Insurance is a great thing. For virtually everything we own, there’s a policy available to protect its value or functionality. Be it your house, your car, or your health, it feels good knowing you have it. While your deductible might be something you wish you gave more thought to at the time of needing to use insurance, all in all, it can save you quite a lot of money and heartache.
It seems that the way we use insurance regardless of the asset we are protecting from risk is the same – except health insurance. We don’t use our homeowners insurance every time something in the house breaks. Could you imagine? “Honey, toilet seat broke – what’s our deductible on that?” With every other policy we hold for protection, we go out of our way trying NOT to use it. When you smack someone’s bumper in a parking lot, the first question is always “Can we go around insurance?”
No one walks into an orthopaedist’s office asking them to not use their insurance. In fact, if you have health insurance, you are using it as much as you can for every little thing. That is what’s gotten the fiscal train off the responsible rails in healthcare. A visit to a specialist of any kind costs several hundred dollars. But the patient really only thinks about their copay of thirty or sixty dollars for the visit. Hardly a number to stop them from going to the sports medicine specialist about that funny click in their ankle that sometimes happens. If the patient had to cover the total payment, there would be a lot of second guessing on scheduling a visit. More likely, it would be a few cents’ worth of data for google searches on a smart device for “ankle clicking home remedy” to fix that click. If we all chose to pay for that visit out of pocket, the market would correct the price very quickly by the specialists who wanted to stay in business. And they would change the way they deliver clinical services to make it profitable and more efficient. With the cost to cover beneficiaries plummeting because of this scenario, insurance premiums would drop dramatically and coverage for larger events would be much better than what that coverage would be today for a given premium.
In using auto insurance like health insurance, an oil change would cost $500 with a $150 copay and the mechanic would tell you he wasn’t sure of the final bill until all the work was done. Furthermore, depending on your plan, the closest oil change might be a half hour from your house, given your insurer’s mechanic network. You can kiss that Groupon good-bye, that’s for sure. Want to use synthetic? That’s going to require pre-authorization and the vendor’s rep will probably swing by for that tune-up.
So what’s it going to take to fix it? Anyone living in the US can tell you it’s starting to fix itself. More and more costs are being shifted to the beneficiary. People are starting to choose medical services and providers based on cost. We’re not ripping off the Band-Aid quite yet, but there will come a day when we look back and laugh at the fact that coupons for a total knee weren’t available online.