Sometimes the best way to resolve an irrational problem is with an irrational solution. Case in point: a young child’s fear of monsters. Instead of fighting the uphill battle that is “there is no such thing as monsters,” I rid my children’s rooms of imaginary intruders with a can of air freshener I’d covered in paper and marked “Monster Killer.” I went so far as to hunt down and mortally assault a few who attempted to escape. I bought the children time (and sleep) with this method, allowing them to feel safe until they realized on their own that they were never in danger.
Many Americans irrationally believe in insurance because of their irrational fear of uncertainty. Like children left to their own devices, they have allowed their fear to consume them, going so far as to pay the monster itself to protect them from other monsters that the first monster has repeatedly warned them against with exaggerated tales of woe and demise.
Islamic scholars have come out in religious opposition to the very concept of insurance. It almost sounds anti-capitalistic, but if you listen closely you can hear the spray of air freshener.
In The New Nation, Dr Mahbub Alam says, “Islamic scholars have objection to the concept of conventional insurance. In their view, the elements of Gharar (Uncertainty), Maisir (Gambling) and Riba (Usury) are involved in insurance contracts, which make it un-Islamic.”
I’m not a fan of the Islamic faith. To be fair, I’m not a fan of any faith. It all requires way too much faith in that which is not provable – kind of like the thing insurance companies purport to sell: certainty.
As an alternative to health insurance, Dr. Alam suggests Takaful, “…the concept of social solidarity, cooperation and mutual indemnification of losses of members. It is a promise among a group of persons who agree to jointly indemnify the loss or damage that may inflict upon any of them, out of the fund they donate collectively. The Takaful contract so agreed usually involves the concepts of Mudarabah, Tabarru’ (to donate for benefit of others) and mutual sharing of losses with the overall objective of eliminating the element of uncertainty.”
Dr. Alam continues, “In case of any natural calamity, everybody used to contribute something until the loss was indemnified.”
If this sounds familiar, it’s because it smacks of socialized medicine. The most notable difference between the two is the middleman. Socialized medicine’s middleman is the government. With Takaful, the contributors (the people themselves) are their own middlemen.
This is still too discomforting a concept for most Americans, who, whether they suffer from lack of insurance or not, are willing to tolerate a certain amount of dependence on the morally corrupt (insurers or government), while coming out against or remaining morally opposed to reliance on their fellow-sufferers.
Perhaps it’s time to return to the once long-held (although not universally held) American value of bartering.
My father has long joked about life insurance being nothing more than plugging money into a slot machine that will only pay once – while the person at the next slot machine collects the winnings. Health insurance isn’t even that promising – and it’s definitely not a joke. Any insured American who has used the services of the notorious payday lender knows there is little difference between these two (very evil) evils, and yet, in comparison to insurance providers and payday predators, even the lowly pawnbroker looks like Mother Teresa.
If doctors and funeral directors were more like pawnbrokers, we might all be a little healthier and have a wee bit more money with which to plan our farewells. Just as doctors and undertakers of old accepted chickens as payment, perhaps today’s professionals would be willing to accept landscaping or golf cart maintenance in exchange for services.
A doctor’s patients would (as a result of services rendered) be healthy enough to perform these services in return – or at least healthy enough to free up family members who could provide the compensation. While doctors would benefit more than funeral directors (people only die once), the funeral director might accept something more tangible in this era of record-setting transportation costs – say, your Prius.
Were we to make this kind of pawnbrokering the law, it might just be the motivation every doctor needed to keep the patient’s best health interests at heart – and keep our hearts healthy. After all, who doesn’t want to keep the world’s plumbers, electricians, mechanics, cooks, and janitors fit as fiddles? If one had to pay for health services with one’s talents and skills, just think of the people we’d soon be without: news commentators, paparazzi, superdelegates, and Paris Hilton.
Consider the billions and billions of dollars that would spill onto the streets if suddenly the monster that is insurance suddenly went away. Wake up and smell the Spring Meadow: We’re only one can of marked air freshener away from resolving our ailing economy – and ourselves.