Not to disparage single-payer…

Funny stuff from James Lileks’ “Athwart” column.  From Born Under a Bad Site:

Not to disparage single-payer; that’s what we had when I was born. It was called “Dad.” Parents back then saved maternity bills, perhaps to wave at a sulky teen who wanted his allowance raised — ever get me back for this? No? All right then. The bills usually looked like this:

Double-occupancy room: $18
Codeine-soaked leather strap to bite down on: $3.26
The Part Where the Baby Came Out: $87
Swaddling garments: $1.45
Parking: $2.25

Dad paid with a check, or laid out some twenties. If he got a handful of change in return, he thought, “That’s going straight into the kid’s college fund.”

As for the true cost of birth, or “fetal-relocation assistance,” as it’s probably called at, who knows? The Mystery of Birth is no longer the thing itself, but who pays what. If you have an entity that can both print unlimited amounts of money and borrow as much as it wants, you may be surprised to find that the entity is charged more and more for all sorts of things. No longer do you have Dad, bleary, wearing the same shirt for the second day, stubbled, working on his 47th cigarette since the cramps started, looking at a bill and saying, “It says you charged us for Jell-O. She didn’t get any Jell-O. We asked and they said it would come but it never did. I’m not paying for Jell-O.”

That is why we need single-payer: The ruthless efficiencies of government will bend the curve until it snaps and gets little sharp pieces of curve everywhere, and if you step on one and go to the emergency room for a tetanus shot they don’t have to ask for your insurance card, because everyone’s insured. They’ll scan the barcode on your neck and you’re good to go.

Point is, you won’t have insurance companies denying you coverage because you went out of the system. The government will deny you coverage because there’s a shortage of tetanus vaccine. That’s much better. Everyone’s in the same boat that way. Muttering through lockjaw, yes, but equal.


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