Saint Obama staked his candidacy, in large part, on fixing health care. Naysayers (read: Republicans) have been stoking fears (and fellating campaign contributors) by running hysterical million-dollar ads depicting the bureaucratic hell in which citizens of single-payer nations wallow.
Picture a grief-stricken woman holding a tear-stained photo of a decrepit old biddy. "Mummy waited 47 years to have her gall stones removed. Now she's dead!" (cue sentimental piano music).
Nevermind that this, the wealthiest nation on earth, is chock full of parents who forgo taking their children to a doctor so they can afford food. Also nevermind that Obama never proposed a single-payer system. But whatever.
We can toss one coin the Republican's way: tort reform is a must. If a woman goes in for a boob job and emerges from the ER with a hysterectomy, she should be able to sue. But not for a hundred million bucks; it really shouldn't be the best thing that ever happened to her. However, this is a drop in the bucket compared with the profiteering going on in the insurance racket (an industry, by the way, with oodles of salivating lackeys leashed in like hounds on K Street). Health care reform will be a tough one to pass, no ifs ands or buts.
Speaking of butts (and you KNOW how we like to speak of butts), one bit of legislation that's due to sail through Congress this week is the Tobacco Regulation Bill. Wanna guess who's against it (aside from Congressmen from Kentucky)? Yep, the insurance industry. Care to take a stab at why? It's simple: the largest insurers in this country have invested billions in tobacco. Prudential, in fact, has a whopping $264.3 million invested in cancer sticks.
As you might imagine, we have a few things to say about that.
Dear Prudential (and Allstate, Sun Life, et al):
For all your flowery language about how your products provide "peace of mind," we'd like to give you a piece of ours.
We started smoking at 18. It made us devastatingly hip, natch, and we looked too cool 4 school with a Marlboro parked in our kisser. Teenagers, of course, are hard-wired to rebel. We knew it was "bad." That was okay, like Sandy in Grease, we wanted to be "bad." We were also 18, and as you know all 18-year-olds are immortal. But yes, when we purchased that first pack of lung candy, it was our choice.
It was also our choice when, twenty years later (wheezing from a flight of stairs), we embarked on that long, torturous odyssey of quitting. We recall feeling as if a million spiders were trying to eat their way out of our skin, swearing under our labored breath that we'd sell our mother to Qaddafi for a puff. Patches, gum, hypnosis, acupuncture. Of course we started again. We quit again. Start-quit-start-quit. Now, at 45, we've been tobacco-free (with the exception of one or two bummed smokes) for three years. It's pitiful, but quitting is one of our proudest achievements.
So now, should we decide to "Get a Piece of the Rock" or entrust ourselves to the "Good Hands People" and buy, say, health coverage, or life insurance, or an annuity, or long-term care from a corporation that professes its dedication to our well-being, we're also supporting an industry that tried to (and might still) kill us. We wonder why.
Could it be that if we buy an annuity or long term care and die of lung-rot at 62, you'll save a buttload of cash? Could it be that smokers can only buy personal health insurance at a prince's ransom? Could it be that life insurance premiums for smokers are exponentially higher than for non-smokers? Ker-ching!
Like Phillip Morris, you want us to smoke. But at least the tobacco industry would likely prefer its customers to live longer so they could smoke more. You, on the other hand, are deeply vested in your customers' early demise. So unless you unload your stock in emphysema futures and bequeath it to a free clinic (like, maybe one of scores recently shuttered due to budget constraints), there's only one thing left to say:
You are vile.
Pru sez: "Get a piece of this blog! Subscribe to its feed today!"