Health Insurance is not like Your Cable Package!!!

…and yet it kind of is…

Just follow me with this one for a minute, but first let’s watch this quick clip by North Carolina Congresswoman Renee Ellmers, who argues the same Republican talking point that has been going around a lot lately that basically supports my theory that “People who don’t understand how insurance pools work shouldn’t try to debate about them.”™

No, men do not have babies in the traditional sense, and yet it’s important to have maternity coverage in our insurance policies because other people do!

I don’t have cancer … at least as far as I know, knock on wood … but there are other people that do or that might get it in the future, so it’s important for our insurance policies to cover them.

A lot of Republicans seem to have this twisted theory drunk driving around their skulls right now that thinks that they shouldn’t have to pay for anything that doesn’t specifically affect them.

You know, just like how you don’t have to pay for national parks if you don’t visit them (oh wait, your taxes do) and you don’t have to pay for our military if you don’t believe in our latest global conflicts (well…) and you don’t have to pay for FEMA to help people out after disasters if you didn’t know somebody specifically whose house got leveled by the latest super storm (hmmm, you’re right).

Insurance does not work like your cable package where you can just say, “I’m not going to subscribe to HBO because full frontal nudity scares me!”

Instead, it works kind of like your cable package, where you can say, “I want Basic Service or Expanded Basic Service, but none of that smut on those premium channels unless you can find a way to only put them on after my wife goes to bed…”

When you sign up for Basic Cable, you’re subscribing to a group of channels like NBC, ABC, CBS, and Fox, and that’s about it. Pop a few extra bucks and you can jump up to Expanded Basic, which adds things like the Discovery Channel or the Disney Channel or the Golf Channel. But you don’t get to say, “I think the Golf Channel is STUPID, but I want my MTV, so I’ll pay for one but not the other.” Cable packages don’t work that way because they need certain channels to help subsidize other channels to be able to offer a more thorough lineup, so they sell you a bundle that includes both the Golf Channel and MTV and you get ’em both whether you watch either of them or not.

Health insurance is no different. If they only billed you for precisely the things that you were likely to get, they’d never be able to stay in business because you can’t maintain an insurance pool if it’s always empty. The whole point of insurance is to have many people paying into a big pool so that it’s there when you need it, if you need it. Your best case scenario with insurance is to pay into it your entire life and never actually need it, but that doesn’t make it a waste of money all of those years if you never actually file a claim. That makes you fortunate because the guy next door might’ve gotten pneumonia and spent three weeks in the hospital that would’ve cost him tens of thousands of dollars had he not also been a member of the same insurance pool.

Insurance is a tool to help mitigate risk and manage the financial burden of healthcare across a group of people. It’s not a savings account where you put money in and then get to take out that same amount again later, and it’s simply not sustainable if you micromanage it down to the level where each person only pays exactly what they’re affected by and not a penny more. That’s not how insurance works.

So, no – boys can’t have babies. I think we’re pretty good to close the book on that one at this point, but that doesn’t mean that boys shouldn’t help to pay for maternity coverage because last time I checked, boys are still kind of instrumental to the process, so it’s not like we’re just in the clear based strictly on a “No vagina, no problem!” policy. When you pool your resources, sometimes you have to pay for things that you don’t need or maybe you don’t even want … but it’s sure a hell of a lot better than fending yourself and rolling the dice on whether you can handle ginormous medical bills yourself in the chance that you actually require some type of medical care yourself in your lifetime.

Just ask the hundreds of thousands of people who will file for bankruptcy due to unpaid medical bills this year alone – the every man for himself policy hasn’t exactly been working out too well for them. That’s why we’re trying to make things better.

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