Friday, September 11, 2009

There's Reform, and Then There's REFORM!

I've tried to write about this several times, but the whole expanse of it just seems to get away from me. Rather than write a full and reasoned treatise, here are just a few observations.

I think that the whole idea of Health Insurance may be completely wrong. Insurance is for disasters, not for bills. With life insurance, the payout is at least predictable based on the policy your purchase, so the actuaries can figure out the pricing accordingly. Medical bills are notoriously unpredictable, so huge margins must be built in.
  • Imagine sending the bill for your brake work or your oil changes to your auto insurance company. That's not what insurance is for. Insurance is for crashes. Repair insurance is available, but we call it an extended warranty. Most financial advisors will tell you it's a bad deal. Insurance is for crashes. For repairs, you plan, save or use your credit card.

  • Health insurance makes the insurance company the customer, not the patient. The money comes from the insurance company, so the medical provider is much more interested in doing things that make the insurance companies happy. This has to skew things.

  • Making the government the insurer really won't help this. It doesn't matter if the government does a good job of it or not. The concept is skewed from the get go.

So it seems to me that Health Care reform -- real reform -- is not about deciding who insures who. It should be about getting rid of insurance altogether and finding other ways to finance medical expenses.

This isn't all my idea. I was kind of thinking about this, but in a very fuzzy and undefined way, and then I read David Goldhill's article in The Atlantic Monthly called How American Health Care Killed My Father. Not sure I see all his solutions, but I think they are much closer to real reform than what is going on now.

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