4th kind to be widely publicized was the Betty and Barney Hill abduction of 1961 . . . It remains the alien abduction case to which all others are compared to and judged.

The Hills, Barney, a 39-year-old black man, worked for the U S postal service, and Betty, a 41-year-old white woman, a supervisor for the child welfare department, began their journey back home to Portsmouth, NH after vacationing in Montreal, Canada on the evening of September 19th, 1961.  At several minutes before 10:00 PM, Barney, who was driving south on New Hampshire’s Daniel Webster Highway, noticed a “star” in the distance ahead which appeared to be moving about irregularly. As they neared North Woodstock, NH he alerted Betty, and they both kept close watch on it as they forged south along their scheduled route home.

A few miles south of North Woodstock near the Indian Head Resort, Barney noticed that the star’s erratic behavior had intensified dramatically.  When they arrived at the Indian Head Resort, he stopped the car alongside the road and they both exited the car to have a better view. Using binoculars, Barney zoomed in on the “star” for a better look-see.

With his visual aide (binoculars) he was able to see multiple colors of lights coming from a large oval shaped craft which had several rows of windows.  As the object moved closer Barney could actually see “people” inside; the craft proceeded toward a nearby field.

Within a few seconds, the Hills, quite frightened, swiftly got back into the car and proceeded down the highway toward home, all the while peering into the night sky ahead in search of the object as they trooped south. As they drove on, they began to hear a beeping sound . . . once . . . then again.

The very next thing the Hills recalled was being terrified by the unusual flying craft, and the occupants they had seen inside it.   The craft was nowhere in sight and they wasted no time speeding ahead.  Suddenly they realized, although they had been driving only a couple of minutes, they estimated they were 35 miles or so further down the road past where they had stopped near the Indian Head Resort’s parking lot. It was then too, they were shocked to see it was a few minutes past 12:00 AM—indicating a lapse / loss of at least two hours for which neither of the two had a recollection of.

Upon returning home to Portsmouth, still unable to explain the two missing hours, being totally exhausted and still plenty scared from their frightening experience, they both immediately went to bed.  Come morning, both Betty and Barney upon further examination, noted physical changes to their belongs from the previous night’s events; Betty’s torn and stained dress, Barney’s severely scraped shoe, and broken binocular strap — neither could recall these things having happened.

By mid-morning Betty had relayed their distressing experience to her sister, Janet.  Following Janet’s urging, she called the Pease Air Force Base (a U S Strategic Air Command facility at the time), and reported their experience of the previous night. Following Betty’s report, Major Paul W. Henderson’s reply was short but firm:  “The UFO was also confirmed by our radar.”

Being somewhat satisfied with learning, at least, they were not seeing things; the Hills proceeded with trying to put the incident behind them. But within a short while Betty began to have freighting nightmares. In her dreams, she saw her and Barney being forced into some sort of craft, amid several other terrifying events.

Because of her dreams and the missing time element, the desire to know what, if anything had happened during the “missing” time, Betty, and a reluctant Barney, decided to contact a psychiatrist. They soon selected Boston psychiatrist and neurologist, Dr. Benjamin Simon, who was well-known in the field. 

After nearly six months of treatment, a long list of hidden memories were gathered by way of regressive hypnosis from the Hills; regressive hypnosis, you may recall is a treatment often successful in unlocking psychologically blocked memories.  In any event it was Dr. Simon’s concluding opinion that the two had been abducted and taken aboard an unknown craft.

Several of the Facts that were Recovered:
Their automobile had stalled on the road shortly after the Hill's stop near the resort 
The UFO had landed in front of their car in the middle of the road, blocking passage 
The alien beings departed the craft and approached their car, carrying both Betty and Barney inside the UFO 
They were subjected to several medical tests 
Their captors were described as “. . . bald-headed alien beings, about five foot tall, with grayish skin, pear shaped heads and slanting cat-like eyes” 
Both physical and mental experiments were conducted 
Samples taken; included skin, hair, and nails
Betty received gynecological testing 
Barney revealed that sperm samples were taken from him 
Before being released, they both were hypnotized and ordered by the aliens to keep their capture undisclosed

Travis Walton’s abduction began on November 5, 1975, in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest near Snowflake, Arizona. Walton was one of seven men contracted by the government to clear-cut trees within the National Forest. At the work day’s end, the crew jumped into foreman Mike Roger’s pick-up truck and headed home.

As they slowly trudged along, they were taken aback to see near the side of the rugged road, a “luminous object, shaped like a flattened disc” within the confines of a clearing near the edge of the rugged roadway.

Travis, a bit young, unafraid, and often too curious for his own good, was immediately fascinated by the presence of the  object and swiftly abandoned the truck to get a closer look, against the vocal protests of his co-workers. As he looked up at the wonder of the unusual object or craft, a blue beam was emitted from the craft striking him to the earth. Panic and terror immediately engulfed the six other men; likely by pure reflex they roared away in the truck for a distance before realizing they had left Travis behind; at which point they all agreed he most likely needed help.  They hurriedly turned the truck and headed back to find to their dismay that he had seemingly vanished.

Following a lengthy search the men departed the scene and returned to the small town of Snowflake; where they filed a report with the local police department. They relayed their story first, to Deputy Ellison, and then, to Sheriff Marlin Gillespie, who later reported that the men seemed genuinely troubled and sincere. The police officers and the crew members returned to the scene that evening with flashlights and searched again for Travis; for a second time without favorable results.

They returned the next morning and searched for a third time with the aid of daylight. Still, no trace of Travis Walton could be found.

Quickly, the story broke into the national media. The small Arizona town was literally overrun by newspaper writers, researchers, UFO buffs, and many members of the general population.

Several days of fruitless searching by men on foot, men in four-wheel drive vehicles, scent dogs, and even helicopters followed but no sign of Walton was found. Temperatures plunged at night in November, even in north central Arizona, prompting fear that Walton, injured by the beam and lying somewhere unattended and disoriented, could not survive.

Absent success, Law enforcement began to develop another line of investigation . . .  a possible motive for murder.  Speculating that there could be bad blood between Travis and one or more of the remaining crew members, they began to weigh the credibility of the six men involved in the clear cutting contract. Yielding to demands to take polygraph tests, all of the men passed, save one, which was inconclusive. Following background checks and intense interviews with the six men, Police personnel, concluded that there was no reason to believe that they were covering up a fight or murder. By ruling out foul-play that left one possibility; the crazy story the men were telling was true!

Rumors flourished and wild theories prevailed, until five days after his disappearance, Travis Walton returned.  He stumbled into a small filling station; dirty, hungry, thirsty, and very weak.

Travis later told investigators that the very last thing he could recall, just prior to his misadventure, was the feeling of being flung backward in the woods. After that, nothing . . . until he awoke freezing, in serious pain, and very thirsty. That’s when he realized he was being “showered” by some sort of light, as he was lying on a table, somewhat like an examining table in a hospital. Walton, still somewhat dazed, said he first thought he had been found by the crew and had then been taken to the hospital.

This supposition was far from true.

Conscious of the fact that he was lying on a table, at first was a bit comforting, but realizing it was a table in a strange room or chamber and certainly not in a hospital—not so reassuring. Finally when his vision cleared, he was utterly shocked to see three short, bald creatures in the room that were obviously in the middle of performing various medical procedures / tests on his outstretched body.  When they left, someone entered the chamber wearing some sort of helmet and led Walton to another room, where one of three additional individuals put a clear plastic mask over his face just before he blacked out.

Walton remembers nothing else until he found himself lying along the side of a highway, with the UFO departing above him.        

The Travis Walton case was the first to be given serious attention by mainstream science and caused many non-believers to reconsider their position on the notion of alien abductions.  Many theories have been placed forward to explain the Walton abduction as something other than what it was; however, none of the alleged scenarios are consistent with the facts of the case.

Close Encounters of the Fifth Kind involves direct communication between aliens and humans. As Earth’s scientists edge closer to discovering life elsewhere in the cosmos, language specialists are trying to determine the best way to communicate with them.  For obvious reasons, this is un-charted territory.  After all, a dialectal that originates from another planet will likely be unfathomable to humans, so experts have turned to what could be a universal language: Math.

Close Encounters of the Sixth kind involves the death of an animal or a human associated with a UFO encounter.  The 1st documented Animal Mutilation occurred September 7, 1967 when Lady, a three-year-old Appaloosa mare, failed to return to her pasture for her morning drink on the Harry King ranch near Alamosa, Colorado.

Her carcass was found in a far pasture, two days later. Parts of the animal had been neatly cut with surgical expertise: her heart and brain were missing, and a strange, formaldehyde-like odor drifted from the carcass, yet no incriminating tracks were found near the body that might help explain how Lady met her unfortunate end.

Yet, there were several other peculiar discoveries:

Six indentations formed a circle about 3 feet in diameter (which investigators felt were the marks of a landing gear of some kind airborne craft) alongside the horse’s body.
The horse’s owner, Miss Nellie Lewis, and the ranch owner, Mr. Harry King, both noted a peculiar odor similar to incense and a shrub bush that looked as though an intense heat source had bent it down from above was still standing in close proximity to the scene. 
A piece of the horse’s mane, Nellie picked up at the site, burned her hand; she later discovered that the boots she wore to the site tested as being radioactive.

This mysterious event is still unsolved and started the animal mutilation sensation that has occurred repeatedly throughout the United States.

Finally there are Close Encounters of the Seventh Kind; such interaction involves contact with a human-alien hybrid or off-spring.

The most frequently encountered beings of the “7th Kind” are the mysterious “Men in Black” (MIB); the oddly behaved individuals often show up on the scene shortly after a UFO sighting.   Men in Black are not believed to be quite human, but witnesses may not recognize this fact until midway through an encounter.  They may be wearing black suits complimented with dark sunglasses and arrive in shiny new black cars.   These guys often claim to be government agents who harass or threaten those who have recently seen a UFO and in no uncertain terms, direct the UFO witness (or witnesses) to keep their mouth shut in regard to their unusual encounter!         

From time to time, encounters of the 7th Kind are attributed to athletes who enjoy superior physical abilities in their chosen field of spectator sports coupled with what is perceived to be unusual and or bizarre day to day behavior above and beyond their professional skills.  Examples include Dennis Rodman, whose many body piercings, tattoos, and baffling behavior throughout and after his professional basketball career are considered, well, outside the realm of normalcy.   Rodman’s assertion that he is the oldest of a total of 47 children only reinforces the contention (even though he was born in Trenton, New Jersey), that his biological father is really an alien.

A second example is former Major League Baseball (MLB) pitcher Nolan Ryan (aka The Ryan Express).  During his record 27-year baseball career, he was nothing short of a pitching machine!  Ryan’s robotic-like accuracy and power were beyond this world, as he regularly threw strikes exceeding 100 miles per hour. His career strikeouts of 5,714 remain a record no “full-stock” human may ever contest as is indicated by runner-up, Randy Johnson, who trails by 839 strikeouts. During his “sunset” years, Ryan continues proving he is more than a mere earthling—he is currently an executive adviser to the owner of the Houston Astros.

Then, there’s Bill Lee, Lee is a former Montreal Expo and Boston Red Sox pitcher, he too is among the list of those of likely alien descent that has lived large in the midst of the sporting community.  Yea, it’s true that left-handed pitchers have a tendency to walk on the weird side of life, but Lee’s outspoken manner and constant quest to redefine logic coupled with his unparalleled tomfoolery throughout his career and beyond are more easily explained as being other-worldly.  Even his nickname, “Spaceman” points to the supposition that this guy’s bloodline really came from a planet, far, far away; not Burbank, California, as some have suggested.  At age 69 (2016), Lee entered the sport of politics, when he ran for governor of Vermont; he didn’t take campaign contributions and his campaign slogan, “So far left, we're right” was not sufficient to place him in the Governor’s Mansion, but he did received 8,912 votes.

For years, as a professional basketball player, Michael Jordan, was suspect of being of alien descent, primarily because his far superior basketball playing style and ability so eclipsed his worthy opponents. Jordan, as a professional basketball player, was beyond compare; little wonder, following his less than remarkable attempt at professional baseball, there are still good folks who believe his baseball days were nothing more than a “smoke screen” he tactfully placed before his fans and the media so as to conceal his true identity — an alien hybrid whose mother was from the same star system as Rodman’s dad.

Close Encounters are not a new phenomenon:

“In 593 B.C. Ezekiel recorded a whirlwind to the north which appeared as a fiery sphere.
In 1254 at Saint Albans Abbey, when the moon was eight days old, there appeared in the sky a ship elegantly shaped, well equipped and of marvelous color.
Christopher Columbus, while on the deck of the Santa Maria on October 11, 1492, at 10:00 P.M., observed “a light glimmering at a great distance.”   It disappeared and reappeared several times during the night, moving up and down, “in sudden and passing gleams.”
In 1520 France, there was sighted a round-shaped object with rotating lights and two fiery suns.
In 1874 Texas, a farmer reported seeing a dark flying object in the shape of a disc cruising in the sky at a wonderful speed. “

These are but a few of many such events recorded by historians related to Close Encounters with UFO’s and beyond; such events have been reported throughout documented history and in countless parts of the world, giving raise to questions about life on other planets and whether extraterrestrials have visited Earth of recent date and or in the distant past. From the modern prospective, they became a key subject of interest—and the inspiration for movies, TV shows, and books–following the advancement of rocketry shortly after World War II.

While it’s true that the unaided eye can, and often does, play tricks on the mind regarding UFO sightings or Close Encounters and while in certain respects radar sightings are much more dependable, yet, can occasionally fail to discriminate between meteor trails, ionized gas such as a flame, or even rain in the atmosphere, thus creating more doubts in such situations . . . to acknowledge such deficiencies most certainly does not disprove all reported Close Encounters with Unidentified Flying Objects.  Just ask anybody that knows:  We are not alone!



Sunday, July 2, 2017

America’s Healthcare Crisis

National health expenditures hit $3.35 Trillion (that’s $3,350, 000,000.000.00) in 2016, which works out to an average of $10,345.00 for every man, woman and child in the USA.   Drug prices and treatment costs continue to rise and Medicare and Medicaid programs are heading toward insolvency . . . in-other-words, we need to rethink healthcare spending and find ways to reduce such costs! Simply put, rising medical costs have crippled our healthcare system and are crippling our nation!

To make matters worse, the 3.35 Trillion Dollars we spend annually on healthcare isn’t actually buying us the best of care nor ensuring the best health. In fact, not only does the U. S. fare worse in regard to infant mortality and life expectancy than other developed nations, the U. S. tops the list for deaths that are preventable if timely and appropriate treatment was properly administered.  Moreover, a hospital stay or common diagnostic tests, like MRIs, cost several times more in the U.S. than in countries like the United Kingdom, France, Germany, or Japan.

These excessive costs place a heavy burden on funding Medicare, Medicaid, and other public insurance programs; on employers, who help pay for health insurance coverage for their employees; and on the millions of U. S. households, who feel the sting in their bank accounts, via higher taxes and lower wages.

It doesn’t take rocket science to determine that U. S. healthcare is spiraling out of control while, for years now, both houses of Congress have woefully launched into a tail-spin about what’s to be done in regard to most anything!  Considering the never-ending gridlock within and between the two majority political parties, there is little chance, a reasonable health insurance plan agreement can be consummated that will actually stop, and more importantly, reduce, the cost of healthcare in America.

Even so, there are several common sense approaches or acts, absent a healthcare insurance plan, that the United States Congress and the American President could take that would definitely reduce healthcare costs.

A dozen ways to cut U. S. healthcare costs:

1. The federal government should be permitted to negotiate prescription drug costs.

Big drugs buyers should be able to negotiate prices. Thanks to Medicare, the federal government is the number one purchaser of prescription drugs in the U.S., yet, by law, it’s unable to negotiate prices with drug manufacturers.

The notion that a drug company can simply name its price and buyers must buy it at that price is bizarre and amounts to little more than outright theft from American citizens!

2. Allow U S Citizens to buy prescription medications and reduce restriction on the purchase of medical devices from other countries such as Canada.

Prescription drugs and medical devices are considerably lower in cost in other countries—Canada included. Yet, Americans are barred from buying prescription drugs from out of country and FDA regulations on the purchase of medical devices out of country can be challenging at best. Healthy competition would force down drug and medical-device prices, posthaste.   

3. Stop drug companies from compensating doctors who prescribe the most expensive drugs in the marketplace.

Drug companies routinely pay doctors cash bonuses if they use their name-brand drugs. A 2014 study found that nearly 75% of doctors across five similar medical fields received at least one payment from a drug company.  To think things have changed for the better in this “arena” is folly.

Genentech, Inc. who manufactures, markets, and distributes more than 36 drugs in the United States, often pay doctors $50,000 annually if they sign confidentiality agreements and prescribe large amounts of Lucentis, a drug commonly used for the treatment of blurred or no vision at the center of the visual field, at a cost of more than $2,000.00 per dose, rather than prescribing the less-expensive Bevacizumab (Avastin) at a cost of $50.00 per dose. Both drugs are manufactured by Genentech and are nearly identical.

4. Hearing aids should be sold similar to the way eyeglasses are marketed.

20% of Americans suffer from some degree of hearing loss, but surprise, federal rules require that expensive hearing aid devices be used that cost thousands of dollars each, rather than selecting newer tech options that are priced as little as one-tenth as much.   If hearing aids were sold like reading glasses, more Americans would be able to hear, and the costs per hearing device would go down by as much as 90%.

5. Encourage the use of generic medication.

Generic drugs are copies of brand-name drugs that are safe and affordable. However drug manufacturers often go to great lengths to keep generics out of the marketplace and keep their own patents in place.
6. Ban prescription drug advertising.

Other countries, including Canada, have banned drug advertising in an attempt to prevent consumers from unwittingly seeking and or requesting inappropriate or overpriced treatments.

7. Require future “patients” to indicate their “end-of-life” preferences via a “Living Will” when they obtain their driver’s licenses and or during the voter registration process.

25% of medical costs for Medicare recipients alone are incurred within the last year of a patient’s life. Many, if not most, of these pricey decisions result when grief-stricken family members who, in the absence of specific written instructions or a “Living Will” from their loved ones, require they be kept alive even if they are not responsive and have no possibility of regaining their health.

Frankly, in this way, a comatose patient who is terminal is granted the opportunity to choose whether to pursue treatment at all costs; in turn, saving their loved ones the heavy burden and anguish of having to make the choice for them.  Such situations are always a difficult moral dilemma for the “non-patient”, but doing nothing in such cases only insures that useless medical costs will spiral out of control.

8. Expedite or encourage the use of “telemedicine” by way of the telephone, the internet, wireless devices, and et cetera to assist in the maintenance of good health.

America’s healthcare structure is built around outdated systems. Typically, doctors only get paid if they see patients in person. Phone and internet consultations are discouraged; the use of devices that monitor vital signs and alert healthcare providers to changes in a patients “condition” are also often discouraged because of liability and privacy laws.    The one shining star of exception is Medicare, which will pay for telemedicine services but only for those patients in rural areas.

It’s long past time for a more cost efficient approach — amendment the laws so as to allow the benefit of newer technologies and require in-patient or in person visits only when necessary.  The use of telemedicine could be the single greatest development that will reduce cost and access to health care in the years to come.

9. Limit drug-price increases and stop the drug company monopoly of price-gouging.

Some drug companies are actually making an effort to reel in prices. Still, many patients struggle to pay for medications because drug companies have free rein when setting prescription drug prices.  One only need look at a 2015 report from the Kaiser Family Foundation, to recognize the significance of overpriced medications; the report found that 33% of patients who take four or more doctor prescribed medications do not fill a particular prescription, cut pills in half, and or skip doses altogether in an effort to save money — a short term fix for reducing medical costs, perhaps, however such actions  “fly in the face” of the more sensible approach of preventative healthcare efforts; a proven measure for the reduction of long term medical costs.

10. Impose Coordinated Care Requirements for patients.

Costs for patients really skyrocket when the care they receive is poorly coordinated: In such an environment, patients may undergo the same lab tests multiple times, have the wrong combination of medications administered, and get serious conditions misdiagnosed.

The lack of coordination between the primary care provider to a recommended specialist; followed by a move in and out of the hospital, and transition from the hospital to home healthcare or to a long-term care facility, all, with little or no communication between providers is far too common.  Such chaos leads to unreasonably high costs coupled with inadequate care for patients.

And too, it is has been estimated that the United States spends up to 33% of its health care dollars on medical services and lab tests that do absolutely nothing to improve the health of a patient—some of which may even be detrimental to good health.  Such “excess care” is most often a byproduct of poor care coordination. For example, when a patient has an MRI in his doctor’s office; then another, shortly thereafter, during a related hospital stay.

11. Decrease treatment Costs and stop the duplication of Lab Work.

In America, Doctor’s office visits, lab tests, hospital stays, medical procedures, and prescription drugs are much higher than in most other high-income countries. For example, the average cost for a single day in a U.S. hospital is a whopping $4,287.00; in France, it’s $853.00. The full price for a routine birth is nearly $10,000.00 in the United States; in the United Kingdom, the average cost is $2,641.  Knee replacement surgery???  Far beyond an average of $25,000.00 in the U. S. — more than twice the typical cost in Switzerland. Wait; it’s even worse, U. S. prices for identical services vary significantly between providers, even within the same county or city of a given state.

Poor medical procedures are also a driving factor in high medical costs. Every year, thousands of patients are treated for health complications that should not have arisen in the first place; a typical example is a serious infection picked-up during hospitalization.

Overtreatment is also problematic: Choosing surgery, when medication or a less-invasive treatment would be equally effective, is just one example.  Admittedly such actions are learned behaviors stemming from the thousands of tort cases filed against the medical community every year—an unhappy circumstance that has long been in need of Congressional “fine-tuning”—not eliminating!

Before you decide messing with potential medical Malpractice and you right to pursue just compensation for careless acts is off limits, keep in mind that in the United States the average jury award tops a Million Bucks and is trending upward at an average of 85,000 cases each year . . . a circumstances that results in every type of medical facility and medical provider opting to purchase malpractice insurance, including Primary Care & Specialist Doctors, Nurses, Anesthesiologists, Physical Therapists, Paramedics, Hospitals, and the list goes on—each (the judgment awards & the malpractice insurance premiums), of which ultimately adds to America’s healthcare costs.

12. Eliminate For-profit Healthcare Insurance Marketers

The true forerunner to modern health insurance began in Texas in 1929 when educator, Justin Ford Kimball, created the Blue Cross Hospital Insurance Plan, which was originally a benefit for teachers at Baylor University (BU).  To participate, a teacher on the BU staff payed a near-by Texas hospital 50¢ a month . . . in doing do so, no further cost to give birth to children was charged to “Blue Cross” members by that particular hospital. In reality that program was pre-payment and not insurance, although some participants probably never gave birth to children.

The original idea behind purchasing health insurance was to avoid the high cost of healthcare by pooling clients' payments, via a health insurance carrier, to make treatment more affordable for the “insured”— such healthcare costs being paid from the aforementioned “payment pool”.  In the insurers fantasy world such a plan works best when the insured maintains good health and therefore has no need for healthcare treatment.  A less attractive, yet potentially effective path is when the number of insured who require healthcare treatment remains low enough so as to not bankrupt the “payment pool” generated by the membership, however, to have a chance to be effective, healthcare costs must remain stable.    

Trouble is, for dozens of reasons, America’s healthcare costs are far from stable and we often mistakenly place all the blame for rising healthcare costs upon the shoulders of for-profit healthcare insurance company carriers.  Chances are, to learn that their profits are very modest when compared with other industries is not simply a big surprise it’s more likely a huge surprise!  The truth is that health insurance providers not only typically pay their CEOs competitively, their profit margins average a very modest 3.3%, which is very low when compared with other industries. For example, the banking and real estate industries have profit margins that top 20%, and major drug manufacturer’s average profit margins of just under 22%.

The 5 major health insurance providers, of about 35 doing business in the United States, reaped historically large profits in the first quarter of 2017.  Aetna, Anthem, Cigna, Humana, and the UnitedHealth Group, amassed in net earnings, a total of 4 and a half Billion Dollars ($4.5 Billion) during the first quarter of 2017 alone.  One of the five, Aetna, actually lost money because the insurer (Aetna) had to pay Humana a Billion Dollar “break-up fee” after their merger failed; otherwise it too would have been in the black by a hearty 619 Million Dollars ($1,000,000,000.00 [billion]—$381,000,000.00 [million] = $619,000,000.00 [million]).

Sooo, how is it that when burdened with such a low margin of profit, the top 5 U. S. healthcare insurance carriers (not to mention the “un-named” 30 additional providers), do so well financially — as can be easily determined by viewing the graph displayed above?  Well, consider this: Aetna has over 39 million members, Anthem is collecting from 38 million members and UnitedHealth has nearly 70 million members who pay health insurance premiums.  

In other words, the clear path to a healthcare insurance carriers’ success is obviously volumes of business opportunities, and very large volumes at that!

Trouble is, costs have risen so dramatically in every sector during the past several years that allowing the for-profit healthcare insurance industry to continue to thrive, simply is not a viable option.  Simply stated—your Health Care is far too important to allow “middle-man” earnings!

When combined, the above described healthcare cost “fixes” helps clarify why our nation’s high level of spending fails to match the quality of health care every American should be entitled to.  The good news, there’s more that can be added to this list of 12.

In regard to the battle to control health care spending, the stakes are high. The more the government devotes to health costs, the less it has available for investing in jobs, education, infrastructure, and other pressing societal needs.   

Businesses—large and small alike—are saddled with health insurance premiums that continue to break record after record in cost surges, many small employers simply cannot provide health coverage and raise wages for their workers. And too, large firms in many industries must deal with with crippling obligations to thousands of retirees who have been promised well-earned health benefits.

In any event, we have learned from experience that more spending does not translate into better care or an improved health care system. It’s sure to be an uphill battle to cut costs and make the difficult changes needed for the formation a healthcare system that works for us all; but if we step-up to the challenge, it’s within our grasp.  That doesn’t mean the problem will be easily fixed. Not even close — it will be hard!