Yeah, this blog post title is based on an old joke.
But the fact that I remember it, because I'm old, is related to my increasing anxiety over whether President Obama is going to pull off the health care reform that this country in general -- plus my 60'ish wife and I in particular -- sorely need.
Which is what insurance companies are, based on the double-digit annual premium increases Regence has been inflicting on us for quite a few years.
I have zero warm feelings toward Regence.
That's unusual, because every other company we have an ongoing relationship with is at least passingly pleasing to me. Regence BlueCross BlueShield, not at all.
It could disappear tomorrow and we wouldn't miss it a bit. All they do for us is pay medical bills, reluctantly, and tell us what sorts of medical treatments they'll cover, unpersuasively.
My latest gripe with Regence, described here, started with us applying to switch to a different insurance plan. I thought that would be simple, since we've been enrolled with Regence for so long and are pretty healthy.
I was denied the switch because I'm taking two medications for an enlarged prostate, Avodart and Flomax. A Regence underwriter said this meant I was at a higher risk for needing surgery eventually.
Wrong. A few minutes of Google research turned up this bit of information:
So either medicine reduces the probablility of needing prostate surgery, and taking both together reduces the risk even more. Yet the Regence underwriting department had it backward, as I'll be telling them soon in a letter.
The plain truth is that health insurance companies don't want people to get health care.
They do their best to deny claims if you're insured, and to keep you from getting an individual policy if you have any preexisting conditions if you aren't yet insured.
By contrast, I've never felt that Apple or AT&T don't want me to use my iPhone. However, I have an absurdly large number of phone call minutes that I fail to use each month. That's fine with me.
I pay a monthly bill to AT&T for iPhone service. Then I use my iPhone however I want to. It's a lot like a single payer national health plan, except I'm not a nation, and the service I'm getting isn't health care.
Nonetheless, I want a health plan that is a lot more like my iPhone contract than our Regence BlueCross policy.
Simple. Straightforward. Easy to understand. Non-bureaucratic. Our current private health insurance setup is none of these.
I haven't watched Obama's prime time press conference yet. I'm hoping that he comes out swinging passionately and articulately for health care reform, and can cogently explain what sorts of changes he expects in a bill.
I agree with a New York Times analysis:
The bailouts were fairly easy to encapsulate: government investing in private businesses to save their asses.
So is the cap and trade climate change legislation: keep the planet green and clean to avoid some really mean consequences.
But so far I haven't grasped what Obama's health care reform is all about. Neither has the American public, which is why the right-wing ideologues have been able to spread their lies about socialized medicine and such.
Hopefully tonight Obama will lead the country in a fresh health care direction. I'm ready to follow.