Saturday, September 12, 2009

Ignorance is Bliss

A friend of mine has been an auto mechanic at a dealership for thirty years. Fully paid health insurance has always been part of his union contract. Recently, the owner of the dealership threatened not to renew the union contract and to bring in non-union mechanics. My friend was shocked when I told him it would cost him well over $1000 per month to replace his insurance coverage. Many health care reform opponents would argue that union contracts like this that insulate the consumer from any understanding of the cost of health care have contributed to the brewing crisis. Even some supporters would acknowledge the problem.

I think one of the most disingenuous tactics employed by health care reform opponents is to cite the percentage of Americans who are currently happy with their health care. As I have noted in the past, people who are healthy would be happy with any coverage or no coverage at all. However, what makes this tactic even more devious is that the reform opponents know perfectly well that many of the people who are happy today will lose their coverage in the next few years due to rapidly escalating costs. Indeed, some of them might even welcome my friend's predicament as they blame unions for the problems.


  1. I'd be freaked out, too, if someone told me I'd pay that much if my company's insurance was dropped. In my case, my company dropped me. Yeah, COBRA would've cost a ton. But we found comparable coverage for just a tad more than I was already paying while I still had my job. Go back and tell your friend that decent coverage is available if he'll just do his homework. Yeah, it won't match his current plan perfectly, and he might want to pay closer attention to his lifestyle, but that's what responsible people should do anyway.

  2. My wife works in a billing office for oncologists trying to get insurance companies to pay claims. Some companies offer coverage that looks good when you sign up but turns out to suck if you get seriously ill. I hope you never have to test yours.

  3. In fact I have been testing it. My daughter just had an apendectomy with complications. They paid in the manner we expected. I've had a series of tests connected with a complete physical that's been long in coming, and so far the story is the same. I think the key here is "expectations". I don't expect insurance to cover every little band-aid and asperin. I don't expect experimental and/or unproven procedures to be covered. I think few actually look at their policies and scrutinize the details. They makes them the fools and is not necessarily a mark against the insurers if they are acting according to the policy stipulations. Ignorance IS bliss until circumstances educate. Shouldn't be waiting until the worst happens to find out if one is protected.

  4. I just had a discussion with a neighbor's brother. He complained that his insurance company told him his policy was good anywhere the company operates. At the time, they were in Massachusettes and then moved to Illinois. When his wife was soon to deliver their child, the hospital told them they don't recognize the insurer (I think it was BC/BS of Mass). Seems he took the word of some unschooled employee which was his mistake. He might have chosen to double check with the hospital that would handle the birth to make sure all the ducks were in a row.

    Now, he thinks of this when he criticizes the American health care system (he's from Bosnia) and supports the Obama/Dem proposals. But his problem stemmed from a concern we opponents would say can be addressed without sweeping changes from the feds.