We just don’t get it

I recently read an article titled Health Care Shouldn’t Be This Expensive: How to Find Answers and Low-Cost Options. It said in part:

Getting affordable medical care isn’t impossible, but it means sifting through an array of options: from private short-term plans to the Affordable Care Act’s marketplace tiers to government- or state-based insurance, all with different rules, requirements, enrollment dates, premiums and deductibles. It also means becoming a strong self-advocate. If a household can’t afford health insurance, there are other resources that provide help and low-cost care.


The article was about all forms of health insurance. If you wonder why we can’t seem to solve the health care cost problem it’s because we don’t understand the problem. Health insurance is not health care. The cost of insurance reflects the use and prices of health care. That means if you shop for the lowest cost health care, you are trading that for a higher risk of out of pocket costs or the true cost is subsidized by someone else.


  1. I would say that I can count on my fingers all the people who pay any attention or understand the costs involved in dealing with choosing healthcare plans. And I’m talking about all the people I’ve known in my lifetime. There is a lot of confusion and grumbling but no understanding at all. The article melds medical treatment and doesn’t really offer any specific advice. That’s the kind of stuff people may read and then think they know something about insurance and healthcare. No wonder the population at large is so ignorant.


  2. You are 100% correct that health care is not health insurance.

    Then I got thinking about why people confuse the two. I think it is because you basically cannot shop for health care treatment costs (except for maybe drugs) but you can shop for health insurance. You shop for the best doctor that you takes your insurance.

    Health care insurance is different than any other kind of insurance too. Take car insurance policy for example. You usually have three options; liability, collision, comprehensive and varying dollar amounts for each type of coverage. If your accident costs more than the value of the car, the insurance company cuts you a check for the amount of your policy and walks away. But if you car breaks down, you pay out of pocket to have it fixed at a time when you can afford it.

    When you buy a new car, you know it’s maximum value so you know how much insurance to buy. In health care, there is no upper limit to costs and we all expect that the hospitals will try to save your life, at any cost, even if it is hopeless. All you can do is buy what you can afford and therefore you begin to see health insurance as your health care since the insurance companies plans may limit your choices of care and or where you can go.

    HMOs didn’t help in this perception either. The ideal was to maintain your body with your primary care doctor avoiding the need to go to the hospital. But instead of paying the doctor ( the auto mechanic) out of your pocket the insurance company paid. In theory this would keep you running safely and avoid crashing. Therefore, when buying health care insurance, you really were shopping for health care under HMOs. The copays with HMOs were so low that it was like paying the parking garage fee not like paying for the doctor.


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