Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Why socialized health care is like coffee….sorta.

While standing in line behind my co-worker for access to the one coffee maker in our office, I had a thought: I hope I like standing in line.

A few months ago, the powers that be decided we should purchase one of those fancy single-cup coffee makers instead of springing for gourmet coffee-shop bought coffee every Friday. This way, each of us could get what we wanted every day and save the company some dough. Sounds like a great plan. And it is a great plan because it’s coffee and I like coffee.

There are just a few issues.

1. The quality just isn’t the same. Nothing tastes better than sipping a fresh, custom-made, toffee-nut Americano with a touch of half & half and a Splenda from a cup with a green logo and topped with a white plastic lid. Nothing. Yeah, the fancy coffee maker provides fresh coffee. I get an adequate cup of hazelnut-flavored brew, and am provided with enough Coffee-Mate and Splenda to accommodate my particularly sweet flavor preference. It’s good enough to get me through my morning.

2. When we got the fancy coffee maker, we realized we could brew coffee, tea, and hot chocolate with our machine. The one catch is, we had to buy all the coffee and cream and sugar and Splenda and the new machine. Quite an investment for our little company! We have to store it all too. When someone wants some hot chocolate, hopefully we have it in stock. If not, we have to wait for the hot chocolate to become available…sometimes up to a week for delivery! When you want/need hot chocolate now, getting it a week later just won’t do!

3. Really, it’s just one machine. We bought one machine. But early in the morning, when people have left their personal coffee at home to drink the “free” (to them) coffee at work, there tends to be a log-jam at the coffee machine. It’s not really a big deal, it IS only a cup of coffee, but sometimes, you just can’t get that stuff fast enough. Maybe we should buy another machine for those times when we are wanting coffee at the same time, but that’s too much money and we don’t really have the room for it anyway.

4. Because I am the keeper of the order forms, I get to dictate what kind of coffee, tea, or hot chocolate we get. Sure, I can be nice and order what other like, but when it comes down to it, I order Daybreak Blend for everyone because it’s MY favorite and I think it should be his or her favorite too. What? You want TEA? Um, I’ll have to see if it’s in our budget to order another box of tea. Sorry, it’s not. Besides, you got your preferred flavor of tea last week, so let’s give those soda drinkers and chance to get what they want. Oh, that’s right, this machine doesn’t serve soda. Well, it’s still their turn to decide. You ran out of votes last week.

5. Oh, the options. Before the fancy coffee maker, I used to see those white cups with green logos nearly every day. Sometimes, two or three a day. But now, I go about a month before seeing a lonely green circle logo. I feel for the people who work at the store of the green logo because we are taking money out of their pockets. But are we? We still have the OPTION to go to the gourmet coffee shop with the green logo. In fact, it’s less than a mile away from the office. But why stop there and pay for coffee when I can get it for free at the office? I’m not personally paying for the coffee in the office. It’s the COMPANY coffee! Then I think: What if everyone got on of these fancy coffee makers in their homes and offices? What if it was required to drink some sort of brewed beverage every day and you could either get it with the coffee maker, or get it at the gourmet store? I know, for my budget, I’d choose the coffee maker. I can’t afford to go get a white cup with a green logo every day. How long before the option of going to the gourmet store wasn’t an option? They can’t operate if everyone chooses the fancy coffee maker. They have no income.

So how is this like health-care reform? Well, the quality of health care just won’t be the same. People won’t value it because they have no direct financial responsibility for it. They want a cup of coffee, I mean, they want to see a doctor, they just show up, stand in line, and get what they want. Say someone has a caffeine-deprivation related headache because they had to wait to long at the fancy coffee machine. They could demand to see a specialist for that headache because it COULD be a tumor.

The wait time would be extraordinary. There won’t be enough doctors to go around. Is that a good reason for no health-care reform, no. But it will happen. By some estimates, the time it takes to choose a primary care physician would go from three months to six months. That is not acceptable. What if the first choice doesn’t work out? Can you really wait six months to a YEAR to see a doctor?

With an impending government monopoly on health-care, it won’t take long until the check-writer, the government, dictates what we get. Just like me being the lone orderer of the coffee, some fat politicking slob will be telling me what they will and will not pay for my care. Next, they will be telling me what tests I have to have done and what choices I have to make to be fiscally responsible. Um, no. Unacceptable. I can see it now. Mandatory genetic testing on the unborn to see if they deserve life. If all is clear, great. They won’t be a drain on society. If there is a problem, then mom must have an abortion because no doctor will treat the baby. Talk about not treating a preexisting condition!

Having another option won’t be possible. Just like if everyone got a fancy coffee maker, gourmet shops will be put out of business, that’s exactly what will happen to private insurance. If we all chose the cheaper option, a logical decision, how long before that is the ONLY option? Not long, I promise you. And if you think the fancy shop was founded by a greedy old man, so be it. This is America. He had a dream. He saw an opportunity. He took a chance and he made money. Lots of money. Good for him! Go capitalism!

So, stick with me. When the gourmet shop goes out of business and we are all ordering our fancy coffee-maker cups, we’ve just given the maker of the cups the market share. They can now dictate what coffee cups are available and which are not. AND they can set their own price on the fancy coffee cups because they are the only place in town (or the internet) to get the fancy coffee cups. Should my favorite, Daybreak Blend, become very popular, what do you think will happen? Of course, the price will go up! Suddenly, I’m presented with two choices. I can either pay whatever price they demand for Daybreak Blend, or stop drinking Daybreak Blend. When I stop drinking Daybreak Blend because I don’t want to or can’t pay, then what happens? The maker will either lower the price, or say there is no demand for that particular flavor and no longer offer Daybreak Blend, further dictating what I can or can not drink. My choices just went down. It won’t take long for the other less popular flavors to fall off of the offerings menu and the cycle continues.

But enough about coffee. We all need to drink more water anyway. THIS is something no one can control the rationing of. Oh, wait, yes they can.

*SPECIAL NOTE: I love the company I work for and I'm grateful they would even offer the gourmet coffee once a week or the fancy coffee maker and supplies any time I choose. Any points made here are just for illustration and are not to be misread as disgrace, disgust (at the coffee situation) or any other negative thoughts or feelings toward the current coffee situation at my place of employment. THANKS!


Tricia said...

Good points.

Ronnie "Sickboy" Sharpe said...

I think you should try Dunkin Donuts :)


Anonymous said...

Outstanding Post!!!

YHM :)