Gas Pains

Tom grew up in Milwaukee, bartended in Wauwatosa in the '70s and moved here in 1984.

Commentary, observations and musings about the outdoors, life in general and maybe Tosa politics and personalities will be the order of the day. He savors a lively debate as much as terrific cooking.

Bionic Dog

Family, Good Looking Blondes, Healthcare, Health Insurance, Public Policy, Sister

There is a thread over on the Tosa Town Square about: Kathleen Vinehout: Dairy Farmer, College Professor, State SenatorThe individual who posted it suggested that Tosans might - Get familiar with the name.  This probably has something to do with Senator Vinehout's musings about running against Governor Walker.

Recall election notwithstanding I perused the Senator's web page - and sure enough - as a farmer she and her family spent nearly two years without health insurance.  It is no surprise that the discussion on the TTS almost immediately devolved into a discussion of health insurance.

I can only speculate upon the circumstances surrounding the two-year lapse in coverage.  Whether it was due to inability to pay, a denial of coverage, the rescission of a policy, a calculated decision to "go naked" or some other reason is anyone's guess.  What I do know is that everybody in state government - from the governor on down - enjoys a very rich plan of health insurance relative to what my family has. 

Which leads me to the topic I want to discuss - namely that of decoupling healthcare from health insurance and health insurance from the employee/employer relationship. 

Let's begin with how the Merriam-Webster on line dictionary defines healthcare:  The maintaining and restoration of health by the treatment and prevention of disease especially by trained and licensed professionals (as in medicine, dentistry, clinical psychology, and public health).

I conclude from the foregoing that a healthy diet, plenty of fresh air and exercise, brushing, flossing along with a periodic visit to the dentist, watching your weight, not smoking, visiting with a family doctor once a year and seeking the advice of a licensed professional when you're over your head makes sense.  Periodically, an untoward event will occur and sometimes individuals develop chronic conditions for which regular treatment becomes the norm.  This leads us to the second definition - namely how to pay for the stated healthcare.

Merriam-Webster defines health insurance as follows:  Insurance against loss through illness of the insured; especially : insurance providing compensation for medical expenses.

Nowhere in that definition is it stated precisely how much insurance is advisable.  My conclusion is that this is because everyone's circumstances are different.  Therefore, if I want to insure all, a large portion, a small portion or none of my medical expenses that would be allowable.  Correct?

Furthermore, I want to point out the distinction between healthcare and health insurance.  The former encompasses all that I take personal responsibility for and whom I might hire from the vast community of professionals to maintain my good health.  While the latter is a mechanism to cover all or a portion of the cost.  They are not one and the same.  This is why I find a discussion of health insurance reform characterized as healthcare reform annoying.  They are two different things.

A few words about insurance.

Merriam-Webster has this to say about insurance:  Coverage by contract whereby one party undertakes to indemnify or guarantee another against loss by a specified contingency or peril.

I'm a big believer in insurance.  Years ago my house burned to the ground.  Last month I had a total hip replacement.  These are big ticket items the loss and replacement of which make perfect sense to insure for the very simple reason that they are expensive and not easily self-insured.  Let's all agree that large losses are the ones worthy of insuring.  Nevertheless, there are some losses that make little sense to insure.  For some people anyway.  Did you know that you can purchase kidnap insurance?  Yessir.  However, unless you travel in a region of the world populated by drug cartels and Somali pirates - as much as you think your skin is worth - the risk is so low that you'd probably say to yourself - I'll not bother insuring that loss.  I've got better uses for my hard-earned brass.  I am going to go naked.  

Same for small losses.  Don't sweat the little stuff.  Large deductibles coupled with a Health Savings Account (HSA) can afford you the opportunity to insure large losses at competitive rates while paying for the nickle and dime (my term for routine office visits and such) with pre-tax dollars.  The bottom line is that insurance is for large losses (difficult if not impossible to self-insure) while it is a thrifty policy to cover the little losses out-of-pocket.

Final point.

Why do we persist in coupling health insurance (not to be confused with healthcare) with a relationship we have with an employer?  If you read your history this is nothing more than a throwback to the Second World War and the imposition of wage and price controls.  Employers were prohibited from raising wages so instead offered health insurance as a means to attract and retain employees. 

I speculate upon what the impact would be if all of us - millions upon millions of consumers - were free to seek our own plan of insurance without the constraints of an employer (or lack thereof).  No one-size-fits-all.  Everyone free to purchase insurance to fit our individual circumstances. 

What's with the bionic dog.  You've been droning on and on about this and that and no mention of a dog.  What gives?

Oh yeah.  Neither of our dogs have health insurance.  Nor do they lack for access to healthcare.  In fact their healthcare is really quite efficient.  Whip out the MasterCard and it's done.  No claim forms or anything.

Take note of the good looking blonde in the picture below.

That contraption on her leg is meant to stabilize an orthopedic procedure as it heals.  Hopeful this Rube Goldberg device will afford her the opportunity for years of unencumbered running faster and leaping higher.  We think it beats amputating the limb.  In any event, Sister goes naked (without health insurance) on the healthcare side of her life.  Two years of good health will more than compensate for the out-of-pocket for this random event.  We'll take that risk. 

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