“Earthquake insurance is something I’m keen to take a whack at… collect premiums for a gazillion years, and if the big one ever does hit, declare bankruptcy and retire.”— Woody Harrelson as Hank Gordon in “Doc Hollywood”
Filmed near Micanopy, Fla., “Doc Hollywood” stars Michael J. Fox as Ben Stone, a young plastic surgeon who wrecks his Porsche in Grady, S.C., en route to an interview for a lucrative position in California. At fault in the accident, Ben is sentenced to serve 30 days as a resident general practitioner at Grady’s hospital.
Dr. Stone falls in love with an ambulance driver named Lou (short for ‘Vialula’); strolls about town with a pet pig on a leash; reads letters from relatives to illiterate patients; saves the life of the town’s venerable and singular physician, Aurelius Hogue; and dances at the annual Grady Squash Festival. Ben eventually arrives in California, but pines for the pleasures of small town life in Grady — and returns to woo Lou, the ambulance driver.
Lou’s affections are divided between insurance salesman Hank Gordon (Woody Harrelson) and “Doc Hollywood.” Harrelson’s above quoted line is intended to amuse, but for those of us in South Walton reeling with the rising cost of property insurance, it’s no laughing matter. Like Harrelson’s mythical earthquake insurance agency, large companies indeed collected premiums from northwest Floridians for decades. When storms actually struck and companies were required to pay justified claims, many companies very quickly stopped offering coverage.
Additionally, corralling surging medical insurance premiums is vital if we are to maintain a sustainable middle class, one that contributes to Social Security, Medicare and GDP. Medical premiums have increased by 60 percent in the last two years for many South Walton residents, whether they’ve experienced serious illness or not. A middle class that cannot afford health care insurance is not the America most of us envision.
Businesses are reeling with prohibitive insurance costs. Many firms incur costs for liability insurance, wind and flood insurance, errors and omissions insurance, key man life insurance, life and work disability insurance, business interruption insurance, group health care plans, and an assortment of other coverages.
For non-business owners, life insurance and long-term care insurance are staples for many consumers/investors. And few of us wish to risk going without health care insurance. The U.S. has the distinction of spending the highest amount on health care among the world’s industrialized countries, about 16 percent of GDP. The remarkable rise in private insurance premiums is but one contributing factor. Every industry has the right to make a profit, but at what price?
One way to recoup some of those ever-increasing co-pay dollars, based on your investment objectives, may be to invest in health care plan providers, medical device manufacturers and biotech companies.
Margaret R. McDowell, ChFC, AIF, a syndicated economic columnist, chartered financial consultant and accredited investment fiduciary, is the founder of Arbor Wealth Management, LLC, (850-608-6121 — www.arborwealth.net), a fee-only registered investment advisory firm located near Sandestin.