by Kevin Tumlinson
The biggest challenge facing healthcare revision is confidence.
Americans lack confidence in the current system, in the insurance industry in particular, and in the ability of any government body to repair the situation. In an AP article from earlier this morning (People playing the odds on health care over costs), one young entrepreneur, Krista Neher, sums up what most Americans seem to be feeling.
“I have really low confidence that any insurance company would even cover me, [even after] I paid all the high premiums. It just seems like a lose-lose situation.”
This attitude is precisely why millions of Americans risk going without insurance coverage. The current system is set up more like a gamble, or a protection racket, than a benefit to the customer. The burden of cost is entirely on the consumer, with no promise of return whatsoever. No promise of coverage. No promise of a refund on un-used premiums. Nothing.
Considered in that light, it’s no wonder so many freelancers and small business owners opt to go without coverage. On the whole, it seems to make better business sense than dumping money into a worthless system, only to be left out in the cold when you actually need it. Better, by far, to take your chances. If you’re going to gamble, gamble that you’ll win … not lose.
President Obama’s Herculean task is to reform healthcare and make it a working system. But even if he comes up with a perfect solution, will Americans be onboard with it?
Maybe not, if that solution involves forced health insurance coverage with an industry that remains unregulated.
Complaints from the insurance industry go like this:
“Government-provided insurance creates an unfair competition in the market and impacts our profits.”
“Government regulation pulls the industry out of the free market and impacts our profits.”
“Caps on premiums and enforced coverage, regardless of demographic information, increases our costs and impacts our profits.”
Common threads do appear.
But the fact remains … the current system is broken by any measurable standard, and the insurance industry likes it that way. Why wouldn’t they? The balance of power is decidedly lop-sided. Insurance companies have the money to pay for lobbyists, have the clout to force hospitals and doctors to play by their rules, and have the ogre-like visage to scare the norms (that’s you and me) into paying up lest they suffer horrible, horrible accidents.
The answer is, as always, regulation. Obama’s plan for required health insurance coverage can work (even if it kind of irritates me), but only … ONLY … if there is a regulating body placed over the Insurance industry. That body cannot be the U.S. government. That’s not what it was designed for. But it can be a committee of unbiased, non-industry officials who have the background to understand insurance and healthcare, and the human hearts to understand that this is about people, not numbers.
A separate regulatory entity, paid for by the industry itself, is needed to create the rules and bylaws by which insurance and healthcare is to be regulated. Without it, forced health insurance coverage is just one more way to soak the American public for more money, while providing as little in return as possible.
Kevin Tumlinson is a writer and consultant in Houston, TX. Learn more by visiting his website at www.kevintumlinson.com.