The news is full of the current debate about health insurance and whether or not the government should be more involved. While this is interesting discourse, the very nature of insurance is actually strange by itself.
With health insurance in general, you bet the company that you will get sick and pay them in advance for it. They, on the other hand, bet that you will stay well and hope to keep your money.
On the sidelines, the health care community roots for you. Where would medicos be if we all stayed well?
With life insurance, it is much the same. You buy a policy betting that you will die young from a company that is betting you will grow old. Your life insurance agent sends you a birthday card every year gloating that he was right and wishing you many more birthdays.
We actually want him to win the bet.
A regular homeowner’s policy wagers that you will not have a major catastrophe at your house. You figure that you will have one. If you have flood insurance (only affordable if you live at a high, dry altitude) you are betting on a lot of rain.
The company writing your homeowners and flood insurance is praying for your safety and for fair weather. It is all so odd.
Now, there is car insurance. This is more of a sure thing. While you bet that you will have an accident and your insurance company bets you won’t, the chances are high that you will mess up your auto even if you do not want to.
Even the law demands you have car insurance. The government also figures you are going to have an accident.
In the past few years, our family has beaten the system and not only gotten our money back on health insurance, but on homeowners insurance as well. This does not make us happy, although we are grateful.
There was a time in America when we had a wonderful system of true socialism and no insurance. If you got sick, your neighbors came by to help. If your house was destroyed, your friends and family helped rebuild it. If you died, the neighbors or a local orphanage took care of your children.
This was collectivism at its best. It was actually a pooling of concern and caring about one another. It was relying on the goodness and generosity of others.
It was called community.
Now we have an organization do it for us rather than running next door to help. We all pay into a pot — whether it’s governmental or private — to help each of us out if something bad happens. It is basically the same system without the personal involvement.
I, for one, accept what we have today and look forward to another annual card from my life insurance agent. It is actually the only thing I want to get from him.
• Mike McLellan can be contacted by calling and leaving a message at 830-4231 or emailing him at DrMikeM@sbcglobal.net.