AMA: Benefit or Service?

Drew asks:

Do you consider Health insurance a benefit or a service?
I equate benefits as no cost and services something I pay for…

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What a fun question. I agree with you, and so it depends on who is paying right? When my employer pays for it, that’s a benefit. The benefit isn’t the insurance per se; it’s the fact that my employer is paying for something. The insurance remains a service – something someone pays for – either way.
Although if I may go off on a bit of a rant (stop reading if you’d rather I not), health insurance as a concept is about the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard of.
Insurance is all about paying an insurance company to cover some situation that you and they both hope never exists. You can pay for car insurance your whole life and never use it. Same for homeowner’s insurance. Hell, even “instance” on a hand of blackjack can go entirely unused. And insurance is all about assigning a value to something. Your car is wrecked, but it’s only worth $3,000, so the insurance company won’t spend $5,000 to fix it. They’ll just write it off and send you the $3,000. Again, same with homeowners insurance, renter’s insurance, whatever.
Health insurance conforms to none of these norms. You will get sick and need health care. It is a certainty. And when you do, how is an insurance company supposed to “assign a value” to you? Well, I mean, obviously they do, but not in a way you’d ever agree with, I imagine. “Yeah, that cancer is going to cost $200k to fix, and you’re really only worth about $10k in your current situation, so here’s $10k. We’re writing you off. Bye, Becky.” It’s ludicrous.
Most people think of health insurance not as insurance, but as a kind of “medical care club.” So long as you pay your dues, you should get whatever care you need, period. But that isn’t what’s really happening. Health insurance is insurance, it’s just the dumbest insurance ever. Nobody’s going to choose to not fix their bodies in the way they might choose to not make a claim for a small door-ding their car acquired in a parking lot. Insurance companies – who are companies who are allowed, and supposed, to make a profit – are trying to do this giant financial zero-sum juggling game, and it just doesn’t work.
The fact that the US conversation is always about insurance, and not about the fact that healthcare simply costs too damn much is the root of the entire problem we have. We’re so focused on getting someone else to pay for this expensive care that we aren’t bothering to wonder why it’s so expensive in the first place. We just take the expense as a given and then try to come up with ways to make someone else pay for it in exchange for some rock-bottom, fixed-price monthly “dues.” It’s a broken system because it starts with a broken premise.
End rant.

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