We changed our minds

We changed our minds

Not long ago, I described my wife’s and my rejection of the health-insurance gamble. Now that we have health insurance? It’s a different story.

BRATTLEBORO — Careful readers of these pages might recall a piece I wrote less than a year back.

In that one, I railed against capitalism and, more pointedly, an insurance industry I likened to gambling for putting profit before health. A secondary target was the entire Western medical model that failed to deliver service at a price anyone could afford.

I know it's like shooting ducks in a barrel - easy targets - but now that the blowback has come squarely on my face, let me own up to some new insights.

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For the record, I'm the beneficiary of a public education, though that was on my parents' tab, not mine. Every year I drive thousand of miles on Interstates, ride public transportation, and peruse libraries.

I suppose I benefit from services and security that only a large government can deliver. I've paid taxes for 40 years and, except for a much-appreciated ride in a National Guard truck during Tropical Storm Irene, I never felt like I got much in return from the U.S. government. In fact, for many years I expressly hated the various ways my tax dollars were misused especially to pay for an unnecessary war.

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After 20 years out of the medicine and insurance game, I recently obtained health insurance. During the years of debates around health-care reform, many Republicans leaders trashed Obamacare as the end of days, but having my teeth cleaned for a $3 copay was cause for this American to celebrate.

Last month, I consulted a surgeon for an old injury that previously I couldn't afford to have looked at. My wife visited a chiropractor. We've seen various medical professionals for the 50 years or so of mileage on our respective bodies. (All good - thanks for asking.)

I found out that my therapist accepts insurance even though she gets paid about half of what I was paying out of pocket. A portion of the fee for my prescription eyeglasses was covered. We've begun to establish a relationship with our doctors. (They're naturopaths, of course - we're Vermonters.) We're laying down a medical record for the future. In short, we feel more secure. Thanks, Barack!

In my previous piece I painted the insurance industry with a wide brush - something like, “You get sick, they profit; you stay well, they still profit.” Insurance spreads the risks and works basically like a savings account.

Why shouldn't the people who offer this service get paid, some handsomely, for the work they do? Yes, our medical model is not the best in the world, even if some of our technologies and doctors are. And that government bureaucracy is slow and inefficient should not be news to anyone.

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When the pipes of our home burst this past winter, who was there in a short time with an $11,000 check to cover all the expenses of rebuilding? Yes, my insurance man!

As soon as I get finished wiping the egg off my face, I'll take out a billboard on Interstate 91 that proclaims: I love insurance, medicine, and government.

Oh, that's right - no billboards in Vermont. It's the law.

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