Unlike most who talk about health care I’m going to shelve my agenda. All I want to do is tell you a story that illustrates everything I feel is wrong with the discussion about health care today.
Because until we change the way we discuss the problem we will never arrive at any reasonable conclusion about how to solve it.
I was on Facebook the other day. Believe me, I spend very little time there, only to check in with friends and get a laugh at a cat video. A friend who is going back to college in his late 40’s raged about the cost of a health policy for his family, which the University of Florida requires.
Breaking my first rule of Facebook – never post anything political publicly — I told him about a concierge service available locally that might help for his family costs, while he takes the personal coverage from UF.
Immediately, some person I didn’t know dissed the service because it didn’t ‘replace health insurance,’ which it doesn’t. It is a way to get high quality basic medical service affordably. We use it as does another family who has insurance through the husband’s job.
We argued for a bit with him reciting all of the left’s talking points about shared responsibility and the like. So far, so normal, right?
Now, like the great comedian Ron White, I told you that story to tell you this one.
In January, I came back from Nevada with pneumonia. I do not have health insurance, refusing to pay what I feel is extortion for effectively zero coverage given our health care needs.
Case in point? I couldn’t get an appointment to see my doctor of over 20 years until April because I was so healthy over the past three year I was considered a ‘new patient,’ and she didn’t have an appointment for those people until then.
Now, if you’ve never had pneumonia, let me first off say, don’t get it. It’s awful. Like too-weak-to-go-to-the-bathroom awful. To say this is an acute health care moment would be an understatement.
We called this service that I recommend to my friend on Facebook, where my wife is a member, at 2pm. By 4pm I was a member and by 11am the next morning I had a ‘Z-Pack’ in my hand for the princely sum of $1.61, the $75 sign-up fee and three gallons of gas for the trip.
Five days later my pneumonia was gone.
I relayed that story to my Facebook Adversary who then used the tired argument that I was a burden on society in the case that something bad happened to me.
He obviously wasn’t listening. Something bad did happen to me and the health care system couldn’t serve me at a reasonable price or time frame.
I saved myself a trip to the emergency room that would have cost no less than $1000 but likely a lot more. $76.61 and some gas or $1500 and exposure to hospital hyper-bugs?
I solved a medical emergency without insurance for next to nothing.
What’s better for society?
The goal of our discussions about health care should not be about what system works best for everyone. It should be about achieving tangible results that fit the needs of the individuals and nothing more.
Fear is the Wallet-Killer
The money saved is the least important part of that story. Yes, the money is important. I have those funds available for the next emergency, health-related or otherwise.
But, the important take-away is that I am secure knowing that anything short of bleeding to death is a day away. And that keeps fear at bay. It allows me to make rational decisions about my health care.
My wife and I work from home, growing most of our own food on our hobby farm. My pneumonia was likely caused by over-indulging in Las Vegas during the tail end of flu season. Too much whiskey not enough sleep.
It was the first major illness I had in ten years.
Fear, and the ever-building layers of regulation that strip choice from the consumer, is what drives costs higher because insurance is a fear-based industry.
Nothing stokes fear quicker than a life-threatening illness. Fearful people are irrational people; over-spending on coverage for low probability events.
I carried health care for my wife for two decades which we never used. If I’d saved the money I’d have a nest egg now big enough to pay for premiums for the next twenty years, even at Obamacare prices.
Advocates of government-run health care cynically use fear to persuade people to vote for things against their own best interest. Statistics don’t work in these discussions.
Stories like mine do.
They provide tangible evidence of alternatives to what the politicians and health industry are selling.
Remove the fear and you remove the emotional obstacles to new ideas.
My Facebook Adversary used shaming to advance a fear-based argument supporting his agenda for single-payer health care. And I immediately called him on it.
I wanted to help a friend solve a practical problem where his choices are artificially restricted by people like my Facebook Adversary. He looked like a jerk.
Restore Sanity, Remove Politics
Make no mistake, I’m not advocating any one type of health care plan over another. I’m not smart enough to know what your health care needs are. But, neither does my Facebook Adversary or the politicians that write the laws he wants.
Obamacare restricts consumer choice. The proof is in its legacy. This was its primary design goal. It was not to provide real health care solutions for most Americans. Trump’s plan reverses some of its worst aspects but still misses the path to real health care reform.
We must restore consumer sovereignty to the health care discussion. We’re not allowed to talk about the choice to buy what coverage we want. But, the most powerful force in commerce is a skeptical consumer not a captured one.
By not playing the game, I was one of the people who helped Obamacare fail by not buying it. I’ve earned the ire of Leftists as a badge of honor.
Obamacare’s failure was a predictable outcome to anyone with a shred of intellectual honesty and two brain cells to rub together and make a spark.
If I could buy a catastrophic insurance plan that covered the big stuff like cancer, hereditary defects and broken bones, I would buy that policy in a minute. It would be cheap. Knowing a concierge service is available keeps my costs predictable.
People want predictability in health care. That’s what insurance is supposed to provide, peace of mind.
The insurance industry needs to return to doing what it does best, convert illness data into actuarial tables that return a premium pooling risk. It still works in life insurance.
Why can’t it work in health insurance? Now, that’s a discussion I’d like to have.