Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Health Insurance Reality

Health Insurance Reality

In my younger years I was in the insurance business for over a decade. What astonishes me (and others from that biz) is how most people, and all politicians, seem to have no idea what the reality of the health insurance fiasco is. All proposed "solutions" fail to come close to solving the problem.

The problem starts with having no limits on lawsuits. We all see the ambulance chasers on TV with their reprehensible commercials. But that is just the reason drugs and procedures cost so much. Another side, the good side, of the business is the free market in coverage. The reason our insurors cover expensive drugs and procedures that foreign health services do not is that if your carrier failed to cover the drug you need, you would switch your coverage to another company, and then become a walking PR nightmare for the company that denied you. So the freedom to move to another carrier is a big reason why American health insurance covers so much stuff that foreign services will not pay for. This also explains why well-off Canadians buy American major medical insurance.

But the dirty little secret in the business, the one that Tom Sowell just touched upon, is that many people, and all corporations, find coverage horrendously expensive, but find the money to pay it every month, somehow. Nationally, it runs almost one thousand dollars per month, per family. They find all sorts of ways to hide the cost, but that is what it costs. In some places it costs quite a bit more. Every state is different, since insurance law is exclusively state law. That is something Obama intends to fix (or destroy, depending on your point of view)

Now the government says they will cover "the uninsured" and they project the cost of covering them. But when they do that they ignore the funny little thing they always ignore, and that is, people will do what suits their interest. How many families who currently pay one thousand dollars a month for a family policy will move over to government care? How many corporations will find a way to end their employee plans (except for their executives) and opt for government care? At one thousand bucks per month, a lot.

As the numbers rise, and alternatives disappear, services will be cut, inevitably. Then they will do what the other countries have found expedient, and make private insurance illegal. At that point we are done. When I got sick in Florida and needed an MRI, I had it by the end of the day. My cousin in Montreal needed one also, and had to wait eleven weeks. Meanwhile, dogs and other pets could get MRIs, for cash, any Saturday. Why Saturday? Because, even with eleven week waiting lists, the MRI centers were shut down for the weekend. Higher wages on weekends in Canada and limited budgets, plus it is illegal to pay for your own medical care in Canada. Some veterinarians leased MRI centers on Saturdays, but it was illegal for them to take the very same pictures of human beings.

Government run health care will be a bigger disaster than anyone believes. Unmitigated, for real. Canada has been the relief valve of America. Once we are gone, le deluge.