The Curse of Complexity

Nothing is simple any longer. Nearly everything is infinitely more complicated than was the case twenty or thirty years ago. Hardly a day goes by without an encounter with something complex enough to make my head explode.

Take my medical flexible spending account — please. Tax-free dollars are transferred with each paycheck to an account I access with a debit card to pay for medical expenses. But any time I use the damn thing to pay a doctor bill, I get an email message telling me to upload receipts or the charge will be denied.

Wait a minute. We’re talking about charges made at a doctor’s office — like me and my doctors have a big scam going to steal my money! The provider recently denied charges — even after I provided receipts — for copays. Fixing the problem took numerous phone calls and hours in phone-tree hell. They wanted me to give up, but that’s not how I roll. #DirtyRottenBastards

Every year I have to work with my pharmacy, the doctor’s office, and my goddamn health insurance provider to re-certify a prescription I’ve been on for years. The pharmacy tells me the insurance company has denied coverage, so I call the doctor’s office and go through phone-tree hell to leave a message about the need to re-certify. The doctor’s office screws up (two years in a row, they sent the paperwork to the wrong prescription management company), and getting the issue resolved takes weeks. #KillMeNow

I heard a news story the other day about a survey showing consumers are happy with the medical care they receive, but hate dealing with the health care system

Ya think?

The story referenced Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sander’s plan to move to a single-payer system, like Medicare. An expert interviewed for the story said a single-payer system isn’t realistic because millions of middlemen (aka health insurance company employees) would lose their jobs, devastating the economy.


The same argument is offered in defense of the current tax system. Simplify the U.S. Tax Code and millions of professional tax preparers would be out of work. Sounds like karma to me. For the first time ever, this year I had to pay for tax preparation assistance — a whopping $369 — to find out I owed the IRS a shit ton of money. Can you say racket?

Whether we’re talking about income taxes or health care, getting rid of the middlemen would save consumers BILLIONS of dollars a year. Yes, I understand a lot of people would be out of work, but is that really a reason to punish the rest of us? Surely the powers that be could come up with a way to transition those workers into other jobs.

Nah. Congress would have to actually do something besides pointing the finger at the other party for doing nothing. Yeah — that’ll happen (believes nobody in America).

We face lots of complex problems in desperate need of solutions. Global climate change. Gun violence. Drug addiction. Income inequality. Crumbling infrastructure. I see no hope that any of these issues will be addressed in a meaningful way any time soon.

So we’re all screwed. That, my friends, is the curse of complexity. Solutions are too complicated, so do nothing and wait for…what? Sooner or later, I suppose we’ll find out.

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