No Such Thing as a Free Lurch. . .

12 09 2009

. . .into America’s health care cafeteria. You may not be able to write a check and your insurance company might not be willing to — but somebody will get stuck with the bill.

So sayeth Carl Hiaasen:

A close member of my family recently had an accident in which she suffered multiple bone fractures and a partially collapsed lung. . .

I called the insurance company and said that, while we greatly appreciated the bill being paid, it was difficult to comprehend how those particular 24 hours of medical care could cost more than 11 grand.

The woman taking my call patiently checked over the bill on her computer. She said the hospital room itself was “only” $750. The bulk of the charge was for two CAT scans, totaling more than $6,000.

We love Hiaasen here in Florida. If you haven’t discovered him yet, here’s a good Salon interview.
Over LUNCH! 😀



2 responses

12 09 2009

He started in UF’s college of journalism just as I was finishing, in the early 1970s. We both had Professor Jean Chance in our corner. Plus we both “covered” the state legislature from our different perspectives throughout the 1980s. Our personal impact on folks sounds similar too. 🙂

Carl Hiaasen was born and raised in Florida, where he still lives with his incredibly tolerant family and numerous personal demons.

A graduate of the University of Florida, at age 23 he joined The Miami Herald as a general assignment reporter and went on to work for the paper’s weekly magazine and later its prize-winning investigations team.

Since 1985 Hiaasen has been writing a regular column, which at one time or another has pissed off just about everybody in South Florida, including his own bosses. He has outlasted almost all of them. . .

This line about his children’s books is pretty funny, and true on both counts:

“It’s like asking Tarantino to remake Pooh,” Hiaasen said. “But HOOT sold more than any other of my books.”

Another selling point for him to continue writing children’s books is how well his young readers received his environmental message, he said. “I wish the grown-ups were that quick and perceptive.”

14 09 2009

Matt Taibbi has (deservedly!) been blogged here before, for writing such as The Great Derangement:

He says both belief poles are off the rational reservation deep into magical thinking and conspiracy theories, can’t even agree on a common set of facts to debate, distrust the news media even more than their own elected government, and basically elections have become simply “a forum for organizing the hatreds of the population.”

“We don’t respond to problems as communities but as demographics.”

On the back of the book jacket, fellow political author Michelle Goldberg says Taibbi shines a light on “the corruption, absurdities and idiot pieties” of modern American politics, with “surprising compassion for the adrift, credulous souls who are taken in by it all.”

Idiot pieties. Credulous souls taken in by it all.

His latest piece well worth a thoughtful read is “Sick and Wrong: How Washington is Screwing Up Health Care Reform.

Let’s start with the obvious: America has not only the worst but the dumbest health care system in the developed world. It’s become a black leprosy eating away at the American experiment — a bureaucracy so insipid and mean and illogical that even our darkest criminal minds wouldn’t be equal to dreaming it up on purpose.

The system doesn’t work for anyone. It cheats patients and leaves them to die, denies insurance to 47 million Americans, forces hospitals to spend billions haggling over claims, and systematically bleeds and harasses doctors with the specter of catastrophic litigation. Even as a mechanism for delivering bonuses to insurance-company fat cats, it’s a miserable failure: Greedy insurance bosses who spent a generation denying preventive care to patients now see their profits sapped by millions of customers who enter the system only when they’re sick with incurably expensive illnesses.

The cost of all of this to society, in illness and death and lost productivity and a soaring federal deficit and plain old anxiety and anger, is incalculable — and that’s the good news. The bad news is our failed health care system won’t get fixed, because it exists entirely within the confines of yet another failed system: the political entity known as the United States of America.

Just as we have a medical system that is not really designed to care for the sick, we have a government that is not equipped to fix actual crises. What our government is good at is something else entirely: effecting the appearance of action, while leaving the actual reform behind in a diabolical labyrinth of ingenious legislative maneuvers.

Over the course of this summer, those two failed systems have collided in a spectacular crossroads moment in American history. . .

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