ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

There is a label that's been applied to a particular kind of high-end insurance coverage. We'll tell you what it is in a moment. Think: cars. Commentator Laura Lorson has something to say about whether that label still means what it once meant.

LAURA LORSON: 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 I have only experienced riding in them as part of a funeral cortege. So, I'm really at kind of 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? Which I don't even know what that's like because 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 either.

Also, I was never allowed in that car after this one time when I was eight that I spilled an entire cherry-flavored Slush Puppie into the backseat cushions. What I guess 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 is 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 going to go pick up girls in it, but it'll 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 do have that going for you. What you want is a Buick. Good, solid, American, nicer than you need, not quite 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 heck 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, no. I have the Honda Civic health coverage and it's a trooper. Lot of miles left in this health coverage. Regular oil changes every 3,000 miles, never took her off-road, bought her from a nice little old lady who never took it out of the garage. It's a cream puff. Though, I have been thinking about taking this other job that is offering me limited time, zero percent financing Hyundai Santa Fe health coverage.

SIEGEL: Commentator Laura Lorson drives a Honda Element and lives in Perry, Kansas.

Copyright © 2009 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.