Oil Change Co-Pay
If using insurance
to pay for everything is such a marvelous idea, why not expand
the concept? How come, for example, we tolerate paying for tire
rotations and oil changes out of pocket?
Why not carry
Car Maintenance Insurance (CMI) instead? Wouldnt this make
owning a car more affordable? More fair?
Is it not outrageous
that so many millions of Americans arent covered?
people who defend Obamacare about this. They immediately see the
silliness of using insurance to cover minor routine car maintenance.
But somehow, they dont connect the logical dots and grasp
that the same reasoning applies to minor routine maintenance of
ones body, too. People in this country didnt always
whip out an Aetna or Blue Cross card and fill out myriad
Byzantine forms when it was time to settle up with their
doc. They opened up their wallet or their purse and handed the man
(or his nurse/office manager) a $20. There was no need for an entire
staff of sour-faced fraus to handle the endless reams of
paperwork each paper-rustling sour-faced frau costing
the doc (and thus, you) a considerable chunk of change.
There was no
army of cube workers down the line processing your paperwork
and doing all in their power to dodge the bill and send it
back to you.
It was a pretty
good system. It still works pretty well, too when it comes
to fixing our cars. We carry insurance for catastrophic or
at least, major events. But we dont yet
expect CMI to cover our next $29.99 oil change or
tire rotation. Because most people still seem to understand that
it would drive up costs and not just a little bit
because routine maintenance is, well routine. Its going
to be necessary. One hundred percent certainty. Which in the context
of insurance means it would be madness to use insurance as a way
to pay for it. Because the whole point of insurance is to reduce
the cost of the relatively isolated catastrophic event by pooling
resources. One hundred people pay in in relatively small
amounts to defray the cost (at a reasonable cost to each
person paying in) of a loss or damages incurred by a relative handful.
Most of the people paying in dont take out collect
a payment. They pay in to insure themselves against the possibility
of having to deal with a huge bill for something unexpected
something they hope will never happen. And which very probably wont
This is what
makes insurance make economic sense.
But if it is
known going in that everyone paying in will also expect a payment
that the insurance will be used to pay for everything, no
matter how minor and not just the unexpected exceptional event
well, now youre just playing a variant of musical chairs.
Only when the
music stops playing, none of us have a place to sit.
What good does
it do me to use insurance to pay for an oil change when the cost
of that insurance is much higher than the amount Id be paying
if I just paid for such routine maintenance out of pocket? Sure,
Im covered but thats not much security
(a treasured thing in the Age of Clover)
when said coverage is unaffordable. And as a consequence of which,
the services rendered are inexorably rendered less often as those
rendering them do their best to staunch the financial hemorrhaging.
Which is precisely
what has happened as regards health care precisely
because people have become accustomed to not paying for routine
maintenance directly, out of pocket, as they would
as they still do when it comes to their cars. They see the
seemingly inexpensive $20 co-pay and think happy thoughts about
affordable care. That they are covered.
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[send him mail] is an automotive
columnist and author of Automotive
Atrocities and Road Hogs (2011). Visit his
© 2012 Eric Peters
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