Thursday, April 5, 2007


New York Magazine article "The Young Invincibles: A Generation Uninsured" discusses the way uninsured 20-30 year olds in New York deal with health risks (link and commentary from Concurring Opinions.)

The article is interesting study of people who do not participate in the most common health risk management strategy: insurance. Unable to afford it, or "rationally" choosing to be uninsured, they have created their own strategies to minimize exposure. Curtailing snowboarding activities (only the half pipe), daily brushing, and yoga are balanced with careers as bike messengers and retailers. There is a wide range of risk appetites: the bike messenger who feels that "helmets are cumbersome," and artist who eschews bicycling completely. Maintenance and prevention are expensive or inconvenient, so the Invincible's focus is on the severe or catastrophic cases.

Are there corporations out there that believe themselves to be "invincible"? Is this the sort of attitude that prevents real security from becoming embedded into a corporate culture? No doubt possible. Also likely is the false sense of security associated with "compliance" as a risk mitigation technique. SOX is like a bicyclist's helmet ("too cumbersome"). PCI is like brushing your teeth every day. No one condemns daily brushing, but it won't help when you get a kick in the teeth.

(I recall my own period of "invincibility." Working without insurance as a deckhand on a towboat on the Ohio, Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers, I didn't see the dangers of hopping from barge to coal soot covered barge, lugging 90-lb ratchets and wire, all risk mitigated by my Redwings and a bump hat. Not until a near death experience while epoxying the inside of a fresh water tank did I think "Hey, what if I get crushed? What if my brain is actually damaged, and no one will ever get my jokes?" Then I sought less perilous employment. With a health and dental plan. So I found my way to the Guild of the Green Eyeshade.)

Men's 8-inch work boot with metatarsal guard courtesy Redwing.

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