As we enter this difficult stretch I came across this NPR article that details a different sort of health care:
As policymakers in Washington, D.C., debate overhauling health care, several evangelical Christian groups have found a way of getting around the high cost of health insurance. Instead of paying premiums, they simply agree to pay each other's medical bills...
James Lansberry, the vice president ofSamaritan Ministries, says the concept is simple. First there's a $170 annual fee to cover Samaritan's administrative costs. His nonprofit group then compiles members' health care bills and tells its 14,000 households where to send their monthly checks.
"The money doesn't get received at our central office — it goes directly from one family to another," Lansberry says. "So each month I send my monthly share of $285 directly to another family."This is a fantastic model and the though the total reimbursement is capped at $100,000 is something that could potentially work in other settings.
The article points to one of the main problems with our health insurance, which is that people see it not so much as insurance, but as prepaying health-care. Thus, they have no incentive to limit their consumption (give me all the tests doc!) nor do the docs. What I think we need is for folks to pay normal expenses (doctor visits, etc…) out of pocket, maybe using this model to share those costs. And then the government should have catastrophic insurance (accident, random cancer) that no individual could pay.