Atlanta, GA – Maybe we’ve been doing healthcare insurance all wrong. At least that’s what is implied by a new concept created by Dr. Ned Armstrong, a surgeon in suburban Atlanta. Called the Healthcare Investment Plan or “HIP”, Armstrong’s idea is for patients to make money on healthcare insurance rather than spend it.
“I kept hearing the same story. Several of my patients are small business owners and the cost of keeping healthcare insurance as part of their benefit package was getting unmanageable,” Armstrong said. “I could understand. Our practice is a small business and we were having the same problem. Nobody, not politicians, not insurance companies, nobody seemed close to a solution to spiraling insurance costs. Nothing seemed to be changing except higher premiums.”
Out of frustration for both his patients and himself,Armstrong, on the front line as a provider of healthcare for decades, wanted to do something about it. He went back to the fundamentals of the business of healthcare insurance. His years’-long study led to a number of questions. Who decided that healthcare insurance be an expense, a liability? Why not make itan asset? Why not make it possible to invest in the very companies that provide healthcare insurance? Why not create a type of hybrid stock that would be a combination of medical coverage and equity in the company?
He carried it a step further. If healthcare insurance became an asset for a small business, healthcare dollars could bring returns to pay premiums, to distribute to employees, to reinvest in the company’s working capital. “HIP is truly an investment in healthcare. I believe when the insurance consumer turns into an insurance shareholder, companies will focus on expanding coverage to encourage more investment,” Armstrong explained. “For example, insurance companies would include pre-existing condition coverage to make its product more appealing,” he said.Currently HIP is a concept that Armstrong hopes an insurance company or government entity will seriously consider studying.