Everyone could use a laugh about medical insurance

Bob Land Head Shot.jpg

Bob Land


Business Columnist

Monday, January 7, 2019

Every American could use a laugh when it comes to current medical insurance woes. Or maybe a long cry.

Politicians, pharmaceutical companies and insurers are stalemated over how to fix things. Maybe we need a superhero to solve the problem. I watched a TV commercial recently about health care and a superhero that made me laugh. Thought you could use a chuckle, too. Go to YouTube “Chuck Norris Health Insurance commercial” to see it. What a hoot!

Here is the commercial’s basic dialog. Two older gentlemen are seated talking at a restaurant. When in walks Chuck Norris, the legend, the six-time world karate champion and “Walker Texas Ranger” TV star.

Man 1: “Don’t look now, Chuck Norris is behind you.” Man 2: “I heard super heroes read Chuck Norris comics.” Man 1: “I heard at night the boogeyman checks under his bed for Chuck Norris.” Man 2: “I heard Chuck Norris’ reflection won’t even look him in the eye.” Man 1: “I heard when cops need a cop they call Chuck Norris.” Man 2: “I heard when Chuck Norris gets in the water, sharks get out of the ocean.” Man 1: “I heard when Chuck Norris is hiking, Grizzlies look out for him.” Man 2: “I heard Chuck Norris rides the motor without the cycle.” Man 1: “I heard Chuck Norris wears a hat to protect the sun.” Man 2: “I heard medicine takes Chuck Norris to feel better.” Man 1: “I heard what actually killed the dinosaurs was Chuck Norris.” Man 2: “I heard cats hope to achieve Chuck-like reflexes.”

Then the two gentlemen wager a bet. Man 2: “Do you still think Chuck’s still got it?” Man 1 quickly throws a salt shaker at Chuck. Without hesitation Chuck immediately round house kicks the flying salt shaker and it bounces off the man’s face. Miraculously, the salt-shaker lands perfectly upright on the table, perfectly in place. Man 2 declares: “Chuck still has it!”

Maybe we need a super hero like Chuck to “fix” health care with a swift roundhouse kick. Or maybe there is a better solution. Until then, here are a few helpful hints in the real world.

■ Be thankful if your employer offers Medical Insurance: 80 percent of employers in the U.S. are less than 50 employees and do not legally have to offer it. Many don’t. If yours does, or you work for a large employer, you are fortunate to have it. Be thankful.

■ Embrace today’s health care world, not complain about the good old days: Today’s new normal is leaner benefits, more out of pockets and more expensive. More of us to afford it are having to change our expectations. Health care is becoming catastrophic protection, not first dollar protection. Consider partnering your plan with the wonderful tax advantages of a Health Savings Account. Know that all Affordable Care Act approved health plans cover 70+ types of wellness visits 100 percent no matter what you deductible. Know what the free wellness options are for women, men and children from the IRS website. Like Black Friday specials, be a well informed shopper.

■ Get involved with the benefits committee at your employer. Either volunteer to be on the committee or build a positive supportive relationship with them. Help them tailor fit plans that meet your employees needs and budgets. You can offer several varied plans at businesses with as little as 10 employees. Ask your employer to offer a bigger menu of health plans. They could offer a bronze, silver and gold option to cover more people’s needs. Employers are only responsible to pay 50 percent of the cheapest plan for employee only. Employees can buy up, pre-tax, if they need the richer plans. Don’t be a victim. Help solve the problem by jumping in, and reshaping your employee benefits.

■ If your employer doesn’t offer group medical: Be responsible. You obtain it. Go to the individual marketplace. See if you qualify for a budget-friendly tax subsidy. Single person incomes under $48,000 qualify for a nice tax credit in North Carolina.

■ If your employer offers no group plans and your income disqualifies you for a reasonably priced marketplace plan: Consider alternative, more affordable options such as Temporary Medical Insurance plans that last up to 360 days prior to renewing. Or if insurable, consider medical sharing companies such as Medi-share, Sedera, Samaritans or Liberty. Many of their plans start at $ 275-$299 per month for individuals under age 65. Some are affiliated with church values, and others are not. Learn the options and consider. Ignorance is not an excuse anymore. We live in the information age. Strap on your boots and get in the know.

■ Partner with an objective, brand neutral, independent agency benefits advisor. They need to represent all the leading companies, not just one or two primary ones, and tailor fit solutions to your core values and budget. Pick someone you like, trust and that is professionally competent.

■ Step up. Commit to public, local business-oriented health care solutions. Business solutions promote excellence and more competition, employ driven employees and superior pricing. Maybe you step up and run a company that employs others and utilizes great health care principles. Government solutions eliminate competition and ration health care against the infirmed and older population. Maybe you are the needed super hero, not Chuck Norris, to help fix health care in your home, business and city. In America, we need you to get involved locally. Like the hokey-pokey dance — be all in!

Bob Land is president of Landmark Financial Services LLC, a 26-year-old executive and employee benefits independent agency firm based in Rocky Mount and Raleigh.