Last week I read a very informative article in Imprimus, a monthly publication of Hillsdale College, a conservative liberal arts college in Hillsdale, Michigan. The title of the piece was “A short history of American medical insurance”, written by John Steele Gordon , an accomplished author and contributor to many prestigious publications.
Gordon’s analysis of our health insurance industry was fascinating and informative to me. It’s too detailed to go into much depth here but I’d summarize it this way: It’s a scenario of lobbying run amuck to the point that it’s totally dysfunctional today. An inset quote from the piece gives this summary result of our current health insurance mess: “If patients are indifferent to the costs of medical services they buy, they are much more likely to buy more of them and the cost of each service is likely to go up. There is no price competition to keep prices in check.”
Of course the reason we are “Indifferent to the costs of our medical services ” is that we are insulated from them by our “health insurance” which is often paid for by our employer further separating us from the real cost. Gorgon, in part, gives this prescription to fix the problem:
Require medical service providers to make public their prices for all procedures.
Reform how mal-practice is handled so that the loser pays the expenses of both sides.
Incentivize consumers of medical services to care about the cost of their medical care perhaps via health savings accounts that if unused, rollover into 401(k) retirement accounts annually.
Are these corrections likely to occur any time soon? Not really. In Gordon’s words “There are enormous forces arrayed against these economically sensible reforms” . But he does offer this word of encouragement: Stein’s Law named after economist Herbert Stein says ” If something cannot go on forever, it will stop”!
But that correction may take longer than today’s seniors have left. So what are we to do? One viable solution that’s available today is health care cost sharing and is offered by at least two providers: Medi-Share (https://www.medishare.org or call 866-880-8957) and Samaritan Ministries (https://samaritanministries.org or call 877-678-0414). There are others but these two I know about for sure.
In fact, by way of personal experience, my wife and I have been members of Medi-Share for 16 years and our Visiting Angels ® business has used them ever since we started 10 years ago; they have paid the maternity expenses on six grandchildren and extensive brain surgery and rehab on one of them as well as hip replacement and other surgeries over the years for us. Never a problem!
Radio spots on AFR say that the average subscriber to these services saves approximately $500/month compared to traditional health care insurers. They also have supplemental plans for those of us already on Medicare.
Just for the record, I have no personal interest or investment in either of these companies; as Bill O’Reilly used to say on his Fox News broadcast “Just lookin’ out for you”!
Thanks for reading All About Seniors…..see you next week!
Bill Milby is a Director of Visiting Angels® of Central Georgia, a non-medical, living assistance service for seniors. If you have questions or comments about this column you can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org