Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The immorality of health insurance


I came across this passage from a posting at the blog Blondetwit. I think the writer makes a powerful point. Here's the quote:

Health Insurance is NOT health care. Health insurance at its core, relies on risk versus reward, which equates to one thing: profit on human suffering. 

It was forcefully posed to me that I must also be against car insurance, fire insurance and life insurance. Those who know me would absolutely laugh at this. I come from a long line of life insurance agents, and was one myself. I consider it one of the most important purchases for any family, or any business. Everyone WILL die. Life Insurance allows survivors to carry on without financial tragedy, etc. Car insurance is based upon any individual's ability to maintain their PRIVILEGE to drive a car. Some fail that test, and there are always alternatives to driving, and not having coverage or not being able to drive does not create a moral dilemma. Fire insurance for your home or business, same thing basically as car insurance. No one lives or dies based on an insurance company's decision to cover or not to cover. 

Health Insurance, by it's very nature, the same as car insurance or fire insurance, can exist based only upon a healthy and robust business model that can attract investors, or others to be mutually insured (as in mutual insurers, not stock insurers).

By the very nature of the business model, someone, somewhere, will make a decision about a human life. Actually, about millions of human lives. 

An insurer will make the decision as to who lives and who dies. That decision is for God, the Universe, or how or whatever you believe - not a pencil pusher in a cubicle.

We must permanently unlink "Health Care" and "Insurance". The two cannot co-exist in a moral model.


bluebird said...

It constantly confuses me why there is such an opposition to the basic principal that health care is the right of any individual in a civilized society. Caring for our ill, young and old is the mark of humanity. Even the higher levels of animals exhibit concern for their own species when injured or ill. That seems beyond the ability of the "fundamentalist, right" to understand.

Richard said...

Fundamentalists live in a stark world of black and white. And apparently many of them see the teachings of Jesus about loving and caring for the poor and sick as wrong. How else can we interpret their actions? I was raised fundamentalist. I know about that mindset.

Independent Voter said...

So, you can't love and care for people without a government program to administer it?

I'm seeing plenty of black and white in the posts here. Fundamentalism isn't unique to the right. The mindset is still with you. Calling health insurance "immoral" is telling.

The problem in this debate isn't whether or not something needs to be done. Everyone is for some kind of reform. The difference in opinions is in how to go about doing it. The insanity of this debate (from both right and left) is preventing the accurate framing of the problem. Until that happens, a workable solution is unattainable.

This doesn't have to be an all or nothing deal, as the politicians have been trying to tell you. The common ground must be found and a start needs to be made if we are to move forward in any meaningful, lasting way.

Richard said...

Yeah, old habits are hard to break and maybe I'm still guilty of viewing things in too stark an "all or nothing" way, but I believe this "compromise" has swung way over into the healtlh insurance lobbyist' territory. And just for the record, having a sense of morality is not the same thing as seeing the world with the Taliban view that many fundamentalists have.There might be some "insanity" on the left's side, but it's nowhere near the level of the craziness getting prime time airing on Fox, on the radio and at "town hall meetings." As to your first point about government programs, if the private sector fails, which it has miserably, at a basic human need like health care, then I have no problem with a governmnet program. Government does not equal bad in my book. I'm pretty damn sick of that bias.

Independent Voter said...

If you consider 85% of the population being insured a miserable failure (more all or nothing thinking), you probably won't be satisfied with any compromise. Or any government program, for that matter. Again, if we don't accurately frame the problem, we can't come up with viable solutions.

And there is more than "some" insanity on the left. There's plenty on both sides...enough to make our heads spin here in the middle.

And, you're not alone. A lot of people prefer government programs to private sector solutions. As long as money is coming out of their paycheck, they can let the government play Jesus by proxy. And they don't even have to take the time to write a check.

Richard said...

If you consider that of that a recent study found that 62 percent of all bankruptcies filed in 2007 were linked to medical expenses and of those who filed for bankruptcy, nearly 80 percent had health insurance, how can you say that 85% of the population being insured is anything other than a miserable failure?

Sorry, my anonymous friend, but that's not all-or-nothing thinking. You're good at pushing my buttons, I wear them on my sleeve after all, but lousy at objective reasoning.

And since you know who I am but don't reveal who you are, I'm through with this conversation.

Carl Williams, Wichita, KS said...

I'd like to address "independent Voter" because my wife and I have dutifully paid our premiums for forty-plus years. We've ALWAYS had a health insurance policy in case of illness. Well, Mr. Independent Voter, we just had an illness and the bills totaled more than $200,000. Guess what?! Our insurance company rejected every last bit of that total cost. We never lied on our application forms...we never missed a payment. We've never taken unfair advantage of our policy. We're just normal folks who thought we were covered.

But, when we started to challenge the profitability of our insurance company, they decided not to cover us.

Frustratingly, your attitude, Mr. Independent, seems to be fairly representative of many who reject a public option and/or government oversight. But, I would respectfully like to point out that if Gayle and I were citizens of virtually any other industrialized country, we would not be having to spend dozens of hours gathering affidavits from doctors nor would we have to hire a medical billing advocacy company to defend our “nest egg” from being wiped out.

On the surface, "risk management" equations used by insurance companies make “perfect business sense” because they protect a company’s profitability. But, why should our family sacrifice our nest egg and live in poverty the rest of our lives because a bureaucrat decided to reject our perfectly valid claim?

Mr. Independent, your defense of insurance companies' right to make profit off of people's suffering seems a bit blasé ...especially, in light of recent congressional testimony by several insurance company doctors who implemented those policies.

They delineated just how arbitrarily and unfairly their decisions were in regard to rejecting claims. They even admitted that they were rewarded in direct proportion to how aggressively they rejected larger and larger numbers of legitimate claims.