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Health Assurance and the Real World

Posted Thursday, August 20, 2009, at 8:14 AM

Long, long ago, far, far way, in a universe which no longer exists, I was once guilty of conducting family budgeting seminars. There is no evidence -- tangible or antidotal -- to indicate anything I said was of particular benefit to anyone. It is very likely that in following my instructions faithfully some went broke.

Someone else generated the material; I just presented it. Being me, though, I had to add some of my own demented theories. One of those had to do with the purchase of insurance.

Insurance in my view, then and now, is sold as much by fear-mongers and by logicians.

"Maybe you'll have an accident (or fire or whatever is being hawked), get insurance for that."

What I pointed out at the time is that I had nothing against insurance; only that decision end up being stupid and wrong when based on ignorance or fear. Stupid and wrong decisions being the only two things on which I'm an expert.

I tend to see myself these days as a detached observer of the current debate on health care insurance. Nobody has to scare me into knowing I should have coverage, I know by experience. But, there is not much I can do to change anything at this point in my life: I have no vote in Congress and, like Congress, no real good idea what they should or should not do.

I find myself concerned, however, at the fear element of the deliberations. If you'll excuse my paraphrase, the only thing we've got to fear is being scared of being scared.

Scared current health insurance is going to change? It will!

The way things stand now one of three things will happen: (a) Congress will finally do something, and not even God knows what that is; (b) the insurance companies will change something to suit their experience and/or profit needs, or (c) something will happen in everyone's life to force changing policies. Whatever happens, not even the lawyers will understand it.

Scared Medicare benefits might be cut back? Me too; and we retired-on-fixed-income people have a powerful lobby and can be fierce when aroused.

Medicare is what they call an "entitlement" program. That means the day I turned 65 I was entitled to it -- and so were the richest people in America. Is there any compelling reason why we couldn't start cutting back on Medicare coverage with Warren, Bill, et al?

Scared Congress might screw it up -- again? They will.

After generations of talking about improving the health care system, it seems inevitable something will now be done. It all reminds me of an old movie about war between leprechauns and fairies -- now you see them, now you don't. Can we just do whatever we're going to do as a nation without relying on ignorance and fear itself to win one's point?

Scary stuff happens. Welcome to the real world.

In the end bad stuff happens to good people and good stuff happens to bad people and no insurance man (or legislation) can change that. The only thing we've got to fear is being scared of being scared.

David L. Lewis is an observer of and sometimes commentator on life who may be reached via e-mail at kayanddavid@joink.com.

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Good points, Dave.

I've always considered insurance as my bet that something bad is going to happen.

-- Posted by Leo L. Southworth on Thu, Aug 20, 2009, at 11:07 AM

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