Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Nobody in Here but Us Marsupials: Another Quick, Depressing Look at the Human Virus

Humans are monsters. Seriously.

I know I'm supposed to say, "monsters and gods," and then make some point about how we're all this glorious, unwieldy compendium of good and bad attributes, but that there's this inherent beauty to us that will always, ultimately, bend towards the good (to mangle a Martin Luther King quote).

Today, though, I'm afraid I'm going to have to side with Agent Smith in The Matrix and say that "human beings are a disease."

AAAaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!!!!!

(Rips clothes off. Runs screaming into the woods.)



. . .

Okay. I'm back. The woods were cold.

I suppose I'd better explain why anyone who happened to have been outside my house just now might have seen a naked man go running by.

It all started when I flew to Los Angeles last year, using an air miles thing I picked up that gave me a bunch of points I had to use by the end of the calendar year. I wasn't going anywhere, so I spent them instead on free magazines, including a subscription to TIME.

This week's cover story is called "Bitter Pill: Why Medical Bills are Killing Us," and for the first time in the history of TIME, the magazine devoted the entire feature section to one story by one writer, Stephen Brill.

I've been reading it over the past few days. And while I had every intention of getting through all 24,105 words of it and then coming back here to summarize it for you, I just don't think I can do it. It's making my blood boil, and after reading what I have managed to get through so far (and currently being a member of the vast ranks of un-insured suckers), I've learned that I really can't afford some sort of heart-exploding incident.

Here's the thing, though... neither can you. No matter how good your insurance is, the U.S. Medical System's gonna hose ya. I've seriously gotta stop writing about this, now, or I'm gonna blow a gasket. I getting sick to my stomach thinking about how I'm a member of a species where any time there is an opportunity for someone with power to take advantage of someone without, that opportunity is exploited with a vengeance. And since, as I said, I can't afford to get sick... I'm gonna stop.

Instead, I'll quote the intro-blurb on the front page and suggest you go read the rest for yourself:

"To understand why U.S. health care spending is out of control, you just have to follow the money. This in-depth investigation of billing practices reveals that hospitals--and the executives who run them--are gaming the system to maximize revenue and sticking patients with bills that have little relationship to the care that's provided. The free market in American medicine is a myth, with or without Obamacare."

On second thought, though, since I doubt you've got the time or the Zen to sit through that whole bit of I-Wanna-Nuke-Us-All-Today, let me instead recommend that you go watch THIS FOUR MINUTE INTERVIEW about the piece with TIME senior editor, Jeffrey Kluger.

This isn't Obama's fault. It's not George W.'s fault. It's the fault of Democrats and Republicans. It's the fault of human nature. And it's disgusting.

To quote Mike Myers in the cult classic, So I Married an Axe Murderer, "Let's get pissed!"

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