What If the Postal Service Ran like Health Care?
This skit was written by a postal worker. It asks the question: What would mail service be like in the U.S. if it was run by health insurance companies, with all their restrictions, extra fees, and bureaucracy?
G: (picking up phone): Hello. Thank you for calling Ideal Mail Service, this is Mr. Grumpy speaking.
H: This is Mr. Hardluck. I just got laid off from my job and lost the group mail service plan I had through my employer. I would like to sign up with your company and get my mail.
G: What zip code do you live in?
G: From that zip code you qualify for our cheapest base rate of $30/month.
H: That’s twice what I’ve been paying!
G: Well, individual coverage costs more than a group plan. I can also tell you there are several mailboxes in that zip code you can use to mail your letters. Just drive around and look for a mailbox with our emblem. I’m sure you can find one.
H: Well, maybe I’ll just go to the Post Office. I live pretty close to it.
G: That Post Office isn’t part of our network. But you can use the Post Office two towns over if you like. It’s just a 20-minute drive, if the traffic isn’t too bad. And it costs 44 cents to mail anywhere in the tri-county area. We’ll send you a rate chart for the rest of the state and the country.
H: I just got laid off; I can’t afford to pay too much. Is this gonna get expensive?
G: We’ll have to check your records to see if you have a pre-existing high advertising mail volume. If you do, your monthly rate could double. Some people don’t even qualify for mail service at all. There are 47 million people without mail service in America!
H: I don’t get that much mail, I don’t think that’ll be a problem.
G: Now, do you have a dog?
H: How did you know about Fluffy? She’s the most wonderful dog in the world! Since my wife left me and my kids have grown up and moved away, Fluffy brings me so much joy. I’m taking her with me up to my cabin in Wisconsin next month.
G: You’ll have to pay out-of-network rates if you mail anything from Wisconsin. It’s all in the brochure we’re sending you.
H: Oh, I’ll just be mailing some souvenirs to my kids.
G: I hope you won’t be mailing anything breakable! For that you need prior authorization from our corporate headquarters in Connecticut. There’s a toll-free number to call, and you usually get a decision within 30 days.
H: Maybe I’ll just take some photos of me and Fluffy at the cabin and mail them.
G: Sir, you should know having a dog puts you in a special high risk pool with a totally different rate scale. Let me look that up for you.
H: What? You’re going to charge me more because of Fluffy? She never hurt anybody! This is outrageous. You know what I think? This whole system stinks. We need a single delivery system, where everybody pays the same rate for every letter, and the same outfit delivers to everybody.
G: Are you saying you don’t believe in the free market? You must be a socialist! Maybe you should move to Canada where they have a government-run system! See how you like that!! (Slams down phone.)
The skit was written by Paul Felton, exec board member of the Postal Workers 480-481 Area Local and chair of the Metro Detroit AFL-CIO Health Care Committee, along with John Dick of Letter Carriers Branch 3126 (and steering committee member of the SE Michigan Jobs with Justice chapter). It was performed at the JWJ/AFL-CIO Health Care forum in Detroit, which featured several speakers from Canada talking about their health care system.