Most health insurance payments to providers are for routine services that, strictly speaking, are not insurable events. The real purpose of insurance is to protect you against sudden, unexpected, unaffordable events, for instance, a heart attack or cancer diagnosis. Yet that’s not how most of us use our health insurance these days. We use it to pay regular, predictable expenses such as office visits, diagnostic tests, dental cleanings and eye exams.
Giving up conventional insurance that covers all these routine expenses, however, still leaves people exposed to the risk of unanticipated catastrophe, the expense of which can sometimes force people into bankruptcy.
For me, the main medical risk is being hit by a bus or cab, or falling off my bike. But even if I bought a policy, there are no guarantees that the insurance company would pay, that it wouldn’t try to weasel out of the obligation.
The industry’s continued use of rescissions to evade bills that companies don’t wish to honor eviscerates the value of health insurance. To a person like me, who is on the margin, rescissions are the deciding factor between purchasing and not purchasing insurance.
As I indicated earlier, I believe in insurance. Honestly, it is foolhardy for a middle-class person to go without it. Yet as long as the insurers can use medical underwriting to exclude poor risks and redline preexisting conditions – sometimes retroactively – insurance isn’t worth what we’re being asked to pay.
I’m looking forward to the day when all of us will qualify for good medical insurance at reasonable prices, with a firm regulatory hand behind it. If we all have to pay into the system in order to make health reform work, so be it. I’ll gladly pay if I’m assured of getting the services I contracted for.
In October, I’ll hit 12 months without insurance, and I will have saved about $6,000 that otherwise would have padded the profits of the insurance companies.
Eventually, I will have some serious medical expenses, and I’ll use these savings to pay them.