Struggling to break free from Obamacare oppression, Idaho is offering low-cost health plans that achieve this goal by avoiding covering anyone who’s been sick in the past and skimping on coverage for any diseases that might make you sick in the future. These strategies are, inconveniently, explicitly banned by the Affordable Care Act.
Fortunately, I have a solution perfect for Idaho and other GOPers eager to emulate Idaho’s example. My plan covers young and old, sick and healthy, fitness buff and couch potato, all for the same incredibly low price. No one, and no illness, is excluded.
Welcome to the Placebo HMO, dedicated to serving every American who fervently believes you don’t need real health insurance.
We’re a faith-based plan that offers empathetic, sincere and personalized advice from a broad range of highly skilled actors pretending to be doctors. Whether it’s a “seen everything” veteran like Tom Hanks or Meryl Streep in The Post or a bright-eyed idealist like Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling in La La Land, we provide unparalleled freedom of provider choice that plans dependent on actual doctors cannot match.
At Placebo HMO, we’re committed to consumerism. Your beliefs, whatever they may be, always come first, since we want you to have a doctor you can trust. So, for instance, you might choose our popular “Dr. Cooper” model, available not only in male and female versions (“Bob” or “Betty” Cooper) and a variety of ages, but also in a choice of religions (Protestant, Catholic or Mormon) and races (black or white). We also offer “Dr. Garcia,” “Dr. Gu,” “Dr. Gandhi” or “Dr. Greenberg.” Not all selections are available in all states; e.g., our Idaho plan, for example, does not include “Dr. Mohammed.”
You choose who to see (or avoid). Whatever your choice, you need never worry that your faith will be shaken by an upsetting political opinion. Each of our “doctors” has been specially trained to enthusiastically agree with whatever President Trump may have said that day.
The way our plan works is simple. If you feel ill, you don’t have to take off work or find a sitter for the kids while you trundle down to a crowded waiting room filled with God-knows-what contagious disease. Instead, just dial our toll-free number or FaceTime or Skype us, and you can talk directly to your “family doctor.” If you believe you need a “specialist,” no problem! Unlike real HMOs, we don’t require a burdensome referral.
Our “doctors” are not distracted by computerized medical records or calls from the hospital, so they can focus only on you — your symptoms, your concerns, your medical history, your life. For patients who believe their doctor should be a true partner, we offer shared decision-making: working together, our “doctor” and you can Google your symptoms.
Most of all, our doctors truly listen — unlike actual doctors, they won’t be interrupting you after 18 seconds to tell you what to do — and they truly care. To demonstrate their concern our “doctors” will gladly write you a prescription for a placebo drug. It will either be a brand name (which we’ll tell you ordinarily costs $150 a pill because of its powerful ingredients) or generic (which we’ll tell you ordinarily costs $1.50 a pill, but works just as well).
There are no co-pays, no deductibles and no paperwork. Best of all, our plan costs just two dollars a day — exactly the price of a daily Powerball lottery ticket. You gotta believe!
Can a placebo really help you? Of course it can. It’s been shown, for instance, that placebos can offer powerful pain relief — putting the Placebo HMO on the leading edge of solving our nation’s opioid crisis. No less an authority than the Harvard Health Letter concluded that “the placebo effect may be an integral part of good medical care,” which suggests that the Placebo HMO might have been named the Harvard HMO! (Just kidding, Harvard.)
In sum, the Placebo HMO provides everything that Obamacare opponents have been agitating for: Freedom of choice. Patient-centered consumerism. Respect for local preferences. Affordability rooted in the power of faith.
And, if you get really sick, we give you directions to the nearest hospital emergency room.
Michael Millenson is President, Health Quality Advisors and a contributing editor to THCB.