Do We Need Health Insurance?
In the last post I discussed a blog piece by the fine folks who first brought us health insurance almost 90 years ago, Blue Cross/Blue Shield.
In their blog post, Blue more or less made the assertion that quality health care just couldn’t exist without health insurance propping it up. And from this study in the New England Journal of Medicine, it would seem that, well, they might have a point.
Or do they? As a physician and admitted health care expert even I couldn’t understand all the folderol of the study’s methods and statistical analysis. And although the study concluded that – at least for Massachusetts as of 2014 – Blue Cross was a pretty good thing, I can’t get one lingering question out of my mind.
Which is, if medical spending went down, and health improvement went up, then what the hell did the cost of the health insurance do?
Well since the New England Journal article didn’t address that, your guess is as good as mine. But I would bet some serious money that it went way, way up…
So to answer the real question at hand which is, do we need health insurance? We can turn back to the blog piece in which Blue had expressed their (rather biased) views on a hypothetical planet where health insurance doesn’t exist. My favorite rhetoric from the whole page was this question:
How could our society function and prosper without access to quality medical care?
A good answer might be “like we did in the Stone Age?”
All kidding aside, this rhetorical question deserves some serious thought because it isn’t about health insurance. It’s about health care.
But Blue Cross isn’t in the health care business. They sell health insurance. So are they implying that without health insurance, we couldn’t have access to quality medical care?
You bet they are. They have an interest in promoting their products, and what better way to sell their wares than to convince potential customers that you can’t have what you need, unless you first buy what they are selling?
Make no mistake, health insurance IS NOT health care. There is a big difference.
Since we obviously need access to quality health care, the real question is, do we need health insurance?
The short answer is, YES. Of course we need health insurance. I believe in health insurance. And we should all have access to quality – and affordable – health insurance, too.
But how we use that health insurance? Now that’s another story…
It’s not the COSTS of health care that are outrageous…it’s the CHARGES.