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Friday, July 1, 2011

Thank You Sir, May I Have Another?

Somehow, it felt like I was signing up to be fined.

My place of employment today hosted representatives of our new medical insurance provider, for which I stayed on an extra hour to discover that I was not eligible. But this mere inconvenience I mention, dear reader, only as an aside.

You see, as a condition of employment at most reputable establishments, a new employee is required to sign either an insurance enrollment form or a waiver, if said neophyte elects not to buy coverage. (Or at least, I recall signing a few in the past, but cannot speak for all businesses).

As I was toiling along between orders, I abruptly realized that I had never before made a written, signed agreement to not purchase anything. I've never stopped at a rest-area McDonald's to use the bathroom and promised — let alone signed and dated a promise — not to buy a stomach-churning yet delightful soy-based sandwich.

And suddenly the scope of the debate over 2010's Affordable Care Act, more specifically the individual mandate kerfuffle, became apparent to me...

Holy shit, we've already conceded, long before anyone had realized, that we are essentially inactively "engaging" in commerce by electing* not to sign up for health insurance.

We've already lost more ground than I had realized. And now, we must rely on the twisted foundry of logic known as the U.S. legal system to determine whether we will be forced to purchase a product from a large, oligarchical group of companies.

No, I Am Not a Commie

Let me clarify this last statement for my Fox News-watching friends by mentioning that:

A) I bear no scorn for companies that operate in the free market.

B) I don't define "operating in a free market" as "receiving a shit-ton of money from the government via Medicare."

C) Since 1997, health insurance companies began receiving a shit-ton of money from the government via Medicare Advantage plans, which they then in turn invest, some wisely, some not so much.
The merits and drawbacks to a government-provided health care system can be discussed in a later posts, but for now, I can only sit back and be awestruck by how incredibly fucked we really are. Who, aside from insurance companies bathing in tax dollars, wanted this mess?

Surely not the current political right, who at least pay lip service to the idea of keeping governments' hands out of our pockets (although they may have dropped this pretense by now. I shun standard news outlets as listening to politicians makes me want to both vomit and defecate simultaneously).

And I can't imagine many who decry corporate power in Washington expected their beloved Obama to place them under the collective thumb large corporations they, sometimes justifiably, despise.

Perhaps no one is really paying attention.

I also wondered how, come 2014, those who spent campaign dollars, provided fortuitously by those very same companies, propose to enforce the failure to engage in commerce as I put pen to waiver. Am I signing up to be penalized (see: fined) by "electing" to, again, not buy something?

I hate to bring up the false analogy of car insurance, but bear with me here. In many states, insurance companies are required to report to the local authorities if one dares to allow their insurance to lapse. That person is then sent some warning they may be penalized monetarily or have their license suspended.

To borrow a particularly allegorical moment from the film X-Men, I might point out that while we license people to drive, we don't license people to live.

Or, at least, not yet.

*Their term, not mine.

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