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"What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? (Matthew 16:26 NIV)
Just a couple three years ago, a preacher's wife was using various home remedies to nurse a bad cold that lingered for several weeks. Finally, heeding pleas from the husband, and a retired doctor as well as a concerned sister in the church, she went to a nearby medical center for some relief. After the physician looked at her condition, he observed, "You should not have waited so long to see a doctor. You probably put it off because you do not have medical insurance, correct? The sick woman who was used to caring for others could only nod her head in the affirmative.
Millions of people around the world live each day with the risk of suffering the consequences of a catastrophic illness without any hope of seeking proper medical care. In many cases, just like the preacher's wife, medical care is simply too expensive. Also, there is the erroneous assumption that unless you carry some type of card then you are not even eligible to be seen by a physician. Many people have already figured out how to "beat the system" by going to the Emergency Room where they are not supposed to be denied care. Of course that option is hard to use unless you are bleeding or have chest pains.
It should not surprise anyone who is even slightly interested in the political process currently going on, that some type of insurance program will be a major topic of the presidential debates. We all have fears of the unknown, and the concept known as insurance is designed to calm our fears and hopefully make it possible for us to avoid a major disaster. Many of the fears we face are due to the fact that we are risk takers. We all take a certain amount of risk each day just by deciding to leave the comfort of our home.
The simple sounding and yet somewhat complicated concept of insurance is something that has an ancient history even dating back to the time of the Babylonians. We all face many dangers each day connected with human life. For some reason, the danger of not having health insurance seems to be at the focus of all the debate. There are many other dangers that have given rise to a huge global insurance industry.
Some of the dangers of life we face each day that cause us to be concerned can be classified as, Death, Disability, Unemployment, and Incapacitation due to old age. We also fret a lot over the value of property we own or are responsible for and this makes us fear the danger of financial losses from which we could not recover. Some of these losses are associated with, Fire, Water, Explosions, Windstorms, Earthquakes, Civil unrest, Hail storms, Automobile crashes, Burglaries, Thefts, Robberies, Fraud, Identity thefts, Bad Title on real estate transactions, employees sustaining Personal Injuries on the job, Non-employees getting injured at a work place, Marine and various other hazards. The list of dangers continues to grow with each culture and creates a perceived need for insurance.
The concept of insurance is made possible by others sharing in whatever risks the insured person or entity is concerned about. If a young man just starting out in adult life with his wife and children became concerned with his mortality, he might take stock of how much money his family would need if he suddenly died. For discussion purposes, let's just say that he came up with a figure of $100,000. He could ask nine of his friends to put up $10,000 each, and he would put in $10,000 and they would agree to leave the money on deposit to be paid to his survivors in the case of his death. He would agree with his investors to repay them from the earnings of the fund. If he had a million friends, then the payments into the security fund would not have to be so great. That is why it is called risk sharing. Enter the insurance companies who are the ones sharing the risk through the concept of the insurance premium. Calculation of the premium is done by mathematicians who study all these hazards and determine the amount of money that the company must hold in reserve in order to be able to pay out the possible demands of the policy holders.
Not every person in society seems to be concerned about the hazards they face each day. In some cases they know there are great dangers from jumping off a perfectly good boat into the water where there are sharks, sting-rays and other dangers. They know that it is necessary to get down into the water even with the risks involved in order to pull up a bag of clams that will help pay bills and feed the family. No pain, no gain as some wise sages keep repeating.
If you honestly pause and take inventory of what is most important in your life at this time, what do you think poses danger for the greatest loss? Unless you are one of those few people who believe that something actually came from nothing and that when you die you will never wake up again