Archived Story

Healthcare debate needs simplifying

Published 2:28pm Thursday, July 12, 2012

When it comes to healthcare issues, I’m as confused as a termite in a wooden yo-yo.

Well, let me clarify that simple-minded statement by being a bit more specific – when it comes to grasping all the intricacies of the current healthcare debate, I’m finding my grasp of the subject to be very limited. In fact, it’s hard for me to understand much of anything, considering all the jargon that is thrown around by politicians these days.

Most people might think this is a bad thing, but I’m finding a more simplistic approach to the subject might be the best option.

One thing that is plain to me is the high cost of insurance. This fact of modern life became evident this past weekend when my CPAP machine suddenly went on the fritz.  You see, I suffer from sleep apnea, a malady that hinders breathing while a person sleeps. The machine essentially forces air down into your lungs, thus insuring your body receives the appropriate amount of oxygen until the morning.

As you can probably imagine, when the machine stopped working while I was attending a convention this past weekend, my wife (apparently fearing I would die before morning) made several phone calls hoping we could get it repaired quickly.

No such luck.

At any rate, once we returned home, we quickly found out I would probably have to buy a new machine. A brief phone call to our insurance company brought bad news – they would not cover any of the costs, due to our deductible.

After pondering this predicament for a while, I soon realized I had already paid my insurance company more than five times the cost of the machine. Soon thereafter, I wondered what exactly I was getting in return for my hard earned money.

Now, I understand I need health insurance to help pay for a catastrophic event, such as a heart attack, stroke or, God forbid, cancer. But, most of the health issues I deal with on a normal basis are paid right out of my pocket while I’m sending money to the insurance company.

So, what can be done?

Some argue we need government to take over the industry. Unfortunately, I don’t trust the government to handle much of anything these days. Adding additional complexity to an already convoluted problem will not solve anything from my simple-minded perspective.

So, it seems we need a simple solution, one that reduces the tangled mess we see today.

Why not allow insurance companies to compete with each other, regardless of their location or state of origin? Right now it seems to me by adding a little free market competition into the healthcare arena might quickly produce the desired effect of reducing costs while maintaining our current level of healthcare. After all, isn’t this outcome what we all really want?

I know it’s too late for free market competition to help with my current CPAP problem, especially since the Supreme Court upheld Obamacare. In any case, the November election might change the current situation.

Nevertheless, believing the free market might one day reduce my insurance costs helps me get through these increasingly unbearable nights where my wife, fearing I’ve taken my last breath, repeatedly wakes me up to ensure my survival.

I know she means well, but I’d rather just have my machine keep me alive. I’m growing weary of her sharp elbows waking me up every thirty minutes.

Roger Steele is general manager and advertising director of The Outlook.