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Health Insurance — Follow the Money

Dec 6th, 2013 | By | Category: Nick Kemper's Blog

Nick KemperWe recently had a representative from our benefits company come to talk about our health insurance program here at work, seek and he gave us some information on the Affordable Care Act as well. There are a lot of opinions flying around out there about this issue, side effects and I would guess that most can’t be substantiated so I don’t want to try to join the fracas by tossing in my own half-baked ideas. We have a fairly good plan here, and if I want to switch to a plan offered through the ACA I can, but for now I’m going to stay put.

I have a strategy for dealing with this issue that probably a lot of you have, but it just doesn’t get any attention because it’s not that controversial: Stay Healthy. I’m not a big fan of going to the doctor. I don’t like anything sharp, unless I’m skinning an elk, and I don’t want to put substances in my body other than what tastes good and what will help me sleep if I have a sore throat. Prevention is the best way to avoid needing health care, I believe. Sure, something unexpected could happen, but I don’t worry about it because worrying is negative goal-setting. Worrying can depress your immune system, making your worries more likely to come true.

So I pay a lot of money for a below-average health care plan and I don’t think about it. My tactic for addressing personal expenses is to generate more personal income. After all, you can only cut so much, but you can increase income infinitely — in theory.

If I did have to posit a half-baked opinion on all of this hoohah, it would be this: where does the money end up? Aren’t there statistics out there that indicate that some outrageous percentage of wealth is concentrated in a small percentage of the population? I saw something about the stock market just the other night – 82 percent of the common stock is owned by 5 percent of the population, or something like that (don’t quote me on that). If that’s true, whether you’re buying health insurance, or whether you’re buying hula hoops, most of the money ends up in the same place. Doesn’t it seem likely that those people are somehow pulling the strings, even if the strings are looped through hooks and pulleys with the complexity of one of those recovery demonstrations where the guy uprights a school bus by hand?

You know, come to think of it, the snatch block is a great metaphor for a person who is a tool of the financial elite. When you use a snatch block on a recovery, the pulley does a percentage of the “work,” reducing the amount of effort or force needed to recover the object. When a rich and powerful person uses another person to attain their goals, it reduces the amount of work they do and the separation gives the activity more merit somehow.

Even if the result is not from the direct influence of the fattest of cats, one of the reasons they are so fat is that they’ve created a system that perpetuates itself to develop the results they desire. They are smart — you can’t get where they are without being smart — and it works like a domino effect for them. Their actions lead to other actions which lead to other actions, and boom, the dollar ends up in their wallet.

I used to think that this was way too conspiratorial to be true. My reasoning is that people are way too incompetent to pull off conspiracies. I mean, you see how the government operates, right? You see how some businesses operate? Even if you have smart people in your organization, they have to fight the stupid people on their own side as well as the competition. It’s a tall order. I’m not saying you can’t pull off a one-time coup, but a self-sustaining conspiratorial system seems so unlikely.

But it might just be natural market forces that lead us to where we are now, that direct the dollar you pay for health care to the pocket of some international bank. What evidence do we have of this? It happens. Really, there is nothing “natural” about market forces, because markets are man-made, but it’s a condition of the market that conditions can be changed. If there’s money involved, conditions will change, and likely they’ll be changed by whoever has the money.

So, although it seems largely pointless to lay blame when energy can be spent on more worthwhile pursuits, if we are going to talk about who is to blame for the health care mess, maybe we should pull back and look at the big picture and do what Deep Throat told Woodward to do: “Follow the money.”

Have a safe and profitable week.

Nick Kemper