Monday, August 10, 2009

I’m Feeling Much Better Really

The American Healthcare System is an abomination.

It ought to come with a Surgeon General’s warning:

Caution, the American Healthcare System is so completely fucked up that attempting to use it will result in massive hypertension, stroke, burst blood vessels in your eyes, swearing, depression, drinking, recreational self medication, the throwing of objects and the kicking of small dogs, thoughts of suicide, and the possible commission of serial murder from a rooftop with a high powered sniper rifle. These symptoms are over and above whatever the hell ailed you in the first place. Really, don’t get sick. Ever.

As you know, I spent the majority of my life in the military. As such I never needed to deal with health insurance. If I got sick or injured or otherwise required medical care, I went to the base clinic or the ship’s doctor and it got taken care of. No muss, no fuss, no worries, no bullshit, no paperwork, no deductibles.  You go to the clinic, you say, “Hi, I’m sick,” and they point you at some kind of medical professional.

Now that I’m a civilian I get to deal with civilian health care. Yay me.

I mean, seriously here, I’m covered medically about as well as you can be without actually owning your own hospital.  I’ve got full military retiree coverage, I’ve got full and extensive veteran’s benefits (think military retiree and veteran are the same thing? Think again, two totally separate things, two totally separate systems). I’m covered by my wife’s extensive insurance.  AND I’m staring a civil service job with full benefits today.  So, you know, I thought this would be a good thing. I thought I’d get choices.  I thought it would be better.

I was mistaken, try to contain your smug looks.

Oh, don’t get me wrong here.  I do get choices.  I’ve got insurance coming out the wahzoo – hell, my wahzoo is covered about five different ways providing I get prior authorization to see a wahzoo specialist if I feel that my wahzoo is in need of medical attention. There’s nothing wrong with the medical care, the medical care is fine – it’s all the other bullshit you have to go through to get to the doctors in the first place.

It’s the health insurance process that is the problem. It’s the fact the 90% of the people who have anything to do whatsoever with your healthcare aren’t, actually, medical people – they are healthcare administrators.  I mean, sure, why shouldn’t the surly little dipshit with the two year accounting degree from the local junior college decide which medical procedure is right for me, instead of say the guy who is actually a fucking doctor? Really, why shouldn’t some random minimum wage office drone second guess the doctor with decades of medical experience and expertise and decide to change my prescription to something else? I mean according to Jenny McCarthy basically anybody can be an expert on pharmacology, right?

The efficiency of any organization is measured in the ratio of people who work to the people who administer.  Those who can, do. Those who can’t, end up in administration. When the percentage of administers in an organization passes .05% – the organization begins to resemble a dog with heartworms (and the dog has a better chance of seeing a real doctor than you do).   The human race has produced a lot of worthless shit over the centuries, but the evolution of the professional administrator as got to be pretty damned close to the single most ridiculous idea we’ve ever had (the most ridiculous is, of course, the professional religious leader, followed closely, literally and figuratively, by the professional politician). These people are parasites.  I’m fairly sure the professional administrator has killed more people than all the nuclear bombs ever built, used, or contemplated – yes, that’s exactly what I’m saying, the professional administrator is more dangerous than weapons of mass destruction and is far more likely to bring about our extinction as a species than anything dreamed up in secret government weapons laboratories.

We don’t need to overhaul health care, we need to seriously overhaul health insurance and healthcare administration.  I think we should start by randomly shooting insurance executives into outer space (and more on that particular idea tomorrow), but I’d settle for busting a few kneecaps with metal pipes.  I wonder what Tanya Harding is doing these days besides B-porn boxing and Celebrity Squares?  Maybe she’d like a job, frankly the woman scares the shit out of me and I’m sure she’d put the fear of God into a few healthcare executives.

It doesn’t surprise me at all that it is the insurance companies and the hospital administrators who are fighting healthcare reform tooth and nail, they’ve made a multi-billion dollar industry out of making sure you don’t get access to the doctors or the drugs in the first place. They don’t want the process of healthcare simplified. Why in the hell would they want to see a public option national health care system that guarantees access?  If anybody can get access to healthcare when they need it, most of these people would be out of a job pretty damned quick.  It’s like politicians voting for actual enforcement of the ethics laws or Pauly Shore campaigning for intelligence in acting.  Simplified universal access to health care is contrary to everything the Healthcare Industry stands for. 

Seriously, healthcare in this country is like some kind of sick joke (ba dum bump). Trying to understand the so-called process is like listening to one of those old Monty Python sketches with John Cleese as some tight assed functionary explaining the arcane workings of a ridiculously made up bureaucracy to a confused and bleeding Eric Idle.

Idle: Ahh excuse me.

Cleese: Uh hmmmm, just a minute.

Idle: Don’t mean to be a bother, but I’m bleeding rather profusely ‘ere.

Cleese: I said, just a moment if you please.

Idle: Now I’m getting dizzy. Mother dear, is that you?

Cleese: Oh for pity sake, what is it?

Idle: I think I might ‘ave nicked an artery.

Cleese: Well, let’s just take a look at it then, shall we?  Oh, that doesn’t look good at all. I rather think you might die.

Idle: Whot?

Cleese: Yes, I’m afraid we can’t help you. You’re a goner. You’ll be pushing up daisies as they say in no time.

Idle: But isn’t this a doctor’s office?!

Cleese: Hmmm, so it is. And we prefer the term “Health Care Provider,” or “The Insurance Providers Who Say Nee!”

Idle: Nee?

Cleese: It means “no.”

Idle: And what are you? 

Cleese: I’m the “Health Care Denier.”

Idle: Oh, isn’t that clever.  Look, me life’s leakin outta me veins here! Shouldn’t I see the doctor then?

Cleese: Well, one doesn’t just waltz in off the street and go right to see the doctor. There are forms to fill out, procedures to be taken care of. You haven’t even stood in line yet.

Idle: But I’m bleedin’!

Cleese: Yes, so you say. First things first.  Do you have any insurance?

Idle: Yes! Gobs of it!

Cleese: Well, perhaps you’ll live after all.  Now let’s see…yes, I’ll need to see two forms of identification, one with a picture of your mother on it, and one from a one legged Asian man named Steve. I’ll need need a sample of your pet’s DNA.  Your insurance card and proof of continuous enrollment in the specified plan for a minimum of three years without a claim. We’ll need proof that this so-called bleeding isn’t a pre-existing condition.  You’ll need to designate a primary, secondary, and tertiary insurance provider. We’ll need three photocopies, all of which must be certified and attested by a small man named…Tim, who lives upon the highest peak of the Andes. Climb the mountain, don’t forget you galoshes.

Idle: Do you think I’m daft?

Cleese: I should think that would be obvious.

Idle: I just need a couple of stitches!

Cleese: Stitches? Don’t you think you should let some faceless bureaucrat in a tall office building in another state decide that?

Idle: I’ll settle for a wad of gauze and a roll of duct tape!

Cleese: I’m afraid that’s not part of your summary of benefits. However, we can provide a tourniquet and a very nice pine box - if you have prior authorization from your insurance carrier.

Idle: Whot?

Cleese: Well, it is an unusual procedure.

Idle: Stopping the bleeding is unusual?

Cleese: Around here it certainly is.

Idle: Say, maybe I’ll just pop over to Canada and have this looked at, eh?

Cleese: Well you can’t leave now.

Idle: I’m feeling much better, really.

Cleese: No you’re not, you’re not fooling anyone.


It’d be funny, if it wasn’t, you know, a matter of life and death.

Tomorrow we’ll take a serious look at health care reform. 


  1. You know, I could actually see Cleese talking like that in my mind's eye, I would have been laughing if the who situation didn’t make me want to scream in frustration and go all homicidal and such. Each time I hear some fucktard on TV rant about Obama-Nazis wanting to kill grandma my left eye and trigger finger start to twitch and my blood pressure climbs a bit; deep breath, relax, let it part way out, sight picture… gentle squeeze on the trigger…

  2. "I think we should start by randomly shooting insurance executives into outer space" - second that motion.

    And you always have to pick on the Steves, don't you.

  3. But do we really want to mess up space with all those insurance executives? Shooting them into the Sun will be much tidier.

  4. I think he meant shooting them up just high enough so that they would come back down and on rentry turn into a fiery insurance executive shower.

  5. This was hilarious. I am printing it out and hanging it on my office door. That'll get some attention. :-D

  6. Oh boy! A serious CWO (ret.) Health Care plan!

    'Bout damn time, Jim! :)

  7. I've got a friend who does phone support for service providers filing claims. They have lots and lots of codes for different types of medical procedures, and apparently you can get certifications in them. o.O

  8. Dear Sir,

    You have definitely hit the nail on the head -- and written a modern piece of Monty Python Which Should Have Been to boot.

    Well played.

    Dr. Phil

  9. Brilliant!

    This is precisely why I worry about the government taking over health-care payments. Will they get to decide what is permitted to be done?

    Face it, Steve, there are a lot of you out there. A few drop-kicked to Mars orbit isn't any great loss, is it? B)


  10. Hey now. Every Steve is sacred, every Steve is great...

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  12. Cassie,

    If they did, how would that be different than what we have now?

  13. Trust me, it isn't just Health Care. Any system can be made to run slower by the injudicious application of administrators.

  14. Every Steve is sacred, every Steve is great...

    If a Steve is wasted, god gets quite irate...


    Every Steve is sacred, every Steve is gooooood! Every Steve is needed in your neighborhood!

    Sorry - waiting for tomorrow's post...

    Carry on.


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