WASHINGTON, DC (GlossyNews) — In a move sure to restart the nation’s divisive healthcare debate, major insurance companies announced new healthcare plans featuring controversial “self-serve” medical options designed to reduce costs.
“Our new self-serve options for childbirth, surgery and annual physical exams provide consumers with more choices while reducing the escalating cost of care,” said a representative for WellPoint, one of the nation’s largest health insurers. Aetna and UnitedHealth Group also announced new self-serve options.
“The fact is that medically assisted childbirth is a relatively new phenomenon,” said an Aetna spokesperson. “For centuries, babies were born at home, or even in forests and caves, all without costly help from a doctor. This new option simply brings back that proud tradition for those who might prefer it.”
The new self-serve surgery option from UnitedHealth Group, however, might be something of a misnomer, according to a company executive.
“We don’t recommend consumers attempt both the surgery and the clean up entirely by themselves,” the executive noted. “It’s best to have a friend or family member help.”
The new options sparked immediate reaction from political leaders, with Democrats firm in their criticism and Republicans defending individual choice.
“I’ve always said I’ll listen to good ideas from anyone,” said President Obama. “But nobody in the industry has shown these ideas will actually reduce healthcare costs.”
Industry insiders disputed the president’s assertion, claiming widespread adoption of the new options could limit future premium increases to as little as 25% annually.
Meanwhile potential GOP presidential candidate Sarah Palin, who probably played doctor as a kid, expressed support for at least some elements of the new self-serve options.
“If you can see Russia from your front porch you can see why America needs self-serve surgery,” Palin shouted to a raucous Tea Party crowd, many of them dressed in medical scrubs and carrying scalpels. “What does a bureaucrat in Washington know about removing your kidney?”
In addition to the childbirth and surgery options, the three insurers introduced a variety of self-serve annual physicals. These typically include a kit with items such as an instructional pamphlet, a tongue depressor, empty glass vials and a magnifying glass, latex gloves, a small mirror and lubricating ointment. UnitedHealth also offers a “Cadillac plan” with a how-to DVD.
In another cost saving measure, WellPoint announced it will substitute vodka for certain prescription painkillers on most of its low cost insurance plans.
“Research shows vodka is a simple and affordable alternative to expensive prescription pain medications,” the WellPoint representative said. “Additionally, mixing vodka with fruit juice can provide important nutrients that are not available in any prescription pain killer.”