Saturday, November 17, 2007

Cough It Up

Some people can get through a chest cold without much trouble.

My wife, on the other hand, used up all her best genes on brains and looks, mainly at the expense of her lungs.

So in her case, a chest cold quickly becomes bronchitis, which progresses to pneumonia, then double-pneumonia, then emphysema, then toenail fungus, hives, and leprosy.

As if that wasn't bad enough, by the time she gets through all that, the PMS sets in.

So we like to take care of things at the bronchitis stage, if possible, which is why I find myself standing in front of the pharmacist, staring mournfully at the Flovent.

Flovent is a steroid that apparently comes in a titanium-plated inhaler autographed by David Ortiz. The pharmacist yawns, waiting for me to decide if I'm actually going to plop down 180 beans for a few hits of poison mist.

My shoulders have slumped in resignation. After several moments of dejected silence, my left hand suddenly darts out and swipes the precious box from the chemistry geek's unsuspecting grasp, and I sprint out the door, leaving the other customers in open-mouthed shock.

With liberating, oversized strides, I zip across the parking lot, leap over a small embankment, and into an open field, whooping and laughing in a defiant, celebratory moment of triumph against the pharmaceutical industry and its corporate bedfellows.

Ah, who am I kidding. Even if I had the guts to pull such a stunt, those lame automatic doors always open too slowly for anyone to “sprint” out of a drug store. I'd either slam headlong into the glass, or I'd have to stop for a moment, like a fool, and wait for the doors before I could resume sprinting.

I bet Carl Lewis has this problem all the time (except he probably has decent health insurance).

In the end, I leave the Flovent on the counter and settle for some regular asthma treatment. As I write these words, my wife seems to be getting better. Maybe I can fall asleep tonight without worrying that she might drown in mucous.

Of course, it's all my fault for becoming a teacher, which provides all the perks of a student loan payment without those annoying professional-level benefits.

I should have gone into the insurance business, which requires no actual work. All you have to do is:

  1. Convince people they're irresponsible if they don't buy a policy from you.

  2. Collect fat checks.

  3. Figure out ways to not give people what they think they're buying.

In the rare instance that one of your policies has a “loophole” that requires you to actually pay someone, you can penalize that person by jacking up their rates.

What a racket! Imagine applying that price structure elsewhere. Open up a gas station and charge $1.99 a gallon. People would come from miles around to line up at your pumps. But as soon as they start the cars, charge their credit cards another $60.

That'll teach 'em to use your product!

Your health insurance company doesn't wait for a reason to increase rates. They spike them 25% a year, no matter what, just because they can.

Obviously, the government should intervene, but for some reason there seem to be a lot of (wealthy) people who love the insurance industry just the way it is.

I guess as long as the automatic doors at Rite-Aid remain too slow for the rest of us to sprint through, they have no reason not to.

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