Procrustean health care

junk-carThe British are a race of Pygmies. I first discovered this fact when my boss’ comely daughter asked me to fix her recalcitrant MGB GT. I knew cars, and it seemed like a good way to score some points with my boss, and his pretty daughter.

So I took the keys and attempted to take the car for a spin.

With the driver’s seat shoved all the way back and my 6′ 3″ frame crammed into the cockpit, my shins were wedged against the dashboard, my knees straddled the steering wheel and my head was bent 90 degrees to the right. Closing the door would have crushed my left kneecap, so I left it ajar for the short drive — very short, since with my legs bent double I could only lightly dance across the pedals with my toes.

In Greek mythology, Procrustes, a wicked blacksmith, used to invite guests to stay overnight in his home. If they were too short for his guest bed, he would stretch them to fit. If too tall, he would amputate their legs.

If the Brits had been smart, they could have increased the MG’s market share by resorting to Procrustean human re-engineering…

Of the sort the President’s health care plan will have to depend on. To save money and make everything efficient, a Health Commission (presumably run by a distant relative of Procrustes) will design a one-size-fits-all health model. My company’s self-funded ERISA plan, which currently offers an affordable and modest package of benefits, will have to be stretched and hacked to fit Washington’s ideal. Instead of deciding for myself what sort of coverage fits me best, an unelected, unaccountable Washington Health Commissar will call the shots, and I’ll just have to pony up the cash to pay for it.

He’ll stretch some of us on the rack and perform amputations on others. The elderly will be encouraged to do without those expensive hip replacements and pacemakers. Diabetics will all use the same, cranky, Soviet-era insulin pumps. Expensive new meds will be discouraged when old meds work pretty well. Innovation will take a back seat to saving money, getting the biggest bang for our tax dollars.

British sports cars were notorious for breaking down when you needed them most. They looked sexy on a track going fast, but peek under the hood and you’d discover an awful mess. Kind of like the British health care system of today.

And like the American health care system of tomorrow, if Congress and the President get their way.

Photo credit: Flickr, Lady Wulfrun

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  1. Pat Slomanski says

    Hi, Charlie! I laughed and laughed at the thought of your being squeezed into the car. I also stopped laughing after I read your description of Obamacare if it is passed. I pray to God that Congress will wake up and reject this bill. I fear for the elderly and the unborn. Actually, I fear for us all. Thank goodness God is in control, Jesus has prepared the way, and we really don’t have to fear. Hope you are doing well. I am now in Benson and am so glad to be back “home.” It’s kind of lonely out here in the country, but my members are wonderful and loving. Take care, and God bless you, Charlie.

    Pat Slomanski

    Ebenezer Presbyterian Church

    Benson, N. C.

  2. Yes, I’m worried for those with disabilities.

  3. Charlie, I’ve been away too long!

    I know what mess was under the hood of the MGB, because my then-husband had explained to me early on that all British cars (and motorcycles) leaked oil. Also that all Italian cars (and motorcycles) are made for people with really long arms and really short legs, but Italian stuff is off-topic.

    I’ve been working for the last month as the receptionist at an assisted living place, and one of the residents is diabetic. He’s a fun guy, a little cynical, but very enjoyable and well in charge of his mental faculties at about age 66.

    But his diabetes is getting the better of him. Three times a week he spends the day in dialysis, which removes about 10 lbs of water that his kidneys can no longer manage. He’s lost one leg below his knee, and the other foot is missing one or two toes, plus the skin on his heel, where it sticks out behind the bandage around his remaining toes, looks like it’s in horrible shape. Oh, and he’s mostly blind, though he can see shapes well enough that he told me I have a nice figure. :o)

    Like Julana, I worry about what Obamacare would do to this gentleman and people like him. The Health Commission’s mandate for uniformity in care, coupled with the never-ending quest for cost-savings, tells me that he’ll be (strongly) encouraged to switch to less expensive palliative care and quietly await the end.

    No, Obamacare is nothing more than an oil-leaking, people-squishing, undriveable MGB. We’re much better off without it.