Tahlequah Daily Press

August 7, 2013

Health insurance common sense


TAHLEQUAH — Editor, Daily Press:

A recent letter in the Press, “Socialized medicine not answer,” July 31, was long but not very clear. Dr. Shannon Grimes began by defining insurance as being about risk and cost-sharing, but then defied his own definition by saying health care insurance, even though it is about risk and cost-sharing, is “not actual insurance,” because in his opinion people use it for “minor health issues.” I suspect, however, that most people believe their health insurance to be “actual” and that they don’t consider their health issues minor.

Dr. Grimes concludes his next paragraph with two generalizations: He says because we are paying for our health insurance, we want to use it for the health costs that come along. Well, duh! The next generalization, however, glitters and needs a wee bit of qualification and evidence: “What we end up with is everyone paying in $10 to the insurance but trying to get insurance to pay for $20.” Everyone? Well, not everyone. What do you think the good doctor pulled his double-your-money conclusion out of?

I’ll pass over his next two imaginative paragraphs to reach his extraordinary concluding paragraph. It begins “Health care security comes not from insurance ….” What then does it come from? It comes from “taking care of ourselves and from our social networks, our friends, families, and churches.” But what if we have so-called “minor health issues”? Do we borrow from our friends, family and church members? Is the good doctor going to accept vegetables from our garden in payment?

I speak now only of my own experiences with health insurance. I was fortunate to have had employer-aided health insurance throughout my working life. When I retired, Medicare was available. Rather than health insurance making me less responsible for my health, as Dr. Grimes claims, it made me more responsible. I went to the doctor when I had health issues because I knew I didn’t have to fear a big bill I couldn’t afford. I thought of my health insurance policy as “pay as you go.”

Dr. Grimes is not against all health insurance. He does recommend one kind of policy, a “high deductible catastrophic plan,” to augment the loans from friends and family mentioned above. My son has had such a policy because that was all he could afford. Through the years it has cost plenty but paid next to nothing.

Come Oct. 1, I’ll be encouraging my son to take advantage of the Affordable Care Act and look around for a new health insurance policy that he can afford and that will help pay for his health issues.

Some people think health insurance is socialized medicine. I think it is only common sense.

Dr. Robert McQuitty