If you have been anywhere near a source of media in the past three years, or even ventured out of your solipsistic bubble long enough to overhear human conversation, then you are probably aware of the ongoing debate over the status of health care in America in general and so-called ObamaCare in particular. It strikes me as at least mildly amusing that ObamaCare is being battered from all sides; labeled socialist garbage from the right and decried as falling well short of the mark by his alleged allies on the left. As a preliminary matter, I have to disagree with those who call this monster undertaking “socialist.” From the insurance companies’ point of view, this is more like a capitalist wet dream: the government just decreed that EVERYONE BUY THEIR PRODUCT. If I am a health insurer (i.e., I love making mad money on the backs of desperate people), this is my golden city (not to be confused with my golden shower — see: capitalist wet dream).
Beyond this silly and admittedly un-nuanced interpretation of complex economic and public policy, recent events compel me to share a few thoughts about the ridiculous arguments against “socialist” healthcare in general. By “socialist,” of course, I mean a system whereby we all pay a bit more in taxes for the privilege of having Uncle Sam (the patriotic one — not the sex offender registry one) pick up the tab for our trips to Dr. Cosby (or whatever sweater-clad comedian you go to for your gallbladder infections). You know, a system like they have in Canada, or England, or France, or anywhere else in the industrialized world.
You know, like Cuba!
Obviously this is an abhorrent idea for a god-fearing free market capitalist. After all, it will cause rampant, out-of-control healthcare costs that the open market won’t be able keep in check. You’ll lose your ability to choose your doctor, leaving Uncle Sam (the pedophile one this time) in charge of what medicines you take and who prescribes your erectile dysfunction pills. And death panels will kill your grandma and steal your grandpa’s aforementioned Viagra.
Now look, I’m a lawyer, so I know from experience that personal anecdotes do not an unambiguously open-and-shut case make, but I would nonetheless like to share two personal anecdotes to support my position that anyone who makes any of the above arguments has either never even attempted to make use of health insurance or is a moron.
As a brief background: On paper, I have kick-ass health insurance. My employer picks up most of the tab, but I will disclose that — to cover my family of three — my premiums amount to about $18,000 per year. $18,000. For that I get a manageable $1,000 deductible while damn near all of my in-network doctor’s visits are covered for a mere $20 co-pay. However, the reality of my situation rarely jives with this ostensibly awe-inspiring cost and coverage. Last year, for example, I received a grand total of $350 worth of health coverage. Not only that, but I was also forced to pay $2,500 out of pocket to cover the birth of my daughter since my wife and I used midwives and had the baby at home, which — despite being cheaper and, by many accounts, safer than a hospital birth — is apparently too risky for Anthem Blue Cross’s delicate sentiments. But I digress.
The point is that my health coverage seems pretty comprehensive as far as health coverage goes — but as the previous and forthcoming tales illustrate, that’s not saying much. Another example: I recently used this beastly coverage to take my eight-month-old daughter to the pediatrician to determine why she was trying to rip her ears off the side of her head with a pair of pliers. It turns out she had a double ear infection. (That this was a revelation would perhaps help to explain why I flunked college biology.) Our pediatrician, who like every children’s doctor goes by her first name (Dr. Meg), gave us a prescription for an antibiotic and sent us on our merry way. Problem solved. So imagine my surprise when my wife calls me from the pharmacy and tells me (with our screaming, ear-infected infant exercising her impressive pipes in the background) that our insurance won’t cover the prescription and it is going to cost us $70. Apparently, the “clinicals” indicate that the dosage we were prescribed was just too high.
So, wait. How did that happen?
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