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Chuck Moss

Chuck Moss

“Single-Payer” (Government) Insurance is Rigged

October 13, 2017

I needed some money, so I went down to the local casino. I got some chips, found a table, and got ready to claim my guaranteed benefits. “Place your bets,” said the guy. I put some chips down on Red. He spun the wheel, and it came up Black. Then the guy scooped up my chips with a big wooden rake and took them all.

“Hey!” I said. “Those are my chips, give ‘em back!  Where’s my guaranteed free benefits?” 

“Benefits?  You lost!  Here’s how it works: you choose an outcome and bet your money that it happens. If it happens, you win. If it doesn’t happen, you lose and I win.  Nothing’s guaranteed.  That’s why we call it ‘gambling.’ Got it?”

“It doesn’t sound very fair to me,” I grumbled. “I thought this was where people gave me guaranteed money if I needed it.”

“OH!” the guy said. You mean INSURANCE!  That’s different. He pointed. “The Insurance table is over there.”  So I walked over through the casino to the insurance table. It was way less flashy, with no colored lights or lurid pictures of busty women.  It actually looked like a common business office, with a boring-looking guy in a tie behind a desk.

“Hi, “I said. “I’m here for the benefits.”

“Great,” said the guy. “Are you a policy holder?”

“Uhhh… what’s that? I thought this was where you gambled and got guaranteed free money.”

The man chuckled. “I suppose you could see it that way. Here’s how it works: you choose an outcome that you don’t want to happen and bet that it will. I take your bet, and gamble that it won’t. Then if the bad thing—car crash, house fire, untimely death, whatever—does happen, I pay you money.”   

“This is complicated gambling,” I said.

“Yeah,” he said. “That’s why I have these guys here.” He pointed to seven even more boring-looking people in suits sitting behind him, with calculators. ”These folks are called ‘actuaries’ and they figure the odds on every bet. We figure out how much we need to charge so we can have cash to pay off, add in a small service charge, and then write it all up in a contract called a ‘policy.’ That’s insurance.”

“I thought insurance gave me free benefits.”

“Oh,” he said. “You want GOVERNMENT INSURANCE. That table’s over there.”

So I walked over to the Government Insurance table.  A guy in a cheap tie was behind a long desk with a sign saying ‘take a number.’ I took the number 993. The board said ‘now serving number 5.’

“There’s nobody here,” I said to the guy. “I’m here for my free guaranteed benefits.”

“Wait your turn. Make an appointment. Come back next week,” he said.

“I need my free benefits now,” I said.

“That’s what all the welfare clients say,” he said.

“Welfare!!” I shouted. “No way! I’m here for Insurance!”

“Free Guaranteed Government Benefits Insurance,” said the government guy. “It’s just Welfare, but we call it ‘insurance’ cause it sells the programs better. But it’s really Welfare. It’s free to you because we take the money from someone else. And you get it the way we want to give it. You want real insurance; go back to those guys over there. Besides, the program you want probably isn’t funded, got cancelled, or you’re not eligible anyway. ”

“Bad service, iffy benefits, red tape, no guarantees. This Government Insurance is terrible,” I said.

He shrugged. “Why do you think it’s free?”

Chuck Moss teaches Political Science at Oakland University and serves on the Board of the Regional Transportation Authority. He was elected to represent the 40th District in the Michigan House and was appointed Chairman of the all-important Appropriations Committee, responsible for the entire state budget. Prior to politics, Chuck was political columnist for the DETROIT NEWS, and has hosted talk shows for radio and television.

October 12, 2017 · Filed under Chuck Moss

4 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Chuck Fellows // Oct 13, 2017 at 8:33 am

    So you want to tell people that medicare and medicaid are terrible? How about social security? Nothing is “free” and all of those programs are paid for by the people of this nation, AKA the government. The rest of the developed world (OECD) has single payer and it works better than our so called “free market ” private system and costs less. Explain that.

  • 2 John Scott // Oct 13, 2017 at 12:59 pm

    Sure, if we put the starve-the-government crowd in charge, the free market worshipers, it’s obvious they can wreck any system of government health insurance. Look what the Trump crowd is doing to the ACA. We’d better hope they don’t set their sights on Medicare and Social Security.

  • 3 Anagnorisis // Oct 13, 2017 at 4:02 pm

    Very clever once again, Chuck. Facetious humor is the best irony. The best that might be asseverated is that theses programs “kinda work”. Naturally we all complain anyway. As with so many issues, this seems to work much better in many other countries. The US has yet to fully define the problem.

  • 4 Frank Walshingham // Oct 14, 2017 at 8:51 pm

    Can’t distill it to a more basic level than you did. Great editorial!

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