Today's Paper Search Latest stories Legislature Newsletters Drivetime Mahatma Most commented Obits Traffic Weather Puzzles + Games

Heard about the radical new health care plan that allows subscribers to pay only for the care they receive? I hadn't either until reading a wire service story about health-care startup company Bind Benefits.

While not a health insurance company, per se, Bind is one of the latest attempts to reform and reduce health-care insurance costs. In one way choosing one's care based on need makes as much sense as purchasing individual items from an ample brunch buffet rather than forking over $30 for the whole shebang, most of which you wouldn't eat.

My understanding of this revolutionary approach, which is drawing scrutiny from some major health-care providers such as my own, United Healthcare, customers pay a monthly premium that runs about 40 percent less than plans offered by their employer. In return, they receive routine treatment such as doctor's visits, prescriptions, maternity and cancer care and hospital stays.

They also would have an opportunity to purchase additional coverage of more specialized care such as a hip or joint replacement. This would provide time to save and plan for such elective procedures.

Associated Press health writer Tom Murphy said the optional added premium might also contain a copay, which in some instances (depending on the procedure) could run more than $1,000 in additional costs.

Bind's website explains what expenses are covered and what they might expect to pay, which can vary with Bind's rating for the quality of a provider and how efficiently it dispenses care.

Murphy writes that the concept of health insurance on demand has interested employers who are "hungry for a fresh way to tame expenses."

He cites the Cumberland, Wis., school superintendent who selected Bind after trying several health plans in recent years. Considering about two-thirds of his employees use no more than $500 annually, Barry Rose saw no reason to charge them sizable premiums for health care they didn't use.

"We have quality health care. If people need it, great. If they don't, at least we are not soaking them for it," Rose told Murphy.

I'm betting lots of employers are grateful for any fresh and innovative ideas when it comes to containing the absurdly rising costs of trying to remain well and healthy.

Hungry brains

No wonder I get headaches. Of all human organs, our brain consumes the most, gobbling up roughly one fifth of the calories we consume as adults and even more in children's developing brains. It's reported to utilize up to 20 percent of the overall energy produced in our bodies, although the organ within our skulls accounts for just 2 percent of a body's weight.

I learn something every day. But this one was a bit of a shocker for my half-pound brain to absorb, especially considering how many beats our relentlessly beating hearts expend daily.

A record crowd

Readers know one of my favorite pastimes is climbing behind the wheel and heading a half-hour north to the internationally admired Silver Dollar City near Branson. Call me a kid at heart, but there's something that hearkens to my youthful sense of wonder within the confines of this 100-acre escape into history, enjoyment and simpler times.

So I'm always sorry to see it close from New Year's Day until mid-March when the gates will reopen to who knows how many guests over 2019.

Obviously I'm not alone, judging from the scores of thousands from Arkansas who visit each year. The theme park's most recent $26 million investment in the world's fastest and tallest spinning coaster, Time Traveler, along with its other attractions, shows, and food, definitely has proven a winning formula for the 1880s-style theme park, which the administration says attracted right at 2.2 million visitors last year, the largest attendance in its 58 years.

Theme Park President of Attractions Brad Thomas, in a press release, attributed part of the record crowd to transforming and expanding the park into the "An Old Time Christmas" event that won the top spot in the USA Today/10 Best poll for Best Theme Park Holiday Event. He said that marked the festival's third straight win.

The coming spring season will add even more creative attractions to the existing ones. They'll include an original production called "Rueben's Swashbuckling Adventure" and the extended fall evening experience, "Pumpkin Nights."

My best advice, fellow Arkansans, is to choose any day other than the Friday after Thanksgiving, which historically is the park's busiest day of the year when the park can run plum out of its billion or so paved parking spaces. We girded our loins anyway on Black Friday, searched in vain, and wound up in a clearing along the park's adjacent highway. Even that little area was crowded but we somehow wedged in.

Oh, and by the way, the least busy times of day are before noon and after 3 p.m.


Mike Masterson is a longtime Arkansas journalist. Email him at

Editorial on 01/08/2019

Print Headline: MIKE MASTERSON: A new direction

Sponsor Content


You must be signed in to post comments
  • BoudinMan
    January 8, 2019 at 5:21 p.m.

    MM, I'm still waiting for your column on the GOP voter fraud in North Carolina. Voter fraud. You know. The issue you care so deeply about. Or does it not matter to you when a member of the repugnant party does it?