You have nothing to fear if you have nothing to hide. You have nothing to hide if you have nothing to fear.
So fear nothing and you need not hide. Hide nothing and you need not fear.

The motto of the Department of Homeland Decency

Friday, January 22, 2010

Ask the HMO Accountant

Good news, America! Health care reform is not dead!!!

The famed Group of Six, the six senators led by Sen. Baucus who delayed things so long that everyone thought nothing would be done, felt so bad about that that they came up with a plan everyone can get behind. It won't cost much or add to the deficit. Unemployed people can afford it. It's not complicated. And it will allow insurance companies to stay in business and do what they want to do: help people get well.

The plan is very simple: just Ask the HMO Accountant! It's cheap. It's effective. It's quick. And it's reform that is American, not French or Canadian or, even worse, French Canadian! Sign up today and you'll soon be asking yourself: Why didn't we think of this before?

The following shows you how it works.

Dear HMO Accountant,

I've lived a very healthy life but I can't get health insurance. The plans I called said I was a little nutty because I never drank or smoked, I exercise regularly and always go to bed early. I also eat only locally-produced organic foods. And I am slim and mentally sharp. All these plans said that means I'm just going to get depressed in a few years when I figure out that everyone dies eventually – even healthy people. Then they said that I will cost them lots of money because I have a pre-existing condition. This doesn't seem right. I've never been sick a day in my life. What kind of pre-existing condition are they talking about? Why can't a health person like me get a good insurance policy?

Sincerely, Uninsured in Utica

Dear Uninsured in Utica

You are more than a little nutty. Do you know what the essence of insurance is?Not nuttiness, that's for sure. The essence of insurance is rationality. And rationality means rationing. No one likes to use the world “ration” when discussing health care, but it's a good word. In fact, it's the root of the word “rational.” So to ration is actually very rational, which means that it makes perfect sense not to give you health insurance at this point. Maybe we can do it some day in the future, but only if we are convinced that your pre-existing condition -- that massive depression that is awaiting you if you continue being more than a little nutty – won't cost us money. Rationing now will mean lots more people can get help in the future, possibly. Including you. Call us again in a few years, and if you're still healthy and not down in the dumps, there might be enough resources left to get you covered without causing the whole system to collapse. In the meantime, relax, have a burger, watch some trashy TV, and lighten up.

Dear HMO Accountant,

I had a bad accident the other day. I was doing some post-surgical physical therapy at home because my health plan is really bad and won't pay for any rehab. So I did some research on the Internet and found a simple machine that could help me. I ordered it and put it together myself. But I'm not much of a handyman, so a heavy piece of metal fell off and hit me on the head. I went to the emergency room, but my health plan won't pay for that either. And now I hear nothing but ringing in my ears and my health plan doesn't cover ears. They say I was in essence practicing medicine without a license with my home therapy so they aren't going to pay, and that nothing warrants an emergency room visit except . . . well, they couldn't think of anything that warrants one. And ear coverage is only for really, really old people who only need to go the ear doctor one time so the doctor can tell them they are going deaf because they are old. This is nuts. What should I do? And what the hell am I paying these high rates for?

Sincerely, Ringing off in Reno

Dear Ringing Off In Reno,

We have the best health care in the history of the world, at least we think so. Occasionally, some will have to pay more, but that will help keep our system as great as it is. Isn't that a small price for you to pay? I think others will thank you someday for your sacrifice. And have you tried dropping that piece on your head again? I've read somewhere on the Internet that sometimes doing the same thing over can reverse some of the unwanted consequences of our actions. Try Googling that and good luck!

Dear HMO Accountant,

We just sit around the house all day. We don't see well or hear well. Our joints hurt. We're tired all the time. And none of our kids have offered to help us out around the house. In fact, they don't call or visit us at all anymore. We did what you suggested from the last time we contacted you. We got some exercise equipment, but unfortunately we can't read the directions because the print is so small. And we eat lots of oatmeal like you told us to, but sometimes we forget and leave the stove burner on and so there have been a couple of small fires. And we tried to cheer up like you suggested – that fact you told us about how it takes more muscles to frown than to smile was really interesting! But nothing helps. We're still tired and our joints still hurt and we still can't hear anything. What should we do?

Sincerely, Mom and Dad in Miami.

P.S. Will you be able to get home for mom's birthday?

Dear Mom and Dad in Miami,

It's really important for the elderly to continue with their walks and workouts (even if they can't see where they are going) or they will end up using way more than their share of our precious health resources. And if that happens, we have to raise the rates on all the seniors, even the ones who don't see doctors anymore either because they don't have the money to or they forgot where their doctor's office is. So please stay in shape and stay healthy. Which I am really tired of telling you. And I'm sorry I can't make mom's birthday. But I will be needed in Washington, where politicians are trying to gain popularity by attacking us. They want to take our business away from us, if you can believe that. If that happens, I'd have to move in with you guys and no one wants that less than I do. So, good luck! And happy birthday, mom!! And have you thought about not using the stove and just using the microwave? Maybe there would be less fires.

Dear HMO Accountant,

I called my health plan the other day just to ask a simple question and was put on hold for an hour listening to Celine Dion music! I got to the point where I thought I might kill myself if I had to be on hold any longer. When someone finally came on, I accidentally - in anger, but I think with justification - uttered a profanity. So they hung up on me. They stopped taking my calls. And then they terminated me! I was so desperate I bought a plane ticket and flew all the way to my insurance company's headquarters where some insurance honcho told to wait in the waiting room while they looked up my records. The music they pipe into the waiting room is Celine Dion! So, just as I was about to go postal (can a person go “insurance-al”, cause I almost did! - the insurance guy comes back out and says that I was terminated because I didn't list everything on my application that was wrong with me. As far as I know, there's nothing wrong with me. Except now I'm so anxious and stressed that I can't go to work and my wife thinks I am insane and is thinking about leaving me. Help me, please! Shouldn't I be able to get my insurance back?

Sincerely, Freaked out in Florida

Dear Freaked out in Florida,

I was able to find your application and the reason you were terminated was that you are getting older and you didn't specifically state that on your application. Having said that, I'm sure you will understand that we are trying to conduct a business here. Growing older is a pre-existing condition that must be stated clearly on your application. And before you say that's ridiculous, believe me we know it's ridiculous. But then, again, maybe not! We can't insure every single person in the whole world, can we? We couldn't stay in business if we did that. We had to figure out some way to turn down people and dump others. That way, we stay in business and help a few people, which is better than going out of business and helping no one at all! We do this by using a very complicated mathematical random quantitative forumula thingie which is too complicated to explain here. So now you have every reason to take care of your health because we certainly can't do it for you.

PS. I just wanted you to know that I made a few calls and we will be changing our hold and waiting room music to Kenny G. So know that all of your anxiety has turned into something good. Say hello to your wife! And good luck!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

What if everyone were like our current Democratic leaders?

It's easy to imagine what would happen.

Life and commerce in big cities would come to a standstill, because drivers would stop at green lights everywhere and motion the drivers stopped for the red light to go through. “Go on through. I don't want to slow you down!” they'd shout. “We'll all get along better this way!”

And can you imagine what reality shows would be like? Dullsville. Everyone would be nice. They'd share food and help each other in the competitions and wouldn't say nasty things about other competitors. “No reason we have to be that way,“ these new contestants would say. “We can all win! And have lots of fun, too! Let's just get along here!”

And juries would have to acquit all defendants. How could a jury member who is like Harry Reid believe that anyone could do anything as horrible as whatever the defendant was charged with? And, of course, if someone did happen to do something as heinous as whatever it was they were charged with, everyone would believe that they have learned their lesson. So why punish them further? “Let's get along here! To judge and punish them is to look backwards, not forwards.”

That would mean prosecutors wouldn't have much to do, either. But they wouldn't want to do much, if they were like Harry Reid, because they just would be totally unable to believe that anyone would lie to them. “Why would anyone lie to me? We're just trying to get along here and help each other build a better life for everyone!” is what they would say. So after asking their suspect a few questions about some double homicide or a bank robbery or embezzlement and listening to the suspect say over and over, “I don't know anything about that!” they'd let them go.

Lots of other things would change, too. News shows would be filled with even more stories about miracle weight-loss treatments. Major league pitchers would make sure every batter they faced got a good pitch to hit – “We'll get along so much better if we all hit the ball hard and far!” Bosses would give everyone raises. Meteorologists would never predict rain or hail or even cold weather. And scientists would side with food companies and chemical corporations and say it's all good for you, eat what you want, no reason to be moderate in anything.

All in all, it would be a good life. Even the Republicans would be fun to talk to, except, of course, they'd still be insane.