Tyrades! By Danny Tyree
If you get your jollies from graphs, statistics and reasoned arguments, I suggest you Google the USA Today article “Dilemma over deductibles: Costs crippling middle class.”
On the other hand, if you prefer snarky comments that numb your mind about important issues, well (to quote Lucy van Pelt), The Doctor Is In!
As USA Today reports, just as the poor are finally getting medical insurance, people in the next income bracket suddenly find themselves rationing medical care because their peace of mind is threatened by ever-growing deductibles.
Millions of people who thought their work ethic and college or trade school background would give them security now find themselves leading lives of quiet desperation. (Well, not so quiet if they have untreated gastrointestinal ailments, but you know what I mean.)
Finger-appointing and scapegoating run rampant, as blame is variously assigned to Obamacare, medical providers, patients, insurers and employers.
The sentiment used to be “Aetna, I’m glad I met ya.” Now it’s more like “Aetna, I’d better not meet ya in a dark alley.”
I understand the insurance industry is hiring Barbra Streisand to counter with “People, people who need to sell their plasma to afford deductibles, are the luckiest people in the world…”
And patients are supposed to feel ashamed of themselves, because insurance at least HELPS with ailments that in earlier times would have left them invalids or dead. To paraphrase country singer Don Williams: “I should be thankful, Lord, I know I should/But, Lord, I hope this check is good.”
The insured are chastised for various reckless behaviors, such as smoking, overeating, breathing at work, living in a town with vicious dogs, carrying the genetic code of ancestors, etc.
Yes, once upon a time, some of us were spoiled (“Those first six quacks refused to believe I have seven fingers on each hand; I demand further testing!”), but I chafe at the sanctimony of those who blithely point out that patients can’t make efficient healthcare decisions unless they have “some skin in the game.” Says one fellow, “I HAD some skin in the game, but then this costly flesh-eating virus ate all my skin…”
Perhaps the insurance/medical industries could throw us a bone, with promotions such as BOGO (Biopsy One, Get One Half Off) or “Kids Throw Up Free.”
Instead of passing the buck, society’s movers and shakers need to keep consumers aware of their options and address an issue that threatens the entire economy. “Casual Friday” and “Employee of the Month” mug shots can boost morale only so much, when workers realize that one child’s sniffles will gobble up three or four days’ worth of mopping floors, dealing with irate customers or wrestling with greasy machinery.
And who is going to buy all those appliances, cars and “casual dining” meals if the whole middle class is bankrupt and/or spending every dime on medical care? (“Can we get an executive order to open the border with Mars?”)
Of course some aspects of business are doing quite well. For instance, tiny “I’m spending my children’s inheritance” bumper stickers that fit on rolls of gauze are selling briskly, and ambulance-chasing lawyers and fatcat executives have caused the guillotine futures market to skyrocket!
Government, industry and consumers need to stop dilly-dallying and hit the ground running. But before you hit the ground TOO hard, make sure your deductible is met or…
©2015 Danny Tyree. Danny welcomes reader e-mail responses at firstname.lastname@example.org and visits to his Facebook fan page “Tyree’s Tyrades”. Danny’s’ weekly column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc. newspaper syndicate.