Back to the Future – Health Insurance In Tucson

By Dick Demeree

One of my favorite TV programs was Bill and Ted excellent adventure and Back to the Future. I think that was sometime in the late 1980’s, but, at any rate, the program would take a historical event and by interfering with that in some way, would cause the future to turn up much differently by altering the past. Now I know this was not the plot of these movies, but it’s what I took from them in regards to the insurance industry. Before I go too far back to the future, if you would like more information about insurance in Arizona? Visit

Back to the future! If some wary time traveler would have zipped along in their time traveling booth or DeLorean and landed on some government regulators would-be father and change the course of history. Certainly current times’ health insurance has to be on most of your minds. It doesn’t make a difference which side of the political fence you’re on, it’s going to affect your family one way or another. Easily how words can be misconstrued and presented over and over again to that point, it must be true. The word “New” is always used to imply “Better.” Representing the new is always better than the old. Many times it turns out the old ideas were spot on. The word, “BIGGER”, is always presented as “BETTER”. Being a large person, I can tell you that getting under the tight kitchen sink, smaller is the greater vantage. You maybe imagining the variety of different ways this may apply, certainly in the political world.

The arguments over Obama care and federal penalties imposed upon anyone whom disagrees and refuses to participate. This is going a little into the future, so I’m going to back up a bit… I was a health insurance agent back in the 1960’s. I started out being a consumer of health insurance and also the insurance agent. Back in the in the 1960’s Tucson was a very small town, probably in the neighborhood around 200,000 people or so, in most businesses were very small family owned. Of course the exceptions were the large businesses such as the telephone company, University of Arizona, Davis Monthan Air Force Base and Howard Hughes aircraft industry. The most common sale of health insurance at the time was, individual major medical policies, written in large numbers by insurance carriers.

The sales of group insurance was mainly found in the large employers, but some carriers were beginning to offering small group coverage, such as family owned businesses, that gave them the ability to insure their families and employees. Of course, obvious benefits to having health insurance at that time, but it did not answer all the risks of the consumers. An individual with a high deductible major medical policy could leave you with a bill that would really cut into your budget. Back then, the doctors were willing to work with payments over time. Institutional organizations such as hospitals also were more understanding eventhough they would put a lot more pressure on you to pay your medical bill’s in a shorter period of time. They would at least, allow you to spread it out over a period of time, as long as you were making a good faith payment monthly. As for health insurance provided by your employer, you had the advantage of the employer paying totally for the employee’s family plan, but the employer had the options of which carrier they would select and what benefits they would offer.

The 1960’s were government’s first big move into the health insurance industry. They established  Medicare for the elderly and Medicaid for the poor. There was a federal program that predates Medicare. Kerr-Mills legislation, which provided federal funding to the states, was to provide medical care for the elderly. It never really took off the way they had planned with fewer than 270,000 enrollees. Before these programs, the uninsured had few options. They had to get the money from family member, tap into their savings, and seek welfare and the social stigma that was associated with that. Health care bills were more affordable back then. We didn’t have all these tests that cost thousands of dollars either. It didn’t cost much to lie in a hospital bed when you were sick or dying. I remember my parents and grandparents where extremely upset when the government got involved with the healthcare in history. Back then, people didn’t believe in a hand out. You paid your own bills. Their fear was that it would raise their own cost for insurance and healthcare bills.

Their fears were eventually justified because that is exactly what happened. Medicaid contributed to the majority of rising costs. History tends to repeat itself. This is true for insurance industry, anytime there in government intervention once sense or another.


  1. the problem with healthcare is the government – the prices are no longer reflect the value the item being purchased – each entity wants a discount from the ‘regular price’ in fact they demand it, to the point that the regular price is no longer the regular price – none the less there are those charged the regular price since it has to be charged to someone to be regular, those are the uninsured, those are the victims of relentless collection agencies, those are the ‘leftovers’ so that regular price can be regular price that ‘few pay’. And that’s the game, the rest is a discount game, the government set’s its price as the regular price minus “X” percent, or the go right for the ‘low bidding war’ game, the insurances then want the Medicare price minus a discount for them demanded, and so the pecking order goes. What’s the price – call them and ask… it’s a fun exercise. Some just won’t say, others won’t sell at that price, or won’t sell at all. And that’s the problem with healthcare. No one knows how much it cost, most don’t care cus it’s ‘free’ meaning someone else pays for theirs – but oh there’s a huge price all the ‘actual payers’ are paying that simply does not reflect the value of the product. That’s how you get a $20.00 toothbrush…

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