Hollie Grimaldi Flores: What are the odds with insurance?
May 17, 2017
With apologies to my insurance agent and brokers, I must say I am not a fan of the whole insurance game.
My good friend who sells insurance says that is all well and good, until I need the coverage, and then won't I be glad to have it? But it seems like such a con.
Insurance: the thing you buy that you hope you never use. And of course, if you do use it, expect to pay more for it next time.
But the reality is, where would I be without it? Not that I have a choice. When it comes to auto insurance I admit, I have used mine more than a few times. I have had a run in (or two) with a deer and my vehicle. I have had a run in (or two) with falling trees — into my vehicle and into my house. I have backed into a somewhat-innocent truck which was going "out" the "in," when I was looking the other way. One of my offspring backed into a car in a parking lot. Another was broadsided at an intersection. I have been rear-ended at a stop sign. Each of these incidents has been covered by insurance. For the most part, it has saved us from having to replace vehicles and has helped with wrenched backs and twisted necks.
But if I do the math, over time, am I ahead? I think not.
When I book travel, I don't buy insurance. When I play cards, I don't buy insurance against the dealer having 21. I don't have insurance on my electronic devices, nor do I have it on tickets to upcoming events. Does that make me a risk taker? Throwing caution to wind? Or does it make me an odds maker? Certainly, the odds of not using it are in my favor. That is what makes the industry so profitable.
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And profitable it is. According to InsuranceJournal.com, "The past 10 years has been incredibly profitable for insurance companies. Net income for the industry — that is net, not pretax — has equaled $448 billion; that's almost half a trillion dollars." And with the profit, comes the power. Don't think for a minute the industry is not doing its best to influence our politicians and policy makers.
The only insurance I am certain will be cashed in one day is my life insurance; and the irony there is I will not benefit. And the older I get, the more expensive it becomes. At some point the premium/payoff formula just doesn't make sense. Maybe I should be investing those premium dollars in some type of growing industry — like retirement homes.
There must be a reasonable solution to the current health-care crisis we face as a society. Health care for all — I like the sound of it. I see it working here in the United States. It's called Medicare. I am still a long way from being eligible and hope I don't suffer from any major health issues before I am. Even with insurance, there are plenty of treatments I am not able to afford. The truth is, the tests required to diagnose or eliminate many maladies are simply out of reach, financially speaking. I feel fortunate to be in relatively good health. I don't want to have to debate food and housing over medication and surgery.
When it comes to the health department, insurance has paid for itself in my household on several occasions, but again, the premiums are getting to the point that I may be better off banking the money and playing the odds. In truth, aside from the legal requirement currently in place, there are many valid reasons to have coverage — in case of catastrophe or in case I need brain surgery. Certainly, some already believe I need to have my head examined.
Single-payer health care, under whatever name you are most comfortable calling it, has proven to be a solution in dozens of countries around the world. Countries like Canada, Italy, Germany, Denmark, and Ireland (just to name a few) are all benefitting from a reliable heath-care system for 100 percent of their population. I know people who use it without complaint. Needs are met in a timely manner. Granted, there are longer waits for some types of services over others, but no one is suffering from not being able to afford life-saving treatment.
Here in the United States, in what is purportedly the greatest country on the planet, people are dying from a lack of health care. Preventative illness is not being prevented. Emergency rooms are being extended beyond their capacity and hospitals are struggling to stay solvent under the current reimbursements.
The system is broken. It's a trillion-dollar industry. Certainly, the powers that be can come up with a solution that will benefit the greater good. I am betting on it.
Hollie Grimaldi Flores is a Nevada County resident and freelance writer for hire. She can be reached at email@example.com.