Right now millions of Americans are paying exorbitant amounts of money for health insurance they barely use. They go to the doctor about as much as I do (and I am grateful for how little I need the doctor). They take care of their health with a good diet and lifestyle, and therefore never need to see a doctor for anything other than necessary procedures or serious problems.
We all certainly want to have health insurance if something awful happens to us and need to go to the hospital… albeit for many in the United States this comes at the expense of a $6000+ deductible. So even if you do use your insurance, the threshold for it to activate is so high that you may as well not even have it most of the time. Of course, the (however well meaning but) ill-advised Affordable Care Act has mandated that Americans buy this pricey, mostly useless insurance.
In large part this is because (aside from cancer care, a predatory-posing-as-compassionate industry whose modus operandi is a whole other can of worms I’m not getting to) we’re financing the legal drug addiction and hypochondria of millions of Americans, as well as fueling a US medical industry that has leverage to overcharge all of us.
What would be more useful is something akin to a fixed indemnity plan, where:
- If you need to go to the hospital, basically everything is covered from the first dollar by your policy.
- Since you don’t use much of anything beyond that, it doesn’t cover any basic health care.
- If you can contribute to an HSA that can cover those occasional non-emergency doctor visits, then that can cover your basic health care bases.
- Flat-Fee Health Care: You have the option to pay something additional like $20 a month for a membership providing affordable access to a quick care medical facility or network that can cover basic care and added procedures for additional nominal fees. This would offer easy, affordable access for people who need regular health care more than others.
- Health Insurance should be like auto insurance: The less you use it, the less risk you present of using it, the lower your premiums should be for any amount of coverage. When you use it more than others, your premiums can be subject to increase.
- I realize this sucks for the chronically ill, but this gets into topics beyond the scope of this post such as the future of medical tourism, medically induced emigration, and likely new niche business or angel-invested models for chronically ill health care coverage. Basically, the current US health care coverage model is unsustainable, and we’re moving towards various new models for healthcare anyway.
I’m not holding my breath for such a solution. But I think if the ACA is salvageable and could use a fix, it would be a shift to something like this.
As I get older, I will probably look to emigrate to a country with universal government-funded health care, or safe and very affordable health care. Paying the exorbitant premiums for health insurance in this country, especially for what little you get in return, isn’t acceptable.
I don’t see the US finding a good health care coverage solution for the working class anytime soon, and no: I don’t believe single-payer or universal health care is a realistic possibility here.