Wednesday, 10 March 2010

What do we insure?

How would you feel if you were told that you had to take out insurance for walking down the street, just in case you had an accident? I think it would be strange. Accidents happen and that's why we have an NHS. What if you were told that insurance was needed to play a violent sport? You may or may not think that was reasonable, but what if it was a non-contact, non-violent sport? Private insurance gives peace of mind to those who can afford it but it is also there to support private insurance companies. There has to be a profit for them otherwise they wouldn't do it. Insurance may give peace of mind but so too does the NHS.

It seems to me that there are obvious examples when insurance is needed and obvious examples of when it isn't. Reports tell me that over 100 people are admitted to hospitals each week due to dog attacks and there are plans to make all dog owners insure against their pet attacking someone because of the risk from dangerous breeds. And that's the problem. All dogs aren't dangerous and to implement a compulsory insurance is either another form of taxation or it is a subsidy for those with dangerous dogs.

You may think it is fine to lump all dog owners together and make them pay insurance, even if that dog weighs 2lbs and has no teeth. Then why not make all who participate in sport take out insurance even if it is dominoes? Why not have compulsory insurance for walking down the street? Why not have compulsory insurance if you are underweight or overweight? If you have been involved in a pub fight on a Friday night surely the NHS shouldn't pay for the care.

I believe that we should receive first aid treatment without having to deal with paperwork. If I go into hospital with a scratch on my arm should I be questioned for insurance purposes as to whether it was a nail, a rugby boot or a dog tooth? If you think I am wrong then let me know, but you will have to tell me why I shouldn't have insurance for being a few pounds overweight.

I wrote on the 10th October last year that "Our NHS was founded on the guiding principle that it was free at the point of access. The more little charges that you have then the more it affects the poor. The Black Report highlighted the division of care between the rich and the poor. We should heed this report and look to improve the health of the poor". I stand by that.

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  1. I think there is a case for some degree of insurance-based contribution towards the cost of NHS treatment of injuries incurred while participating in a contact sport. No-one is forced to participate in such sports (maybe excluding school activities). Why should the general public have to cover the cost of treating injuries arising from such voluntary participation?

    I should point out that NHS trusts are already empowered to reclaim the costs of treating road crash casualties from motor insurers.

    "If I go into hospital with a scratch on my arm..."

    I hope you wouldn't go to a hospital for just a scratch. Keep your anti-tetanus immunisation up to date and do your own first aid. Our hospitals have more than enough work to do without treating people who don't need it.

    On the dogs issue - irresponsible dog owners would not take out insurance anyway. Responsible dog owners have some public liability cover already as part of their household insurance - this ought to cover their dog (provided not classified as one of the illegal breeds) biting the postman.

  2. Thanks for your insurance thoughts.

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