Zan * and the art of motorcycle insurance | Steven greenberg


I have driven this sexy machine (“sexy” in the old man’s sense of the term, never heard of fuel injection) almost every day for 15 years. Rain or shine, night or day, on some of the most congested roads in the country, it was my primary mode of transportation.

It was risky behavior, there is no doubt about it. And because the likelihood of being run over was much greater than that of Volvo owners who I often left in my dust, I paid a steep premium on my compulsory insurance (“bituah hova” in Hebrew – insurance against personal vehicle accidents mandated by the Israeli government). How heavy? Almost FIVE TIMES more than even the smallest automobile.

It’s a simple actuarial reality: a higher risk equals a higher premium. We all accept it tacitly, and we all pay for it. Motorcyclists pay higher insurance premiums, as do smokers, climbers and parachutists. These higher rates do not prevent people from engaging in risky behaviors, but they do force them to bear their fair share of the potential cost to society. No one complains.

What does this have to do with COVID?

Emmanuel Macron’s recent tirade against the unvaccinated, which echoes similar sentiments from our own prime minister, is government helplessness embodied. Frustrated by the ineffectiveness of their vaccine policies, they seem to be trying a “more of the same, but with a bit of vitriol” approach.

In terms of parenting, the current approach to increasing immunization rates is like trying to get your teenager to clean their room by relentlessly calling them a redneck. It doesn’t work (trust me, I tried). But do you know what works? Make her pay for cleaning services.

Nothing like a free lunch (or health care)

Why are governments really so revolted against vaccination? It is not a principle. This is because it is incredibly expensive to build and maintain the health care infrastructure needed to take care of the “pandemic of unvaccinated“which plagues us now. It is not impossible to add the capacity to care for the large part of the population who will potentially need it because they have chosen to forgo vaccination – it is just very expensive.

So why do we always give the unvaccinated a free ride?

In Israel, we pay a hefty national health insurance tax – just over 3% on the first about NIS 6,000 of income and 5% on top income, up to a cap. This, in addition to our already heavy overall tax burden, compared to other OECD countries. Add to that the private health insurance that a lot of us have, and it’s a big change every month, by any standards.

Rather than publicly vilifying those who have chosen the obviously risky behavior of not vaccinating themselves and their children, let’s just accept it. Of course, like any other risky behavior, their behavior comes at a price. So, from tomorrow, double the health tax for people eligible for vaccination, but who choose not to be vaccinated. Or triple it. Encourage private insurance companies to follow suit, including those that offer travel insurance. Use the revenue generated to fund the temporary medical facilities needed to accommodate additional COVID patients and to fund the long-term care they potentially need.

As I wrote before, meanness is not an effective policy. In government as in parenthood, coercion must be intelligent and, above all, impartial. Stop wasting time and deepening societal divisions by hating and humiliating the unvaccinated, and just make them pay their fair share.

Steven Greenberg is an award-winning novelist (see https://amzn.to/3oJLA8g), professional writer (see http://sdg.co.il) and a full-time cook, cleaner, driver and single dad for three extraordinary children (see his pan hands). Born in Texas, Steven grew up in Indiana and emigrated to Israel just months before the first Gulf War in 1990. He is a former Israel Defense Forces combat medic who never learned well. salute despite his rank of sergeant. And he’s a career marketer, who has been running a local marketing store since 2002.


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