"Hello! Thank you for calling Air Health Care, the airline that works like the health care system. My name is Cynthia. How can I give you travel care today?"
"Hi. My name is Jonathan Rauch. I need to fly from Washington, D.C., to Eugene, Oregon, on October 23."
"Yes, I'd be happy to assist you with that. It does look like we can get you on a flight on January 23 at 1 p.m. or February 8 at 3 p.m. Which would you prefer?"
"Neither. I need to be in Eugene on October 23. As in, the 23rd of October."
"I'm sorry, we have nothing open on that date. You might try another carrier."
"I suppose I'd better. Who has availability?"
"I'm afraid I have no way to know that. I have no way to look into their systems."
"Who would know?"
"You can call them individually and ask. I'm sure you can find one."
"Look, I don't have time to call two dozen airlines. It's important that I get to Eugene on the 23rd. There must be something you can do."
"Well, it looks like maybe we could squeeze you in on October 26, if you don't mind departing Washington Dulles at 5:35 a.m."
"Good grief. All right, I suppose it will do."
It just keeps getting better.
Of course one reason for the difference between airlines and health care is that consumers pay directly for the former. So the airlines try to attract us. But insurers make decisions for consumers regarding health care. Of course we all pay for health care too, but we don't make choices and we don't individually pocket the savings. Not sure that health reform will fix this.