What is Health Insurance, and Why Do You Need It?: Health Care Triage #2

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In this episode of Healthcare Triage, Dr. Aaron Carroll gets some surprised questions from “friend of Obama” John Green who is still waiting for his big government giveaway . Unfortunately, insurance still costs money, and it’s still really complicated. Aaron explains how the insurance system we have today came to be, and why most of us get coverage through our jobs. He talks about why we need insurance, which basically boils down to the fact that health care is really, really, really expansive. More importantly, he explains why you need to know what premiums, networks, deductibles, co-pays, and co-insurance are, and how they have to be considered in the true cost of insurance. Also, ground unicorn horn.

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John Green — Executive Producer
Stan Muller — Director, Producer
Aaron Carroll — Writer
Mark Olsen – Graphics

49 thoughts on “What is Health Insurance, and Why Do You Need It?: Health Care Triage #2

  1. darksteel78

    Having a baby in the hospital is quite expensive. My sister just had a baby. I looked at the bill…$25k for her, $25k for the kid…I'm not having any children anytime soon (not without good insurance I guess). 🙂 

  2. ZombieTex

    First, you never really addressed the question: What is insurance?

    Insurance is a policy you buy which pays out in case something bad happens. You get sick, they pay for it. In the case of car insurance, you wreck your car, the company pays for repairs. It insures that if something goes wrong, someone will be liable for paying for damages.

    Why do I make a point of this? Because you can't wreck your car, and THEN buy insurance to cover the accident. If you could, no one would ever buy insurance until after they had a wreck … kind of like the explanation in part 1 about Obamacare. If the accident already happened, it's not insurance. Insurance is for in case something happens in the future, not the past.

    This is why everyone's costs are going up … because without being able to deny accidents that have already happened, it forces the companies to charge more to everyone to pay for it. To mitigate this cost increase, we're forcing individuals who don't even want or need the insurance to buy it, or pay a penalty. We're literally mugging healthy people who don't want anything to do with this so that people who were already sick before they bought their policies can afford their premiums. This is wrong.

  3. Kit Tennant

    After a really bad injury, I spent a month at Children's and had 4 MRI's and a TON of physical therapy. I was always super healthy before, but I'm so glad my parents had solid insurance or else we would have been stuck.

  4. jezzbanger

    I'm a healthy 28yr old getting on with running my business after recovering from two burst eardrums and an infection in the bone at the back of my skull.  I will end up contributing far more in taxation that the cost of my treatment now that I'm healthy.  I'm so lucky to live in Australia and would feel incredibly unsafe in the USA.  
    Does anyone know what my costs would have been in the US (I'm not insured)?

  5. Christopher D'Angelo

    I think you missed the bigger question which is why does an ultra sound cost $6,000? Moreover, it's possible that your insurance company isn't even held liable for same (ridiculous) amount. Suspicious.

  6. brinaethegiraffe

    Wow I could have really used this video about a year ago when my class of English learners asked me to explain what their health insurance was and why they had to have it. I was able to make a lesson on it, but it took a lot of research on my part.

  7. carison daily

    Insurance = lottery.  Actuarial = Vegas odds makers.  Insurance company = Bookie.  Your odds of making out are better in Vegas.  Universal Healthcare = redistribution of wealth.  We need tort reform not wealth redistribution.  Tort reform makes healthcare affordable for all.

  8. toobphish

    Why is a pediatrician making videos about Health Insurance? Do I have to convince my insurance agent to make a video about Rubella? Although, you seem more like my own physician; he too seems to be preoccupied with "quality of payment for healthcare" rather than, "quality healthcare"! TNX!

  9. Jayson Bass

    Very informative video about having health insurance. Whether it's ObamaCare or from a private insurance, everyone should have health insurance to have peace of mind and live life more freely.

  10. Robert Hunt

    Growing up poor and continuing to be relatively poor I have such a negative outlook in life. After going to therapy for a year and continuing to practice mindfulness I continue to see the world more for how it actually is. Which isn't horrifically horrible and out to get me. Your videos really help me a lot and I want to thank you.

  11. ukieman07

    This basically sounds like a huge waste of money unless you're looking at a serious illness. No wonder health tourism is so common in the United States.

  12. Joe Lima

    It seems you may be mixing up present health care costs with past motivation for creating medicare/medicaid.  Back then health care didn't cost very much so it was not a question of going bankrupt to pay for health care.  The costs have risen since those programs were created at 3 times the rate of inflation, probably because of medicare/medicaid.

  13. modsandends

    I'm not sure what your association with the brothers Green is, but I'll thumbs down every video they appear in. I can't stand them. Love the content, hate their delivery. 

  14. dawnnerdgirl

    Can you do a video talking about the imbalance Obamacare brings to the insurance equation.  Meaning insurance is based on a lot of healthy paying for a couple sick people, and that sick people have to pay more (higher premiums).  But with universal healthcare, and the expense it puts on individuals, specifically healthy young people who would rather pay the penalty to save money, it means that the ratio between healthy people paying for the sick is unbalanced because more sick people are going to be covered.  So instead of 90 healthy people paying for 10 sick people, 90 healthy people are paying for 20 sick people.  I realize this is an extremely simplified and not fully explained take, but it's an aspect that people keep failing to address.

  15. Babita Goel

    With Health Insurance, you are not just safe guarding your life and your health, but you are also preventing yourself from making costly bills. Health insurance ( http://www.religarehealthinsurance.com/) policies cover hospitalization in case of a major illness and patient surgery in case of an accident in which injuries are sustained. But everyone should have a health insurance policy to meet any kind of a health care need in the future.

  16. The Panthian

    We need insurance because the Food reps, Pharmaceutical reps, FDA, EPA, WHO, research additive groups, and fast food chains have made it their lifes mission to contaminating our food source. This is done to put the population in check while opening the door for lawsuits and multiple surgeries and all the other little things that 'support the economy'. Essentially its socialized genocide.

  17. zyx turner

    As someone who lives in the UK it actually scares me how bad the US system for healthcare is. When someone is ill/hurt telling someone that there life is now finically ruined because of events out of their control is a cruel event. But what I despise more than anything is how you have a choice of to be or not to be insured. Weighing up the risks of falling ill with the fact that insurance is insanely priced is one that either leaves you out of pocket or feeling scared of your health status. Just wanted to say that…. so yeah

  18. Andreas Buslon

    Great show Doctor! I have a question perhaps you could do a video on. Supplements is a huge market for bodybuilding and fitness programs. Claims like "1 gram of protein for 1 pound of body mass," "eat 5 meals." Is this a bunch of nonsense? Are protein supplements healthy? I've read nitrogen balance is important in building muscle and simply counting caloric intake. Though what is the healthy approach and is protein supplementation effective and safe? I know that's sort of a lot and a bit scattered, but fitness is very important to me and I want to do and educate it correctly! Plus I'm curious what research you find. 

  19. RogerWilco

    Pfffft. The US health insurance system is so complex. I'm happy I don't live there.
    I pay about $1300 (€1000) a year and I'm done. No Actuarial Value, no co-pays, no deductibles or any of those things.

  20. UsmevavyPanacek

    What? Six grands for ultrasound? That's fucked up. Usually I kind of disagree with people saying that Europe is much better (because it's mostly the same), but in this case I have to agree.. Wow

  21. Ashton Tacey

    Granted, insurance may be expensive for some, but it is important. Personally, I would rather pay for insurance and copays than have to worry about the hefty fees of medical care when I need it. It is apparent in the U.S. that tests such as MRIs or CT scans, hospitals stays, and prescriptions are overpriced. When something happens to you and you have to utilize these things, it would be more beneficial for you to already have insurance. It will save you money and stress in the long run. For example, one time I had a prescription for an eye infection at my local pharmacy. They told me it was $40, which I thought was a little higher than expected because I had insurance that usually covered it. I asked the pharmacist if they put in the discount for my insurance and they told me that they did and the prescription was originally $200. The bottle the prescription came in was half the size in length of a pencil. I was astounded by this. It made me realize that those that have urgent medical conditions or illnesses may not be getting the proper care because they cannot afford it without insurance.

    Our insurance and health care system seems quite complicated but I do believe that Obama Care was a step in the right direction. Of course it is not perfect but it helps us to cover more uninsured people. I think by making a few adjustments to this law, it would be more beneficial for those that are still uninsured. Again, I believe insurance is very important and many people do not recognize that. Medical costs will be higher for a given person than those of buying insurance in the long run. Some may say that they are healthy and do not need it but you never know what could happen in the near future. It's better to be safe and covered than sorry when you get your medical bills.

  22. anddudewaslike

    Yep. I am soon to be 32 years old, and not one mandatory course in all my years of schooling taught me any of these basic fundamental concepts. I realize one can't expect to be handed life on a silver platter, but it still baffles me that children and young adults aren't taught this stuff before they are sent out into "REAL" life and expected to work full-time and function as proper adults.

  23. justin norwood

    This video was very informative for me in regards to health insurance and healthcare. The fun fact that caught me by surprise is how health insurance came about because of competition. Jobs had to find an advantage to get workers, and health insurance benefits were the answer!

    People get mad that they're paying health insurance for the sick. Just like the video said, they're missing the point. I believe that this part of insurance, everyone paying less but it benefits the sick more is good. The ones that are healthy can complain about paying for insurance when it doesn't apply to them… until they get sick! Then they're in the same boat as the people they're complaining about. Nice informative video Healthcare Triage!


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