It's been a while since I've written about anything political, but this seems like a good topic to start back in on. I'm going to start by making an admisionâ€”one that's pretty much guaranteed to earn me a phone call as soon as my dad reads this: I don't have health insurance.
Just to be clear, let me expound on that. I live in Massachusetts, a state that requires by law that all residents have health insurance. I am currently, as I type this, breaking the law just by sitting here minding my own business and daring to make my own decisions about my life. Starting in December (and I think it's important that it be made more widely known that even though it's currently illegal to not have health insurance in Massachusetts, you won't actually start being punished for it until December) the state will theoretically even begin to fine me for not having health insurance (although, to be honest, had I not just make a public admission of it how would they even know?). And yet, I am among America's uninsured. Funny how outlawing a behavior (or, in this case, a lack of behavior) doesn't actually stop people from doing it, isn't it?
There are a number of relatively cheap insurance options available to me, although not as cheap as I'd like since Massachusetts' wonderful law making health insurance mandatory only focused on lowering health care costs for people older than myself. The truth is that I could afford health insurance. When I did some research a few months ago I think the cheapest plan out there was around $125/month (and I'm sure it would be possibly to get those rates even lower if I went with a high deductable plan that would actually save me even more money in the long run; more on that here
). I can afford that. I just don't want to. And why should I have to? I honestly can't remember the last time I went to the doctor's office. I can't remember the last time I was sick for more than 3 days. I can remember the last time I went to the emergency room: it was when I was 12 and I broke my pinkie in a karate mishap. If there is anyone who doesn't
need health insurance, it's me. Of course Massachusetts says I do. And they're going to start fining me if I don't get it by December.
Some might say that this is a travesty. Some might say that someone should intervene to protect me from myself. Someâ€”and I think everyone knows who I'm talking about at this pointâ€”might say that the government should step in and provide me with a service I'm not asking for and actively refusing despite being legally obligated to avail myself of it (the position of universal healthcare makes a lot less sense when phrased that way doesn't it?).
Some might want to know why I'm bringing this topic up now. The answer is that I just read this post
over at Clasically Liberal
(a favorite political blog of mine) and it really gave me pause to think. Most of the information in there is pretty old news to those of a more libertarian bent: the cost of health insurance is so high not because of greedy insurance companies, but because of lazy consumers and moronic government policies that encourage that laziness. And it's not a problem to be solved through government regulation, which repeated evidence in massive experiments carried around around the globe to the detriment of millions of unsuspecting and undeserving subjects shows only decreases the cost of health care by not providing it in the first place. Amazingly enough in this era of enlightened liberalism, and this is the part that really caught my attention, the market
has actually provided a better solution
Enter Dr. Jay Parkinson
. Dr. Parkinson has introduced a totally new kind of health care: the kind that doesn't cost a whole lot of money. When you sign up for his service he becomes your personal physician. He handles just about everything for you, but for very low costs. He keeps his costs down by not having an office: he makes house calls. But more than that, he'll talk to you over the phone, or by email, or even a video conference to determine if you actually even need to see a doctor. And of course he charges less for that than for a house call. He also only takes patients between the ages of 18 and 40 (hey, that's me!). When you need to see a specialist, or even go to an emergency room, he'll help you make the arrangements. And more than that, he's already done the price comparissons for you so he can make sure that you're not getting overcharged by a hospital or doctor that's used to people who don't question their high prices. Basically he'll help make sure that you get the best care you can for the least amount of money. He's even done the research to let you know which pharmacies charge the lowest price for the medication you need. All in all, he saves you a ton
of money by not making you pay for things you don't need. For most people in the age bracket that he services, they'll only be paying about $500/year, just 1/3 of the cost of the cheapest traditional health plan I could find that doesn't provide anywhere near as good service.
There's only one problem: he live in New York, and therefore only takes patients in the New York area. If he, or anyone else for that matter, set up a similar practice here in Boston I would sign up in a heartbeat. As, I'm sure, would a ton of other people. (You here that, Massachusetts doctors?) I'll even help them out with their web page! But for now, I'm sitting here with no health insurance, breaking the law, just because the only guy out there who's offering a service that would be worthwhile for me is a couple hundred miles away.