Why I say no to health insurance

Journalist Duncan Moore.

TEXT OF COMMENTARY

Duncan Moore: I'm the kind of guy who believes in insurance for everything. So when the COBRA extension on my health insurance ran out, I assumed I would shop around and find an individual policy.

Bob Moon: Freelance writer and journalist Duncan Moore decided to voluntarily join the ranks of people in this country living without health insurance. Here's why:


Moore: The prospect of paying $600 a month in premiums got me thinking real hard. I rarely go to the doctor. I don't smoke, don't drink too much and don't use illegal drugs. I'm 53, single, with no dependents and good mental health.

If I were going to get a chronic disease, like diabetes or high blood pressure or asthma, I'd have it by now. I exercise a lot and eat right. I don't play contact sports, and I don't roller blade. I'm probably not going to break my arm or sprain my ankle. My folks, by the way, are 82 and 80, and they're going strong. So as of this week, I have been one full year without health insurance coverage. No premiums, no co-pays, no deductibles, no incomprehensible statements in the mail. Just pay as you go.

With health insurance, I would've paid at least $6,000 in premiums, plus, any deductibles and co-pays. As it stands, my total personal outlay for medical care in the past 12 months, $175. I went to the doctor for a check up and told him I didn't have insurance. He trimmed the office visit fee from $100 down to $65. And he cut the fee for the blood and urine tests from $195 down to a $110. That's a pretty good deal.

But you're probably thinking, "Wait a minute, what about the risk of major illness, like cancer? What if I get hit by a bus? What if I'm unlucky?" Well, I have about $50,000 in savings that I'm ready to pay out, if I need to. Beyond that, I'm definitely taking a risk.

But let's face it, even with insurance, there's risk. Insurers don't always live up to their promises. If you have heart surgery or a cancer diagnosis, the insurance company can pore through your medical records and find some little niggling hang nail in your history. Then they declare that you actually had a pre-existing condition, and they're not going to pay. They get away with whatever they can.

To be honest, I shouldn't be allowed to do what I'm doing. Everybody should be in the pool for health insurance. But if the insurers have the freedom to deny claims after the fact, then I'm glad I have the freedom not to buy what they're selling. It's not a freedom I want, however. I'd rather have good guaranteed health insurance with no pre-existing condition exclusions that I can afford.

Until then, I'm on my own.

Moon: Duncan Moore is a writer and journalist living in Chicago.

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