Pilots are a cautious and thoughtful bunch, contrary to popular opinion. We live life to the fullest and make measured, well-informed decisions. Whether you own a luxurious high-flying heavy metal jet, a wood and cloth tail-dragger or rent a trusty high or low wing from your local field, chances are you have reviewed your owners or renters insurance, obtained competitive quotes and store your policy in an easily accessible location.
Well, airplanes are complex, pricey and delicate items so it makes sense to maintain and insure them properly. Can the same be said for another complex and delicate item? One that carries big ticket costs when things go pear-shaped? I am talking about you. How many people know what their health insurance covers, what it does not, what the options are and, where their policy can be found?
Insurance is one of those things we just do not like to think about and astonishingly, despite the illegality, many Americans drive without it. Many more carry the wrong kind of health insurance and have a nasty surprise when they need to use it.
All right, I have an admission to make – as a doctor, and therefore someone who should know about this topic, I am often totally baffled. That is why I chose to use a broker to plan my family health insurance policy. It is important to go over all the options and ask questions if you do not understand the language. The items that often dictate what type of policy people choose are often emotional rather than practical – let me provide an example. We all like our freedoms, pilots more than many, and freedom to choose any physician is often a big factor for many folks. However, other factors should also be considered – even if one particular policy limits access only to certain doctors it may be a better selection as long as the panel physicians are appropriately experienced. I chose a plan with some limitation of access that uses the health savings account methodology – it made better financial and access sense given my particular circumstances.
Always check on items like catastrophic coverage – it can be a pain having to deal with lots of paperwork, but nowhere near the pain of dealing with a bill for hundreds of thousands of dollars for non-coverage of an organ transplant. Additionally, a number of policies only provide limited access to psychiatric services such as counseling. The old joke is that one in three of us is going to have a mental illness during our life – I am okay so it must be you guys! Not so funny if there is no coverage.
I am also intrigued to hear all the banter about the Washington’s healthcare plan for us and how things work in other countries by people who have not read the legislation or understand the pros and cons of each national system. So at this time of the year when folks are considering coverage make sure you make the right decision based on as much data as possible, just as if you were planning a flight. Or choosing which member of Congress to vote for!
November 3, 2010