OK, our fair queen of the slipstream has been complaining (bitching? Can a Queen bitch?) about this being empty for neigh onto 40 days and 40 nights, if my flood level gauge is working correctly. I shall now attempt to tell you what health insurance is. Be forewarned, my only experience is in the confines of America. So you folks living under Socialism (and that would be pretty much everywhere else) may find fault with my brief synopsis. My words for you would be the same as when Jerrold Nadler hears voices from the cheese croissants: "Eat me, you fool!"

Once upon a time, there was no such idea as Health Insurance. Much of this had to do with the fact that when you got sick, you died. Life was much easier then. However, as lifespans began to increase (like Nadler's belt size), medical costs began to go up.

The first forms of health insurance in America began as "Sick and Accident" policies. The upper echelon of these policies were called "Hospital Indemnity." The S/A policies paid workers a set amount for each week that they were out of work due to illness. They typically cost a nickel or a dime a week, and would pay $5 or $10 a week as a benefit. Doesn't sound like much? Well, it was back then. This was a form of insurance that got lumped into what is known as industrial insurance because it was primarily sold to working class families. (Think of Ralph and Norton in The Honeymooners.)

The HI policies actually paid a set amount for room and board in the hospital and came with a surgical benefit. These were more expensive policies, and were usually purchased by the middle class and upper class. The cost depended on what the insurance company would pay in case of hospitalization.

Please note that none of these policies paid for doctor's visits and routine checkups and stuff like that. "Oh, my God, dannye, what did people do back then in these most horrid of times? I'm suffering just thinking about it!"

Well, they did what all good people should do. They counted on their families, their churches, their communities, and their thrifty savings to get by. Mind you, this was many years before Oprah and the whining of America, where a politician could bring a sick child up and thrust him into the camera, a tear running down his cheek, screaming, "Think of the children!"

As time went on and medical costs skyrocketed, due to the advances of science, a more comprehensive health insurance was developed. (I started to say, "needed." That's wrong.) It was generally referred to as Comprehensive Major Medical (CMM) insurance, or just Major Medical. Since bureaucrats put us in the mess to need this type of insurance, it was necessarily built on the bureaucratic model. That is, so freaking complicated that no normal person could understand it. It came with deductibles (the amount you are out of pocket before the insurance kicks in), co-insurance (the amount you have to pay after the deductible is met in order to get 100% coverage), and limits (what's the max the insurance will pay, in worst-case-scenario).

Most folks in America now get this form of coverage from their employer. Oh, wait, I'm having a stroke laughing my ass off here... No, most folks in America are paying for this form of insurance as part of the cost of employing them. They just think the employer is paying for it. How do you think those folks back then afforded the doctor bill? They weren't being screwed out of money they earned by bogus schemes such as Group Health Coverage.

OK, I'm bitter, aren't I? Well, I didn't get real bitter until Medicare came along. This is the evil monster that has caused the situation to cross over from a bad deal to a death wish for any form of medical care that you'd care to have.

Have you seen the number of family physicians who have said, "Fuck it," due to all this government involvement? You blame the HMO? Hell, blame Medicare.

OK, back to basics. If you get CMM coverage from your employer, you better damn well find out what happens when you leave the "group" rate if you change jobs. If you want to buy CMM coverage on the open market, good luck. The ambulance chasers have sued the physicians down to the point where no one can afford it, except the very wealthy.

JP, is that enough, or do I have to do more? My fingers are tired.