Infomercial king Billy Mays, known for screaming about the wonders of cleaning solutions Kaboom!, OxiClean, and other household products, is now starring in a commercial for what he calls "the most important product I've ever endorsed:" health insurance.
That’s right. The man who brought you the Bloomin’ Onion Maker and the Samurai Shark is now selling health insurance.
You have to admit, he's the perfect shill for this system. He provides no healthcare but takes a hefty slice off the top. He’s the ultimate overhead!
So what’s the pitch?
Mays says iCan's plans include guaranteed acceptance, starting as low as $160 per month for individuals and $260 for families, and can allow you to lower your monthly premium, increase coverage, or both.
The funny thing about this talking point is that it repeats the message of just about every middle of the road politician, by placing the focus on affordability rather than care, and talking about individual solutions rather than guaranteed universal care.
Take Ron Wyden, for example, who is a Senator from Oregon who moonlights as a salesman for the insurance industry and has a similar quote: "The Healthy Americans Act would guarantee every American universal, affordable, comprehensive, portable, high-quality, private health coverage" (Wyden’s bill contains a mandate to purchase the very same insurance product that Mays is pitching!)
What Wyden’s advocating against...and Mays is ignoring...is the kind of genuine healthcare reform represented by HR 676, Rep. John Conyers’ bill for an expanded and improved "Medicare for All." We have reams of evidence from every other industrialized democracy that such a system would work, and would save money by getting rid of middlemen like Mays. (And ending contributions to politicians like Wyden.)
BusinessWeek warns about Mays’ plan...and this also applies to the junk insurance that people would end up getting with an "individual" mandate such as the one Wyden is pushing:
These limited plans are not for everyone, and they could end up costing more if you need expensive care. "The problem is they're advertising these unbelievably low premium health insurance plans," says Mark Kenison, a financial adviser who specializes in insurance at Turning Point Benefits Group in Charlotte, N.C. "All you're doing its transferring risk to yourself so your monthly premiums are lower."
And there’s the rub. Rather than spread risk out among society, in a huge risk pool, as single-payer systems do with their national health coverage, the individual plans put every one on your own. Get sick...go bankrupt...die anyway.
Or as BusinessWeek advised customers who buy one of Mays’ plans:
Get Term Life
But wait there’s more!
On Saturday, September 13, 2008, single payer advocates from across New York will meet in Albany to form a new statewide organization. Our aim: to build an unbeatable movement for a single payer public system that would fully fund comprehensive health care, including prescription drugs, for all. We invite all single-payer supporters to join us!
Already a wide diversity of groups and individuals across New York are working for HR 676, and also for a New York state-based single payer system. We have worked together spontaneously, organically, and successfully. We also work with many other groups that promote
"universal healthcare" or "affordable healthcare," but not necessarily single payer. We are appreciative of their efforts. But the evidence is convincing that single payer reform is crucial for our state and our nation.