A hungry traveler is lured by the sign atop a roadside diner: “All you can eat — $5.00.” He parks his car, finds an open booth and orders the fried chicken dinner. The food is delicious…the best he’s ever had. Once he finishes his first serving, he summons the waitress and asks for seconds. She informs him that if he wants more, he’ll have to purchase a second dinner. Aghast, he references the sign out front. The waitress smiles, points to his now empty plate and says, “That is all you can eat for five bucks!”

I overheard a conversation on a recent business trip that made me think of that old chestnut. I was seated in the waiting area of an airport, trying desperately to keep my big mouth shut while a middle-aged couple in the seats behind me were discussing (what they called) ObamaCare. I was slightly amused that they, as countless others, kept talking about health care reform, since what we’ve had — at least thus far — is health insurance reform. As we know, those are two very different things. But I digress.

The woman had recently had a serious illness and was appalled that their (evil) insurance company wouldn’t pay for every test and procedure her specialist wanted to run. I really had trouble staying in my seat when she said she couldn’t wait until all of the new law was enacted, because then everyone would get all the healthcare they wanted…for free!

The problem is not so much the absurdity of the statement, but rather that so many of our fellow citizens actually believe that to be the case. As we go forward, access and availability will be like the California freeway system — too many cars and not enough capacity. Thus far, the government’s “solution” is to build more on-ramps. Something has to give. The woman in the airport won’t be very happy when some federal waitress tells her, “That’s all you can eat.”

For more on PPACA, see:

Critical illness insurance poised to benefit from PPACA

Putting the ‘individual’ in mandate

To Your Good Health. PPACA: To Sever or Not to Server?

To read more blogs from David Saltzman, click here.