Obamacare and Bad Chili

Kudos to Obamacare: I’m all for trying to make the U.S. health care system more like the ones in Switzerland or Massachusetts, which the bill that is currently going through Congress aims to do.

Yet, it won’t touch many of today’s systemic issues in the way that health care is provided to most Americans: at an exorbitant cost. Joe R. Lansdale satirized the system in Bad Chili, his 1997 “Texas Gothic” novel where Hap Collins, fresh from a stint on an offshore oil rig, comes home and gets bitten by a rabid squirrel.

“That insurance you got,” Doc Sylvan said. “We’re familiar with it. I made some calls to be sure. Sucks.”

“Which policy sucks?”

“Both of them. The oil rig policy will pay more in the long run, but it’s the short run that’s a bitch. The other policy seriously sucks the dog turd. You see, this is what they call outpatient business. You know, give you a shot, then you go home. Come back for an examination, another shot. You go home. But, if you go home, the policy has a five-hundred-dollar deductible.”

“It’s going to cost that much?”

“Time I get through, it may cost more. It’s not that it actually cost that much, but doing the shots here at the hospital makes it more expensive. And being a small city hospital, well, that gilds the lily.”

“Then why didn’t we do it at your office?”

“I told you why. Listen, what we’re gonna do is we’re gonna check you in for a few days here at the Medical Hilton.”

“Won’t that be more expensive?”

“Certainly. A lot more, but you do that, the offshore policy will pay eighty percent. The other policy will pay a bit.”

“The one that sucks the dog turd?”


“You mean to tell me the policy won’t pay I go to the house, but it will pay I stay in the hospital and it’ll cost more?”

“Now you got it figured. Between the two policies you come out only owing a few hundred bucks’ deductible. Policies might even overlap so you come out ahead, but I doubt it. You’ll owe something. It’s the way of the insurance and medical professions.”

“I think I’m being snookered a bit so you can make some extra insurance money, that’s what I think.”

“Considering you owe me a few past-due bills for a number of things, maybe you can live with that.”

“How long have I got to be in the hospital?”

“Way the policy works—”

“The offshore or the dog turd?”

“Both . . . I’d say seven or eight days.”

“Ah, hell. You’re kiddin’?”

“No, I’m not. You see, you take a shot now. Then you take one in seven days. That should be enough time to make sure the policy covers things. Those policies, way they’re written, you almost have to be standing on your head and get hit by lightning while trying to pick your nose with a pop bottle up your ass for them to pay. You got to get a better kind of policy, Hap. You know, a real one.”

“I get some real money, I’ll do that.”

“Anyway. One shot now. One in seven days, and one in twenty-one to twenty-eight days. You got a little option on the last shot. But not much. Thing about rabies, you miss those shots, you can kiss your ass good-bye.”

“I go to the hospital, I got to wear this damn gown all the time?”

“You play the game, you suit out.”

2010 Ada Lovelace Day: two Italian scientists

Today, I would like to celebrate the contributions of women in technology and science by recognizing two Italian scientists. Please do follow me in Finding Ada – blog about your favorite woman role model in technology and science and add your post to the list on FindingAda.com.

Elisa Molinari is the Director of the S3 Center for Nanosciences at the University of Modena. Prof. Molinari’s research interests are in theoretical condensed matter physics, particularly in the structural, electronic and optical properties of nanoscale structures. Her main focus is on fundamental properties of low-dimensional quantum systems, and their application to novel nanodevices. She has been especially interested in developing theoretical approaches to account for electron correlation and coherence effects that become crucial in optics and transport at the nanoscale. The physical systems she is currently studying range from semiconductor quantum wires and quantum dots to organic polymersbiomolecules and their interfaces with inorganic structures.

Elena Cattaneo is Director of the Laboratory of Stem Cell Biology and Pharmacology of Neurodegenerative Diseases at the Department of Pharmacological Sciences, as well as a co-founder and first appointed Director of UniStem, the Centre for Stem Cell Research at the University of Milano. The main research theme of her lab is neural stem cells, and the molecular pathophysiology of Huntington’s Disease. Prof. Cattaneo is a Coalition Investigator of the Huntington’s Disease Society of America (H.D.S.A.), and a member of the Board of Directors of several European consortia (including EuroStemCell and NeuroNE). She acts as a reviewer for several journals (including Science, Nature Neuroscience, Nature Genetics, and Journal of Neuroscience) and international funding agencies, and is a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Hereditary Disease Foundation and of the Euro-HD Network.

Profs. Molinari and Cattaneo are two of today’s Adas, role models for women in scientific research. Wishing them all the best!

Voting is over! [UPDATED]

March 16: Thank you to all those who voted for me in the LinkedIn Business Awards. Thank you to those who emailed their friends and colleagues, wrote an article, blogged, tweeted, updated their Skype status to support me.

The judges are now choosing the winners among the three finalists in each category, those who have placed in the top three by number of votes in each. The Awards have had over 500 candidacies, 14,495 supporters and 11,969 votes. Thanks to your votes, I placed second in Rising Star and third overall by total number of votes across all categories. Stay tuned for March 24.

Thank you.

March 24 update: I won! A double victory, in the Rising Star category and in the overall judges’ choice award across categories, the “Best of the Best” Grand Prix. Thanks again to my supporters, you all made it possible!