It’s all so simple

What we oughta do…

This being an election year and all, a lot of people are talking about what ought to be done to fix the problems and myriad woes that face our fair country. I have some ideas of my own.

1. Either regulate or ban insurance, one or the other.

I don’t know why they call it “insurance” when it really isn’t. They should call it “excuses.” There should oughta be a law that in order to call what you’re selling “insurance,” you must actually insure something — not just take people’s money in exchange for a buttload of excuses buried in fine print. That’s always bugged me, but my main problem with insurance in America is the level of control they have over people’s lives, and the stranglehold they have on our government. Insurance companies are, to a large degree, ruining the financial fabric of the United States.

Here’s an example of what I’m babbling about… People around here often have two jobs — one for the income and one to pay for health insurance. Health insurance can easily run $800 a month, provided you’ve never been sick. So you pay that money (for me, that would be two week’s take-home pay) to the insurance company every month for years…

Then you get sick. You go to the doctor with a pain in your side. What’s the first thing they do? Make you comfortable? Ask you what’s wrong? No. The first thing they do, before they even ask for your name, is to ask about your insurance. Once you get the paperwork filled out you finally get to take your pain to the doctor. After examining you, the doctor decides the best thing to do is to operate and take what’s paining you out.

Great! You get to be fixed — the pain will be gone! But wait… First the doctor has to call a person in a cubicle thousands of miles away to ask permission to do the procedure. The insurance companies, you see, tell the doctors what they can and can’t do. If the nameless insurance agent in Atlanta tells your doctor that your symptoms do, indeed, warrant a procedure, the insurance company will then tell the hospital how long you can stay in their care and what kinds of drugs you can take.

So we expect our doctors to be highly trained, well educated people with the best judgment available — and we pay them a ton of money for their skill — only to have an insurance agent with a high-school diploma telling the doctor what to do.

This should oughta be illegal.

Try this on for size — a new law I just made up myself. If you pay the insurance company, they must, by law, COVER YOU — no matter what the doctor prescribes or does. It is the doctor, after all, who has the medical training — why not let him decide what’s best for the patient? If you pay the insurance company for medical insurance, the insurance company has to insure you. No pussy-footing around.

“But the insurance companies will lose money if they have to pay for everyone’s medical bills.” No. They can save money by firing half their staff — the half that they pay now to come up with excuses why they aren’t responsible for paying.

Let’s take this a bit further. Let’s make it illegal for insurance companies to wiggle. Let’s give them one page to explain their policy in plain English. The rule is that your average junior-high student should be able to understand the contract and it must fit on one page (with the type set at 12-point so you can read it easily). If you buy insurance for your motorcycle, the insurance company must then insure your motorcycle — no matter what happens to it. If the neighbor’s kid whangs it with a baseball bat, you’re insured. If the tornado hits your garage, you’re covered. No ifs, ands, or buts.

Okay, now just a little bit further. Let’s make it illegal for the insurance companies to make more than a certain amount of profit. The thought of someone living in pain because the insurance companies won’t cover them, or have already taken all their money, while the CEO of that same insurance company makes $12 million a year — well, that makes me sick.

Let’s outlaw, as much as we can, corporate greed in the insurance companies. These should be compassionate corporations, not greedy, bloated money mills.

Think of how nice it would be if you could go to the doctor and be secure in the knowledge that you’ll be treated. Or that if you’re in an auto accident your insurance company will actually cover the cost of repairing your car. Think of how it would be if half your income didn’t go towards corporate greed.

Our health-care system isn’t broken, but it’s really, really sick. Its arteries are clogged with the accumulated crud of the bloated insurance industry. If we don’t watch out, it’s going to die of its own greed.

2. Election reform.

This is getting to the point of stupidity. We, as the United States of America, bastion of freedom, defenders of democracy, cannot hold a fair election. It’s getting ridiculous.

New law I just made up — all elections, all ballots, all polling places will be run the same way everywhere in the United States, and all elections shall be monitored and witnessed by the United Nations. Let’s pick one method and stick with it — no hanging chads in Florida whilst people in Iowa struggle to draw circles and arrows in one county while the neighboring county has some pushbutton device while California has touch-screens.

Let’s pick one method, and let’s realize that no method will be perfect. If it were me, I’d go with touch screens with receipts and hard copies.

Again, my law of “it’s gotta be written in plain English” applies. No legalese allowed.

Voting in my world shall take place over a two-day period starting at 6 a.m. Friday morning and continuing on to 10 p.m. Saturday night. That should be enough time for just about everyone to get to the polls regardless of what shift they work, will eliminate the long lines, and will lessen the factor weather will have on turnout. The press shall have full coverage and full access to every polling site, but they will not be allowed to report anything until after the last polls close in Hawaii Saturday night.

Some people are emotionally bound to the caucus rather than a straight primary, but I really think that the primaries should be held over a two-day period just as described above — none of this six-month-long primary with states jostling for position… If you want to have a town-meeting style caucus, that’s fine — do that to elect the sheriff if you want, but not in national elections.

The electoral college shall hereby be disbanded. Lets go with the popular vote, dammit. One person, one vote. Simple? Thought so.

National elections have identical rules in every state. That’s another new law I just made up. A candidate from ANY party should be allowed on the ballot nationwide if he meets certain non-monetary requirements — say, 50,000 signatures. When a candidate meets the requirements to get on the ballot, the government hands him, oh, $25 million to use for his campaign. This money can be used ONLY for the campaign, and candidates are not allowed to take any other money for their campaign from any source whatsoever. In other words, all candidates start on equal footing, no matter what their party, no matter who their parents were, no matter what. They all have the same financial resources to mount their campaign. May the person who handles it the best win. No person, organization or corporation can simply “buy” a candidate.

Elected officials shall be paid the median income for their constituency, and will get the same benefits. If we have to live on peanuts, so do they. If we only get one weeks vacation after working with the company for two years, that’s what they get. Fair’s fair, ain’t it?

Oh well. It’s my dream world.

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10 thoughts on “It’s all so simple

  1. Father Andersen

    Proof that insurance companies are evil:

    Hurricane Katrina (and others during that storm season) – hundreds or thousands of families return after the storm to find that there is nothing left of their house but a concrete slab.

    They had insurance, the insurance company determines that it wasn’t wind or rain but the so-called “storm surge” that destroyed their house.

    And denies the claim because they weren’t insured for flood damage (which the company had told them they didn’t need because their house wasn’t close enough to the shore. And by the way, wasn’t it the wind and the rain that caused the flood????)Thus leaving the home owner with nothing while they keep all the money they’ve paid into insurance.

    I’m sorry, that’s just cold, heartless and demonstrates a complete lack of anything resembling humanity.

    I’ve said it before and I will continue to say it. Insurance companies need to be exterminated immediately – with extreme prejudice.

  2. Father Andersen

    Oh, and on election reform, we should do it like Australia. Voting is manadatory. Everyone gets a voice whether they want one or not, even if their vote is “I’m not voting”, they still have to put that on the ballot. If you don’t vote they come and get your vote. (Kinda like they do at Census time here in the US.) They use paper ballots with check boxes and you sign your name at the bottom. Election day is a national holiday so no one has to work. The winners are chosen by a simple mojority, no electorial college junk (I don’t know about primaries, there’s nothing on the website: )

    Nothings ever that simple and I’m sure Aussies have their share of monkeys in the system, but I like the basics of it.

  3. Chris

    Regarding Katrina, I read somewhere that the insurance companies aren’t even covering people for flood or disaster insurance in some areas any more — you simply can’t buy the insurance at all. At least that’s better than telling you you’re covered UNTIL the hurricane, THEN changing their minds… (I just read Father Andersen’s blog — he also wrote about insurance woes a day or two ago.)

    Dagmar told me once that Austria is the same way — voting is mandatory. I’m not sure if they get the day off work or anything, though, but everyone’s gotta vote or they get in trouble. All I know for sure is we NEED to simplify our system.

  4. Bluzlover

    The insurance companies are the root of our so-called healthcare problems. It’s not the health providers, it’s the companies that insure our health. They should cover “whatever” the insurance was purchased for, not selective coverage. My biggest gripe is that when you finally file a claim, after decades of paying premiums with no claims, they CANCEL you!

    I love your idea of limiting every candidate to a fixed amount of cash to use in their campaign. I also think senators, governors, etc., must spend the majority of their time doing the job they were elected to, not chasing a job they may never have.

  5. Anonymous

    I’d like voting to be based entirely on platform. You go to the polls, fill out a “survey”, and the candidate who best matches your answers gets your vote. We could have more than one candidate per party, and genuinely elect the person who most reflects the public’s desires.

  6. Ginormous Boobs

    You are dead on. I can’t tell you how much of my life revolves around dealing with these shitty health insurance companies.

    I love your dream world of election reform. Please make it come true!

  7. Leonesse

    I hear murmurs of making Health Ins mandatory like Auto Ins. If I am going to be forced to pay for it, why not make it universal and take it out of taxes???!!!


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