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MARTHA SEZ: Roll out the health care

November 22, 2013
MARTHA ALLEN , Lake Placid News

Look, the dishes are done. Next, I'll put away my summer clothes. It's all because I haven't been watching television.

The news guys talk about nothing lately but "the roll-out of Obama Care," occasionally called the Affordable Care Act, or ACA, and how badly it's going.

"Well, Mac, the Obama Care website is still dead in the water!"

"Yep, pretty much."

"What do you make of that?"

"It's bad."

"How would you say the president feels?"

"Not good, I'm guessing."

"Hardly anybody is signing up."


On and on and on. I was a news junkie, but boredom has cured me. Floods, typhoons, tornadoes are briefly mentioned in passing, and then it's back to pondering the roll-out of the ACA.

Obama Care regulation eliminates some of the risks of buying health insurance. Buying other kinds of insurance still is a gamble. Naturally, your insurance company does not want to insure you against something that might actually happen.

If you live in the neighborhood of Keene Valley nicknamed Frog Alley, or in certain parts of AuSable Forks, for example, you can't buy flood insurance for love or money.

During a Keene town meeting in 2003, an insurance company representative offered the board a terrorism insurance policy for Marcy Field, Keene's airstrip. Mostly we just have little Cessnas landing there, and motorized model planes, but you never know.

Before the events of 9/11, the rep explained, insurance against terrorism was included as part of the package. After 9/11, no more.

The board carefully deliberated for roughly 10 seconds and then declined the offer. as far as I know, Marcy Field remains uninsured against terrorist attack to this day.

Investing in most insurance policies is much like playing the ponies or heading off to Las Vegas or the rez to rake in some fast money. The deck is stacked against you. Insurance companies, like casinos, hire smart people armed with pages and pages of statistics. They know what perils are likely to befall you, at your age and weight. Do you smoke?

OK, find a penny. Say you're going to toss it 10 times. What do you think your chances are that it's going to come up heads every time. Slim to none, right?

Now say that you've tossed the penny nine times, and it came up heads every time. Whoa! Amazing. What are the odds if you throw it again ?

The odds are 50-50. Exactly the same as they were on your first throw!

See, this why arithmetic is so hard. Mathematicians and scientists understand it, which must be very nice for them, but even they cannot accurately predict which way the coin will fall on any given toss. If they could, the casinos would be lousy with scientists on Saturday night, and math teachers would be millionaires. In fact, there might not be any math teachers for schools to hire. They'd all be lounge lizards, like that gecko selling auto insurance on television.

Your chances are 1 in 36 of throwing snake eyes with two six-sided dice. Physicists know this, but they don't clean up at dice, any more than psychics get rich quick at the track.

Auto insurance is mandatory for motorists. I worried lately that if I switched to an insurance company with lower rates, the service might not be as good. Then it hit me: what service?

The way my auto insurance works is, I pay out a certain amount each month, and-there you have it. I have never filed a claim. So for me the cheapest policy is the best. So far.

But you never know. I sense that there's a deer out there with my name on it, just waiting to dart out in front of my car. That's why I'm traveling under the posted speed, in case you're ever stuck driving behind me in a no-passing zone, and wondering.

I don't believe the talk about people who "like" the substandard health insurance policies they will lose under Obama Care. They probably don't understand their policies-no one does. If they did, they would dislike them.

Medicare, in particular, is incomprehensible, and it is just too bad that we are called upon to cipher it out at a time when we are getting on in years, and perhaps not as sharp as we once were.

Watch out for deer and other terrorists when you pass Marcy Field, and have a good week.



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