08/07/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011


America has the The Worst "Health Care" Money Can Buy.

My husband grew up in Alabama. He tells this blessedly-shortened-story, as a living witness, with a straight face.

"Neighborhood kids back-and-forth. 'Bet I can hold my hand in the fire ant nest longer than you can. Becha can't. Bet I can. Nope. Yep. NOPE. YEP. OK. You go first.' And then the kid did, reaping only acute, intense pain and swelling, but not anaphylactic shock." True story.

Why does this story come to mind when I watch the back and forth over health care in America? Because ... appalling, belligerent idiocy is apparently not limited to testosterone-infused male children. Just how idiotic can we, the sovereign people, be?

Why are we even discussing this? What made us believe that business should be allowed to auction to us our own health? How can we have let the current condition last for so long? When was the day that reality, shaking its head in disbelief, walked out on the discussions?

Quite simply, I want the same health care that members of Congress get ... at a much lower cost.

Shuck and jive might be a fine basis for a dance step ... as a predicate for policy, they implode. In the absence of Mr. Shuck and, having asked her to leave the room, Ms. Jive, the current reality is very compellingly, manifestly, wrong. Where to start (feel free to provide your own evidence, it's the enlightened thing to do)?

How 'bout the very simple and amply verified fact that we pay much more and get much less than any other people in the world. How smart is that? how innovative? how progressive? how sustainable? how good for business, and our children, and our future?

And then there is the screamingly obvious fact that the middlemen -- the so-called "insurers" -- rake off huge amounts of money which contribute NOTHING to your or my well-being. They add costs which provide no benefit and, for pure pleasure (yours and mine no doubt) add a large additional dose for exorbitant salaries and bonuses ... and then profits atop that (to assuage the long-suffering shareholders).

Add, then, the huge unaccounted costs to providers of dealing with the maddening lunacy of the systems created by these "insurers." Add also the unaccounted cost (and unhealthful stress) to you and me and all but 50 million Americans (uninsured) and the members of Congress (insulated) of having to confront/ manage/cajole "insurers" into complying with their own rules (as if anyone could understand them).

Add, too, the lies, deceit, dissembling and deception which are manifestly endemic to these rent-seeking "insurers." All of which is stupendously dysfunctional, expensive, counterproductive, ineffectual and, need I say, insulting.

If economics is not a sufficiently compelling argument, how about health? as in: life or death; able to work or not; living life to its fullest or struggling to get by ... sick in body, sick in mind, sick to the depths of our souls.

Health is not a commodity to be packaged and sold in various tranches to assorted investors, brokers, intermediaries, skimmers and thieves. Health is a human right. Basic. Fundamental. Essential.


If we continue to have the worst "health care" money can buy, it's because we have the best Congress money can buy.