By Bill Crane, CSI Crane
Bill Crane is Principal and owner of CSI Crane, a full-service corporate and crisis communications firm specializing in corporate reputation, public affairs and executive positioning. Crane also serves as a political analyst and commentator for Atlanta’s ABC affiliate, WSB-TV’s Action News, as well as WSB-AM and FM radio and as a columnist for Georgia Trend magazine, The Champion and growing list of weekly and community newspapers in Georgia. More at csicrane.com.
In mid-2008, I left the employ of a global agency and went out on my own. This decision was driven in part by the recent birth of my youngest daughter Olivia, who is the joy of our lives, but was also born with Down syndrome. Thanks to generous coverage by her mother’s employer, Olivia has remained insured. She has remained healthy and we have been careful with her diet, regular exercise, and a host of weekly therapies to help her reach all of her developmental milestones. She starts Pre-K this fall, in an inclusive setting and school that specializes in the needs of children with developmental disabilities.
My older daughter is a freshman at Auburn University, also healthy and insured. Leaving a large company on COBRA, I found about the time my COBRA was wrapping up that almost no group insurer would accept, rate, or even give me a reasonable insurance quote due to a pre-existing medical condition.
So since June of 2008, like many physicians who cannot afford sky-high malpractice insurance premiums, I have gone ‘bare.’ I have had regular physicals at the appropriate intervals and seen a specialist for the pre-existing condition. Using tools such as WebMD I was able to research generic medications and other options which might not have occurred to me to keep my medical costs down.
I invested time and energy in preventative health care, proper diet, and regular exercise, particularly biking and yoga. The former kept my weight down and the latter has reduced my stress levels, improved my flexibility, and contributed to lowering my blood pressure. I found that not having health insurance is a major incentive for remaining healthy.
Despite this gap in the expectations of most of us for economic success I don’t want, need, or expect to have the local, state, or federal government provide my health care. Absent being carted into an E.R. with a gunshot wound or some other unforeseen circumstance, I plan to provide for my needs, as well as my family’s.
Letting health insurers sell across state lines and generally increasing competition in the marketplace, as well as potentially creating a risk-pool for the uninsured or under-insured similar to the insurance premium which we all pay for “uninsured motorists” might go a long way towards making that coverage more affordable. We might also consider allowing healthier adults, non-smokers with healthy hearts and a history of good health, ‘buy in’ early to Medicaid or Medicaid stop-gap and supplemental coverage. These healthier adults, screened as we screen for new life insurance policies, would likely reduce health care cost averages while increasing revenue. Those over 65 generally pay in less and cost more due to their increasing health issues.
Health insurance and medical providers might also consider incenting patients towards healthier lifestyles, such as the lower premiums non-smokers pay for life insurance versus smokers, or upon proof of regular daily exercise, a risk credit towards good cardiac health.
In the meantime, I might run into you at the PATH Trail, in yoga practice, or in my organic garden behind the house. I have found without a safety net an occasional trip to the chiropractor is a good investment, as is taking the time to make healthier choices, while insurance companies treat me like the man without a country.