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30 January 2008 @ 03:55 pm
I've been thinking about health insurance. About how it's impossible for someone without insurance to find decent coverage for a decent price on his own. And I wonder if it's possible for these people to band together and create their own insurance.

It seems to me that 9 times out of 10, people need insurance for routine doctor's visits rather than major surgery or hospital treatment. If your insurance isn't provided in part by your work, you can end up paying $500-1000 a month for just-in-case. And that seems like a waste-- it'd probably be cheaper to pay out of pocket for all but the giant health care expenses.

I think what I'm musing on is a nonprofit health insurance coop. It could work in one of two ways. First way: Say you have a thousand families, all of whom pay a set amount every month. That money goes into the assets of the coop. In return, the coop pays for medical treatment that costs over a certain amount. It's pretty much exactly the same as a regular health insurance company-- the only difference is it's nonprofit, so all the money is designated for healthcare. Without a profit motive, the company doesn't have to pick and choose who it will cover, or for what. No one can be dropped if they haven't used up all the money they've paid into the fund.

Second way: Everyone belonging to the coop pays regular expenses-- doctor's visits, prescription meds-- out of their own pocket. When one person needs major treatment or hospitalization, the other members of the coop contribute to pay the expenses. The sick person must contribute a share as well.

The first way has the advantage of regular payment that you can plan for. The second has the advantage of getting to keep your money until it's needed. Obviously, there are issues that would need to be addressed (what if the first plan runs out of money? what if the members of the second plan don't have enough to pay for someone's surgery?) but it's a start, anyway. What do you think? Could this work?
(Anonymous) on February 2nd, 2008 06:02 am (UTC)
The concept of health insurance is, in and of itself, flawed. Medical providers (who are not run by doctors but by business types) fix prices ever higher and insurance companies pay them - and pass the cost on to you and me. Better to scrap the entire mess and outlaw medical insurance. If we are forced to take responsibility for ourselves and save for med. costs the way we save for groceries, more would do it. They would be forced to save for the future and would also be prompted to live healthier lives - or go the way of the grasshopper. By the same token, if millions can't afford skyrocketing med. costs, the costs will lower as supply and demand kicks in.
(Anonymous) on March 10th, 2008 11:00 pm (UTC)
First of all, you're perception of how health insurance works is simplistic and flawed. It is definitely not functioning perfectly as is (far from it), but I think you would have to do a lot more research before you'd fully understand all of the pitfalls of trying to make a co-op style health insurance plan work.

Secondly, health insurance does not need to cost $500-1000 per month. If you are young and fairly healthy and only using health insurance to cover an occasional doctor's visit, you can probably find coverage for less than $100 per month (obviously depending on what state you are in). There are some great tools online to help with this. One of the best I've found is www.ehealthinsurance.com which lets you essentially "shop" for health insurance in an online marketplace. As far as I know it is the only site of it's kind to over coverage in all 50 states. While it isn't the perfect solution, it does help determine what your best option might be...
Elletheletterelle on March 11th, 2008 01:25 am (UTC)
What if you're reasonably healthy, but you have a minor physical ailment that's outside what the insurance company wants to cover? What if you only want coverage for a catastrophic illness, but this preexisting condition means no one will give you insurance?

Cause that's me. I am routinely denied coverage (I've tried three times) because of this condition. It needs no medication (at this time), it is not life-threatening, and yet I cannot get health insurance because of it.

I don't even want insurance that covers it, for the love of Mike. I just want to know that in the event I get struck by lightning, hit by a car, or develop cancer that I won't have to pay millions of dollars for treatment.

People tout the free market as the savior of mankind. The free market is not interested in mankind. It is only interested in dollars and cents. Pardon me if I'm less than overwhelmed by the thought of trusting my care to the free market.