Monday, May 25, 2009

Economies of Scare

I'm tired of having health insurance.

Not that I think we should be without it. But I'm tired of the concept. Here's why:

Two years ago we signed up for some basic health insurance that would pretty much take care of us if one of us lost a limb or got blowed up or something. Obviously, we have not used it. At all. I was lucky enough to get a physical for free at work that didn't identify any terrible problems aside from my weight, which I knew about already. We've had our daughter into the dentist, and our oldest son to see, well, the witch doctor.

So explain to me why I had to get a letter from our insurance company this weekend saying that due to rising medical costs, our premium is going to jump $150 a month. Madness. We have not had a claim. We haven't had a claim on our auto insurance, and it's actually gone down in price since a few years ago. Why doesn't health insurance work this way?

It's all a racket, of course. Costs are going up for somebody because somebody at the health insurance provider wants an ivory-handled back scratcher. And pharmaceuticals in this country are ludicrously expensive. And doctors struggling with malpractice insurance, and, they can't deny it, boat payments and payments on their huge houses and whatnot. I know a few doctors, and have seen where they live. They're not living in hovels bereft of toys.

And then there's my employer. A few months ago, they said they were looking into health insurance for their employees so they could remain competitive. Right now, I get an extra $3.01 an hour so I can pay for my own health insurance. I was excited that perhaps with our employer now going to bat for us insurance-wise, we might get a better deal someplace else, using our combined buying power to get insurance that we could actually use. (As much as I hated working for the Post Register, I have to confess that their insurance was pretty good.) And back when I worked for Qwest -- as much as I hated that place -- the insurance was by far the best. $300 a year -- $300 a year, folks -- and we could see a doctor any time we wanted. For free. Economies of scale are possible. It's too bad right now that we operate on economies of scare.

Then the employer sent out a memo with two very naughty words in it: Supplemental and Aflac. Great. So, meeting attended where the two goons from Aflac explained their wares and I find that all the employer has done is figure out a way to help us spend the money we're already getting for health care without actually offering us any health care at all.

I'm ready for something akin to Britain's National Health Service. Yes, we hear the nightmare stories about long waiting lists and such. But can we honestly say that's any worse than the system we have, which is pretty much a roulette wheel that says "We might take care of you but it'll cost you plenty. You didn't need that house any more, did you?" I'm ready to pay higher taxes for something that would actually let me go to a doctor or a hospital without worrying myself even sicker over how to pay for it all. This is one of the primary reasons I voted Democrat this last time round. I do not, however, have high hopes that anything will come of my invidiual vote. Clinton had a majority in congress back in the early 1990s, and squandered it without doing a blasted thing on health care. I have little faith that one party can do anything to fix things. Truth be told, I believe it's going to take some kind of national catastrophe -- aside from the millions of people who go uninsured and are unhealthy, a catastrophe which we already have -- to fix things. Which means it's going to take something awful, because no one seems willing to fix what's going on now.

I'm done with my rant. Except that the employer's going to hear it from me, and our insurance agent is going to hear it from my wife. It's Network News time -- We're as mad as hell, and we're not going to take it any more.

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