Health insurance can be a tricky subject. Many people consider insurance coverage to be vital, holding a place of importance in their lives that few other things approach. Others tolerate insurance coverage, thinking of its as a necessary expense that they are neither fond of nor hate. Still others believe that insurance is a waste of money that could be better spent on other things. Like all forms of insurance, the value of health coverage is a matter of perspective.
In the U.S., health insurance coverage is mandatory, but that doesn’t mean that everyone is rushing to get it. There are a significant portion of people that simply do not want insurance at all, either because of its expensive nature, their unwillingness to support “evil” insurance companies, or any number of other reasons. For these people, the potential value of insurance coverage is outweighed by its immediate detractors.
The acrobat and the safety net
Justifying insurance coverage for someone that is young and healthy, or even older people that have only very rarely fallen ill, is a difficult thing to do. Insurance is very akin to a safety net below a high-flying acrobat. The acrobat exists in a gravity defying dance that can become disrupted by factors outside of their control. When a gust of wind pushes the trapeze bar just beyond the acrobat’s grasp, they fall to the ground. The safety net exists to ensure that their descent to earth is arrested. Without the safety net, there is nothing between the acrobat and the ground.
That analogy doesn’t address the issue of cost, of course. Insurance coverage can, for many people, be unnecessarily expensive. The cost of insurance coverage is based on many factors, few of which people actually have any control over, such as age. The cost of insurance coverage, even spread out over several years, pales in comparison to the cost of medical care, however.
Cancer is not something that everyone will have to deal with in their lifetime, but it is an example of a common health problem that highlights the value of insurance coverage. Those with cancer have to consider various aspects of their care that are quite expensive. Doctor visits, lab tests, clinic visits for treatment, surgical procedures, medication, home care; these are all things that have become quite expensive. The average cost of chemotherapy alone is more than $5,000 per session. Without health insurance, cancer patients are left to bear the full financial burden of their medical condition.
Health insurance doesn’t cover everything, and some policies may require their holders to cover certain aspects of their own medical care. In the event of a serious medical condition, however, insurance coverage often provides the financial means to seek the treatment required. In certain cases, it can, quite literally, mean the difference between life and death, simply by acting as a safety net between you and rock bottom.