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September 5,2009

We have been pondering a few questions about healthcare, health insurance, and personal health in general:

1. Why would anyone think that insurance companies are on their side?  Insurance companies are a "for profit" enterprise.  There is NOTHING wrong with making money, but if that is their motivation...why would they EVER be eager to pay out on insurance?  Car insurance companies can make money because most policy holder do not get into accidents.  This is not true for health insurance policy holders.  Everyone will eventually need health care.

Health insurance companies can only make money if they continue to raise their premiums along with the cost of healthcare.  Sooner or later, EVERYONE will get old and will need some kind of care.  Once there are more older, insured, policy holders than younger, new subscribers, the for-profit health insurance model will begin to fall apart.  This is because at some point the premiums to make the business profitable will become unaffordable.  This is one of the reasons why we need a different approach to paying for healthcare than just worrying about how to pay for health insurance.

2. Why should we have to pay for the unhealthy habits of others?  People with riskier jobs have higher life insurance premiums.  People who are less experience or have bad driving records have higher car insurance premiums. Shouldn't people with bad health habits pay a higher insurance premium?  Looking around at the folks in the mall the other day, we realized that there are a LOT of folks that are "of size" as are kids.  While it may be true that a small minority of folks may be big due to medical reasons, the majority are oversized because their diet is oversized.  There is nothing wrong with eating as much as you want, but shouldn't the incentives be to encourage better and healthier behaviors?  If not, then at least don't make the rest of us pay for it.

3. Why do we need to have health insurance at all?  Because unexpected things happen.  We buy insurance to help pay for expenses that, should they incur, would be too costly to pay for all at once. 

Everyone is going to need some kind of healthcare sooner or later.  Shouldn't we try figure out how to PROVIDE healthcare rather then trying to figure out how to "insure" against having to pay a huge healthcare bill?  Everyone drives on the US interconnected highway system.  Everyone chipped in to paid for its creation, its upkeep, and its improvements.  We don't generally have private ownership of roads because everyone needs it.  If we did, we probably would need a rider in our car insurance policy just in case we needed to drive on a road which turned out to be cost prohibitive. 

This leads to the idea of governmnet supplied healthcare.  That is one option, but clearly not the only one.  Maybe CVS and Walmart should be training their own doctors and supply primary-care at the Mall. 

The point is that having health insurance does not mean we'll have good healthcare; the incentives are not properly aligned.  We should be looking at incentives, as it always drives behavior.

RainyDayAlternative: Live better, not necessarily longer.  What if we, as individuals, have an attitute which is not to live as long as we can, but to live as healthy as we can?   What are some of the things one would need to do?

1. Have insurance to provide coverage for non-age related catastrophic events (accidents, infections, etc...).  This would be insurance to pay for things which we couldn't anticipate (breaking a bone, appendicitis, etc...). 

2. Find health practioners who can help maximize the quality rather than the quantity of life...maintaining flexibility, strong muscular and skeletal structures, and alert mental capabilities.  These things cannot be solved by a pill, but achieved over time through certain behaviors and lifestyle.  We believe this is possible.

What are we saying...? We are saying that health insurance and healthcare are not the same thing.  We are saying the quantity of care and quality of life are not the same thing.  We are saying that those who can afford more care may live longer, but they may not live better.  We are saying that we may not have the final anwer, but maybe if we start thinking about the problem from a different perspective, we can come up with alternative solutions that are more under our own control, regardless of what happens in Washington.  [Permalink] - Healthcare Questions


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