Say It With Me: INSURANCE
1. the act, system, or business of insuring property, life, one's person, etc., against loss or harm arising in specified contingencies, as fire, accident, death, disablement, or the like, in consideration of a payment proportionate to the risk involved.
2. coverage by contract in which one party agrees to indemnify or reimburse another for loss that occurs under the terms of the contract.
Since some folks have better reading comprehension than others, we'll help everyone out with that word, contingency:
–noun, plural -cies.
1. dependence on chance or on the fulfillment of a condition; uncertainty; fortuitousness: Nothing was left to contingency.
2. a contingent event; a chance, accident, or possibility conditional on something uncertain: He was prepared for every contingency.
I'll make the reasonable assumption that nearly everyone knows the meaning of health and thus we can move on to the term health insurance. From the definitions above, we can see that health insurance is a contract one party purchases from another such that by some chance the fulfillment of an undesirable medical condition was to befall the purchaser of said contract, the second party, which supplied the contract, agrees to reimburse the the first party for some or all of his or her medical expenses that arose due to the fulfillment of said contingency, as provided in the contract.
That's all health insurance is, or at least that's what the term health insurance means. A person buys health insurance to protect himself from significant financial loss in the event that he one day is beset by a serious medical condition. I have such a health insurance plan. I pay $340 per month for a family of four for a policy that covers our medical expenses up to one million dollars per person per year.
Now, with such a low premium, the insurance company also has a large deductible. Our deductible is $6,000 per person per year or $12,000 for the whole family per year. No big deal, $12,000 never ruined anyone, and it's unlikely that we'll need to spend that much on health care in any one year anyway (I think we spent about $2k this year). Now to be $50k, $100k, or $500k in the hole due to something serious like cancer, that's a big deal.
Then we have this guy:
My name is Bing Perrine and I live here in Billings, Montana, with my beautiful wife and baby boy. Last June, I collapsed because of congenital heart problems. I need open-heart surgery, but I have no insurance and no company will insure me.Let's have a closer look at what he said:
My friends and family have been a blessing. With hearts as big as a Montana sky, they have helped with bake sales and benefits. But my wife and I still owe over $100,000 in medical bills.
None of this debt would have piled up if I had the option of buying into a public health insurance plan. Private insurance companies need competition. They profit by denying care to people like me.
Senator Baucus, when you take millions of dollars from health and insurance interests that oppose reform -- and oppose giving families like mine the choice of a public option -- I have to ask: whose side are you on?
None of this debt would have piled up if I had the option of buying into a public health insurance plan.Meaning: None of this debt would have piled up if someone else was forced to pay for my medical care whether they wanted to or not.
Then he shows his lack of understanding of the term we learned above: health insurance.
Private insurance companies need competition. They profit by denying care to people like me.
The insurance companies denied care to you?!? Did they really? Do the insurance companies even provide health care? No they don't! Doctors, nurses, hospitals, etc., provide health care. As we saw above, insurance companies provide you with insurance. That's what an insurance company does. This is not a difficult concept to grasp! I'm thinking that you got your education from the public option, and maybe it wasn't so good.
Now let's look at what you may have meant to say, that "health insurance companies profit by denying health insurance to people like me." Darn tootin' they do! How can an insurance company survive, let alone make a profit, if they have to insure against contingencies that are 100% certain to occur? I suppose there's one way they could survive, they'd simply charge a premium that is equal to the cost incurred due to the contingency, but then that would leave you in the same $100k hole.
I'll wrap this up, because I'm done steaming, but besides all the other stuff the government could do to improve the health care / health insurance industry (like tort reform, allowing competition across state lines, etc.), they could require that every American purchase a health insurance plan of some sort. It could be cheap and have a really high deductible, but you'd have to have some minimum insurance.
I know I'm gonna lose my libertarian street cred with that statement, but it's true. It must be done. The reason is the following. If some dumbass without health insurance becomes gravely ill, or suffers an accidental, but serious, injury, s/he will not be turned away from the hospital. That person will be treated and we will all get the bill. Much as things ought not to be this way, the fact remains that things are this way. So everyone must have a minimum amount of health insurance.