The New Health Care Marketplace

"Nice Rash, Buddy"

“Nice rash, buddy.”

Saul believed Wednesday morning would be the best time for his visit to the New Health Care Market.

“Hey, $55 dollars and we’ll have that urticaria off your face in no time at all. Money back guarantee!”

They must think Saul is a real greenhorn. Everybody knows whoever has the first stall near the auditorium’s entrance was sure to be peddling overpriced, shoddy product.

“Don’t listen to him. $40 and we’ll have you all looking like new in half an hour.”

Another one. Saul understood they figured he wasn’t just browsing, but he was beginning to feel like chum surrounded by ravenous sharks.

“Johns Hopkins trained. Not like any of these state university assholes. Johns Hopkins. Where else you going to find a bargain like this? Number one medical establishment. No finer school represented in this entire bazaar.”

Saul kept walking as two belligerent doctors screamed and waved diplomas at one another. Fisticuffs looked likely to ensue, so Saul and his rash just kept on moving through this health care maze.

The New Medical Marketplace came into existence two years previous. The World Court ruled for-profit health care to be both a human rights violation and a possible war crime. The existing medical industry, pharmaceutical companies, medical insurers, as well as for-profit hospitals and doctors, all folded up like the cheap suits they were. Not a single bank was willing to front money to organizations subject to civil and criminal proceedings certain to bankrupt them. Without lines of credit, the for-profit health industry disappeared almost overnight.

Saul had enjoyed observing the ensuing medical/corporate shit storm. Hospitals and private practices which had utilized most of their manpower filling out insurance forms, soon brought their investors to their knees. Insurance companies, their corporate model based on percentages above cost, began focusing on real competitive business rather than seeing how high they could drive medical billing. Used Cadillac and Lexus SUVs soon flooded the market. Saul, since he drove so very little, and the price was even better than right, indulged himself a little and purchased the last ridiculously large gas guzzler he was sure he would ever buy. He only used it short trips around town. For serious driving, he now rented.

For the vast majority of citizens, the demise of the for-profit, insurance driven medical community was a great bonus. Eventually certain corrupt diehard congressman would lose their seats and Medicare for all would become the law of the land. For now, until public funds were available to hire all qualified medical professionals as public servants, these true free market medical farmers’ markets fulfilled a need.

Saul made his way through the crowd, eventually he spotted the booth where Dr. Bob, the Falafel King, peddled his wares. Saul had done his homework. He knew the Falafel King provided good service for an extremely reasonable price.

Dr. Bob remained one of the few medical professionals at the market still employing a nurse. “He does great work. There’s always enough money to share.” In and out of Dr. Bob’s establishment in under forty-five minutes, Saul agreed with the prescribed treatment and the fifty dollars out-of-pocket included a month’s worth of the prescribed drugs. On his way out, the satisfied patient purchased enough falafels for dinner that night. Dr. Bob certainly knew how to keep a business running.

Driving home in his gently used SUV, Saul did feel a moment of compassion for the doctors who these days had to scramble for every nickel. Eventually they would all come around and accept salaries topped off at what was paid to U.S. Senators. Until they learn the lesson of what a real marketplace is, rather than the rigged insurance racket they’d help perpetrate for so many years, these M.D. gurus would have to share mall space with the local farmers. Until they learned their real value to the community, they’d have to sell their services by the side of the road just like everybody else.

Saul pulled into his garage and returned to the warmth of his home, a satisfied medical consumer looking forward to a tasty dinner.