Everyone can wish

Emily Bialkowski
Managing Editor

Have you made 27 dozen cookies yet? I’m just wondering because a woman came in here the other day saying she made 27 dozen and shared her bountiful bakery with The Argus staff.

I thought, wow, the holidays really do send people into a flurry of baking, cleaning and, quite often, shopping.

It’s during those shopping trips that I often witness the following conversation. “Oh, my gosh, Sherri, how are you?” or something of the like.

From there the discussion goes one of two ways: the parties report good news about family and community involvement, or the someone reports bad news about someone’s health.

Nothing else sends a family into a tailspin like illness or accident. We’ve probably all experienced it at some point with a good friend, parent, child, sibling or other family member. Not only do we worry about our loved one, but we suddenly have a great deal more to accomplish in a day. Even if you  are able to miss work, you often return to a pile of duties that didn’t receive attention in your absence. If you can’t miss work, you feel guilty for not being able to come to your loved one’s immediate aid.

If it’s an extended illness requiring multiple doctor visits or treatment, there’s concern in coordinating travel and making sure people are available to assist the sick.

Then there’s the expense.

If anything can be counted on in the coming years it is that health care costs will continue to climb. I say this with a great deal of confidence and experience. I spent a spell in sales for major health insurance provider in Wisconsin, and it’s safe to say that unless several earth-shattering changes take place, no one will see their medical expenses go down.

If you believe in health insurance the way it exists today, you also have to believe in the principle that guides it: risk.

Health insurance is insurance against the risk of incurring medical expenses among individuals. By estimating the overall risk of health care and health system expenses among a targeted group, an insurer can develop a routine finance structure, such as a monthly premium or payroll tax, to ensure that money is available to pay for the health care benefits specified in the insurance agreement.

Unless you are on some kind of state aid, Medicare or Medicaid, your health insurance most likely comes from a for-profit insurance provider.

In my time in the industry it became very clear that insurance companies love young, healthy men and do not like age, pre-existing conditions or women in their child-bearing years. Let me re-phrase that; it’s not that they don’t like the latter group, it’s that people in those categories possess more risk. More risk equals more expense and the insurance provider faces lackluster profits, or, in extreme cases, has more benefits to pay out than premiums coming in.

I know, it’s so inhuman to think of people as nothing more than risks and, really, we all will become a risk at some point. We don’t typically get healthier as we age.

This topic weighs heavily on my heart often because one of my family members has a pre-existing medical condition. He can’t help that he was born a Type I diabetic. He can’t help that he only has one kidney that is starting to see the effects of having diabetes for 45 years. He can’t help that he started losing his vision last year, which required multiple, painful surgeries to correct. And he certainly can’t help how expensive the medication is that keeps him alive. That’s right. For a Type I diabetic, medication is what keeps them alive, as is the case with many medical conditions.

The Argus asked local kindergartners to send us their Christmas wishes this year, and you can see those in the Season’s Greetings section of this week’s paper.  If I could get a Christmas wish this year, I’d wish people never had to worry about medical expenses again because being sick stinks, but being sick and not having the ability to pay for it is even worse.


You can contact Emily Bialkowski at [email protected]