Sunday, January 29, 2006

A Dog Eat Dog World

This is the Chinese year of the dog.

Anyone who has ever owned a dog, or even watched a dog eat, is well aware the meal is consumed in what seems like micro-seconds. You fill the dish, set it on the floor, and before you have put away the bag the meal is consumed.

The way your dog devours his meal you would think he had not been fed in a month. Should you get too close while the dog is eating, your best friend will growl or even snap at you in an effort to keep you from (in his mind at least) taking his food away.

Once the dog has finished his meal he will look at you as if to say, in dog talk of course, “Is that all there is?”

Health insurance is the same way.

Those with health insurance, especially employer provided health insurance, tend to act like dogs.

For starters, they expect the employer to “feed” them. The employee feels no obligation to pay for their coverage and complain if they are asked to pay anything at all.

The plan is repeatedly abused by those who think nothing of going to the doctor at the slightest chill and demanding the latest “quick fix” pill they saw on TV last night.

And why not?

After all, the visit with the doc only costs $10 and the magic potion another $20.

Truth is, the office visit was more like $70 and the meds closer to $140.

They wolfed down their doctor visit & meds like a hungry dog.

But try to take away their health insurance or, GASP, eliminate copays or raise deductibles and listen to them growl.

Just like a dog and their food bowl.

Some take issue with a key to solving health insurance woes by ridiculing the idea that Americans are over-insured.

If you really want to gauge how out-of-touch employees are when it comes to health insurance, ask them how much their health insurance costs. Like asking how much they earn, most can’t tell you.

To them the cost of health insurance is how much is deducted from their paychecks each week, and how much they earn is the amount that is deposited in the bank.

In both cases, their assessment is inaccurate.

Only when they leave employment and receive their COBRA notice, do they suddenly have a bad case of sticker shock.

Are Americans over-insured? When they have no real concept of what health care costs, or how much insurance premiums really are, I would have to say yes, they ARE over-insured. When they fail to realize the key to reducing the cost of coverage is to eliminate cost items that are manageable and get back to true risk management, they are in fact over-insured.

Just like the dog that EXPECTS to be fed and growls when you try to take away his food, Americans EXPECT to have health care provided for them and growl when you try to make it more affordable.
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