Sunday, July 8, 2007

Insurance alternatives

Insurance costs can be a major obstacle to small businesses. In the previous post I discussed making private schools affordable and keeping costs such as insurance low is important in this quest.

Several months ago I saw a news report on Christians who get together, pay relatively low premiums, live a healthy lifestyle, and cover each others’ emergency costs. It is not an insurance company or insurance, apparently, but it provides security if something medically catastrophic occurs. These groups are on the internet, just google +Christian +insurance (I don’t want to be seen promoting any of the groups as I don’t know their track records).

My thought is that this could be used in communities, for members of any faith, who do not have their own insurance or don’t want to pay ridiculous premiums for standard private insurance. Presumably people willing to get together and form a community will, on average, have lower risk lifestyles than the rest of the population (less likely to use drugs, be alcoholics, be violent or out drag racing, etc.). This should reduce costs as community members are not subsidizing others’ behaviors. I do think those community members with a history of cancer or other problems should not be turned away, however.

These small businesses would then face less of a competitive disadvantage with large companies, as would the private schools (easier to obtain employees if insurance is offered, lower costs for insurance), and it would help those who cannot get or afford insurance from mainstream companies.

I don’t believe private hospitals have to take the uninsured except in emergencies. Communities could then set up private hospitals that can turn away those who come in with minor problems and drive up everyone else’s costs. The cost to have translators on staff would also be reduced, as the substantial majority of those with insurance will speak English and the only translators needed would be for emergencies, assuming translators are required by law. I do think any hospital should take in any true emergency, but no hospital should have to take in someone because they don’t want to bother to go to a doctor on their own because their kid has the sniffles. However, these hospitals should not be focused solely on making record profits, but on serving the community they were built to serve.

As a note on the translation issue, in the past year or two there have been a couple of news articles on illegal aliens complaining because the hospital they were leeching off of did not provide translation services fast enough for their liking. How’s that for balls?

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