Thursday, February 28, 2013

Health care as a Car

Health care is a lot like a car. Here is what I mean.

There are two ways Americans think about cars. For most Americans, people over 25 who work every day and don't live in a city, you just have to have a car. You need it to drive to work, to drive your kids to the park, to pick up the groceries. Yeah, cars are expensive, insurance adds to that cost, and most of all (even though its not the biggest cost) gas is expensive.

But you have to have a car so you bitch and moan . . . and then pay for the gas.

Most people think of health insurance like they think of their car and gas. It is expensive, it keeps getting more expensive, they whine about how expensive it is . . . but they have to have it so they pay for it.

But cars look very different when you are 14. When you're 14 you can't drive, but you know in 2 years you can get a license. You're eligible to work. You're too dumb to figure out that you'll make a lot more money in the future if you spend your time learning to program or do something useful, but you're smart enough to know you can get a job at McDonalds and slave away for two years saving up so that, when you turn 16, you can buy some wheels.

From the eyes of a 14 year old, a car isn't a hassle to bitch about, a car is just fucking awesome. It's so fucking awesome that you are willing to sacrifice your time and effort mopping floors and cooking burgers so one day you can take your girlfriend to a movie and then nail her in the backseat.

This is, I think, how people should look at Medicare and maybe health insurance in general. Medicare is fucking awesome. Medical care keeps getting better and better. When today's old people were young doctors couldn't treat depression or do much about high blood pressure, heart attacks, or cancer. Today they still can't do that much about heart disease or most forms of cancer, but they can do enough to keep you alive for several years longer than you would probably otherwise live. And when today's workers are old--when I'm old--they probably will be able to treat my skin cancer (I'm a red head) and save my life. That is awesome. In fact, it's a lot more awesome than banging your girlfriend in the backseat in a deserted parking lot.

Like a 14 year old slaving away at the drive-thru window hoping to save up enough for his first car, I should be happy to make some sacrifices today so I can reap the rewards in 45 years when doctors pump me full of chemicals and my tumors shrink like Jared's waistline. In other words, I should just accept the fact that to get what I want (life-saving medical care), it's going to cost me, probably with a Medicaid tax of more like 5% than 2.9% of my income, including the employer's contribution.

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