Opinion: No, actual care
Tuesday Jul. 6th, 2010
All the talk recently of health care reform has got me thinking. There’s that old saying, repeated when matters look grim, “Well, at least you have your health!” And the afflicted nods grimly, knowing that complaining to this person is useless and they might as well just go ahead and have another drink because what good is having your health when you can’t afford to keep it anyway? All that paying and paying into health insurance only to find that when you need it to say, hypothetically here, remove a wart or alter the basic shape of your foot, well, then, that insurance company that was so nice in all those letters notifying you of “unavoidable” rate increases, that very same company informs you that these procedures are “cosmetic,” and therefore not covered by those ever-increasing premiums you’ve been so diligently sacrificing your health to pay.
Not that I’ve ever been in that situation. I never even bother to submit insurance claims anymore. You see, I finally found (and read) the extremely small print buried somewhere smack in the middle of every health insurance policy, right at the point where any normal person’s eyes would glaze over and cause their hands to flip impatiently forward to the end part where it says, “Congratulations and welcome to our family!” giving the new policy holder a warm feeling of inclusion in an exclusive group consisting of millions who can still write checks and lick stamps. Well, this very obscure yet important bit reads, “Not for actual use.” So there you have it. Insurance is not to be used. You buy it for peace of mind. And as an altruistic gesture to all those who depend on the industry for their jobs. Jobs that probably come with benefits, one of which might be health care. Not health insurance, that’s useless. No, actual care. So don’t even think of canceling your policy! Think of Alice the actuarian working in that little, windowless office just so she can get her weekly vitamin D shots. She needs that job made possible by your monthly premiums.
And why are these payments called premiums? Is that money better than other money, just by virtue of being applied to something useless? Or is it like telling a child who is hopelessly inept at something that he/she is “doing great!”? Gotta make that money feel good about itself or it might go into a depression. Depression. There’s a downer word. Like a downer cow, but less tasty. And since people don’t like to read, uh, less than upbeat columns, I will deftly change the subject to kittens.
My sister lives on a ranch. She has large porches on both sides of her house as she lives in a rather hot, not to say brutally hot, bordering on hellishly hot area of the country. And by “country”, I mean Texas. When she moved there, she brought several cats with her for rodent control. Pretty soon, though, these cats learned that they didn’t have to hunt mice in the field where bobcats and coyotes could potentially eat them for a light mid-day snack. No, they could lay on the porch, in the shade from morning to night while my sister was at work earning the money to buy their cat food. Which she did, and she fed them as many kitty snackies as they wanted. And the boys fought with each other over who got to be “friends” with the girls, and more cute little kittens came to be. This continued unabated until… My sister realized that all the kitty snackies were only leading to more kitties, not more rodent control. She got a mouse in her house. And some of them had to go. Mostly they got eaten by bobcats and coyotes, even though they stayed on the “safe” porch. I took a different approach. I have no cats. Instead, I built snake habitat around my house. I still get mice, but at least I don’t have to go to work for cat food.
How does an isolated cat population thousands of miles from anywhere relate to the issue of health care coverage? Glad you asked. Every problem has multiple solutions, the simplest usually being the most efficient and effective. Government-run (or mandated or whatever you want to call it) health care is far from the simplest solution. Government-run anything is usually wasteful and counter-productive. Like cats on the porch. And, like these same cats, too many of any species leads to conflict over resources. Which is the root of this and practically every other “crisis” in the world today. Too many people, too few resources.
Rachel Weaver has a journalism degree and no children. Or cats. She writes essays for the amusement and edification of her few Facebook friends. A novel is currently gestating inside her Mac. Currently looking for work she happily entertains offers at firstname.lastname@example.org or 599.2452