Insurance is a topic to which I’ve devoted many a ponderous thought over the years, but nothing says insurance like a nine-hour stay in an emergency room. Mind you, I didn’t want to be there. Although the doctoring profession is a noble calling, and many MDs are fine people, including the ones I know, I have an aversion to sickness in general and hospitals in particular. Past experience leads me to believe it is better to suffer through on my own. However, it is nearly impossible to ignore chest pains accompanied by extreme sweating, shortness of breath and nausea. True, these symptoms could signal menopausal symptoms, panic attack or Elizabeth calling me home from above to keep her and Fred Sanford in fine company.
I called my doctor, who told me to go post-haste to the nearest emergency room. Since my mother dropped dead of a heart attack at the relatively young age of 58, I thought it prudent to take as few chances as I could. So in my nearly all-day sojourn lying flat on my back on the stretcher from hell and strapped into place by monitoring wires, I had plenty of time to consider my insurance. My husband was fretting how much my ER stay was going to cost. (We are basically uninsured, having a crummy policy with an uber-high deductible. It covers little and is meant to kick in only when catastrophe strikes.) I am a writer never without pen and moleskin, so I was able to sketch out my insurance theories while they jacked me full of drugs and took out half my blood.
First of all, it doesn’t matter what type of insurance or its intended use, insurance is a sucker’s bet. The only winners are those who issue the policies, and they, with their wheelbarrows full of cash, are laughing all the way to the bank.
The premise of insurance is simple: you buy a policy to cover the value of your car, your house or your life, and when God forbid, disaster strikes, you cash in. Glory be, it’s like hitting the MegaMillions.
But hold the presses. Maybe that’s how it was in the olden days when the insurance companies might have been honorable as well as flush. Insurance companies weren’t in the practice of investing in derivatives and junk bonds like they do now. Back then, if you made a claim, you’d have more than a snowball’s chance in hell of recovery. I know this, since I have filed claims that thirty years ago were speedily processed. These days, insurance companies look to nickel-and-dime their customers out of paying claims.