"Big Shot" Dick Armey Says The Real Problem Is Too Much Health Insurance

November 04, 2009 3:39 pm ET — Chris Harris

Who is the real Dick Armey? A self-proclaimed "big shot" who refuses to order off the menu at restaurants and believes the real health crisis is that too many people have health insurance.

Mr. Big Shot

In a recent New York Times Magazine profile piece, the world gets the chance to take a peek at the real Dick Armey.

Who is the real Dick Armey? A self-proclaimed "big shot" who refuses to order off the menu at restaurants and believes the real health crisis is that too many people have good health insurance. 

And that's hardly an exaggeration.

A few key excerpts:

"I'd have gotten the M.R.I.," Armey said. "I'm a big shot, and doctors sure as hell don't want to be sued by a big shot. He would not even have dared ask. He would have just sent me for the test."

Later, in North Carolina, we sat down to dinner, and [Armey] said: "You ever see that Danny DeVito movie, I think it was Danny DeVito, where he says big shots never order off the menu? They just say what they want." We were at an On the Border, a Tex-Mex restaurant chain and not the type of place I imagine many big shots patronize, but he pushed the menu aside without reading it and told the waiter what he wanted the kitchen to cook up for him.

"We are a wealthy nation, and there is not much reason that I can justify for anybody who lives within our borders doing without essential health care, and I'm happy to tell you that very few people do," he said. "If there's 15 percent who are in that category, then let's construct a 15 percent solution so they can have it. To me, that's a wonderfully generous act."

What about the millions of Americans, I asked, who have insurance but find that the rising premiums and deductibles are eating away at any financial gains they might otherwise make? "The largest empirical problem we have in health care today is too many people are too overinsured," he said.

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