Health Insurance and Choices

I saw a comment today in a newspaper about health insurance and choices; the first individual stated that the rich are being taxed too much, and that poor people need to get their own health insurance; the second individual said that poor people have choices to buy beer, cigarettes, and lottery tickets or essentials like health insurance.

Allow me to reflect a bit on this seeming dilemma:

Once upon a time, if a person got sick, they went to the doctor; they may have even paid him with a chicken or two. They got well, or they died. Then medicine became a business; large university opened medical schools, students learned more about the human body and health and illness and injury. Doctors began to insist upon payment in the form of cash versus livestock or produce.

No problem. It might have been hard to trade a cow for a train ticket.

Then insurance companies were invented. Did you know that agents used to go door-to-door, every week, collecting premiums? Just like Jehovah’s Witnesses. That should have been our first clue.

Healthcare costs have been rising ever since.

The insurance racket – and yes, it IS a racket – has taken on a life of its own. Now, first you went to the doctor and paid a chicken, and died or got well; then, you went to the doctor and paid a couple dollars and your chances of getting well probably increased.

Today, regardless of how much you pay, you’re probably going to get well; not well-er, just well. But at what cost? In 1930, the average income was $1970 per year, and folks paid maybe $1 a week for insurance, or about 3% of their cash. Let’s assume that nowadays folks earn $1970 a month; but they might pay $600 a month for health insurance – that’s 30% of their income. Talk about inflation….

I daresay that everyone could probably afford the 3%, or about $60, but then all those executives would have to forgo their Bentleys and maid service. And hey, those poor people could also afford to keep buying their beer and cigarettes and lottery tickets.

As I’ve said before, we’ve had health insurance – we do now, in fact – and we’ve been without. In almost every situation, we haven’t needed the insurance. We’ve simply paid, the times we did carry it, around $700 a month or $8400 for the year; we actually used medical services, one year, to the tune of maybe $1000. In essence, we paid eight times the cost of our healthcare to the insurance company.

A racket, indeed.

Here’s the catch, though: you can’t “shop around” because all the inclusions, exclusions, percentages, and amounts are at least as confusing as a tax form. And, since the American public has had it drilled into their collective heads that we MUST have insurance, we MUST do everything the doctor says, then we obviously MUST be idiots.

Because every “retailer”, i.e., the insurance companies, can set their own prices, the cost of health has skyrocketed from a lowly chicken to a few hundred dollars for a simple office call. The only way to lower prices is for consumers to take charge, and shop at the local WM of healthcare.

Think about this: does your doctor advertise where he went to med school? Probably. Does he also have his class rank listed? Doubtful. Most people pay these prices whether their doctor was the top of his class, or just the class clown. What other industry leaves quality at the door?

As for poor people buying beer, cigarettes, and lottery tickets – sure, they do that. But they’d don’t usually have a housekeeper, or fly off to the Bahamas every year for a couple weeks, or have to flip a coin to decide which luxury car to drive on a particular day. Everyone makes choices, they just need to be able to actually have a choice.


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