Sandy Springs: Health care mess starts with the sick

The slumberous economy, I am told, has led to a number of accomplished professionals starting their own businesses when they found the job market glutted with competition. No doubt this will result in some wondrous entrepreneurial output, but self-employment is not all stout and skittles.

Among the many things a person becoming his or her own boss will ascertain is what became of that dastard who used to deal playground Three-Card Monte, fleecing everyone out of their lunch money. That person got older and came up with the sales pitch: “Affordable health insurance for the self-employed.” Having been my own boss since 1999, I’ve had to wade through this catch basin periodically.

It’s top of mind again because we are between insurers. The rate for the last one was scheduled to leap to a monthly premium that would have made a crackerjack down payment for that portion of Sandy Springs between Abernathy Road and just south of the strip club. If I had the jingle to afford that, I could just pay for my medical visits out-of-pocket and leave a 25 percent tip.

So, for the moment, our household finds itself in the ranks of the uninsured, though I slipped us in through the back door so some politician would not want to bring “sharper focus” to the “plight” we find ourselves in. Were I foolish enough to ask what the politicians were doing to help people steeped in this plight, I’m fairly sure I’d be told they were “working on it.” Fantabulous!

The next time I’m presented with a four-figure bill from some medical entity and am asked how I intend to pay, I’ll tell them: “Nothing. The politicians are working on it.” Then I’ll make a run for the exit just in case they employ a couple of human growth hormone end-users to counsel patients like me.

This past week I got a bone scan and had a chat with the lady who deals with people who do not have insurance. She was remarkably cheerful considering she has to present the bill. The pugnacious part of her job is not the increase in patients without insurance, but those who assume that as an employee she gets her medical care for free. She doesn’t, but it got me thinking, and I believe I now know who is to blame for this “plight” business.

Not the physicians and surgeons, not the hospitals and insurers — though they have their share of blackguards.

The problem is us — the patients. We don’t have the good sense not to get sick, get clipped by a passing car or have body parts malfunction because of age. We’re the ones who keep the doctors so busy their handicaps are as high as a pachyderm’s eye. We’re the ones in those hospital beds, all pale and fevered. We’re the ones going through swine flu vaccine like guano through a gosling.

My elucidation to the uninsured is this. Don’t get sick, injured or old. And avoid politicians who are working on it. They spread plight.

Jim Osterman lives in Sandy Springs. Reach him at