Why is national health insurance so complicated?

If we are lucky, some half-baked, marginally noticable "national healthcare plan" will be in place at the end of this summer. Obama is clear that this won't be anything useful or make a slight dent on the fact that most US citizens are not covered for any major medical costs; "we may need a system that's not so disruptive that people feel like suddenly what they've known for most of their lives is thrown by the wayside." The last thing we need is a system that actually covers medical expenses after all these years of being refused by insurance companies for all of the medical expenses we pay medical insurance to cover.

Here's the real reason we won't be seeing meaningful national healthcare reform:

2008 Compensation Packages
Ron Williams - Aetna: $24,300,112 (down from a high of $124.8 million in 2005, poor Ronny)
H. Edward Hanway - CIGNA: $12,236,740
Angela Braly - WellPoint: $9,844,212
Dale Wolf - Coventry Health Care: $9,047,469
Michael Neidorff - Centene: $8,774,483
James Carlson - AMERIGROUP: $5,292,546
Michael McCallister - Humana: $4,764,309
Jay Gellert - Health Net: $4,425,355
Richard Barasch - Universal American: $3,503,702
Stephen Hemsley - UnitedHealth Group: $3,241,042

Add to this the personal use of a corporate aircraft and vehicle, as well as financial planning and 401(k) company matches and undetermined and undisclosed and often illegal benefits and bonuses ( stock-option back dating, continued benefits after retirement, ).

I've never heard of some of these companies and I'm sure their underserved customers wish they were in the same boat, but the CEOs of the most customer-hostile industry in the world are paid as if they actually contribute something useful to the company's bottom line. They don't. For example, the year Aetna flushed $124.8 mil down William's toilet, they paid a stock dividend of $0.03. So much for corporations working for the benefit of stockholders. Aetna would have been a half-decent investment that year if so much of the company's profits hadn't been wasted on useless executives.

Regardless, with that kind of spare change floating around Washington, we are not going to get any meaningful reform on healthcare. Honestly, I'd say that most Americans might as well admit we're living in a 3rd world country and plan on dying alone, broke, and without even medical marijuana to dull the pain. Unless you are rich, a US Senator or Representative, a government worker, or in prison you have no chance of receiving decent medical care without giving up your family's future and shipping yourself to debtor's prison. If you are in one of the protected groups, you are cared for by the finest socialized medical system in the world and the rest of us envy you.

My father-in-law once joked that if his military pension and medical coverage vanished, he'd just pick a politican to shoot and look forward to decent medical care in prison. Seems like there are more productive targets available, doesn't it? If, for example, Aetna didn't have to waste $24 to $125 mil on Williams--who is undoubtedly as useless as tits on a doorknob--the company could provide top-quality health insurance for about 2,500 to 14,000 families at a $750/month premium. Obviously, if the premium didn't have to support the equally useless and overpriced management boobs in the corner offices in Williams' building, even more people could have medical care.

The advantage to human beings having medical coverage vs. evil aliens receiving ridiculous salaries (which they no doubt send back to their home planets adding no value to the Earth economy) is obvious. Human beings do work, providing services and products for other human beings. CEO/COO/CIO/CTO/CMO/CFO/CEE and other C-labelled aliens waste resources depriving humans of food, shelter, and the necessities of life (such as medical care). If we could find a way to purge the planet of C-label executives, we might discover that there is more than enough money avaiable to solve all sorts of problems. Clearly the question is, "Where is Theodore John Kaczynski when we really need him?"

If President Obama is really unable to imagine a way to get around the defective healthcare insurance system we're currently suffering, he's not as bright as his fans claim. This is a simple issue: let the medical insurance companies find some other group of suckers to victimize and let's get on with resolving the biggest problem the nation faces. If Congress and the Senate feel this is too complicated for their simple minds to grasp, we should remind them that if they are so underemployed that they have time to worry about gun possession in national parks they have plenty of time to work on things that actually matter.


Why Do We Do This?

Back in the 60's, when I was draft age, the country's ruling elite picked an unnecessary fight with a small, primative country that couldn't have presented a threat to the United States if aliens had chopped Vietnam from the planet and thrown it at us from space. That "war" was simply an opportunity for the corrupt characters in the military-industrial complex to milk the nation's wealth for their own benifit. There was no more reason for the Vietnam War than that simple, evil, corrupt, selfish motivation. It was a perfect example of what happens to a nation when the worst people on earth are given the power to control the nation's actions.

Because humans are their own best evidence that there is no basis for imagining an "intelligent designer," we make this sort of moronic mistake in electing and following "leaders" over and over again. In fact, it has happened so many times, in so many places, for so long that it would take an army of historians to roughly document the number of times it has happened in the last century. Almost universally, it would be best for every person in every country to assume that when someone rises upon his hind legs waving a flag or a weapon shouting, "Follow me!" that everyone else turns and runs the opposite direction. If we can manage that, maybe grabbing our own weapons and shooting that character is the best we can do. Especially when it comes to war, the people who most want to lead are exactly the people who shouldn't be allowed near leadership.

For some reason, this past couple of weeks I've been close to a bit of the end results of our latest charge into wartime stupidity: the kids who return home from this exercise in evil. I am ashamed for my country, myself, and the rest of you. What we have done to these kids is unforgivable. What we will do to them is worse.

I wasn't aware enough to understand what I was seeing back in 1966, but I know I see today. When a nation sends its children off to kill or be killed, both those who die and those who come back are damaged, permanently. When a nation desperately wants to pretend that there is something patriotic about killing random "insurgents" (a word the British once applied to American revolutionaries) we are pissing on reality and hoping our children won't smell the results. Old people have deadened senses and can often ignore all sorts of foul odors and ugly sights, but kids see and smell and identify those things with clarity. The way to create mindless, soulless adults is to tell kids that a pile of crap is really a bouquet of roses often enough that they can't tell one from the other.

These poor kids coming back from the hell we’ve created in Iraq and Afghanistan are, at the least, wounded and, at the most, ruined. You can see it in their eyes and hear it in their voices. The things they have seen and done would turn cowards like Bush and Cheney into quivering catatonic balls of jelly. But people like Bush and Little Dick never have to suffer the consequences of their own greed and incompetence. The advantage of being an elite is that someone else always pays the tab. Foolish George has expected the rest of us to solve his problems for his entire life and Little Dick would chew the meat off of his own children’s bones if he felt a pang of hunger.

I once wrote that I believe voting twice for Bush and Cheney was evidence that a voter is too stupid to be allowed to vote again. I have to modify that. Honestly, I believe that having voted to any Republican in the last 25 years, and about 75% of the Democrats running for office in the last 10 years, is evidence that a voter is too stupid to be a citizen in a democracy. Too many of the people who run for office in this mess we’ve allowed our country to become are unfit for leadership at any level.

Conservatives, especially conservatives advocating war, have been wrong about practically every important issue in every decade since the founding of this country and, I would imagine, every issue in the history of organized society. It seems obvious that one should, at least, be wary of the opinions of those who represent the status quo. Personally, I assume that claiming to be “conservative” is a statement of near-perfect stupidity and I do my best to avoid stupid people.