A System Based on Fear

doctor.jpg The modern con-game that is health insurance is a system based on fear. This reality forced its way into my conscience recently when my wife had to have a Cat (Computed Axial Tomography) Scan. This required test cost $2,691 when paid up front and $5,000 if paid out (more about this later). My so-called “health insurance” would pay nothing if I paid up front and $200 if I was stuck with the $5,000. I realized that since our premiums are in the $700-per-month range, that four months worth would have paid the bill.

This is not the first time this has crossed my mind. So, why don’t we cancel this lousy “health insurance” and bank the premium? The simple answer is that I’m afraid. What if I cancelled this almost useless insurance and something really bad/serious/ expensive happened? What would I do then? Fear keeps me tied to this basically useless ball and chain. The “insurance” company knows this and has used that knowledge effectively.

It is true that all insurance operates on the fear principle. But other insurance (life, auto, homeowners, etc.) makes sense and usually pays helpful amounts in the “unfortunate event of…” My health insurance is, obviously, a different animal. If I had not made a deal with the hospital to pay up front, my bill would have been an astounding $5,000! Two hundred bucks for a required test costing five grand? Words fail me!

Back to that C.T. scan. Does it cost $5,000 or 2, 691? If I had to pay out $5,000 bit-by-bit, would the extra accounting really cost $2,309? On the wall in the hall the hospital’s mission is posted: “Our mission is to provide High Quality health services emphasizing Excellence and Christian Service in all that we do.” That a Christian can shaft someone and be pleasing to God is news to me. I see nothing but greed in all of this and I know that is not right (Mark 7:21-23; Luke 12:15; Ephesians 5:3,5; Colossians 3:5).

Greed, in fact, is driving our healthcare system. What can change this? I can think of three solutions:

  1. Doctors, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies and insurance companies all work together to police themselves. Yeah, right. If you believe that will happen I have some other deals you might be interested in.
  2. Customers revolt and insist something be done to bring costs back into the realm of fairness. I have dim hopes for this one because most of us are sheep – easily led by the advertisers and spin doctors.
  3. Government take-over. Yep, socialized medicine. The healthcare system is begging for this one. Right now they are seeing how far they can go without provoking too many consumers. This is the one that will work. It works in Britain, Australia and Canada but, like those nations, we will lose quality.

In the meantime, the health care consortium is getting the goldmine and we are getting the shaft. I, for one am not going to take it lying down. I may not have any money, but I can write. And I know this blog will change the world. Don’t you?

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4 Comments

Filed under Culture Wars, Health Care, morality, Politics

4 responses to “A System Based on Fear

  1. Next to the War, this has to be the biggest political campaign issue. The health care industry is just too warped.

    Unfortunately, reform will likely need to come from within the existing structure. Change from Washington will be slow and painful.

  2. Dwight

    You and I may agree on this more than disagree. (surprise!)

    I get the sense, and correct me if I’m wrong, that you are older than me (I’m 53). Doesn’t matter. 100 years ago, if we lived then, the odds are pretty good that neither of us would have made it to our present age. Since that time science (and it’s practical arm – medical technology) has increased our life spans significantly. Since from an evolutionary viewpoint, are bodies are designed to get us past our child-rearing age only (just old enough to insure that the next generation is up and running) left to its own devices, our bodies SHOULD die much earlier. Medicine has devised all sorts of ways to keep us going beyond our useful age. That technology costs big bucks, especially in the hands of major corporations whose existence depends on profits. Capitalism at its finest.

    Long story short, the medical technology and health care systems have figured out how to make a nice buck on what is a guaranteed monopoly. It is a dead certainty (no pun intended) that the majority of humans who live beyond, say age 40 (that’s usually old enough to see your children reach independence, all we need to make sure our genes are passed on) will require the use of that technology and health care. Demand drives up prices under a capitalistic economy, and supply is tightly controlled by those corporations with the technological know how, expertise and patents (you certainly couldn’t build your own CAT scan machine).

    Insurance steps in, not with fear, but with the ability to spread the risk. Your fear is not caused by the insurance industry, but by your own recognition of your reliance on this spreading of the risk. You don’t want all the risk to land on your shoulders. As a practical matter, health insurance works best for large claims. With smaller claims whittled down by co-pays, deductibles and allowed charges, we actually are still paying for most of the day to day health care ourselves, once, as you’ve noted, you add in the cost of premiums. It’s the catastrophic health care that gets spread across the board. What we don’t appreciate is what we are getting for that cost – an extended life. Health care is no longer the doctor with the black bag stopping by the house to give you a shot or a pill.

    We lawyers have some of the blame for high costs also. With all this technology available for diagnostics and therapeutic care, if a doctor or hospital doesn’t use it, they risk a lawsuit. So the more we learn about medicine and the human body, the more expensive it is to maintain it.

    I think the doctors just go along for the ride. They could make a lot less income, pass the savings onto patients, and still live a very comfortable life. But they see the big business involved, the money to be made, and they go along with the health care industry. If they reduced their charges, I think the technological charges would decrease also.

    But I’m no expert.

  3. Oh, and as for socialized medicine, I don’t understand Bush’s problem with that, or anyone else’s. What do they think Medicare is? Charity?

  4. I have similar feelings! Though socialized medicine has many faults, at least everyone gets some care. I’m thankful you were able to pay up front. I send you my best.

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