Forget 'Cadillac' Health Care; Americans Need A Buick

A 1949 Cadillac 2-door sedan. i i

So what exactly is a "Cadillac" health care plan? In the debate over health care, commentator Laura Lorson says it's time to rethink that phrase. Robert E. Klein/AP hide caption

itoggle caption Robert E. Klein/AP
A 1949 Cadillac 2-door sedan.

So what exactly is a "Cadillac" health care plan? In the debate over health care, commentator Laura Lorson says it's time to rethink that phrase.

Robert E. Klein/AP
Laura Lorson

Lorson is the local All Things Considered host for Kansas Public Radio in Lawrence. KPR/University of Kansas hide caption

itoggle caption KPR/University of Kansas

You know, in the health care debate, we all keep talking about people who have "Cadillac" health care plans. I'm not completely clear on what this is. I guess what they mean is "an extravagantly good health care plan" — in the same way that Cadillacs can be extravagantly nice cars.

Except I've never in my life owned a Cadillac and have only experienced riding in them as part of a funeral cortege, so I'm really kind of at a loss figuring out what exactly the "Cadillac" plans would actually cover. Perhaps they cover seat warmers? Those weird kind of turn signals that show up in your side mirrors? And what kind of Cadillac are we talking about here? Like, an Escalade? I don't know what that is like, 'cause I've never been in one, as I am neither a high-powered recording artist nor a celebutante.

On the other hand, my grandfather drove a white Cadillac DeVille with slushy steering and blown shocks for years, but that's probably not what they mean. Also, I was not ever allowed in it after this one time when I was 8 that I spilled an entire cherry-flavored Slush Puppie into the back-seat cushions. I guess what I'm saying is, it's time to rethink this particular metaphor or simile, or whatever it is.

Now, I currently have health insurance, thank God, and I'd say it's a pretty solid used 1995 Honda Civic with an iffy paint job. It's not like you actively show it off to people, but it's paid for, and it runs, and it gets good gas mileage. What you pretty much don't want is, say, the rusted-out 1974 Datsun of health care coverage. Or what were those ones that sometimes exploded? The 1972 Pinto. You don't want that.

What you want is, let's say, the Toyota Camry of health care. You're not gonna go pick up girls in it, but it will get you where you need to go. You probably actually want the Jaguar XKE, but seriously? You don't really want that, because cops will keep stopping you, and you're constantly on the lookout for rogue grocery carts and evil small boys with keys in their hands and malice in their hearts. You will, on the other hand, find it easier to pick up chicks. So you've got that going for you.

What you want? A Buick. Good, solid, American, nicer than you need, not as nice as you want ... the car that your dad wants you to buy. The car equivalent of the health insurance that pays for stuff when you're sick, and you don't have to spend 30 hours on the phone a month later figuring out why the hell you just got this bill for $20,000 from a cardiologist, when the only reason you went in at all was because you broke your big toe.

Not that I'm speaking from personal experience or anything. No. I have the Honda Civic health coverage, and it's a trouper. Lotta miles left in this health coverage. Regular oil changes every 3,000 miles, never took 'er off-road, bought her from a nice little old lady who never took it out of the garage. It's a cream puff, it's a peach. Though I have been thinking about taking this other job that is offering me limited-time, zero percent financing, Hyundai Santa Fe health coverage.

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