What Health Insurance Should Be

Published: Jan 07, 2019

Here’s an oversimplified version of how insurance currently works:

Home Owner’s Insurance

If your house is destroyed, we give you the money to rebuild it and replace all the stuff inside. The goal is to get you as close to the way your life was before the fire/flood/ninjas.

Renter’s Insurance:

If the stuff inside your apartment is damaged, we give you the money to replace that stuff. The goal is to get you as close to the way your life was before your downstairs neighbor’s meth lab exploded.

Health Insurance:

If the stuff inside your body is damaged, we give you some of the money you need to repair it—provided you already paid for a bunch of other stuff out of your own pocket this year; and you saw an approved doctor —at an approved location; for a procedure we approved of. The goal is to do just enough to keep you from dying so that you can continue to pay your premium.

One of these things is clearly not like the other. And look, I get it: insurance, like the bodies it’s meant to protect, is complicated. But I don’t want to get into the minutia of healthcare law—that’s not what this is about. I wanna talk about all the stuff that insurance thinks we don’t need. Stuff like wheelchairs that don’t weigh as much as a middle schooler. Or devices designed to help us have “fun” or “a healthy social life”. The same devices that are exorbitantantly high because the companies that sell them assume that some kind of insurance plan or program is footing the bill.

A person who enjoys surfing is paralyzed from the waist down in a surfing accident and has to use a wheelchair.

Being near and in the water was a major part of this person’s life. Now, their (probably aluminum) wheelchair makes it almost impossible for them to enjoy spending time at the beach or near the water.

There are a lot of adaptive water sports they could try out, but the cost of the equipment is too high and insurance won’t cover any of it because having a healthy and balance social life isn’t considered “medically necessary”.

This is fucked up. It’s fucked up, it’s wrong, and it needs to change. If home insurance considers the stuff inside a house as important as its foundation, then health insurance should consider the things that make up the life of the patient just as important as the life itself.