Monday, August 31, 2009

Free Market Insurance = Socialism

I am convinced that most people really don't understand how insurance really works.

The insurance industry needs a large pool of people to pay and pay, to subsidize the minority who collect and collect. "From each according to his ability; To each according to their need." Sounds like free market socialism to me!

Take auto insurance, for example. The majority of us pay, year after year, our auto insurance and rarely make a claim. I have made 3 claims (all relatively small) in 30 years. I have paid way more in premiums over those years than I have collected in claims. I am subsidizing the careless or chronically unlucky minority of drivers who have multiple claims - for far more money. That is how insurance works.

It works for auto and homeowners insurance though - for the most part. Why? Because everyone is required to have insurance. Auto insurance is required by law (in most, if not all, states). Therefore, even if I were inclined to take a chance and go without insurance because I'm a safe driver, I am not allowed to by law. Therefore, the insurance companies are guaranteed a large pool of payers to cover the collectors. Same with homeowner's insurance. The majority of us have a mortgage and are required to have homeowner's insurance. Once again, the insurance companies have a large pool of payers to cover the relatively small number of collectors. And if the collectors become too large a number, they simply deny those folks insurance - like homeowners on the Florida or Gulf coasts.

This is why the insurance lobby likes the proposal to make health insurance mandatory - it increases the pool of relatively healthy payers to cover the more sickly collectors.

Next post: why the free-market insurance wants nothing to do with insuring seniors.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Something's Burning (Fiction)

I remember some things from that day vividly. Other things are still fuzzy. I remember the warm sunshine and crisp air of a Minnesota summer morning. I was in Minneapolis to speak to a client about their new software system. I was sipping coffee in front of my hotel, waiting for a cab to take me to that client.

The cab pulled up the hotel driveway. I got in on the driver’s side.

“Where to?” the driver asked.

I gave him the address. He pulled out of the driveway. I took another sip of coffee.

“Where is this place?” he asked.

“Don’t know. First time here,” I said.

“Dammit!” He hit the steering wheel hard with his right hand.

I jumped. Coffee spilled and burned my hand.

“I expect my fares to know where the hell they’re going.”

I slid to the passenger side of the cab to look at the driver. He was a big guy with long brown hair, maybe in his thirties.

“I don’t know what to tell you,” I said, “Do you have a map?”

“You’re a smartass. You’re from South Dakota. I’ll bet anything. I hate people from South Dakota. You hicks come here in your Sears suits thinking you’re better than the rest of us.”

“Uh…I’m from Chicago,” I said.

He angled his body toward the dashboard. I heard a click.

“I don’t think you are. I think you’re an asshole from South Dakota.”

I looked out the window. We were on an expressway. We had been moving this whole time. He knew where he was going. He was just messing with me.

I felt a searing hot pain on my left thigh. Faster than I thought possible, he had reached around and pushed the cigarette lighter into my leg.

“Damn”, I yelled.

I grabbed his hand, but he kept pushing down. He was very strong. The pain was incredible. A hole had burned in my pants. Smoke was rising from my leg. I was in shock – unable to move.

Instinctively, I made a fist and swung with all my might at his head. I just kept hitting in a blind rage, slamming his head into the doorjamb. His hand left my thigh, but the pain did not stop.

I heard horns, screeching tires, an incredibly large sound. Then blackness – nothing.

All that happened twenty years ago. I still glance at the scar on my thigh where the lighter burned me.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Health Care Bill

Looks like I wasted my time downloading the 1018 page health care bill. It looks like there's some major changes coming as the administration has decided to reconsider the "public option".

I searched the PDF version of the bill and did not find a hit for: "malpractice", "lawsuit", or "tort". It seems to me that we should address the issue of lawsuits and malpractice insurance in any discussion about healthcare reforms.

I also searched "death panel" - didn't find it.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Try Something New: Think for Yourself!

Instead of relying on media blowhards to tell you what to think, try this instead. Read the health care bill yourself and generate your OWN opinion. It's fun! You can get the current version of the health bill by going to: http://energycommerce.house.gov/Press_111/20090714/aahca.pdf. Download all 1018 pages and go for it. Make it interesting... pick a page at random and see what you get! I chose page 143 this morning and here's what I found:

  • SEC. 246. NO FEDERAL PAYMENT FOR UNDOCUMENTED ALIENS.Nothing in this subtitle shall allow Federal paymentsfor affordability credits on behalf of individuals who are not lawfully present in the United States.

I'm not sure what this really refers to, but it's good to know that it has the words "NO", "PAYMENTS", and "UNDOCUMENTED ALIENS" all in the same sentence!

I really do not think we should be passing laws that are 1018 pages long. That just seems like a bad idea to me. The current IRS code is 3.4 millions words, 7500 pages (http://www.fourmilab.ch/uscode/26usc/) and we all know how simple paying taxes is. In general, it seems that laws this complicated are doomed to create an immense bureaucracy to adminster them. Surely we can consider other alternatives.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Ignorant Obama-Care Protesters

These shouting protesters at town hall meetings are not contributing to a solution to the health care problem.

  • Legislators have heard pleas to not let government take over Medicare, which they like. That level of ignorance is astounding.
  • Rationing? Doctor choice? Have these people ever read their current insurance policies? Every health insurance policy I've ever had (including my current one, which is not through an employer because I'm self-employed) includes:
  1. A list of in-network doctors I am allowed to use. I'm free to go elsewhere, but at far higher cost.
  2. Pages of excluded treatments.
  3. Pre-existing conditions - in my case I paid all of my own doctor bills for the first year and not a penny of that went toward my deductible.
  • "Death-panels"? Insurance companies deny treatment approval all the time. 17-year-old Nataline Sarkisyan, a leukemia patient from Glendale, Calif., died in December 2007 while her parents, her doctors and their insurance company (Cigna) were arguing about the procedure. It's rare, but it has already happened.

I don't think that government run health insurance is a good idea. There are lots of arguments I could make about too much government influence in our lives. But, the issues these people bring up are really the problems that started all this.

I'd bet many of us would love to know who insures these protesters who seem to have insurance that allows them to see any doctor on the planet and never denies them treatment approval or claims. I want some of that!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Cantigny Gardens & Museum

We took a little ride to Cantigny Gardens & Museum today. The gardens are lovely and the military museum is really interesting. A number of pictures were taken.













Sunday, August 2, 2009

Land of the Free; Home of the Brave?


As a result of the recent arrest of Henry Louis Gates in Cambridge, MA a number of people have written in the media asking if it's against the law to show anger to a cop. Is it? This led me to wonder where I can find the laws that I'm supposed to live by. I have heard the phrase "ignorance of the law is not a defense", but how am I supposed to know them all? Are they online? Are they in the library somewhere? Are there city, county, state - federal - laws that I'm expected to be aware of and follow? Are they vague and broad as "disorderly conduct" appears to be?


I bet we'd each be shocked to discover how many laws we are expected to obey. And if we obeyed each law to the letter, would we still consider ourselves free men and women living in the land of the free, home of the brave?