Minority Opinions

Not everyone can be mainstream, after all.

Eschewing Health Insurance

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One of my cousins was caught up in the tea party movement before reaching legal voting age.  This came to my attention mostly in the form of dangerously ignorant Facebook posts.  Among other things, there was something to the effect of, “But if I don’t want health insurance, I shouldn’t have to have it.”  Congratulations, you’ve demonstrated exactly why ObamaCare included a provision to extend the age range for coverage of children; far too many would otherwise lack it during a critical phase of life.

For some reason, that post has stuck with me.  Perhaps it’s that I didn’t get around to responding before it left my feed.  In any case, it made me realize that there are several reasons to not want health insurance, most of them bad:

  • You’re rich enough to cover the costs from savings.

    In this case, your personal lawyer can draw up the necessary paperwork for you. What, no personal lawyer? Then you’re not rich enough. This counts as the legitimately good reason to not sign up for an insurance plan, assuming you’ve talked over the pro’s and con’s with your CPA.

  • You’re poor enough that food is more important.

    I’ll personally forgive you for this one if you’re living on two or three minimum-wage incomes with little or no prospect of something better. Many jobs simply don’t pay what they’re worth to society, driven to low wages by a simple surplus of available workers. On the other hand, if you play video games all day, then you might deserve to get turned away by an emergency room.

  • You’re ignorant enough to not know how to get it.

    Perhaps you don’t even know that you need it. This probably indicates a serious flaw in the education system, which sadly leaves certain segments of the population underprepared for life. For that matter, I’m not sure how much I knew about insurance by the end of high school, and that was at the very best school in the state.

  • You’re stupid enough to believe you won’t need it.

    The ultimate irony here is that such people are also more inclined than average to do stupidly dangerous stunts like driving twice the speed limit late at night. If they were simply killing themselves, I wouldn’t have a problem with such an attitude, but they tend to harm innocent bystanders, cause emergency room visits, and require search parties or investigators. Health insurance would at least take some of the cost out of their pocketbook instead of mine.

  • You’re arrogant enough to not care about freeloading.

    Humans are hardwired with tendencies toward entitlement issues. We feel like we deserve more than we would be willing to give someone else in exactly the same situation. One of the very reasons for government is to mitigate this, at least to some extent. That it’s less than perfectly stellar at that can be in part attributed to the inability to objectively measure freeloading in a way that does less harm than good.  On the other hand, I once knew a couple asking for help meeting fertility clinic bills because they had neither insurance nor decent income; I still wonder how on Earth they thought a baby would improve their lives.

I’m fortunate to have not had a medical emergency without health insurance to cover it, but periods of my life could easily have gone very wrong with one or two bad decisions.  I keep hearing that medical bills are the #1 cause of bankruptcy, and might sometime get around to looking up a real source for that, but it sounds reasonable; not only can they rack up incredibly quickly in an emergency, but they tend to be associated with events that cause you to miss work.  They can’t really be planned for, so you don’t know how much to set aside.

Health insurance alleviates that.  Even with a very high deductible, if your plan covers everything beyond a certain point, you can save enough to meet that obligation, and set aside enough for your premium.  Is there any other way to ensure that a single fall or early cancer won’t destroy the rest of your life?

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Written by eswald

8 May 2012 at 9:50 pm

Posted in Lifestyle, Politics

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