I happened upon a pretty funny healthcare piece on FunnyorDie.com, the comedy website owned by Will Farrell and other comedians and venture capitalists. It is unusual to think about a group that includes people from those two professions joining together; I am guessing such a coalition works since the phrase most often heard by venture capitalists from their portfolio CEOs is, “You must be joking!
Anyway, the piece is entitled Avengers Assemble and it is a short film (4 minutes) during which the Avengers gather at their corporate conference table to discuss the new healthcare reform law. For those of you who are not 12-year-old boys or Marvel comics aficionados, the Avengers were an elite force of superheroes who banded together to fight evil. It is an almost perfect metaphor for those who think that is what the Patient Protection Act was meant to do and just a funny premise in any event.
In the film, Tony Stark, CEO of Stark Industries and also known as Iron Man, is overseeing the discussion, which includes Avengers’ members Captain America, the Hulk, the Wasp, Thor, Hawkeye, Wolverine, and a host of others, including the Scarlett Witch. Ok, don’t get all uppity if you are a real Avengers fan since this comedy bit takes a little license with the characters. However, I thought the premise was pretty hilarious, particularly since I love those stupid superhero movies and also because the majority of these Marvel characters were “born” in the 1920’s-1940s, which would make most of them eligible for Medicare today.
In fact, the Avengers would be a particularly high cost employee group in our current healthcare system and would have a hard time getting any coverage outside of guaranteed issue Medicare given their multiplicity of pre-existing conditions. I mean seriously: Iron Man has an advanced heart condition that makes Dick Cheney look hale and hearty. The Hulk has radiation poisoning and a persistent skin condition. Captain America may look good, but he continues to suffer the remaining effects of drug abuse and frostbite from his history with injectable Super-Serum and a lengthy stint frozen in a block of sea ice. Hawkeye has hearing problems from his use of sonic arrows and the Wasp is a victim of frequent spousal abuse and drug addiction, although she was apparently taken out by the Death Panel along the way, saving the Avengers’ health plan a bundle on her impending hormone replacement therapy. The Scarlett Witch is in love with a robot who has untold healthcare costs associated with rust and replacement parts, if covered, and she herself suffers from catatonia, amnesia, and severe depression associated with being a mutant. Her kids are mutants too, but really, whose aren’t?
Worst of all, Thor is actually thousands of years old, a shining example of how lengthening life spans have rendered Medicare nearly insolvent. Thankfully, Thor has the power to move back and forth in time, so perhaps he can work with the Office of Management and Budget to keep the plan alive a little longer. He is also blessed with a super healing factor that enables him to recover from injuries and illness at a superhuman rate. I understand that Medtronic is working to license this from him as we speak, but they are struggling to agree on the conditions of the earn-out.
All these guys work for an organization called S.H.I.E.L.D. (Blue Shield? you be the judge), led by Nick Fury. Fury has managed to conquer aging by taking a special medication called the Infinity Formula. No doubt he is worried that if everyone who works for S.H.I.E.L.D. starts taking it, formulary costs will go through the roof.
If there were to be a new Superhero today who could solve the problems of our health care system, he or she would need to have the magical ability to turn glucose molecules into money and harness the power of beer to reverse age-related macular degeneration.
Anyway, for your viewing pleasure I am passing along the Avengers Assemble: Healthcare short film for you below. A sampling of what you will find if you use company time to watch it:Captain America: “Say I’m in Listeria and Dr. Doom casts a spell that puts me out of the space time continuum, would it be covered? Tony Stark: “If you are cast outside the space time continuum you will have to pay out of pocket because the healthcare law wouldn’t exist outside the space time continuum.” Wolverine: “I don’t have much use for healthcare.” Captain America: “Because of your rapid healing factor?” Wolverine: “No, because I’m Canadian.”