Friday, August 14, 2009

For The Health Of It

You’d have to be in a coma to have missed the raging debate taking place these days over health care. It’s a hugely important issue and all of us should do our homework to understand what we might be getting ourselves into.

In listening to the intelligent discourse (and I use the term so loosely that you might want to stay off the Activia for a while), I don’t know what drives me crazier:

* The members of Congress who claim they don’t know what’s in the bill. (Sure, a final bill is a ways off but, come on, you should at least pretend like you’ve been paying attention!)

* The participants in those town hall meetings who think a sensible strategy involves drowning out their congress person by screaming at the top of their lungs. (Because nothing is more persuasive than coming across as a raging lunatic.)

* The talking heads on the news networks who rarely seem to get past the surface of an issue to ask the really hard questions. (I suppose it is more fun to focus on the outrageous claims being made by both sides, but if you really think that is somehow helpful, you are sorely mistaken.)

Like everyone, I have a lot of hard questions about health care reform. And since none of the above avenues have proven to be the least bit helpful, I’m hoping all of you can help me out. And if you can do so without screaming at the top of your lungs, that’ll help. Here we go . . .

1. How can I get on one of them government run death panels?
Oh sure, I know NONE of the various versions being considered have even the slightest suggestion of establishing a group to decide who is worthy (and who is not) of receiving continued health benefits, but if they change their mind, I wanna be on record as having been one of the first to call “dibs” on an assignment. I’ve got a slug of people on my “not worthy” list . . .

2. Assuming I can’t get on a government run death panel, can I get on one of the already established ones the insurance companies run?
The whole fake “death panel” discussion made me realize that our insurance providers already have these. They already decide who and what will get paid so if I can’t get on the government death panel, I’m calling “dibs” on the insurance company version as my backup.

3. And what about euthanasia?
I’ve always thought they were about the same as kids anywhere. Will that continue to be true?

4. If we go to single payer system, can I pick who that payer will be?
Rather than having the government pony up the dough, we can save a slug of money by having a series of individuals be responsible for paying our health care costs. These individuals are ones who have either A) demonstrated a careless and wanton disregard to handling financial matters and / or B) more money than they should, based on their contribution to society as determined by the Peter Milliron Death Panel. I recommend the following individuals be designated as the “single payer” until their funds run out, and then the responsibility will move to the next person on the list:

* Bernie Madow
* Paris Hilton
* Donald Trump (assuming he’s not in bankruptcy at the time)
* The Estate of Michael Jackson
* Additional payers will be identified as needed.

5. Can you help me understand what is meant by a “pre-existing condition”?
I’m not completely clear on what a “pre-existing condition” is but for as long as I can remember, I have always been deathly afraid of snakes, beets, Brussell sprouts, Great White Sharks and celebrities with unnaturally large lips due to excessive collagen injections. Will I still be able to obtain counseling and / or allergy treatment for these contaminants?

6. Why are we so afraid of socialism but are willing to embrace just about anything related to social networking?
I mean, aren’t they pretty much the same thing?

7. If government run health reform is passed, what about the poor insurance companies?
Obviously they won’t be able to make enough money to maintain the private jets for their top executives? What about them? Doesn’t anyone care about the disenfranchised any more?

8. Since I (obviously) make well more than $500,000 a year, I understand a surcharge will be applied to my already enormous tax burden. That is so unfair!
I mean, how can I possibly be expected to pay that surcharge AND my dues to the Organic Beer Association of Middle America (OBAMA)? Doesn’t anyone care about the disenfranchised any more?

9. I understand the government will have complete access to my bank accounts as part of the health care reform.
I don’t really have a question here; I’m just wondering if while you’re in there, could you send my car payment each month? I never seem to get to it until the last minute!

10. Something like 36% of individuals who have tried to purchase health insurance directly from an insurance company were discriminated against because of a pre-existing condition or dropped from coverage when they became seriously ill.
I think we could boost that statistic a bit more by adding Roger Clemens and Al Davis to the list. What do you think?

11. Employer-sponsored health insurance premiums have nearly doubled since 2000, a rate three times faster than wages. Each year I pay more for my health insurance and receive less coverage.
Can I count on the government to continue to provide this same level of high quality coverage?

12. As I understand it, once this legislation becomes law, marijuana will not only be legalized but mandatory.
Although I have never smoked ganja in my life, will the FDA require all brownie mixes to list the amount of weed per serving? And, if it’s okay, could future ex-wife, Mary-Louis Parker be my dealer?

Okay, that just about covers my questions. If you can help with the answers, let me know. AND, just in case you’re interested, one place to go to check out whether a health care rumor you’ve heard is true or not, is Check it out.

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