On Health Insurance and the Random Ten

Batocchio, in the comments, suggested I do a post based on a comment I made in this thread over at Obsidian Wings about health insurance, and since we've gotten a ton of traffic from ObWi over the last couple of days and because Batocchio was the guy who front-paged us over at Crooks and Liars a few months ago and exploded our visits, I figure I owe both of them.


The whole Frost family story has, as you can tell if you scroll down, really gotten to me, both because of the insane and disgusting lies the right-wing have been spinning out of whole cloth, but also because back in the longlongago, in the before-time, I was an insurance agent.

In my defense, I wasn't a good one. I sold two policies in my whole sordid career, and one was a term life policy to my parents. The other was a Medicare Supplement which the woman canceled two months later. But I did learn a fair amount about the business during that period in the early 90s, some of which holds true today, which is what I was drawing on in part for that comment.

Conservatives like to argue that the market is always the best solution for whatever ails you--it can do any job better, more efficiently, more cheaply, and do so while maximizing profit. How it can do all that without imploding into an illogical puddle of goo is beyond me, and I was a guy who believed fervently in the literal Adam and Eve well into my 20s.

But occasionally, there's a line of business that proves that the market either is unable or unwilling to tackle. This is one of them, and the evidence is overwhelming.

See, the thing that makes the Frost story even more ludicrous than most of the crap the right-wing spews, is that it doesn't matter if the Frosts made $45K a year or $4.5 million a year--they wouldn't be able to get insurance coverage for their kids, not after that accident, not with those kinds of injuries. No insurance company that issues private policies will write that policy, no matter what premiums the parents are willing or able to pay, and there's a simple reason for that.

Insurance companies are in this game to reduce risk--not the risk of their clients so much as their own. They're in it to collect premiums, invest those premiums, and collect profits. Notice what's missing? Pay claims. They don't want to do it, for one simple reason--claims cut into profits, and a corporation's primary aim--and this is true for any corporation, not just insurance companies--is to maximize profits for the stockholder. It's a part of practically every corporation's charter.

And there's nothing illegal about that. (We can get into the morality of it some other time.)

But what it does mean is that there's a significant portion of the citizenry of the US that is, for all practical purposes, uninsurable. They either can't afford to pay the premiums, or the insurance companies won't write them coverage. It doesn't really matter to those people--they're shit out of luck. The reason why is immaterial to their actual situation.

So the market has spoken. It doesn't want to cover these people. The question then becomes, as Michael Moore argued in Sicko, what will we as a nation do about this? Because our options are pretty clear--we either do nothing and allow upwards of 40 million people slip through the fissures of a broken health care system, or we ask government to step in where the market refuses to act.

In that thread, a commenter named Sebastian Holdsclaw asked "Would you personally, Lizardbreath, give up your current insurance for NHS-level care?" (He wasn't being insulting, by the way--he was responding to a commenter named Lizardbreath.) I'll answer like most of the others did.

Yes. An unqualifed yes. And I have good insurance. Our insurance covered Amy when her back erupted into spasms last summer outside Kansas City, with no problems. It covered most of my various crappy ankle problems over the last couple of years. We get to choose our doctors and get cheap meds and all that good shit, and yet I'd give it up in a second, because I only have it as long as I have a job, and that means I'm tied to my job, because I'm getting older and my body breaks down more than it did ten years ago, and I can't just suck it up and drink Robitussin by the bottle like I did in my 20s. But having a US version of the NHS would mean that if Amy becomes a famous novelist, she could try to make a living as a writer and not have to sweat health care. She can't really do that now, unless we get married, and we all know where that leads--virginity pledges.

Here's the Random Ten. Put your computer's music player on random and tell us what your party would be like. It would be full of De La Han Solo and Peglegasus songs--we know.

1. Bring Back Pluto--Aesop Rock
2. Bitchenstophy--Rickie Lee Jones
3. Statesboro Blues--Blind Willie McTell
4. Dock of the Bay--Otis Redding
5. Wordplay--Jason Mraz
6. Aqualung--Jethro Tull
7. Easy Way Out--Elliot Smith
8. A Movie Script Ending--Death Cab for Cutie
9. Good People--Jack Johnson
10. Blue Eyes--Uncle Tupelo

Any medical horror stories to share?

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