Author: C. Edmund Wright
- It is no more practical to have "health insurance" to pay for prescription drugs and routine doctor visits than it is to expect your auto insurance to pay for your oil changes and tire rotations.
- The confusion between "health care" and "health insurance" as public policy issues -- along with the near universal misunderstanding of what health insurance is (or should be) -- is making what should be a rather simple financial planning market solution a national nightmare.
- The problem begins with the almost universal misapplication of the terms. Health insurance does not insure your health, nor was it ever intended to. Health care insurance, formerly called "medical insurance," is merely an instrument of neutralizing risk. Financial risk, that is.
- It was brought about by a need to insure a family's assets against a dread disease requiring care so expensive it would wipe that family out financially. As a strictly financial planning endeavor, the issue never seemed to be discussed in terms of being "a right" or in terms of "compassion."
- But "medical insurance" as a component of financial planning has morphed into "health care" as a right for everyone in the new political parlance. And not only is the insurance a right, but the insurance should be "free" and it should cover everything from routine care visits to erectile dysfunction to ADHD to gender re-assignment surgery.
- Instead of being viewed as a financial instrument to keep a family from losing everything in an effort to pay for a cancer treatment or heart surgery, it has become viewed as an endless supply of other people's money to pay for everything related to healthcare -- so the family can buy every car, boat, flat screen, iPod and laptop they want with their own money.
- The media would have you believe this is just more proof that the private sector "is failing us." Alas, just like the mortgage and housing meltdown, in reality it was a private sector failing under the weight of unsustainable government mandates.
- Which of course leads to the inescapable conclusion that the very worst thing we can do to solve it is to allow that very same government to have total control over it.
- The solution is to get back to the original intent of health insurance and an understanding of what it is. And more importantly, what it is not.
- Health insurance, like any other insurance, is the spreading of financial risk. Period. The financial risk in health care is - as Fred Sanford used to say - "the big one." To purely insure against that eventuality would not cost a lot. It would not require an army of paper pushers and mouse clickers at every step of your life.
- Insuring this way would take the huge administrative burden off of the system. It would reduce costs dramatically. It would by definition encourage healthier habits. It would shrink the rolls of the uninsured.
- It really is no more complicated than that. Oh, it will be hard, because nearly a generation of Americans never bothered to think through a little analogy like the auto insurance example - and they like to have their needs met by Other People's Money - and they have convinced themselves it is a right.
Health insurance is NOT a citizen's right. Health care is NOT mentioned in the U.S. Constitution nor should it be. Universal health care and Obama care are perfect examples of unnecessary government meddling.
A business market already exists for HEALTH INSURANCE that an army of insurance agents are already ready and willing to manage.
An army of laws and lawyers are already in the books and standing ready to regulate such enterprises (i.e. to protect the people from shady practitioners).
There is nothing for government to do here- except get out of the way and let the people do their work.