There have been any number of recent letters to The Advocate from anti-Obamacare folks who don’t want to pay for the risks undertaken by smokers, drug users, over-eaters and others who lead a less-than-healthy lifestyle or from single men who don’t want maternity coverage in their insurance policies.
I’ve got really bad news for everyone who feels that way. Such risk-sharing is exactly how insurance always has and always will work.
If you are one of the 85 percent of Americans who are lucky enough to have employer- provided health insurance, your premiums helped pay for maternity care for the lady in personnel who just had a baby. They paid for triple bypass surgery for the guy down the hall who eats a double bacon cheeseburger for lunch every day. They also paid for cancer treatments for the woman who sneaks a smoke outside the back door near the parking lot.
If you buy insurance on the private (not employer-supplied) market, you are paying for health care and procedures for total strangers.
Your money also goes into a fund that pays for all kinds of birth control.
And folks who don’t have insurance at all but go to the emergency room for treatment? You are paying for them too — through increased costs of medical services.
Insurance, by definition, is a risk-spreading device. Insurance companies “pool” together folks with all different kinds of lifestyles and average out the costs across the whole group.
Insurers have experts called actuaries who can mathematically predict, with great accuracy, just how to spread risk in order to maximize profits.
In fact, if you are really concerned about paying for others’ health care, you should be a big fan of Obamacare. One feature of that program is to mandate that all Americans (even very healthy ones) buy insurance. The more healthy people there are in the system, the lower the cost for each of us.
By the way, Obamacare is not much more than a fancy marketplace for people to buy private insurance with subsidies for those who cannot afford the premiums. It is NOT socialized medicine.