The insurance industry has two watchwords, Responsibility and Consumerism. We (yes, I am an unashamed insurance agent) want you to take Responsibility for yourself. We have the data. You eat too much. You smoke. You drink. And you are too sedentary. Your unhealthy behavior is driving up the need for health care and the cost to provide it.
And while we are talking about YOU and your bad habits, let’s discuss your laziness. Did you shop for the best doctor? Did you compare the prices at different clinics, pharmacies, or hospitals? Do we have to always take care of you?
I have a shocking statistic. 100% of all of the people alive today will eventually die. 100% We are not machines. Even the most responsible amongst us will, one day, succumb to the inevitable.
Now this is not to say that we couldn’t all use a check up. Lot’s of our behaviors lead to illness or injuries. We just learned last week how dangerous the bunny hill can be. I don’t ski, but I try to go snorkeling in the ocean each year. Where is the line between recklessness and acceptable risk?
Lecturing Americans on the evils of their diet, lack of exercise, or habits may be correct, technically, but is it useful? Are the insurers credible? I went low carb six years ago. Finding healthy food at an insurance company meeting is like searching for moderation at AIG. Insurers seem to be self-serving on this issue, blaming the victim for the problem. There may be a certain amount of truth in their pronouncements, but a different messenger must be found.
The insurance companies, with their incredible data banks of health costs and outcomes, have a place at the table. Real change, however, is cultural and starts in the home. Only a campaign of doctors, hospitals, schools and the government, unified in a common goal of healthier Americans, has a chance to succeed.
I touched earlier on Consumerism. Insurance companies want you to ask more questions, challenge the quick answer and to shop for the best value for your health care dollar. There is, of course, one exception. The insurers aren’t too anxious for you to shop for the best insurance premiums, but I digress.
Much of this Consumerism is just silly. Our system has little transparency. Try to get the price of an office visit, x-ray, or a colonoscopy in advance. Worse, how do shop for quotes for an emergency quadruple by-pass? Do you want the low bid?
The same insurance industry that is demanding that you accept our data unquestioningly and to immediately change your habits is also trying to get you to challenge your physician. We want you to ask the doctor if that test is really necessary. We want you to be your best advocate with the rest of the health care delivery industry.
Of course, we’re right, but only to a point. You probably could take better care of yourself. You probably should ask more questions of your health care providers. Don’t stop with the doctors and hospitals. Question all of us, big pharma, the government, and the insurance companies.