Mises University is this week, and the annual event has me thinking (and talking about) how vitally important it is for each person to be responsible for their own health. Of course, it doesn’t help that I’m currently reading Crony Capitalism in Ame...
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Mises University is this week, and the annual event has me thinking (and talking about) how vitally important it is for each person to be responsible for their own health. Of course, it doesn’t help that I’m currently reading Crony Capitalism in America 2008-2012 by Hunter Lewis. The book explains how so much of the economy in America is manipulated and controlled by politicians and special interest groups. There is a full chapter devoted to the American medical system.
Politics and economic principles aside, I firmly believe that people are better served when they are in complete control the “four W’s” of their health care money.
Do you remember the 5 W’s from elementary school English classes? They were used to help schoolchildren remember what to cover when writing informative essays. The 5 W’s taught us to focus on;
I suggest that every person who purchases goods or services related to their health, or the health of their family, learn to pay attention to:
Who they are spending their money with, and what does that company support?
What they are spending money on. Are they getting the best deal possible? Are they getting the best service or good that money can buy?
When is the money going to be spent? Is it money being spent for preventative care, or is it being spent to “treat/cure/diagnose a disease?”
Why is the money being spent? Is is necessary? Is it effective? Is is something the patient wants and believes in?
I’m sure many of my readers spend a significant amount of money on medical insurance each month. I challenge you to examine exactly what you’re getting for that money. How much of your monthly budget goes to paying for medical insurance for your family? What would happen if that money went to pay your health care expenses directly? Would you be able to afford a higher quality supplement? Could you afford to pay for a gym membership, could you afford to eat cleanly? Or maybe you could see the chiropractor, naturopath or health coach you’ve been wanting to buy services from?
Of course, I realize that here in the US, purchasing medical insurance is mandated by law, thanks to the ACA. I’m not going to get into the “ObamaCare” debate here. I have my own opinions about it, as I’m sure you have yours, and I’m pretty sure neither of us wants to get into a debate. In the spirit of full-disclosure, I will tell you that my family has opted to pay the “non-insurance fine.” Our reasons are probably different from most:
- I have been diagnosed with Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis and have chosen to manage it without the use of the typical pharmaceutical drugs.
- Because of my choice to manage my condition naturally, most doctors who participate in any health insurance plan can’t or won’t see me. I am a legal liability. I’ve had more than one physician tell me they would not see me if I didn’t agree to take certain drugs. I’ve even been kicked out of a hospital during an asthma attack because I refused to take Prednisone.
- If we paid for medical insurance premiums for our family of 5, we wouldn’t be able to afford the clean foods, herbs, and supplements that have helped me reverse the symptoms, and stop the progression of my MS. In my case, being able to enjoy full functioning is worth the inconvenience of being outside the American Medical System.
- Medical insurance does not pay for the management options I choose. You can’t buy herbs, supplements, or essential oils with medical insurance. Neither can you use medical insurance to pay for health education classes, most chiropractors, energy therapy, clean foods, exercise or sunlight.
- My husband works for a small non-profit–small enough that it’s not required to offer medical insurance to employees, and I am self-employed.
If we had the choice to purchase just “major medical insurance”–insurance that covers ONLY major medical events like hospitalization and surgery, we would probably do so. But, that is no longer a legal option. Before anyone accuses me of being “irresponsible” about my medical care or tells me I’ll become a drain on the system, let me tell you what I do to ensure that my husband and I are financially and morally responsible for the health care of our family.
Before I make any health-related purchase (truth be told, before I make ANY purchase at all) I try to stop and evaluate the “4 W’s” of that purchase.
I take a close look at who I’m giving my money to. In the case of health and medical care, I find out as much about the company as I can. I try to find out where the company is based, how they produce their goods, where they send their charitable contributions. I do my best to find out if the company accepts any government subsidies for health care goods and services they provide. In the case of pharmaceutical drugs (yes, I do use one or two meds for the asthma), I try to find out if the drug company has employees on any of the FDA boards, or if they have someone sitting on one of the many medical boards. If they do, I intentionally use a different medication. Never forget that you vote with your money.
I examine what the money is being spent on. I shop around. There are many different drug companies throughout the world. Despite popular belief, it is NOT illegal to purchase prescribed medications from the worldwide market. I’ve found that medications not produced in the US are very often significantly less expensive and in several cases MORE effective than the US brands. When I purchase fitness equipment or medical tests I make a very detailed examination of the benefit I expect to receive. In the case of tests, I want to know exactly what the test is designed to tell me, and how it will help me make better decisions about my health. I also shop around to find the highest quality product, for the best price.
Sometimes when is difficult to examine. If you fall and break an arm you have to spend money on an ER or Urgent Care trip *right now* to have the arm set. That’s where saving for future medical needs comes into play. For example, I put a set amount of money into savings every month towards future medical expenses. This money is in an account separate from our everyday savings account, and the house rule is that it can ONLY be spent on health care. In our case, health care includes things that medical insurance does not cover, like herbs, supplements, chiropractor visits, exercise programs/equipment/sports/and hiking for us and the kids. It also includes things that medical insurance might cover, such as medications for my asthma, the testing strips for my blood sugar tester, A1C testing, the (very) occasional trip to see a doctor, or a trip to Urgent Care for stitches (we have active kids, it happens once in a while). Because health care expenses can be unpredictable, we make it a point to set aside money every month to cover the unexpected.
And finally, I take a close look at the why. Am I buying a gym membership because I truly intend to use it, or do I just wish I would make the time to use it? How can I do the same exercises that I can do at the gym on equipment I have at home? Do I want to use a herb or supplement because it’s needed, or is it simply easier than an alternative? Sometimes the easier option is totally worth the money, but the decision requires evaluation and thought. Do I believe in the good or service that I’m planning on buying, or am I simply trying it because “someone” suggested it? This is a lesson I re-learned a few weeks ago when I blindly purchased a “spot-on” flea treatment for our cats based entirely on the word of our veterinarian. The recommended treatment almost killed one of our cats. When examining the why, look at your own values, and determine what’s important to you. Would you rather get immediate relief from pain, or deal with a little bit of pain while your body heals itself? Is the easier, less effective, option the one you’ll stick to? If so, then that’s the one to go with. There’s no point in spending money on a longer duration, more involved remedy that may provide you with long-term healing if you know you won’t stick to the 6-month protocol.
The most important thing to remember is that good economic principles apply to EVERY aspect of our economy– including those aspects that center around health and medical care. I’ve talked to quite a few people over the years who seem to throw out sound economics and money managing when it comes to their health and medical care. People who would not spend a single penny on something unnecessary or unproven who don’t think twice about shelling out hundreds or even thousands of dollars for a medical treatment that only works on 25% of people, or only works 25% of the time.
Whether you choose to participate in medical insurance or not, knowing where your health care money is going helps you provide more and better health care options for your family.