Howdy, red-blooded Americans, it’s me, Uncle Sam. After a long nap in the nest of a bald eagle on top of the National Archives, I’m back to deliver a message. I’ve got the facial hair of a Disney Channel villain and the bloodthirsty enthusiasm of a high school wrestling coach. Let’s do this.

People, we can all agree we got the best damn country on earth. Amber waves of grain, Betty White, golden arches, all that good stuff. And being the best country on earth, no doubt about it that we got the best damn healthcare system on Earth. Land of the free! Let’s start an overhead clap going!

That’s why I’m here to tell you that for your upcoming, serious, life-threatening gallbladder removal surgery, you’re on your own, kiddo.

Look, I know you already pay $500 a month in health insurance and your job hasn’t adjusted its pay scale for inflation since 1994. I know you’re $230,000 in debt from your student loans, and that your landlord is charging $2,200 a month to live in an apartment smaller than your childhood bedroom located in a refurbished glue factory.

But you understand that we can’t just be giving out free handouts here. Yes, I am gaslighting you into thinking that people have to “earn” healthcare. But you get it—you’re a patriot!

You might say, why do I even have health insurance if it doesn’t cover anything? Well, let me teach you a little something about economics. Basically, if a company has the opportunity to earn money off of someone, it will! And since we have decided that companies are people, we have decided to regulate them about as lightly as the Montessori School disciplines your sister’s son Foxleigh. Your insurance company has determined that it’ll earn more money if it charges you for premiums, deductibles, co-pays, and out-of-pocket procedures, and if it’s all so hellishly confusing that you just shakily present your credit card as you feel the beginnings of a cluster headache. And of course we’ll applaud the genius CEO behind all this—he did achieve the American Dream, after all. You could really learn a thing or two from him!

You might say, why can’t the government pay for it? Well like I said, we give out lifesaving medical care based on ability to pay, which of course equates to moral worth. It’s what my dad, Jesus, would’ve wanted. Even though we created a trillion dollars from scratch when the banks were in dire need in 2009, and did it a couple more times this past year during the pandemic, we simply can’t do it if it would make the whole country’s population solvent and healthy long-term. We’re just not equipped to handle that level of social equality, and frankly, we’re not interested.

You might say, how come most other countries give their citizens free healthcare? This one’s simple, sugar. Other countries care about silly things, like their citizens’ happiness and personal fulfillment, or soccer. Every time you suggest that healthcare is a human right, and that we should maybe get on par with global standards, I’ll just start barking “Communist!” over and over as a siren wails in the background. Don’t blame me; sometimes the simplest tactics are most effective.

You think I don’t have a heart, don’t you? But you couldn’t be more wrong! I’m quite empathetic, you know. I have some dear friends, whom I support emotionally, spiritually, and financially, and they do the same for me. You can find their names on Forbes’s 35th Annual World’s Billionaires List.

But here’s what I really came to talk to you about today: your upcoming gallbladder removal. Though I can’t foot the bill, we actually have a solution in front of us! The perfect healthcare payment plan, delivered to us by gorgeous, sexy, unrestrained free-market capitalism.

Remember that meme you tweeted four years ago that got 12k likes? Turns out you can now auction off some sort of Internet thingimajig that represents the tweet. Well, not the actual tweet, but some sort of fake little digital receipt that says they own the tweet. Yes, people are interested enough in clout that they will basically purchase the rights to a jpg. What a beautiful world!

One moment—just had to reply to an email from Lionsgate. We’re in talks to make a dystopian thriller about this exact premise.

Anyhoo, you just hop online, debase yourself a little by revealing intimate personal medical details to the public, press a couple buttons, burn down a little bit of the rainforest, and voilà! You can now afford your absurdly inflated and exploitative health care bill. You’re welcome!

Of course, you’re out of luck if you’ve never managed to make a viral meme, or if you don’t have enough of an Internet presence or tragic backstory to get pity donations on GoFundMe. Tough luck. But hey, survival of the fittest, am I right? So cough it up before I call my friend at the collections agency.

Thanks, slugger. That’ll be $23,562.