The price of stupidity

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Here’s an example of what happens when people say we can’t have universal health care because that would be “socialist.” This is what happens when people insist that the U.S. government runs on loans and on tax revenue.

Each year, 400,000 people are taken by helicopter to hospitals. It is routine for helicopter companies to charge $40,000 to $50,000 per flight. Medical insurance (if you have any) only covers only 25% of that, or less. The rest you must pay yourself. If you cannot pay, you get sued.

Why do helicopter companies charge so much? Because they can. They can charge you whatever they like. Their prices are not regulated.

Since this scam is so profitable, many people are put onto helicopters without needing to be. Paramedics arrive at the scene, and they call a corrupt doctor who gets kickbacks from the helicopter companies. (There are no laws to govern when a helicopter should be dispatched.) You as the patient (or someone for you, if you are incapacitated) sign a form saying you are fully responsible for the cost of transport. The form never lists how much it will cost, because of it did, no one would sign it.

One company that runs this scam, “Air Methods,” has 370 helicopters in 48 states. Last year they had profits of more than $100 million. Aaron Todd, its CEO, collected $5 million in pay.

When people are stunned to learn that they are being charged $50,000 for a 15-minute helicopter ride, my response is, “What did you expect? Every time you condemned something as ‘socialist,’ you cheered for capitalism, which is based on charging as much as you can possibly get away with. Welcome to the ‘free market’ that you idiots love.”

The scam is exploding in size because it is so lucrative, and because it is totally unregulated. And the prices keep going up all the time. Helicopter companies court the paramedics who make the decisions about whether to use a helicopter. The companies offer paramedics small gifts such as pizza dinners, baseball caps or coffee mugs. In return, the helicopter companies scam millions from their victims.

In Dallas Texas the thieves became so blatant that five hospitals got together and created “Care Flight,” which charges less for helicopter rides. It charges nothing if you are financially indigent.

This scam is not only in the USA. If you go mountain climbing, and you need to be air-evacuated by helicopter, you get nailed. Over 100,000 tourists per year climb in the mountains of Nepal. It’s a common scam for a tour guide to pick out someone who is moving slowly, and to (falsely) tell him he has altitude sickness, and he must be immediately evacuated by helicopter. Then the guide gets a piece of the financial action from the helicopter company. It was all pre-arranged.

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With universal health care, the government would pay for helicopter rides, and it would offer the air-evac companies, say $3,000 per flight. Take it or leave it.

But that would be evil “socialism.”

(Actually it wouldn’t, since the helicopter companies would be privately owned, but it doesn’t matter. The masses don’t want it.)

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