Infrequently Noted

Alex Russell on browsers, standards, and the process of progress.

A Contract With America

Dear Republican Senators (and Max Baucus):

Since you do not believe that health insurance should always be available via large-group policy to the vast majority of Americans, and since you seem to believe that the individual insurance market functions well, I believe it is only proper for you to buy insurance in the individual market.

As a taxpayer, I'm sure you're as galled as I am that we're continuing to insure America's Senators through a nearly socialist system, and while you haven't yet discovered the presence of mind to submit legislation to end this objectionable practice and free all of America's Senators from the yoke of tyranny, you can personally act to see this deeply un-'merican policy corrected. In short, I urge you to find the courage of your convictions and put your health where our money is.

I recognize that legislating in good faith is no longer "on the table" for you. It has to be hard being the party of "no", never having anything constructive to offer -- never being asked to think independently about anything -- but this is something that you can do for your country. A contract with America, if you will. Or if not with America, a contract with an individual insurer in the greater District of Columbia and/or your home state...anyway, you get the idea. It'd be a contract for America at the very least.

On this Labor Day, I urge you to do the right thing. Join your constituents and say, with one voice, "what do you mean you won't cover Timmy's ear infection? He was just born! How can that be pre-existing!?!" This is "rugged individualism" at its finest. Just you against the private-sector Man. The way it should be.

True, this won't be a 1:1 comparison since you're in the top 3% of all earners. But don't worry, you'll soon find that you can't afford the coverage you're currently enjoying when you buy in the individual market. Your new, terrible, and terribly expensive insurance will doubtless give you the flavor of what the rest of us experience.

Ingeniously, this plan doesn't even require that you do anything constructive toward health care reform. You can keep stiffing both your country and your constituents and you won't have to hold any of those awkward "town hall" meetings to explain yourself. After all, this is the fiscally conservative thing to do; you'll be saving taxpayers money, and who can argue with that?

Pretty soon, you might even be able to find the courage to do what your instincts -- and terrible economics -- tell you to do: advocate that our retirees buy in the individual market too! Once you discover how great the individual market is, you shouldn't have any qualms in making the case that everyone should join it. Just think how many people you'll be able to lift out of the oppressive regime of socialized insurance. The elderly will surely make their thanks known at the ballot box. As someone who's most likely "getting up there" yourself, you'll have added credibility on the issue...and seriously, when was the last time you had credibility? This is political gold.

You can even continue to play the part of hostage to broken, antiquated economics if it suits you (and your major campaign contributors, 'natch).

It's the very least you can do for your country, and for your (tiny) efforts you'll be set on a personal journey of discovery. You've never seen the pain and burning anger caused by "pre-existing condition" denials for things that are laughably routine. You've never wondered in awe at how large a deductible you were suckered into, and you've probably never had a plan with a lifetime cap on benefits; so when you really need them, they won't be there. In fact, I suspect that you have never considered that the majority of us don't even have actual health insurance.

By buying in the individual market, you can set an example. This is your chance to be a real pioneer! This could even be your first step towards representing a growing constituency -- something you Republicans have been searching for: those who have gone bankrupt under a mountain of medical bills because they had the temerity to get sick before they turned 65. Those folks might not have wealth, they might not even have their health, but they sure-as-hell are voters. Just think, you can get in on the ground floor of that action!

Yes, dear Senator, by simply finding your moral compass (you've got it back there somewhere, even if you haven't used it in a while) and following it for just one step, you can help us right this great nation again and return it to glory. I urge you to do this thing for your country, follow your ideology, and deny yourself the kind of care that you've worked so hard to deny the rest of us. It's the Right thing to do, after all.


Alex Russell