Monday, September 10, 2007

Now THAT'S a Really Bad Idea...

Seems a local couple hasn't really tried shopping for health insurance with a professional, independent agent who specializes in that field:
That doesn't even make sense:
"affordable but...tied to restrictions."
Such as?
Well, the article doesn't say, but one can guess: a limited benefit (mini-med) plan comes to mind, as does any product from Mega Life (et al). Regardless, affordable coverage doesn't have to mean "restricted" coverage - if properly designed.
"tied to minimum health care services"
Again, I have no idea what that is supposed to mean. One might infer that it offers minimal cover for routine items, but so what?
"anchored to premiums that would skyrocket..."
First, individual plan premiums aren't tied directly to individual claims; they're "pooled" with the experience of other plan owners, which helps to levelize premium increases. Since we already know that rates are leveling off, this scenario seems unlikely.
So what do the Whorton's plan to do about this seeming impasse?
Glad you asked:
"Dan and Carly Whorton decided a savings account for their health care costs was the safer bet."
Now that's just brilliant! Why didn't I think of that? Oh, yeah, right: because it's a mindnumbingly dumb idea.
Why's that, you ask?
Simple: insurance companies pay their actuaries handsome salaries to determine the likelihood and severity of future claims. It seems a stretch that Mr Whorton, "a welder by trade," has the expertise to make accurate calculations about his family's medical expenses (not picking on welders: insurance agents, lawyers and burger flippers are equally ill-equipped). What happens, for example, if Mr W has a heart attack? Or Mrs W becomes pregnant? Or little baby W develops respiratory problems? How long will that bank account last?
Had Mr and Mrs W availed themselves of a competent advisor, they would have learned about Health Savings Accounts (for example), which would allow the W's to put money aside for future claims (on a tax advantaged basis, to boot) while enjoying the security of a health insurance plan for catastrophic claims such as noted above.
Hard to believe, but it gets dumber. In addressing the estimated 70,000 local folks (a number which the authors of the article never question, even though it's preposterously large) who are uninsured (at the moment), one local official opined:
"We hope to be able to make sure that everyone in Montgomery County has some type of health care"
Yoohoo, Mrs Lieberman, every single resident already has access to health care. They may or may not be insured, but care is most definitely available.
Of course, our local pols aren't the only ones with tunnel vision:
"I think it unconscionable that the wealthiest country in the world can't provide universal coverage for its citizens."
Thus spake Tom Breitenbach, CEO of Premier Health partners, which has had its own issues with providing health care. Of course, Mr B will be the first to complain about recent cuts in Medicare, touted as a potential "jumping off point" for a nationalized health care financing and delivery system.
And we all know how well that's working out.
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