Thursday, August 13, 2009

One incompetent keystroke

My heart pounded in my chest as I tried to read a book to a naked toddler, keep an infant from mauling that book and listen to my husband's phone conversation one room away.

"That never happened," he said tensely. "I did not call you two weeks ago."

Jim was on the phone with the benefits department of his company trying to figure out why the medical insurance premium hadn't been deducted from his paycheck. Someone, somehow had managed to cancel our medical insurance. In two phone calls, one of them after 5 p.m., the story unfolded. A person with the same name as Jim had simply called the benefits department, given a social security number and name, saying they were now covered under their spouse's insurance. Turns out, the woman used our name instead of the social security number given her.

One incompetent keystroke later, our family and our financial future was at risk. Luckily, we were covered for several routine doctor's appointments we had a few weeks ago. If the kids get sick, we could pay for a doctor visit out of pocket. We're prepared for that contingency. But if something catastrophic had happened, we would have had to walk away from the bill. No one in this country can prepare for that contingency under our current system.

What this incident clearly illustrates is the need for self-reliance and for removing the barriers in our society to that virtue. So what are some of the most obvious barriers? The high cost of medical care, driven by malpractice lawsuits and a third-party payer system that pays for every doctor visit, makes it impossible to pay out of pocket. Our tax code offers a tax deduction to employers who subsidize their employee's health care but not to those who buy their own insurance. Laws bar people from buying insurance across state lines, which is essentially telling people where they can shop.

Other major barriers? Too many in this country believe it's medical care, not making healthy choices like good diet and exercise, that keeps us healthy. Of course, a constantly growing, poorly educated population that keeps adding to the list of freebies they're entitled to certainly doesn't help the cause of self-reliance either; neither do politicians who agree with them at every turn.

Unfortunately, nothing that's proposed for reforming health care can stem the serious breakdown of intellect and work ethic in this country. A frightening and sometimes deadly combination of idiocy and apathy that begins with poor education and is aided and abetted by insipid pop culture and crass consumerism produces mindless, incompetent bureaucrats. These are the people who will have a hand in your health care no matter which third party is paying for it.

Isn't it rather dangerous to have such an apathetic, incompetent work force involved in such life and death matters? My health, how I choose to maintain it, and how I pay for that maintenance is between me and my doctor, not to be tossed about among a private or government insurer, the doctor and me. Three is clearly a crowd here.

Please feel free to forward this to Be sure to tell them I'm part of the angry mob.

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