Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Self-inflicted trolling: 300 million Americans don't have iPhone insurance

Title Corrected

Oops. I meant to say, many Americans still don't have health insurance. The Kaiser Family Foundation released a report that states, 50 million Americans don't have health insurance. This group released a new report and now the print, digital, and TV news media have to run with this story. That is the headline, "50 million Americans don't have health insurance". If you said, "90% of iPhone users don't have iPhone protection insurance", you will probably think, who cares? But with 50 million without health care, we are supposed to get mad at our government. Get those people health insurance.

Wait a minute, shouldn't we at least ask the question, does everyone need health insurance? Do the 50 million without health insurance need health insurance? For Americans to experience a higher quality of life, I hope that most Americans have access to some kind of medical services. I just don't know if health care insurance is the silver bullet to a existence free of worry. And it is really interesting how the media presents the report, they will only focus on that one liner. Health insurance, health insurance. You won't hear, "five hundred thousand people died of heart disease" or "220,000 cases of lung cancer are expected in 2010". The focus in the media on the health care debate is not on health care but health care insurance. It is never, heart disease, cancer, advances in medical technology, or anything actually related to the cost of medical procedures. In most cases the anger from the people is in the form of, "There are too many uninsured", it is never, "There is too much cancer out there. Do something about the cancer and the heart disease". I would even suggest a debate on the procedures that are being offered, are they needed? So now, we expect our elected leaders to further exacerbate the problem by somehow getting more involved. Like I said before, people will expect the federal government to do something about getting those uninsured more insurance. From the standpoint of the health insurance companies, they can't possibly lose. With the current bad economy, small and medium sized businesses are dropping their employees from their insurance plans because they can't afford to cover them. So the insurance companies may lose those customers in the short term. But that is OK for the insurers, the media will just send out a press release detailing the ever growing lack of insurance problem. And the government will respond in kind by making sure that the uninsured get insurance from the health insurance companies. It is a textbook case of a boondoggle.

What if I DON'T want health insurance?

Ideally health insurers should offer health care plans based on the number of customers in a particular group or on a particular plan. Let the insurance models dictate the market rates in an unencumbered system. If federal government forces are involved in determining which customers can be dropped from insurance plans and ensuring that all Americans are covered by some health insurance, then the health insurance companies are guaranteed a large number of potential customers. In some cases, government is telling insurers who to cover and even taxing particular procedures. With the recent health care bill, some stipulations include a 10% tax on ultra violet tanning bed services and dependents must be covered up to age 26.

The actual health care service providers are guaranteed a check from the federal government or the large health care insurance companies. At the very least, the insurance plans won't offer competitive rates because there is no real competition. They are not competing for your money. Ideally, the health care debate should be about health care and not the insurance. Not only do people not pay for most health care out of their own pockets. They don't even pay for health insurance. You get a job, hopefully you will get a job with a large number of employees like Boeing or GE and you opt into their group plans.

Plastic surgery, laser eye surgery, cosmetic dental care (braces) prices have remained steady while other medical procedures have increased dramatically. Why? Most people will pay for these types of services out of pocket and not through an insurer. The market forces influence the rates for these services. You don't have as much fraud, waste, and abuse where the plastic surgery professionals have to compete for your money because the consumer is cautious about the type of services they are paying for directly.

My Opinion

I would really like to see a health care system that is driven by the market, like most of the non-health related services we pay for. The government shouldn't tax money given to us by our employees that may be used for health services. We shouldn't give employers tax incentives to keep large number of employees on our health insurance plans. The federal government just shouldn't be involved in the business of providing health care insurance plans.


[1] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/12/27/uninsured-americans-50-million_n_801695.html

[2] http://www.ncpa.org/pub/ba437