The other day I had a conversation with a lady about health insurance. She was horrified to hear that I have none. She was absolutely scandalized when she discovered that this is by choice and not out of necessity. “What did I do when I needed to go to the doctor?” she asked. I told her that, other than my hammertoe surgery—which I paid for out of pocket after negotiating a price—I hadn’t been to a doctor in years.
She couldn’t quite get her mind around this concept. She literally could not imagine having no doctor’s visits even for months at a stretch, much less years.
Now, let me explain that this lady—who I will call Margaret—has no major health problems herself. She’s not diabetic. She doesn’t have heart disease. She’s never had a cancer scare. She doesn’t have migraines or chronic low back pain or any other particular issue. Yet she found the idea of not going to the doctor every couple months absolutely inconceivable. And even as she bemoaned the fact that her premiums had risen by 30% and that she’ll never even come close to meeting her deductible, she still couldn’t fathom why I was willing to “take the risk” of living without health insurance.
I could see the bewilderment and fear—yes, fear—in her eyes as she asked, “But what will you do when you get sick?”
I told her that the likelihood of getting sick with anything more serious than a cold was negligible, but if I should get sick I’d do what people have done for most of history. I’d simply go to the doctor, and pay for the office visit myself.
That’s where the conversation turned ugly.
“What about when you get cancer?” she asked. “Or have a heart attack? Are you going to pay for that out of your own pocket too?” Before I could draw breath to answer she was in attack mode. People like me, she said, were the reason health insurance costs so much. I was a selfish person, etc. etc.
This finally evolved into a discussion of informed consent, the ability refuse unnecessary or “just in case” treatment and how you can actually price shop when you’re paying cash. That, however, is a topic for another post. Today I want to talk about the assumption behind her fear and her verbal attack on me.
This conversation perfectly illustrates the school of thought underpinning the whole insurance industry and the Affordable Care Act in particular. The whole system is like a house of cards, and it’s based on a big fat lie that’s so ingrained in our collective psyche that we believe it’s the truth.
The big fat lie: Sooner or later we’ll all get a dread disease
What really struck me about this conversation—and many, many others I’ve had since the ACA passed—is that she didn’t say, “What will you do if you get sick?”
No. What she said was “What will you do when you get sick? When you get cancer? When you have a heart attack?” There was no doubt in this woman’s mind that sooner or later we are all going to get sick with some catastrophic illness.
In her mind, this was a fact. And in her mind, I was the crazy one for not buying into this idea. I was a selfish, unreasonable person because I wasn’t willing to pay $12,000 per year for the rest of my life “just in case”—even though I’m in glowing good health. Because as far as she was concerned, sooner or later I was going to come down with cancer or have a heart attack or whatever the flavor of the day is, and she and everyone else with insurance would have to pay for my care.
What a load of horse hockey.
This is the driving force behind the whole insurance industry. It’s perpetuated by Big Medicine and Big Pharma. It’s put out there by our family doctors and by public service campaigns. And it’s pure fear-mongering.
Until the rise of the insurance industry, society operated on the premise that most of us were basically healthy and that illness was a short-term aberration. We got sick, we went to the doctor, we got better. “Health insurance” was uncommon and was reserved for the most serious situations like accidents or catastrophic illness.
Today we have the opposite view. We’re told that we’re all ticking time bombs just waiting to go off. As a society, our mindset is that we’re all basically sick and broken, and good health is pure luck—not something we can count on and not to be trusted when it does happen.
Don’t believe the big lie
This is a warped point of view. I think of it like this: if 1000 people eat at a restaurant and one gets food poisoning, the logical reaction is to say, “Wow, that one person really had some crappy luck.” The current mindset, however, would lead us to look at the same situation and say instead, “Wow, those 999 other people were SO lucky they didn’t get sick.”
This, we’re told, is why we need “health insurance.” Because it’s just pure luck that we weren’t that one person in 1000 and next time it will be us. If we don’t have a condition now, we’re told, it’s a sure bet that we’ll have one tomorrow or next week or next month. And if not—well, someone will come up with a new one that fits.
Because they want our dollars. For insurance to pad its bottom line, it needs to convince people to buy more than a catastrophic plan. And how do you get people to buy something they don’t want or need?
Through fear. Fear will motivate us like nothing else. Witness the lady willing to pay $12,000 per year just in case she gets seriously sick sometime in the next 30 years.
Here’s the truth: Buying into the big lie is giving up your power over your own health. “Health care” shouldn’t be confused with health, and neither should health insurance. The most cost-effective form of health insurance is living a healthy life—eating nutritious food, avoiding the toxins rampant in modern society, and getting up off the couch. It means bucking the status quo and changing our mindset—we’re not walking time bombs and good health is the normal state of affairs.
The ACA took away our right to choose whether we want “health care” or not—or at least to keep our dollars in our pockets, and it used fear to do it. But bad laws never get changed unless we protest. If you don’t want Big Insurance picking your pocket, look into a health-sharing ministry. It works like insurance was intended to—to cover emergencies and catastrophes. And it won’t cost you $12,000 per year and deny your claims when you really need it to cover you.