Insurance is a hot topic in many arenas – medicine, politics and family budgets to name a few. Considering the various reasons for which we carry insurance – car, home, disability, life, liability, health – it is only in the latter that we expect to utilize it on a regular and non-emergent, untoward or unexpected experience. Perhaps it is worth reconsidering our relationship with insurance in the health care arena.
Insurance in the majority of circumstances is a guarantee of compensation for a specific loss in exchange for a premium. The event of loss is a probability – something that hopefully will not happen and against which one is safeguarding. It is not utilized in the routine maintenance of those things it is insuring. We make investments in the care of our homes and cars so as to avoid the occurrence of an insurance claim. We update wiring to prevent fires, replace pads to ensure adequate braking to minimize chance of collision. These are costs entirely separate to the insurance premiums that are the responsibility of the owner and, perhaps met with complaint as a budget line item, never enter the consideration of something that should be covered by insurance.
Why is this so different with health insurance? Perhaps in this circumstance we are operating from an alternate definition of insurance itself – a means of guaranteeing protection or safety. Rather than paying the premium to hopefully never be used (a devastating illness, horrific trauma) we expect our health insurance to also serve as a means by which we maintain ourselves to prevent these unfortunate circumstances from occurring. Is this an appropriate expectation? Should the insurance of our health be more than a payout in a catastrophic experience, a sum we hope never to see? Should it an investment in protection, helping us avoid those diseases which are largely preventable or catching at an earlier stage those that are treatable?
Where should the line