How Health Insurance Is Making Us Sick
Insurance is easy to hate. On the one hand, the best-case scenario is you pay for a service you will never use, making insurance seem like a rip-off. On the other hand, when insurance is needed, it means something bad has happened, which can leave a bad taste in your mouth. This goes for all kinds of insurance. Homeowners, renters, business, car, life and health insurance—they all share this fundamental curse.
But health insurance has done something that no other insurance has. When it’s time for an oil change, your car insurance doesn’t pay for it. When your washing machine breaks, your homeowners insurance won’t buy you a new one. But when you need your teeth cleaned, your blood pressure checked or your eyes examined, you expect your policy to cover these routine events. We’ve begun to think of health insurance as a savings account from which we can draw regularly, rather than a product to turn to when an unexpected disaster strikes.
Insurance companies have recognized this, and responded accordingly, offering health savings accounts tied to our policies. Conceptually, that is at least in line with how we use insurance. The bad news is that insurance companies have become the primary payers of medical expenses—not just big ones, but little ones, too. We have, in fact, given insurance companies tremendous control over our healthcare choices. Have you ever checked to make sure a doctor accepted your insurance plan before seeing him? Do you assume that the doctors in the plan are somehow more qualified? If you’ve ever checked your insurance coverage before choosing a provider to make sure the provider was covered by your plan, you’ve already given some of your choice—your freedom—to the insurance company.
The expectation that health insurance should cover routine expenses has led to increased healthcare costs. Insurance coverage costs for consumers and higher overhead for providers are just some of the effects. Healthcare options decrease as consumers let their insurance policies guide their choices.
Rapid increases in premiums and deductibles, and rapid decreases in coverage, have created a huge gulf between what people expect their insurance to cover and what it actually does. Companies are forced to make hard choices in giving employees health insurance options.
Higher consumer costs for insurance coverage are not the only way that health costs have increased. Doctors and other providers who file with your insurance often have to wait months for payment, and must wade through ever more convoluted and timeconsuming processes to get paid. In many offices, a dedicated insurance liaison or service must be employed to handle the intricacies of the insurance landscape. This increases payroll and overhead, and those increases are passed on to patients.
Insurance companies audit each procedure and product billed to them, to find ways to increase profits by denying payment. Other items are simply paid out at lower and lower rates, until the cost to providers outpaces the compensation.
This pattern has now erupted into the debate that has raged on Capitol Hill and in living rooms across America. The big question— Who will pay for the healthcare we need?—is the wrong question. A much better question is, how can we improve our health, increase healthcare choice, drive down costs to make those choices affordable, and still have affordable insurance coverage when disaster strikes? Isn’t that what people really want?
I have an answer to that question. And it’s simple. Painfully simple. It doesn’t even require Congress, just us chickens. All it takes is a little proactive effort from each of us and the healthcare debate will all but dry up.
The first part is to note every drive-thru equipped restaurant in your area. Then… avoid them. Plan a few wholesome meals at home. Home cookin’ ain’t home cookin’ unless it’s cooked at home, get it?
The second part is to get up and exercise a few more minutes per day this week than you did last week—even if it’s only two or three minutes. Do a little more every week, and soon you’ll have carved out a time to exercise, and will have established the habit. Do something fun!
The third part: Be inspired. Allow your thoughts to lift you above the tiny defeats in a day. Use them as stepping stones to your success. The less someone dwells on the negative, the more likely he or she will be successful.
The fourth is to get your beauty sleep. Your body needs to recharge, but so does your mind. Find time to unplug from your day-to-day and pursue creative interests. The mental break will allow you to be more productive overall, even considering the time spent away from your primary tasks. Renew your soul, find your center or connect with your source. Refill your spirit.
Lastly, build your house on a solid foundation. Nothing happens in the body without the involvement of the nerve system. A compromised nerve system can and will compromise any other system in the body. Chiropractors strengthen this foundation as the fundamental focus of their profession. Neither massages, nor therapy, nor any other skilled professional can do for you what a caring and expertly trained chiropractor can do. The great thing is, chiropractic works whether you use it with insurance or not!
These actions address the lifestyle concerns so common to Americans and their health. These steps will make a difference in the short term and in the long term. They have the power to silence the healthcare debate and open the conversation about ways to maximize our new healthy habits.
“But,” you say, “I don’t have time for all this!” How about we both use the time we’ve been spending to gripe about the situation, and instead do something about it? We’re asking soldiers and patriots to give up their lives to protect our freedom. All I’m asking you to do is engage—live your life to enjoy, and perpetuate, your freedom.
About the Author:
Robert Johns Jr., B.B.A., D.C., has been in family practice for over 5 years near Atlanta, Georgia, caring for families up to 4 generations deep. His passion for the message of chiropractic isn’t limited to the adjusting room, but also shows up in his blog (triuneoflife.wordpress.com) which has accumulated more than 20 original pieces and a growing readership since its inception in 2009. Robert is a 2004 Life University graduate, an Eagle Scout, a husband, a father and a chiro-kid himself. His grandfather practiced chiropractic in southern Georgia for more than 30 years after graduating from Palmer Chiropractic College in 1947; he gave Robert his first adjustment at 6 days old. A 13-year veteran of marriage, Robert will soon be welcoming a third child to his growing family.
This article appeared in Pathways to Family Wellness magazine, Issue #26.
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