Thursday, July 30, 2009

Dateline Woodstock
Here in Woodstock this summer, the conversation at our favorite lunch counter, the Woodstock Squat and Gobble, has focussed on two subjects: 1) trying to figure out exactly how a governor of a state could "fight even harder for its people" by resigning the office, and 2) trying to come up with the best solution to health insurance reform. Having given up on Question #1, the boys over at the S&G are testing a plan they think most people can relate to. According to Buster Foley, owner of the S&G, the whole problem can be laid at the feet of doctors who get paid for the most complex solution they can dish out. Buster says he noticed, a few months back, that one side of his tongue was swollen. He tried all his home remedies -- asprin, nasal spray, beer, more beer -- but his tongue was still swollen. So he went to see the doctor. The receptionist began his treatment by parking him in a waiting room where he was asked to read a therapeutic article in the October 1981 issue of National Geographic. After 63 minutes of Treatment #1, the nurse moved Buster to a little examining room with a paper-covered table, which evidently emitted some kind of invisible healing rays because Treatment #2 had him sit there alone for an additional 43 minutes. To culminate the treatment, the actual doctor took a few moments from his busy schedule of renewing his subscription to National Geographic and renting more space for people to wait in came right into the room with Buster and actually looked at his tongue. After two minutes and 30 seconds together, the doctor told Buster that his problem was two Latin words that he later figured out meant swollen tongue. The doc asked Buster to come back in a week if his tongue wasn't any better. Buster considered suggesting that since he had already been there in treatment for a total of 108 minutes, maybe he should just spend the rest of the week in the examination room, but he was afraid this would anger the doc who might retaliate by sending Buster to the hospital for tests. Buster didn't want to go to the hospital because he says, from his experience, as soon as they get your Blue Cross number, they pounce on you with needles the size of turkey basters. We think Buster may be exaggerating a bit, but it does seem like those are the two most popular doctor options: tell you to come back in a week, or go to the hospital for tests. From an insurance point of view, the boys at the S&G think coming back in a week has its merits. They point out that, by and large, that option has worked fairly well for the last thousand years. And no one complained about health insurance premiums back then.

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