Health care (ill) logic

I hadn't realized how successful Medicare was until I ran into a protester who harangued me about the need to keep the government's hands off of the program.*

Which, ya know, isn't a bad idea, except that uh, like duh, isn't Medicare a federal program?

Can't be - it works too well.

What made our exchange even funnier, if not surreal, was the fact that he was protesting in front of the post office, where I'd gone to send a package because a) it was ten bucks cheaper and b) would arrive at its destination at least an hour earlier than UPS.

All of which was too much a metaphor for the entire health care debate for me to ignore. Even if it was a cliche.

I personally have decent medical insurance. It has a very high copay and a series of hoops that are a pia but manageable once you know the system and can play by the rules. We pay a fortune for it, but we're lucky, because if we lived in most other states or had had the misfortune to let our coverage lapse for some reason, we wouldn't be able to get a plan at all.

The thing that I don't understand, though, is that if this insurance was bought through a large company, rather than my own, it would cost significantly less - same insurance, same people, same hoops, just maybe half as outrageously expensive. (It would still be more than I made the first year I started writing full-time. And the next year. And I think maybe the year after that . . .)

I have only a rough idea of what the current congressional plans are. (God forbid newspapers did some real reporting. Even the Internet is of limited value on this, with opinion drowning out the facts.) But I do know that the current system is unfair for many people, and ridiculously expensive for all. Small businesses and their employees are screwed under the present system. No amount of rhetoric from the insurance companies or either political party can obscure the reality of the price tag small businesses face when trying to do right by their employees.

The real problem, of course, is the high cost of everything involved with health care, from doctor visits to drugs to surgery to insurance. From what I can tell, none of the congressional plans are really going to fix those. But they're also not going to make things any worse than they already are.

Bottom line: If UPS can deal with competition, so can the insurance companies. I say, bring it on.

* He also had some funny ideas about Nancy Pelosi, and some funnier jokes, but those are best shared at the bar. . .

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