Make no mistakes, this article touts the benefits of health insurance, and the reason for this is that the 2020 pandemic seems to have reinforced an age-old notion that we as individuals are invulnerable. Health insurance sales have gone down significantly, and that is partly due to the world-wide lockdown, and partially due to a mistaken feeling that we as individuals are not vulnerable to life-threatening illnesses.
The odd counter-intuitive approach
Health insurance companies are taking a big hit in 2020, not because of them paying out on COVID claims, but because far fewer people are taking up private health insurance. This is especially true in countries like Australia where COVID infections have been at a minimum.
The biggest reason why health insurance is suddenly unpopular is that worldwide lockdown has dramatically reduced the number of ill people and injured people. Fewer cars mean fewer road accidents, and kids have been home with parents, and so are not getting knocked down on the way to school. Factories were closed and not producing injuries, and people were social distancing to the point where even the common cold is less common. This lack of illness has led people to de-prioritize health insurance and has led to a sort-of opposite of Munchausen’s syndrome.
The opposite of Munchausen’s syndrome
These days people are ‘acting’ well, even if they are genuinely ill. Most professionals put this behaviour down to the lockdown and social distancing. People do not want to appear to be ill because others will treat them with fear and disdain (and even more distance). However, people ‘acting’ overly well runs a little more deeply, people are almost reaching something similar to a bipolar grandiose state (figuratively, not clinically).
Psychology Today claims this is due to an unprecedented level of optimism bias, and claims it affects up to 80% of us. Though, Fox News also claims that drug and alcohol use may play a part in our belief that we are invulnerable. Fox claims our experiences with drugs and alcohol are teaching our subconscious that we are as invulnerable as we feel when we are high/drunk, and this feeling carries over into when we are not high/drunk. This may also explain why recovering alcoholics often become very cowardly for several years after quitting, including extreme cases of social anxiety, perhaps because the belief that he/she is invulnerable is stripped away rather violently when the alcohol abuse stops.
Are older people wasting money on health insurance?
One of the most perplexing facts is that older people are shying away from health insurance at a faster rate than younger (employed) people. This could be partially because health insurance covers injuries at work, which is something that retired people do not need to worry about. But, health problems are more likely at an older age, and people who go through life without health insurance are going to suffer in places like Australia where premiums are far higher for people who have not paid in during their younger years.
Yet, in contrast to that, and again in Australia, a person with a health condition at the age of 30yrs, will pay the same premiums as a person with the same condition at 60yrs old. Despite the health insurance system in Australia favouring older people, the entire scheme has driven up the price of health insurance in Australia, and perhaps the cost is what is pushing away older people.
If you do not have health insurance because of the cost, then go to health insurance for over 55s comparison websites, and look up the basic and bare-bones packages. Even a cheap policy is better than nothing, especially when you consider how something as simple as medical transport can be very expensive.
I am never going to get sick because I know the secret
The ‘secret’ is the idea that your ‘belief’ can physically alter the universe. It is an infectious piece of misinformation that has made the likes of Napoleon Hill rich. Yet, upon reasonable critical thought, you can see the many holes in the ‘secret’s’ assertion.
Confirmation biases play a big part, as does the reductive reasoning whereby you attribute good things or progress to your belief. There is also the idea that ‘It didn’t work because I didn’t believe hard enough.’ Coincidence also plays a massive role, as does self-determined/self-fulfilling prophecies. For example, if you go to a fairground with the ‘belief’ you are lucky or a winner, then you are more likely to play games of chance than somebody who doesn’t have that belief and are therefore statistically more likely to win.
You cannot control your illness or your health through thought alone. Some think that Steve Jobs waited so long to treat his cancer because he thought his power of belief was enough to keep him alive. Sadly, this is not the case, and the same applies to you. If you become ill, you need the best possible treatment through a good-quality health insurance plan. You need to research several ways to save money on your health insurance, you need to pick a suitable policy, and stop taking silly risks with your health (especially if you have a family).
I haven’t been sick so I do not need health insurance
Let’s assume that nothing in this article applies to you. Let’s assume that the lockdown didn’t affect you, or drinking/drugs don’t affect you, or the price of health insurance doesn’t matter, and you do not believe in ‘the secret’ and you do not have an optimism bias, and you have not been ‘acting’ well for the sake of appearances. Perhaps you are simply avoiding health insurance because you are healthy and plan on staying that way.
Health insurance doesn’t work under the same principles as dandruff shampoo. Do you remember the old Head & Shoulders ads where somebody would say they use the product, and the other person would say, ‘But you don’t’ have dandruff…..ooooh.’ Health insurance doesn’t work in this way: it doesn’t protect you or work to save you money. It is an expense in its own right.
Health insurance is a safety net. It is a seat belt in a car, it is rubber armbands on your kids in the pool. It is a costly way to protect yourself from something that may never happen. You do not buy seat belts in your car a week before a crash (or after). You have seat belts in your car with the hope you never need them to deploy due to a crash.
The fact you are healthy is great, it means you can set up a safety net for less money because healthier people get better health insurance quotes. If anything, the fact you are healthy means you have more reason to buy health insurance.
Image credit: Freepik
James Wallace has been an advocate for mental health awareness for years. He holds a master’s degree in counselling from the University of Edinburgh.