Politics: Screw ObamaCare: Why I'm leaning toward remaining uninsured (and many of you should do the same)
Published by: Dan Calabrese on Tuesday September 17th, 2013
And maybe I'll refuse to pay the fine/tax and tell Chief Justice Roberts: "Make me."
Yeah, I know you're not really that interested in our personal lives, but I thought it might be worth sharing a little something today. One of the complaints of Democrats is that ObamaCare opponents are irresponsibly encouraging people not to sign up for the ObamaCare exchanges, thus misleading folks into missing out on the wonderful benefits they can enjoy under the law.
I want to share with you why, at least for me, it is probably a more rational choice not to become insured.
First, just so some of you don't start talking nonsense, Herman Cain does insure his employees. I am an independent contractor by choice, and I am uninsured by choice because it's a rational economic decision. Let me explain.
Our family consists of me, my wife and our 13-year-old son. All of us are healthy and we do not consume a lot of health care services. We could purchase the type of family coverage that a lot of people typically get through their employers, but coverage that comprehensive would cost us at least $400 a month, which means we would almost certainly pay close to $5,000 a year for a third party to pay our medical bills. Simply paying out of pocket, we spent less than $2,000 over the course of the past year. Why would I want to spend an additional $3,000 for nothing?
Not only that, but our life is simpler and more pleasant when we simply pay the bills ourselves. We do not have to submit claims. We do not have to explain anything. We do not have to tell anyone about our sex life. On the rare occasion when we consume health care services, we go, we get billed, we pay the bill. Simple. In fact, the only real complication is an entertaining one for us, as we watch health care administrative staff go into a near meltdown trying to figure out what to do when someone wants to pay cash for a service.
Oh, that reminds me: When they find out you're uninsured, they usually give you a discount. Ha. I'm saving $3,000 a year not paying a bunch of insurance company bureaucrats to write a check on my behalf, and they think I need a discount. That rules.
A lot of people think health insurance means "peace of mind." I disagree. Peace of mind for us means we will never have to wonder if a particular service is covered, because everything is "covered" when you pay the bills yourself. Here's a great example: For some years my wife has had a non-malignant cyst, but for a variety of reasons it's a tricky procedure for her skin doctor, who recommended that she just leave it. But she didn't want to just leave it. She found a plastic surgeon who could remove it, but if we were relying on insurance, there's no doubt we would have had a difficult time getting the insurance to cover the procedure given the recommendation of the skin doctor.
But we're not. So she went for the procedure and we paid the bill.
Now at this point, some of you are screaming at me, "Oh sure! You can afford it!" Let me repeat: Health insurance would be costing us $5,000 a year. As it is, we spend less than $2,000 paying out of pocket. Dude. This is why we can afford it. Because we're not wasting our money on an insurance policy.
So there's no doubt in my mind that one of these "Cadillac" health insurance policies that pay first-dollar for all kinds of things would be a financial loser for us. There is still the question, however, of what happens if we experience a catastrophic health situation. Yes, that can happen, and for that reason we've been looking into a high deductible coverage, and by high-deductible I mean like $27,000 a year. An analysis of the performance of my business tells me we could absorb a hit that large, and the premium for the high-deductible coverage is less than $200 a month. Insurance is supposed to protect you against risk, not pay every bill you incur, so that starts to make a little bit more sense.
But thanks to government policy, I'm not sure that's a rational decision either. First, we live in Michigan, where the state's mandatory no-fault auto insurance includes unlimited lifetime benefits if you are injured in an auto accident. So if the catastrophic situation were to occur in that manner, we're already covered. Of course, it could happen in other ways. I could fall off my bike. A tree branch could fall on me. I could get cancer. Stuff could happen. But since ObamaCare bans insurance companies from denying you coverage in the event of a pre-existing condition, why get the coverage now? If something happens, I can always just front the first $27,000 and get the high-deductible coverage for whatever comes after that. They can't deny me, right?
The tax penalty for not buying insurance is $750 a year. Assuming I don't become a test case to take to the Supreme Court, that's still a lot more affordable than a year's worth of health insurance premiums.
For me - because everyone in my family is healthy at the moment - it costs far less to pay out of pocket than to buy insurance. And if someone gets sick, ObamaCare says they can't deny us coverage as a result of a pre-existing condition. Why would we buy? It makes no sense. And for many of you, the same will be true.
Now I understand that the system as designed under ObamaCare needs people like me to buy insurance precisely because I will spend more on insurance than I would consume in services, and that means my dollars are subsidizing someone else's care. They made it mandatory because they knew people like me would have no incentive to buy if they didn't. But avoiding the $750 tax penalty is not enough of an incentive to get me to pay $5,000 for something I'm getting now for less than $2,000.
Many ObamaCare apologists derisively refer to people who don't see the need for health insurance as "young invincibles." The idea is that these naive young people think nothing will ever happen to them, and they don't appreciate what a wonderful thing health insurance will be for them.
Well. I am not exactly young. (I'm 46.) And I'm under no illusions about the potential for something to happen to me or a member of my family. I've simply done a rational, fact-based analysis of my options and I've concluded that under every scenario, I am better off not buying health insurance than I am buying it.
So I'm not going to help ObamaCare by paying far more money into the system than I can ever hope to get back in benefits. No thank you. I will just keep paying my own bills. So the next time Democrats yelp that it's wrong to encourage people not to sign up for the ObamaCare exchanges, I say: It's wrong to tell everyone they're better off with health insurance. A lot of people are better off not signing up. If you're one, like I am, I encourage you not to sign up. It's not your responsibility to fork over thousands of your own dollars to turn this ill-conceived boondoggle into a success.
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