Sunday, January 10, 2010

Punch lines

So there's this very old joke about a Beverly Hills gynecologist who is seeing a new patient, a 67-year-old married woman, and he is startled to discover that she is still a virgin.

Without dragging out the story, the essence of it is that there's no medical, psychological or educational problem, it's simply that she's been married for 42 years and is still a virgin.

The doctor asks her why.

"Well, doctor, it's like this," the woman explains. "My husband is a William Morris agent. Every night he sits on the edge of the bed and tells me all the wonderful things he's going to do for me."

Does anything about that joke remind you of the health care bill?

On Saturday, President Barack Obama used his weekly radio address to claim that health care reform will create "good, lasting jobs" and "shared prosperity."

He claimed that it will offer the security of "quality, affordable health care" even if "you lose your job, change jobs, move or get sick."

He claimed that "costs will finally come down for families, businesses, and our government."

Then he said this: "Here's what else will happen within the first year. Insurance plans will be required to offer free preventive care to their customers - so that we can start catching preventable illnesses and diseases on the front end."

That's the point where his argument went from absurdly comical to pie-throwing hilarious.

There's no such thing as "free preventive care." Somebody's going to pay for it, unless the president plans to propose the repeal of the Thirteenth Amendment so he can enslave medical professionals.

Whenever the government requires insurance plans to pay for something extra, the premiums go up to reflect the additional cost of the services.

America Wants To Know is self-employed and pays for an individual Blue Cross policy which goes up in price every single time the state or federal government mandates a new benefit. Remember the extra night in the hospital for new mothers? Premiums went up. Remember the last-minute addition to the October 2008 bailout bill, mandating coverage for mental health problems? Premiums jumped more than 30 percent the following January.

Nothing is free.

We're going to pay for it as policyholders, or we're going to pay for it as taxpayers, or we're going to pay for it in long waits and limited services caused by price controls. Or all three.

If the final health care bill really contains a provision requiring insurance plans to offer "free" preventive care, hundreds of millions of Americans are going to see their premiums and other co-payments rise to cover that extra cost. While that has happened many times before, this will be the first time that Americans can put all the blame on their elected officials.

And they will.

No joke.

There's something Shakespearean about the way the Democrats are barreling ahead to pass a health care bill before the voters can get to the polls to stop them. They're marching to their own tragic fate, unable to alter their course, doomed to fulfill the awful prophecy now revealed to have been their death sentence: Change.

Maybe it's not Shakespeare as much as it is Rod Serling.

("Mr. Chambers! Don't get on that ship! The rest of the book, 'To Serve Man,' it's... it's a COOKBOOK!")

Copyright 2010

Editor's note: You might be interested in the earlier posts, "Insanity," "Bad at math," "The midnight sausage factory," "Why health care reform will fail," and "Health Care Reform Dinner Theatre."

Source note: The quotation is from the 1962 Twilight Zone episode, "To Serve Man." Read more at The Internet Movie Database,