Our third-party payment system for health care insurance offers a limited time window during which you can purchase health insurance. That window of time is called Open Enrollment. Should you enroll and buy health insurance?
Limited The Time To Buy Insurance
Why can you buy health insurance only during a three-month period? You can buy auto, homeowners, liability, and life insurance any time you want. Why is health insurance different?
Limiting the time you can enroll is a ploy to encourage people to buy NOW. Otherwise, the reasoning goes, people would wait until they become sick and only then would they enroll and buy insurance. The limited time offer presumably is an incentive for healthy people to buy while they can, reduce their risk, and infuse large sums of money into the insurance pool.
Most people who buy health insurance aren’t buying insurance. They don’t understand the purpose of insurance – they think they are buying care; but they aren’t! They are reducing financial risk.
The HealthCare.gov website, where people can buy health insurance, is displayed on a laptop screen in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2015. (AP/Andrew Harnik)
Only The Loser Collects
Insurance is a betting pool where the loser collects. If you collect on your auto insurance, you have been in a car crash. When you collect on homeowners insurance, it's because of a fire, flood or hurricane demolished your house, or maybe someone broke in and stole your TV and stereo.
If you collect on your health insurance, that means you are sick, exactly what you don’t want to be. And the more you collect, the more medical bills you generate, meaning you are very sick.
It is hard to see yourself as “winning” when you collect $494,000 on your health insurance. After all, you have cancer of the lymph nodes and the half million dollars is to pay for painful and protracted chemotherapy.
The true winners are those who don’t collect. They are the healthy ones. But if too few of them decide to enroll, then the pool of insurance dollars will be too few to pay for the medical needs of those who are sick.
Why Is The Insurance Pool “Dry”?
There are two main reasons why an insurance pool of money, like the Medicare Trust Fund, will have too few dollars. Too few healthy people may contribute. Too much money may be taken out by the healthcare system. Note the italics.
The U.S. is spending nearly double what any other nation spends on healthcare and almost half of all that spending goes to pay for bureaucracy, NOT for care. As an aside, Obamacare’s massive new spending is mostly going to the regulatory machine, instead of patients’ medical needs.
For a moment, let’s ignore the big picture and focus on your immediate concern: the title question. Should you enroll while you can? Should you buy health insurance? The simple answer is "yes."
Healthy or not, the more people who contribute to the insurance pool by buying insurance, the more money will be available to pay for individuals who need expensive care.
Why Buy Health Insurance?
Insurance was never intended to pay for your health care. Like other forms of insurance, health insurance is supposed to protect your finances, not your body, car, home or your life.
Auto insurance doesn’t prevent a car crash. Homeowners’ insurance won’t stop a fire, and health insurance doesn’t keep you healthy. Nor does it pay for all your care, only part of it. The real purpose of health insurance is to protect you from having to declare bankruptcy if you get seriously ill. But that is a darned good reason to have health insurance.
Obama's Insurance–The Only Game In Town
I do not recommend buying Obamacare insurance because his reform is "good for us." The subsidies come from a series of new taxes on the middle class; the deductibles and co-pays come as a shock to those who try to use the insurance; and it is increasingly difficult to find a doctor who will take Obamacare insurance.
In fact, the president’s so-called "reform" of U.S. health insurance has proven to be terrible public policy. It demonstrated a series of broken promises; raised the cost of insurance to new heights of unaffordability; suppressed an already weak economic recovery; accelerated Medicare’s slide toward insolvency; made care less available; bent upward our national spending curve for healthcare; and expanded an already unsustainable national debt.
I recommend that you buy an Obamcare-compliant insurance plan because such policies are the only ones you can legally purchase. You have two choices: (a) buy Obama-acceptable insurance (and thus have your action touted by Washington as an endorsement of the president’s “reform” act), or (b) go without health insurance. For your personal safety, not because Obamacare is good for America, buy health insurance.
Dr. Deane Waldman MD MBA is author of “The Cancer in the American Healthcare System” (Thanksgiving 2015); Host of www.wecanfixhealthcare.info; Professor Emeritus of Pediatrics, Pathology and Decision Science; and Adjunct Scholar (Healthcare) for the Rio Grande Foundation, a public policy think tank. Dr. Deane sits on the Board of Directors of the New Mexico Health Insurance Exchange as Consumer Advocate. Opinions expressed here are solely his and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Board.
TheBlaze contributor channel supports an open discourse on a range of views. The opinions expressed in this channel are solely those of each individual author.