Don't Call it "Health Care"

May 30, 2018

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Words shape thinking. Consider how often people say, “I get my health care at work.”I know what they mean but it’s not true. 

You see . . . there’s no such thing as “health care.” 

And even what they get at work is not health insurance. Employers use wages employees never receive (benefits) to pay for “coverage-for-all” programs employees may never or rarely use—often at a price employees would refuse to pay on their own. Furthermore, it’s tied to the employer, not the employee. The worker who loses his job loses his coverage. 

Large companies often self-insure. This too is coverage, not insurance. The employer assumes the financial risk, using the company’s bank account to pay employee medical bills. The employer typically uses a third-party administrator (TPA) to administer the program. The TPA can be a health plan (e.g. UnitedHealth Care (UHC)), but it only administers the employer’scoverage program, despite employees having UHC on their “insurance card.”

Ambiguous words, which are “open to more than one interpretation,” seed confusion, impede truth, and enable deception. On this issue, consider the impact of three ambiguous words.

First, the term health care.There’s no such thing. There’s health insurance (actually medical insurance)—which does not include Medicare, Medicaid or Obamacare—and there’s medical treatment. But as in socialized medicine, private coverage, government programs and medical services have been melded together, advancing socialized-medicine thinking.

Second, there’s no such thing as a providerThere are physicians, registered nurses, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and more. Lumping them together as “providers” blurs the line between very different professionals. It allows clinics to offer patients a “provider” that is not a physician, even though physician assistant training or nurse practitioner training is much shorter and neither is licensed to practice medicine. This melding of terms aligns with socialized medicine principles: all providers are equal and interchangeable. 

Then there’s the health planHealth plans are not health insurance. Health plans are the corporate version of socialized medicine, extracting wages from healthy insurable individuals (through high premiums instead of taxes), siphoning off 15 percent for the corporation (ACA authorized) and redistributing the rest to many enrollees with uninsurable (pre-existing) conditions. Like single-payer systems, the plans “cover” everyone by controlling dollars, data and treatment decisions.

True medical insurance insures against the financial risk of rare, catastrophic medical events (i.e. coma, cancer, chronic disease). It doesn’t interfere in medical decisions or pay for minor or routine treatment, thus keeping premiums low. 

These three ambiguous terms hamper freedom’s cause. Change the discussion. Use unambiguous words when you next talk about medical insurance and treatment.


Unambiguously yours,

Twila Brase, RN, PHN
President and Co-founder