Plain Money ideas

A Plain Money story on health care: wiper blades

This is not original (see here)  but I think it may bring some clarity, so stick with me:

Wouldn’t it be great if we had an insurance program that would pay for windshield wiper blades for your car? When you needed new blades, you could get them installed and fill out a form and file a claim. An administrative office would process the claim and send your participating auto repair shop a check. They’d then bill you for the remaining balance.

Crazy, you say? Not worth the effort? Well, that’s what we do with health care. The health-care equivalent of wiper blades — say, a simple strep test on someone with a sore throat — generates back-and-forth paperwork, followed eventually by claims and payments.

What’s the lesson? Just as our car insurance doesn’t cover wiper blades, our health insurance shouldn’t cover routine expenses either. Instead, true insurance covers you for large losses that are hard to handle.

And how is this related to the cost issue? Trust me, if we had a wiper blade insurance program it would raise costs throughout the system.

Our current version of health insurance too often means collecting high premiums for totally foreseeable and small expenses. We can squeeze costs out of the system by turning this into true health insurance, covering large risks while making the small stuff more like a true consumer market. Why don’t our leaders talk about ideas like this instead of trying to score political points or scare the wits out of people?