Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Not That Complicated

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About as clear as it gets:

It is no more practical to have "health insurance" to pay for prescription drugs and routine doctor visits than it is to expect your auto insurance to pay for your oil changes and tire rotations.

But we do.

Consider: if a health insurance type system existed for auto insurance, it would certainly result in those quick lube oil changes costing about 95 dollars instead of something like 29. It would require an army of public and private sector bureaucrats to shuffle mounds of paper with hundreds of mouse clicks to make sure you were eligible for your lube job, that you paid your 10 dollar "lube co-pay" and that the remaining 85 bucks was eventually approved by a Chevy lube specialist underwriter.

We won't even mention the fact that your wait in the quick change waiting room would likely resemble the long wait in a doctor's office, as every other customer transaction would become the paperwork root canal yours is.

(And of course, those who do not have "lube insurance" or the 95 dollars in cash to pay for the lube, will go to the emergency engine shop where they will gum up the works for real emergencies and their lube can be done at no charge to them. This is also known as a different kind of lube job to those of us who pay our own way, who will get hit with a 1200 dollar tax tab for their "free" job.)

Thus, our healthcare dollars get eaten up by processing claims and indigent care.

Bottom line? The confusion between "health care" and "health insurance" as public policy issues -- along with the near universal misunderstanding of what health insurance is (or should be) -- is making what should be a rather simple financial planning market solution a national nightmare.

Moreover, the nuanced difference in the language used has turned the issue much more emotional and much less rational, politically. We say we must reform the system to prevent families from going bankrupt over medical bills, then turn around and debate systems that micro-manage the costs of pills and routine check ups. Well, which do we really want to do? Those are entirely different issues...

Many good points in the rest of the piece.

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