And he can afford it – it’s not about the monthly cost. It’s about the fact that even if you have insurance, they don’t necessarily cover much of anything, especially with private insurance. (He is self-employed.) Since he was 22 years old, he has gone without health insurance, choosing instead to lead a VERY healthy lifestyle, a monthly visit to the chiropractor for his back, and using a lot of natural medicine and healing techniques on himself. He is fit, doesn’t eat any junk or man-made food, only drinks water and tea, and exercises daily. Once a year or so he pays to go to a doctor for a physical and a few blood tests – that’s it. Otherwise, he never goes to a Western doctor for anything and he heads down to Mexico for any dental work he needs. (Which MANY Americans due because of the cost here in the States) Is he crazy or is he doing the smarter thing than the rest of us who don’t get subsidized insurance through their employer?
If I had to choose again between paying for private insurance or going without, I would go without. That is, if I could even get it again after having cancer – considered a pre-existing condition.
For several years after I quit my corporate gig, I paid for private health insurance through BCBS. It was nearly $400 a month just in premium payments – and in 2008 alone I ended up spending $14,296 of my own money on health care. That was WITH health insurance. It’s not that the tests were really that much more money than that and that if I didn’t have insurance I would have owed more – it’s that the insurance didn’t cover A, B, or C tests. So much for insurance coming to the rescue. I do remember my corporate group insurance being better, and my wife’s plan at her work is also better, but private insurance just does not cover individuals to the same extent as group plans. Even after paying that premium for years, it really didn’t help when it came time to actually use the insurance I had been paying for. And thus, if I am ever in that situation again, I will go without. I will start an HSA and just put a few hundred in it every month, and get some medical coverage on my automobile policy just in case. After all, if private insurance isn’t going to pay for the care I might need some day, why continue to pay the monthly premiums?
As I mentioned in the title of this article, my neighbor has gone without insurance for 30 years. If his monthly premium for private insurance had been around $300 a month (let’s keep it at that figure for simplicity sake and to account for inflation), insurance would have cost him $300 X 12 X 30 = $108,000 over the last 30 years. That’s a lot of dough to shell out for not a lot of coverage. And unlike most people, especially in America, he takes incredible care of himself. And sure, an accident could still befall him at any time. But private insurance isn’t likely to pay much of his bill anyway if he did have one, so he took his chances on not sending them hundreds of dollars every month.
photo credit: photomequickbooth
So, this leads me to my question – what do you guys think about this? Plenty of people cannot afford health insurance still end up going to the doctor and owing thousands upon thousands of dollars. Some people, like my neighbor, choose to go without insurance and would also owe thousands if he did get sick or had an accident. And people like me can afford it and did pay for it, but also end up owing thousands. So…what do you think?
Reform is needed in this country, no doubt about it. I am not sure of the best way, but something needs to give. Doctors are going out of business or into private doctor-run plans because they aren’t getting paid what they should be insurance companies. Insurance companies are canceling policies of the insured, sometimes without a reason, and giving out bonuses to employees who reject claims. And hospitals are barely breaking even because of underpayment by insurance companies and the influx of the uninsured into their emergency rooms. Something needs to give, and I am betting it will be a public option of some sort by the time we are through. Personally I welcome the concept, as long as people still have a choice as to which company they want to pay and what doctor they see. Affordable health care really shouldn’t be a privilege; it should be a basic human right.