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Gibson writes: "So why am I paying the $300 penalty? Through healthcare.gov, I found that as a single 26 year-old male living in Dane County, Wisconsin, who expects to make somewhere around $30,000 next year, the most affordable health insurance package for me comes with a deductible anywhere from $2,000 to $5,000. That's roughly 15 percent of my income that comes out of pocket before my health insurance even kicks in."

Obamacare has a big hurdle with young people. (photo: David McNew/Getty Images)
Obamacare has a big hurdle with young people. (photo: David McNew/Getty Images)


Why I'm Choosing to Pay $300 to Stay Uninsured

By Carl Gibson, Reader Supported News

24 December 13

 

ould you pay $5 to save $1? I didn't ace Math in school, but I do at least know that a Lincoln is worth more than a Washington. If you were presented with this deal in a store, to buy a $5 item to get $1 off another, most people don't see that as a deal. Now, multiply those numbers by a thousand, and you may start to understand why the "young invincibles" of America aren't participating in the healthcare exchanges.

Two days before Christmas was the last day for people to enroll in the health insurance programs on healthcare.gov to be ready by January 1st. We're all supposed to enroll by March of 2014 to not be penalized $300 for being uninsured. But for me, $300 is much cheaper than the alternatives. I'm a 26-year-old man who eats his veggies and exercises daily. I don't get flu shots, and haven't gotten the flu since I was in middle school (knock on wood). I also meditate daily. As a result, the sickest I ever get is a sniffle here and there. I was 15 years old the last time I got an annual physical exam, and am no worse for wear now than I was 11 years ago.

So why am I paying the $300 penalty? Through healthcare.gov, I found that as a single 26 year-old male living in Dane County, Wisconsin, who expects to make somewhere around $30,000 next year, the most affordable health insurance package for me comes with a deductible anywhere from $2,000 to $5,000. That's roughly 15 percent of my income that comes out of pocket before my health insurance even kicks in. This "affordable care" would cost me about $150 a month, and I'm having a hard enough time even putting away $100 a month into my savings account when you take rent, a car loan, groceries, gas, heat, and phone bills into account. And unlike most people my age, I was privileged enough to attend college without having to take out student loans, so I'm a lot better off financially than most of my peers.

The biggest healthcare cost of my life was $6,000 in surgery back in Fall of 2011, when I broke my elbow in two places. I was uninsured, so the cost of that procedure came out of pocket. Parents and elderly friends gave me plenty of shit for not having health insurance, saying I could have saved myself a lot of money by being insured. However, if I'd had the health insurance package I mentioned above, $5,000 of that surgery would still have to be paid for out of my own pocket. Sure, I'd save $1,000 in the end, but I'd have to pay $5,000 to do it.

I didn't suffer any other catastrophic accidents until January of 2013, when I was run off the road while riding a bike in Florida and fractured my right arm. Since I was uninsured, the emergency care clinic down the road from my accident wouldn't even see me, so I had to drive myself to an emergency room at a hospital close to Immokalee. The total cost of a doctor X-raying my arm and wrapping it up in a bandage and a sling was in the neighborhood of $2,500.

Even if I'd had the health insurance plan I mentioned above back when the accident happened, that entire cost would have still come out of my own pocket. And since I didn't see the doctor for the rest of the year or hurt myself bad enough to go to a hospital, I wouldn't have even paid my whole deductible before my health insurance kicked in. I would've just paid $150 a month for the remainder of the year, an $1800 blow to my already strained finances - for nothing.

The administration is really hoping that people my age will sign up for health insurance on healthcare.gov. But only 29 percent of people my age say they'll be signing up. The whole premise of the individual mandate is that when everyone signs up for health insurance, the risk pool becomes healthier as a result, and health insurance becomes less costly for everyone. However, it's been found that young healthy people not participating would have a very minimal effect on health insurance costs, so our non-participation isn't the end of the world.

And given situations like mine, why the hell would any young person, in this tenuous economy, want to pay upwards of $1800 in premiums on top of a $2,000 to $5,000 deductible for healthcare costs that may or may not even occur? Does it make more fiscal sense to pay $3800 to $6800 a year to have health insurance and see a doctor when shit happens, or to pay $300 to be uninsured and hope for the best?

This is precisely the problem with the American healthcare system, and with our worthless representatives in Congress. No other developed country makes its citizens endure so much financial strain just to have access to a doctor when they're hurt or sick. I personally wouldn't mind paying a few percentage points more in taxes each year so I can see the doctor without worrying about which bill I'll have to not pay in order to do it. And judging by the debacle of a giant taxpayer-funded subsidy to the private health insurance companies known as Obamacare, I bet most Americans who can't afford our current healthcare system could alternatively afford a marginally-higher tax rate to have guaranteed healthcare.

The entire reason single payer healthcare - in which one payer, the taxpayer, pays for healthcare - or a public health insurance alternative to the private insurance companies didn't make it into the final healthcare reform bill was because of corporate-owned senators like Max Baucus, Joe Liebermann, and the entire GOP caucus. It isn't because they were so concerned about people being able to have the best access to healthcare, but because all of those senators count on the private health insurance industry's bribes to win the next election cycle. Liebermann's wife was a lobbyist for Hill & Knowlton, a firm that represented big pharmaceutical and health insurance companies. Insurance companies are the top industry contributing to Baucus's campaign war chest between 2009 and 2014. Most Americans can put two and two together.

It's crucial to understand that the only reason private health insurance companies exist is to profit from the illness and injury of others. That's literally the only reason they're in business. Sure, abolishing the private health insurance industry may cost a few jobs, but if your job is based on figuring out the best way to make money off of someone else's suffering, that's definitely a job that never should have existed in the first place. Healthcare is a human right, not a commodity only the rich deserve.

We won't have universal healthcare until we have a Congress that listens to the American people. We won't have a Congress with integrity until the bad ones get voted out. The bad ones won't get voted out until we get big money out of politics altogether. And that won't happen until we the people organize for enough states to sign onto a constitutional amendment that says corporations aren't people and money isn't speech. So until then, I'll pay my $300 penalty for being uninsured, and try my best to stay healthy and well while I organize for those things to happen.

Keep up with US Uncut!
Web: usuncut.org
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Carl Gibson, 26, is co-founder of US Uncut, a nationwide creative direct-action movement that mobilized tens of thousands of activists against corporate tax avoidance and budget cuts in the months leading up to the Occupy Wall Street movement. Carl and other US Uncut activists are featured in the documentary "We're Not Broke," which premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. He currently lives in Madison, Wisconsin. You can contact him at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , and follow him on twitter at @uncutCG.

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News.

 

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+73 # davidr 2013-12-24 22:06
You're completely right about the virtues of single-payer, but your complaint isn't really about cost. It's about risk. After all, a single payer system will entail a premium (or a tax), plus a deductible, just as Medicare does. It won't be free, except to Medicaid recipients, so 26 year-olds who believe they're invincible will still want to go uninsured and maximize their net disposable income or savings account deposits. It isn't the amount of the premium they object to, but the fact of it. To one extent or another, they deny risk and see no point in pricing it at all.

It is in the risk-analysis that your post is most concerning. It seems that you put a $6,000 hospital bill at the high end of expectation. This is far from realistic. For example, a 26 year-old is about as likely as anyone else to have an emergency appendix or gall bladder attack, and in my experience those little jobs can run closer to $60,000 than $6,000. 26 year-olds are more likely than others to be involved in injurious accidents, and serious infections are generally indiscriminate. All those $100 bills, saved over the months & years won't last very long when illness befalls a self-insured person.

Anyway, I hope your choice is fortunate for you, that you remain among the substantial majority of young people who will have no occasion to regret in later years the unacknowledged risks they took in their youth.
 
 
+125 # Eldon J. Bloedorn 2013-12-24 23:06
I travel to China several times a year. One time during winter season while I was packing, a business incident came up. I finished packing late in the night. Flight out of LAX, early next morning. I pushed my immune system, I did not get enough sleep. Started getting a cold on the way to the airport. When I arrived in Wuhan City, I developed a bad cough. My wife said, "we need to go to the emergency room, treat your condition." Further, the air quality in Wuhan City, smog was bad. OK, I agreed to go to the Chinese hospital as I was not able to shake off the cold and the smog irritants. Entered the emergency room. I have an electronic translater. While I was typing out my message to the doctor, he said, in perfect English, "you will not need that device." We had a laugh over the matter. He asked "what can I do for you?" I told him my symtoms. He did the usual, inspected my throat, say "ahhhh." Then, he went into his adjacent storage room, brought back a liquid filled brown bottle, a quantity of some large pills. I thanked him. He handed me a slip of paper, bill for the services, medicine. The bill, Thirty-five RMB, Chinese currency. About 6 U.S. bucks. I said, "I would like to pay the whole bill." He said, "that is the whole bill. In China, we do not profit off accident or sickness." I do not know what was in the brown bottle (Yippee!), but if I ever get another cold in China, I want that same doctor! The U.S. is so backward except for military might. U.S., a moral
mess!
 
 
+70 # TCinLA 2013-12-25 00:09
If you look at the F-22 and the F-35 and our record in Iraq and Afghanistan, the mighty US military is about as useless as our medical system.
 
 
+5 # Eldon J. Bloedorn 2013-12-25 17:05
The U.S. military, and as previously written about, RSN, had several objectives in Iraq. Tho, the main purpose was to stabilize world oil prices and to execute Saddam H. for an assasination attempt on George Bush senior. . Saddam made the big mistake (in the Bush/Cheney view) of consistently exceeding his oil output quota, which destabilized world oil prices. "U.S.A! U.S.A! U.S.A.!"
 
 
+24 # Carol R 2013-12-25 05:21
I worked overseas in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. My American international school paid for health insurance from an American company. Because of an illness that came upon me suddenly, disability checks came each month for two and a half years, until I reached age 65. The school paid all the premiums and I received excellent health care while I remained in Malaysia. There was no cost for any of this out of my pocket.

I wonder why an American company can provide good insurance overseas when companies here usually don't. I have to admit though, I have no idea what kind of premiums the school was paying for their overseas hires

My story: I noticed that my hearing was getting worse over the summer of 2006. When I returned to Kuala Lumpur in August 2006 for a new school year, a CT and MRI confirmed that I had acquired a rare nerve disease resulting in tumors growing inside nerves going from my ear the brain. I couldn't continue my job as a music teacher because I couldn't hear good enough to do my job.
 
 
+48 # Eldon J. Bloedorn 2013-12-24 23:11
All it takes for an uninsured to become a believer. One auto accident due to the negligence of an uninsured motorist. The person writing this article made a comment, "and hope for the best." Ben Franklin:"he who lives on hope will die farting."
 
 
+24 # ericlipps 2013-12-25 06:53
You've got that right.

I've been hospitalized a few times over the years, and was profoundly glad I had health insurance when it happened, for even a few days' stay could easily blow the doors off $6,000.
 
 
+35 # Inspired Citizen 2013-12-25 07:23
Gibson does not understand insurance. You're right; he could face a huge medical bill that could make him regret not getting health care insurance.

No doubt, a single-payer system is what we need, something that we would all pay into as we could afford; but we have what we have. The ACA won't work if too many people follow Gibson's irresponsible path.
 
 
+19 # dquandle 2013-12-25 13:32
Nothing irresponsible about it. On the other hand, for-profit parasitic "insurance" rammed down people's throats by a president owned and operated by the self same corporations he is forcing Americans to throw their money and lives at, via a process that differs not bit from extortion by an organized crime syndicate, is absolutely despicable.

Insurance has nothing to do with health care, and everything to do with extracting profit, by preying on misery and human frailty. Obama-Romneycar e/ACA will fail as healthcare provision, because that is manifestly not its purpose.
 
 
+11 # bmiluski 2013-12-26 10:34
Gibson can be glibe about paying the $300 because his emergency room bills will be paid for by the rest of us who do have insurance via our premiums.
ObamaCare is a first step towards a national health care system.
 
 
+21 # JcX1111 2013-12-25 17:37
I disagree. Mr. Gibson's dilemma is one faced by many americans under Obamacare - not just healthy 26 year olds. When you're stretched to the max (as many are today) how do you come up with enough scratch to pay a mandatory insurance premium that doesn't cover anything? Yes, if you have a major event it will be a godsend but, for the most part, people will be paying for a policy they never are able to use. As a healthy person with no preexisting conditions I could expect to pay $350/month for the bare bones policy under the ACA and the deductible was $6000. Do the math. That would be close to $8,000 out of pocket and I would not receive one single solitary benefit from the policy until that threshold was met. Since the payments aren't cumulative, once the new year begins you reset that deductible and go....nope. I, too, would rather pay the $300 fine and be done with it. A public insurance option (if we weren't going to have single payer) would have at least given us something besides the den of wolves we've been tossed into with the private insurers.
 
 
+16 # Dudu101 2013-12-25 14:02
I think Carl is aware of the risk. "I'm having a hard enough time even putting away $100 a month into my savings account when you take rent, a car loan, groceries, gas, heat, and phone bills into account." In other words, he is just surviving. He has no asset like a house to protect. He really has little to lose, assuming he still can get treatment. Here in Washington State, hospital has to treat you. If you can't pay, then hospital can discount about 30% or more and write it off as a business expense. Then puts you on an installment plan. There is also Medicaid. Medicaid puts a lien on your house, but Carl is renting, has no house. Remember that if seriously injured/ill, Carl likely can't work, so he will qualify for Medicaid. Another issue with insurance is that after the deductible is reached and complete coverage is occurring, the premiums must still be paid despite inability to work. When the year starts over, new deductible is enforced and everything starts over. Carl feels screwed whatever.
 
 
0 # zornorff 2013-12-25 21:30
You are absolutely correct. The author is sadly shortsighted and seems to think that he is in complete control of what life will deal him. I hope, for his sake, that he does not encounter any catastrophes that will cost him half a year's pay. Insurance is a cost effective way to lay off the costs of disaster onto someone else who can better afford it. Insurance is sort of a bet...you bet nothing will happen and they bet something will. Unfortunately, they're usually right.
 
 
-1 # Malcolm 2013-12-27 22:54
Right on, Davidr! I agree with Gibson's complaints about our healthcare system, but you're right-he's acting like a typical young man, and risking a lot on bad estimates of actual health care costs. Examples: I had a ruptured appendix last year. Total cost, $31,000 including 4 nights in hospital. My cost was zip, because I've paid into Medicare and Medigap. If I hadn't subscribed to Medigap, my out of pocket cost would have been approximately $8000 JUST FOR THE COPAY.

Incidentally, my dr told me I was very old to have appendicitis, as mostly this nails people age 10-30. That's YOU!

And 48 years ago, following a serious accident involving two crushed cervical vertebrae, I spent 93 days in hospital. Back then, health care was CHEAP, with my private room costing but $22.50 per day. I had coverage with my dad's policy, fortunately (I was 20).

Carl, imagine what 93 days in hospital would cost now; i imagine over $1 million!

And NOBODY, no matter how healthy, is totally immune to accidents.
 
 
+118 # pappajohn15 2013-12-24 22:46
No, no, no, Davidr:

You miss the point. Single payer is a taxpayer-funded service, not a premium based insurance product. Nobody gets a bill. Health care, you see, is a right, not a privilege. And while all our taxes might go up a smidge, the actual cost will stay the same and eventually go down dramatically.

We can't, and shouldn't, force people to have to decide for themselves what the risk/reward -- cost/benefit of medical care should be (unless it is to die with dignity). It is a human right to get the most beneficial service available because, you see, humans should take care of each other to the best of our abilities. It isn't a benefit of one's birth or fortune to get adequate health care.

That's why ObamaCare might be better, but still wrong. And why we must continue to work toward single-payer.
 
 
+24 # davidr 2013-12-25 03:06
Single payer standardizes procedures and regulates cost through a government clearinghouse. But it is not true that a single payer system is necessarily funded solely from tax revenue. Sometimes it is (VA) and sometimes it isn't (Medicare).

But neither case answers Carl's real complaint. He would rather pay $300 for no insurance than $1,800 for a relatively high deductible policy. That would be his preference whether payment were exacted through tax withholding or direct premium payments. The only effect of the tax-based system you describe would be to moot Carl's complaint, not to answer it.

He supports his point of view by stating that Lincoln ($5) is worth more than Washington ($1), but in doing so he excludes risk. Lincoln exposes him to the full cost of an appendectomy, while Washington limits his exposure to $5,000. So the question is not whether Lincoln beats Washington, but whether he beats him at the odds.

To answer that question, Carl relies on a 26 year-old's presumption of good health and good luck. In addition, he seems to underestimate the cost of health care in the event that it should be required. In short, I don't quarrel with his or anyone's desire for single payer healthcare. My quarrel is with his naive and inapt view of risk-based pricing.
 
 
+9 # NAVYVET 2013-12-26 22:09
Keep fighting for single payer though it's not the ideal. My best care was under completely socialized medicine during 12 years in the Navy--but I resigned because I hated the destructive and murderous Vietnam War, and a few months later married a civilian I met 8 days after discharge. For the next 2 years my jobs had no health care, but my husband's job had family coverage. Then he took one with better benefits. Even after I guessed I was pregnant we thought we were fine--but were in for a shock. Our baby was considered a "preexisting condition"! (Thank Obamacare for ending that.) So I went through 4 months of pregnancy without seeing a doctor--but was exercising, eating good food & never healthier. At birth time my age caused complications & the C-section ate up ALL our savings even though in those days it cost "only" $2,000 compared to today. I insisted on coming home on the 2nd day--no ill effects and a lot of cost saving. Nearly 78 now, I'm on Medicare. It's OK although it requires extra private insurance. For younger people I'd prefer to see socialized medicine a la military. But realistically, SINGLE PAYER MEDICARE FOR ALL is the best to aim for in a nation where pretended Christians hate anyone but white males (especially children, elders, ethnics, chronically ill, handicapped, & anyone debilitated by poverty, because we are "takers"). Which means we can't do piece-work for the 1% for 14 hour days at 8 hour wages and no paid overtime. Welcome to the U.S.
 
 
+32 # krallison 2013-12-24 22:46
David you took the words out of my mouth. What if this young man finds himself with, say, testicular cancer? Or, as you say, appendicitis? He needs to be insuring himself against abject poverty, bankruptcy. The high deductible plans are the ticket for his age and health group but no one should voluntarily eschew health insurance, no one.
 
 
+107 # NanFan 2013-12-24 23:05
I'd gladly pay more taxes so that all of us would have health care that we deserve.
 
 
+78 # Eldon J. Bloedorn 2013-12-24 23:22
Article 31 of the new Iraq Constitution, drafted by the right wing Republicans, and Bush/Cheney gurarantees every Iraqi citizen the right to Universal Health Care, single payer system. These are the same bastard Plutocrats who fought Universal Health Care for Americans. Americans fought and died and paid for with blood, the new Iraq Constitution. The Plutocrats who drafted the new Iraqi constitution have said and now say, "Americans, go screw yourself, who gives a damn about you."
 
 
+24 # bingers 2013-12-25 01:54
Yeah, but the Republicans aren't a wholly owned subsidiary of the Iraqi corporations, they are owned by ours.
 
 
+4 # Eldon J. Bloedorn 2013-12-25 12:50
Very true.
 
 
+15 # Johnny 2013-12-26 11:41
There is no need to pay more taxes to provide everybody with high quality medical care. All that is required is to redirect the tax money we already pay, from endless war against all the world to benefit an international bankster oligarchy, to providing for our own needs, to benefit our own country.
 
 
+33 # indian weaver 2013-12-25 07:04
Many of us cannot afford the ada, at all. Many of us can barely survive with paying bare essentials, period. That is why single payer government health care is required. Europe has had it over half a century! Amerika the horrible greedy arrogant cruel fascist terrorist backward Cro-Magnon quality state: none, ever.
 
 
+25 # indian weaver 2013-12-25 08:23
I should add that many of us cannot afford to pay that $300 either, which is an incredibly cruel ripoff situation. If one cannot afford any health insurance and is then penalized for their penury because they have absolutely no discretionary "income - if any at all", something is seriously wrong with this country (as most of us already well know).
 
 
+10 # AndreM5 2013-12-25 23:25
You are a perfect example of why the ACA provides susidies. Have you heard of that?
 
 
+29 # ansleypk@aol.com 2013-12-24 23:30
And this comes when I have been so impressed by some of the youth in our country. As the expression says, Youth is wasted on the young!
He uses the expression "knock wood" which I thought was most interesting since he better keep knocking on it. He needs to educate himself how much it costs for major services--not just fixing an elbow. If he does a little more investigation, he will find out that insurance's primary purpose is to protect one from the calamity of major expenses. The same as it is for home insurance, auto insurance, etc.
I am not a fortune teller but I can tell you for certain that if something does happen while he is young (automobile accident, diagnosis of a chronic illness like diabetes, marriage to his sweetheart who might come down with breast cancer and on and on), WE will be paying for this young man which is exactly why Obamacare was created--to make everyone responsible for their own health care. So, my dear young, naive friend, pay your $300 and have that block of wood handy at all times. When you become a wise adult you will look back and realize how foolish you were.
 
 
+16 # nealjking 2013-12-25 00:02
Carl Gibson is right to push for truly universal health care insurance, but he's making a foolish decision about trading off the cost of a fine vs. paying a deductible. There are many worse and more expensive things that can happen to you than a busted elbow: Insurance makes sense because it is based on both the ignorance of the insuree as to what might happen, and the ignorance of the insurance company about what it might cost. Since both parties are ignorant about the future, they can make a deal which is mutually profitable to both. Expecting to come out "ahead" over a period of one year represents a failure to understand what health insurance is about.
 
 
+33 # Majikman 2013-12-25 00:16
In a freak accident I crushed the top of my tibia requiring over 5 hrs of surgery to repair. With medicare & medigap insurance I didn't pay a cent. I asked the surgeon what would have happened if I had no insurance or money. He said he would have simply set the bone but I would have been left badly crippled.
Insuring a car but not health buys into the materialistic mind set that money is the only thing of value.
 
 
+19 # robcarter.vn 2013-12-25 00:48
In Australia $30,000 income is $4,050 tax of which 5% or $1,500 to cover 80% of costs and FOC State Hospitals, so how the devil does USA work theirs so high? Whereas Australian Private Insurance to make it 100% Cover would be that plus a moderate % to cover the 20% extra medicals & use of private equivalent Hospitals.
 
 
+31 # brux 2013-12-25 01:46
US taxes these days are actually very regressive.
 
 
+30 # ajohntop 2013-12-25 00:51
If you had insurance when you went to the hospital, the hospital could only bill you the pre-negotiated price that the hospital and insurance company contracted to, which would have probably been more like $3000. Hospitals always stick a higher rate to people without insurance, as they have no pre-negotiated contract. Something to add into consideration.
 
 
+13 # photonracer 2013-12-25 10:14
Quoting ajohntop:
Hospitals always stick a higher rate to people without insurance, as they have no pre-negotiated contract. Something to add into consideration.
AMEN! This is called the retail price. Hospital "revenue" (read "funny money") is used to calculate profit and loss. Later on this data will be used to justify higher rates. This is just one of the ways healthcare costs continue to get out of hand. Occasionally the stock market makes a correction. Health industry costs never get a correction.
 
 
+19 # johnlee100 2013-12-25 00:54
When I was 26 and viewed myself as invulnerable to everything, I slipped on the ice and came down on one elbow. The right rotator cuff was shot and the labrum around the shoulder socket was damaged. The surgery and the months of rehabilitation boosted the cost very close to six figures (and that was some years ago). The medical insurance was pricey but if I'd been without it in those circumstances I would have considered myself a stupid moron! David R is absolutely correct: it's the risk!
 
 
+23 # brux 2013-12-25 01:37
Amazing how when you inject a few facts into a discussion like this you voted down. You are right. Kicking oneself for the rest of their life about making a poor decision like having to live with an injury or a inadequate repair is not fun and can taint your whole remaining life.
 
 
+25 # LGNTexas 2013-12-25 00:57
Visiting London 3 years ago, I tripped on cobblestone in front of Westminster Abbey trying to capture the two spires of the church along with Big Ben in a perfect photo. Was treated in London immediately (not the MONTHS you hear about on Faux News). After 4 X-rays, two doctors set my right radius bone, then splinted my arm and gave me a week's supply of pain killers so I could continue on a 3 week European vacation. I had my Passport and Texas Driver's License back in my hotel safe so they just took my word on who I was and that I was legally in the UK. I told them I had traveler's insurance, but was told not to bother (probably didn't want the red tape dealing with an overseas company). However when I got back home to Texas 3 weeks later, even though the arm had been set correctly, the bone had healed a bit shorter, throwing off my wrist bones, limiting motion, and causing new arthritis pain. So I saw a Houston hand surgeon, who surgically rebroke my arm, lengthened the bone with metal rings, bar, and inserted a cadaver bone filler. The cost here...$63,000! Thankfully I had insurance and my out-of-pocket here was only $1000.
 
 
+15 # BobC 2013-12-25 01:08
My favorite part is where the author suggests that meditation offers some sort of protection from a major medical issue. Join us in the real world sometime!
 
 
+23 # tauzinger 2013-12-25 04:10
I get that part. Meditation reduces stress, and stress is bad for your health. It's helpful for some things.
 
 
+20 # Carol R 2013-12-25 06:06
I'm healing with Tao Qigong and meditation is part of the work.

I have a rare nerve disease in which the first symptoms are usually tumors inside the nerves going from the ear to the brain. I've shrunk part of one large third brain tumor and my hearing continues to improve. According to the Western medical establishment, this never happens.

The 'real world' is made up of much more than the mind can ever imagine. Too often, it is our knowledge that is limited.
 
 
+5 # indian weaver 2013-12-25 08:28
Clearly you know nothing about meditation. Stick to commenting on things you know and / or understand from now on. Talk about arrogant - this is the ultimate - commenting from a position of total ignorance.
 
 
+5 # BobC 2013-12-25 10:05
Meditation can help to reduce stress; I don't doubt that for a minute. And stress is a long-term killer. But diseases that are caused by stress tend to affect people later in life, not in their 20s. Meditation won't help keep this guy out of the hospital for major surgery, traumatic injury, or a debilitating illness like testicular cancer. I concede that I hadn't heard of Carol's rare nerve disease.
 
 
+20 # brux 2013-12-25 01:31
This is what the Conservatives will agree with ... that Liberal talk a good talk about their socialism, but in the end they will not pay for someone else, though they ask others to pay for them.

Socializing the cost of medical care through health insurance if a good bet for everyone. We all pay a little every month so that there is a health care infrastructure that is there, or supposedly there for all of us if we get sick. That is the idea of socialism, and insurance.

To not pay into ACA/ObamaCare is

1. Illegal.
2. Does not support your friends, neighbors and countrymen.
3. Gives the Republicans more ammunition to attack both ObamaCare and Single-Payer, which I would prefer.
4. Weakens the system.
5. Does not account for you if you happen to get sick and need to rely on the country to help you.
6. If you do have an injury that is expensive, it is likely that you will not get it fixed and may ruin your earning capability for the rest of your life, not a good choice for you or the country.

Basically, I think not getting health insurance is the wrong thing to do. AND, if you are so poor as to really not be able to pay for health insurance, you likely have your figures wrong because when you go through the system you would get a heavily subsidized plan through Medic-Aid.
 
 
+36 # hkatzman 2013-12-25 01:32
Thank your Republican governor and state legislators who did not want to participate in ACA and stuck you with the Federal Exchange. My home state, New York, created a State Exchange and our costs are much cheaper than neighboring New Jersey where the Republican governor decided not to participate.
 
 
-16 # brux 2013-12-25 01:35
Oh, and by the way ... this article, for me anyway, has just undercut your integrity and validity of anything else you have ever written ... not even because I disagree with some your thinking, but because I disagree with your entire way of looking at life, and I do no think you are a real Progressive. A fake progressive talks a good talk, but fails to contribute and risk anything and does not back up his or her talk.
 
 
+11 # Scott Galindez 2013-12-25 11:48
Carl is representing the position of many young people who think they don't need a health care plan. I don't think it in anyway discredits him on other issues.

I told Carl that I may respond with an article about why I'm buying in...but I'm 48...I don't fault Carl for his position on this issue.
 
 
0 # AndreM5 2013-12-25 23:28
I thought for sure this article was written by Andy Borowitz. Are we sure it was not? Maybe not satire but it is fantastical.
 
 
+4 # Johnny 2013-12-26 11:31
The issue Carl addresses is not whether Americans should have health insurance. The issue is whether the purpose of the institution that provides the insurance is to serve the oligarchs who profit from the mamoth private health insurance industry, or to serve the people who need health care. Even a poor country like Cuba can provide excellent health care to all its people, because there no executives are taking their millions in salaries and bonuses off the top.
 
 
+5 # Capn Canard 2013-12-26 13:16
Scott I completely agree. Carl is young enough to recover quickly. I was once young as well and without insurance and didn't need any. I was later diagnosed with a chronic disease and was on multiple meds but have since quit using any of those meds as their efficacy is rather dismal. Instead I have taken the advice of a doctor with the same diagnosis who has a strong case to claim that such an affliction is diet based. Cut way back on sugar and simple carbs. A paleo based diet. Lots of veggies and lots of meat and fats. At 51 I feel a helluva lot better, like I'm 26 again...
 
 
0 # brux 2013-12-28 02:05
He's pandering to young people of the stupid variety, of which there are plenty these days ... after all someone has to be buying all those butt showing pants, piercings and tattoos.
 
 
+38 # maddave 2013-12-25 01:41
At first read Carl Gibson's reasons for not buying insurance were myopic and lacked sight of "the big picture", but he brought it all together quite neatly. His cogent summation earned my applause & approbation, i.e., " and we will NEVER have a health care system that serves all Americans unless we cleanse Congress of greedy bastards such as Lieberman and Baccus.

For those who were not watching, they literally laid AHC low through their unashamed blackmail and transparent sabotage of the urgently needed single payer health care system. Both are said to be heavily indebted to Big Healthcare . . . and their pay-backs Corporate America was a badly crippled health care system. This near-treasonous action was accepted by the "powers that be" without comment. In fact, Obama just rewarded Max Baccus with an Ambassadorship to China. WTF!!
 
 
+35 # maddave 2013-12-25 01:45
None of Gibson's list of needed governmental reforms will ever see the light of day until we get ALL private and corporate money OUT of our electoral process. We simply MUST realize that Corporate America's wholesale, quasi-legal looting of our treasury (a privilege bought by that Corporate America from our legislators with string-laden "contributions" and insider investment information*) is costing us far, far more in sweetheart deals and tax loopholes than would our simply financing our elections with "clean" tax money.

* If you and I used this same insider info, we would land in the federal slammer with felony convictions!
 
 
+4 # Capn Canard 2013-12-26 13:19
Yep, Dave, I am with you on this. I believe it is all about the money has influencing gov't policy.
 
 
+11 # LML 2013-12-25 02:16
Rewarded Baccus with an ambassadorship?!!
This is why the Dems will never achieve the party discipline that the Repubs do.
Remember how Lieberman jumped the party and was allowed to keep his committee chairmanship.
It's like raising kids...if there is no consequences for bad behavior, the bad behavior will continue.
Of course maybe Baccus et al. are just doing Obama's dirty work for him so Obama can keep giving nice speeches with a mildly progressive (but meaningless) line
 
 
0 # Cassandra2012 2013-12-30 17:01
Or maybe the ambassadorship was a sop to get Bacchus out of the way?
 
 
+12 # rayb-baby 2013-12-25 01:44
When I was 18-19yrs old I was hospitalized 3 times, 4 surgeries and nearly 2 months total inpatient time, plus aftercare appointments. And I was a very healthy kid, so it would seem. I was on our family health plan and have no idea what the costs were, but if it were today I'm sure it would be in the 1/2 million dollar range.
 
 
+17 # bingers 2013-12-25 02:03
Good luck Carl, my very simple RF ablation for liver cancer cost $32,000. Actual surgery would be over $100,000. And even children, let alone 26 year olds get cancer. My ex had Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia and it cost us nothing because she was the first human to receive vinchristine. As a guinea pig she also became the first person cured of ALL and was treated free. The drug is so toxic that a tiny amount will kill you unless you have leukemia or shingles. The nurse got one drop under her skin and her arm became black and blue from wrist to shoulder.

The expense for that treatment now could set you back half a million dollars. Good luck with your $300 penalty. I have great respect for you based on previous writings, but this time I see a fool.
 
 
+8 # Johnny 2013-12-26 11:28
The issue is not whether Americans should have health insurance. The issue is whether the purpose of the institution that provides the insurance is to serve the oligarchs who profit from the mamoth private health insurance industry, or to serve the people who need health care. Even a poor country like Cuba can provide excellent health care to all its people, because there no executives are taking their millions in salaries and bonuses off the top.
 
 
+16 # tauzinger 2013-12-25 02:59
You won't get any argument on how sweet a deal Obamacare for insurers is, and how single payer would be the way to go. So much about policy. On a personal level though, we don't *have* single payer, and you, my friend, are playing Russian roulette. Just because in the past you didn't have any complex health issues doesn't mean that tomorrow you won't have it, and that it could wipe you out financially. My son, 8, not exactly a high risk individual, started passing out this year an hour at a time, and for the longest time they couldn't figure out what it was. I haven't added it all up, but $1,500 for an ambulance ride here, and 24 hour video EEG there for $20,000 and several other hospital stays, I'm sure it's upward of $50,000. Had I had to pay this out of pocket I would have had to raid my retirement plan and work longer, but if you just get started in a career you typically don't have that cash readily available, and you'll have to acquaint yourself with sleeping under the bridge, in a homeless shelter, or crashing on friends' couches until you wear out your welcome. You need a catastrophic plan, low premium and high deductible (which in all likelihood you'll never need) to protect yourself. $6,000 is 20% of your salary, but it won't wipe you out. I'm glad you provided the perspective on why others like you might not sign up, but please, from a friend, get some insurance.
 
 
+4 # carlier74 2013-12-25 04:20
Just a little reality check here: I live in Belgium a country where everything is pretty much taken care of in terms of health care (green on your map). However (and here's the reality check bit) if my annual salary was 30.000 USD, 15.000 USD would be paid back to the government each year in taxes.
 
 
+15 # BobbyLip 2013-12-25 05:59
The block of wood this guy is knocking on rests on his own shoulders. But I don't blame him. I blame the sponsors of a system designed to keep him confused and ignorant.
 
 
+1 # orangehen 2013-12-25 06:53
I applaud you, Carl. You aren't letting FEAR rule your life, as the gov't wants. They don't seem to want to do even the basic things to keep us healthy, but they DO seem to want all of us to live in FEAR. After all, a sick, fearful population are much easier to control than a healthy, education population.
 
 
+5 # kreutzersonata 2013-12-25 07:03
Gibson's complaints are, of course, warranted. But his risk calculations are as incompetent as many commentators have argued. Moreover, his calculations are incompetent. E.g., had he been insured, his $6000 elbow surgery would have been billed at closer to $1200-1500, and he'd have already saved enough to pay for two years of insurance at the rate he quotes.
 
 
+16 # Susan1989 2013-12-25 07:08
I am tired of repeatedly hearing in the media about how the "young and healthy" need to buy into Obamacare to pay for the "old and sick". I know many young people who are sick...as well as old people who are healthy. This is pure age discrimation... and is only adding to the invulnerability and arrogance of many young people. I am 70 years old and am in better shape than most 30 year olds...with medicare spending very little on me. I will add that I am a also tired of hearing that the older generation is ripping off the "millenials"... when many of them have been spoiled and over-indulged by their parents into thinking that they are invincable like the hulking infant that wrote this piece. How in hell does a college graduate of 26 end up with a job with no benefits that pays only $30,000? My advice to many of the members of the younger generation is to grow up and understand tht the "old people" you complain so much about were the very same people who sacrificed to raise you, went into debt to send you to college, and, in some cases, are still providing food and shelter for you because you.
 
 
+12 # hwmcadoo 2013-12-25 07:09
We must remember that bad incidents in health are not scheduled and that insurance whether it be private or government is just that, insurance, and no age is immune to expensive health care needs.

The older age group has more problems but that is covered by Medicare. Accidents are more common in the young whether auto, gun or work related.

Just work in an ER and get a good look at who, how old and what are the needs of incoming patients will show the fallacy of not having insurance. I had a broken knee from a household accident that required surgery and one night in the hospital which cost $12,000 ten years ago.

While I agree that ACA is a poor system that represents a windfall for insurance companies and does not control costs it is far better that the old system, but ACA still is far from what we need-Single Payer.
 
 
+21 # Sandy 2013-12-25 07:28
I agree with many posters here that the risk is worth the cost. However the bigger question is why are the costs so high to begin with? Too high for all of the procedures, too high for the medicine, too high for the insurance.
 
 
-2 # Nell H 2013-12-27 13:03
One reason that costs are so high is that all our hospital bills and insurance premiums are inflated in order to pay for the uninsured.
 
 
+4 # hoodwinkednomore 2013-12-27 20:35
'Hospital bills and insurance premiums are inflated in order to pay' for the huge CEO vacations, more gargantuan CEO vacation homes, even more gargantuan insurance skyscrapers...t he insatiable drive for profits, profits, profits are the reasons the costs are so high NOT because poor people can't afford to pay for insurance--afte r working multiple jobs, many at less than $8.00/hr. C'mon people. WTF?. It's all about the money. Has nothing to do with health 'care,' nor with lack of insurance.
 
 
+9 # Rain17 2013-12-25 07:29
I'm sorry, but you're playing Russian Roulette with your own health. God forbid you should suffer a significant illness like cancer or some other debilitating, serious conditoin that will incur significant medical bills well into the tens of thousands of dollars because that $2,000 or so deductible will pale in comparison to what you will owe to the doctors and hospitals who treat you. Paying that $1800 per year is nothing compared to the staggering bills you will get. And, unless your family is well-off, those bills will drive you into bankruptcy and into financial ruination.

I'm sorry that you want to play Russian Roulette on your health, but it angers me to see this web site willingly promoting the view that people should refuse to buy insurance. That this site would encourage people to risk their health and livelihood because the ACA falls short of the perfect is obscene. It's almost similar to the ads run by Koch-sponsored groups against the ACA. Literally if I changed a word here or there the article would be eerily similar.

I agree that the ACA is not a panacea for what ails the US healthcare system. I agree that it falls short in man ways, but it at least curtails the intolerable abuses of the US healthcare system. It at least tries to bring some humanity to a system that is otherwise cruel and heartless. This article is dumb for so many reasons.
 
 
+7 # Rain17 2013-12-25 07:35
Continued from last post. . . .

And I supported the public option and single-payer. But let's be honest. The votes were never going to be there for the public option, let alone single-payer. The Congress in office at the time was just not going to vote for it. They didn't have the votes and they were never going to have the votes.

What some on the far left don't get is that, for many Americans, this is a matter of life and death. They couldn't afford to wait another 20-30 years for the perfect system to emerge, if it ever did at all. I say this over and over again in threads about healthcare reform here, but no President before Obama had been able to get any form of universal healthcare passed. And had he failed it would have been another 20 years before another President of either party tried to reform healthcare.

I concede that the ACA falls short in some areas and it's not perfect. But at the very least it will provide relief for millions of Americans who would otherwise not have any access to healthcare at all. And they can't afford to make the perfect the enemy of the good or the just barely good enough. The consequences of the ACA not passing would have almost certainly meant death for Americans.

For single-payer to ever become a reality American attitudes toward government are going to have significant change. It's going to take a long-term sustained effort to change their views because, otherwise, single-payer is a nonstarter politically.
 
 
+26 # Susan1989 2013-12-25 07:57
I fully agree with you...however, I will go one step further in saying that the resistance to a single payer plan in the US is only a symptom of a far deeper problem at the heart of American culture which worships at the shrine of its capitalistic system. It has gotten to the point where people are viewed merely as cogs to feed the system that benefits a few at the expense of the rest of us. This has bred a sense of loneliness, isolation, and fear which is of late emerging as rage--which is why we are hearing more and more stories of acts of mass violence. These are not isolated incidents...but more an expression of hopelessness and desperation at the increasingly impersonal and cold environment that we have become entrenched in without fully realizing its toxicity. Our young people are feeling more intensely what we as adults have somehow managed to push under the rug. Basically we as a country have become cruel.
 
 
+6 # jky1291 2013-12-25 11:36
Finally, a reality based perception of our predicament!
 
 
0 # NanFan 2013-12-26 11:28
Quoting jky1291:
Finally, a reality based perception of our predicament!


Not really, overall. It's very short-sighted and not looking at the big picture for ALL Americans, many of whom need insurance because that is the US system to get "affordable" health care, unfortunately. If we don't/won't/don 't want to buy into it when we're young and healthy, then, if the system never goes to single payer, we should not buy into it ever.

I'm not for insurance dictating health care; I'm for single payer. But we all must care about each other, young or old. And by not buying insurance when we're young, we are taking away from those who are not healthy, older and at risk for many illnesses, and we are taking a great chance if something major happens to us, for we would then need to place a huge burden on the taxpayer to help us pay for health care.

I'm just saying...it's not perfect, but it's the law...we should each do what we want, but I for one want to be able to look in the mirror every day, knowing my decision was well-thought-ou t and for the long run, helping the whole, not just me.

After all, if we did get universal health care, isn't that at the core of its reasoning: it is our right to be treated for illnesses to stay well and not burden others?

Do no harm.

N.
 
 
+7 # ganymede 2013-12-26 12:50
Susan, Just a quick response to your last sentence. Yes, we have become a cruel nation and our cruelty stands out starkly over the whole issue of our nation's health. Virtually every other developed country recognizes that healthcare is a Human Right, but, probably, the majority of Americans, especially the rightwingers are cut off from their own humanity and, therefore, lack the empathy and compassion to care about others. Hopefully, with the impending collapse of the extreme rightwing forces, this will change...hopefu lly.
 
 
+3 # William P. Homans 2013-12-26 10:55
I'm almost 65. It's BEEN a wonderful life, every reverse taken into account, and I will CHOOSE to DIE gracefully, rather than bankrupt myself paying Inscos in advance, or paying doctors and hospitals at the end. I am a conservative. If I can't pay cash for something, I do not buy it. I will not sit down at the gambling table with the Inscos. If I refuse to BET, I can't get FLEECED.
 
 
+1 # fenox 2013-12-27 15:40
I'm 68 and had a wonderful life. Hope it continues
for a few more years. Our national healthcare system allows me not to worry about doctors or hospital bills. Reading the comments I wonder why Americans are so worried about insurances. Suppose they have a car insurance , even if they don't have an accident every week. A fire insurance even if their house doesn' t burn down every year. Yet, as soon as it comes to their healthcare, they start calculating like mad and consider any risk better than being covered. I paid healthcare not because I was sick, but to avoid becoming sick. And feel glad at my age I never had a serious car accident, my house didn't burn down, and nobody had serious health problems, we will continue our insurances, because it can be different tomorrow. It's a lottery and we prefer to pay for no problems than being on the side of those who benefit of Insurances because they lost houses, cars, life's, or health.
 
 
+24 # walt 2013-12-25 08:11
Leaving health coverage under control of corporate, profit-making insurance companies was typically American and will continue to cause problems for everyone.

When Americans are ready to join the civilized world, we will demand national, non-profit, single-payer health care along with strict government controls on medical and pharmaceutical costs.

Until that time, sit back and watch the continued battles over "Obamacare." It's all about profit over people.
 
 
+16 # Susan1989 2013-12-25 08:38
Our entire system is about profit over people...as well as anything else that is living on the planet.
 
 
+3 # AndreM5 2013-12-26 11:15
It is really "profit FROM people" you know. The wealth has steadily streamed upward since The Saint Ronnie.
 
 
+6 # fishskicanoe 2013-12-25 08:53
Its false in most cases to say that your insurance doesn't kick in until you meet your deductible. In most plans you also have co-pays for things like doctors visits and pharmacy bills. The insurance company will pay their share of the co-pay right off the bat, no deductible needs to be met. In Gibson's case, since he is talking about the cheapest plan, he would be responsible for 40% of a doctor visit and the insurance company would pay 60% (approximately) . Without seeing the exact plan its hard to know what is covered by co-pays, what is covered by co-insurance and what needs to be paid out of pocket before the deductible is satisfied. Doctors visits run about $150 with any lab costs tacked on top of that (usually those, and other procedures done in the doctors office, are also paid via co-pays, not subject to meeting the deductible). A day in the hospital will easily set you back your total premium cost for a year and every day after that is deeper in the hole.

In short. Bad choice.
 
 
+9 # mrbadexample 2013-12-25 09:18
Gibson would be a believer if he'd broken a leg (especially a tibia/fibula)in stead of an arm while bicycling. I had such an accident years ago during the heyday of HMO's, and mine refused to cover anything on the accident because I hadn't called their 800 number before I was taken to the 'wrong' hospital(I was able to file under Workers Comp, because I was at a company sponsored event). $16K back in the 1980's, not counting all the subsequent office visits and PT. I'm also under the impression that Wisconsin, like many other Republican-gove rned states, put no effort into setting up exchanges.
I worked on my first single payer campaign in 1992 when the insurance Co's torpedoed a single-payer Medi-Cal conversion. I'm furious that single-payer (and public options) were never on the table. But after my experiences, I would never take a pass on insurance.
 
 
+8 # mjc 2013-12-25 09:38
Think Gibson's blog reveals a lot more about the selfishness, money-grubbing, health care system than it does about "Obamacare". Why the developers of a new health care system in our country didn't get it, I don't know but it would perhaps have been much more useful to copy or adapt or apply European, especially the Danish system, or even the Canadian system than that developed for Mitt Romney's Massachusetts. Our insurance companies have always preferred to get as much money out of its clients rather than provide a responsive health care benefit and our physicans and hospitals have long ago discovered that forcing the poor members of our communities to go to the Emergency Room than deal with them in a clinic setting OR...God Forbid...over the phone. With any luck, some day there will be a health care plan that costs all of us at a bit/ittle more cost but available to all at a reasonable price; when pigs fly??? Because there seems to be no way to shame either the insurance companies or those that practice medicine.
 
 
+8 # Beenie 2013-12-25 09:46
I won't use western medicine - they over drug you and most of their methods don't work. I'm a firm believer in alternative medicine but no plan covers it, so I don't buy health insurance here in Massachusetts. As far as I am concerned, it is just a transfer of my money into the pockets of the insuranece companies for absolutely nothing. And I don't earn enough money to do that,
 
 
+17 # tomtom 2013-12-25 10:19
I was a purchasing agent for 8 Convalescent hospitals and worked for California Blue Shield. I'm now 69. I agree with Sandy; the costs are too high. With a million chiildren going to sleep hungry in California, the staggering unemployment, underemployed, and hospitals overcharging for badages, etc., the costs of insurance companys gambling fees as well as the deductibles, we aren't solving the problem of everyone getting immediate, good quality, healthcare. The government should be subsidizing medical educations and implementing Maximum Wage Laws. Extorting high charges to desperate, ill people is immoral. Democrats, Republicans, Commie Bastards, everyone should support equality in health, from the poorest to the richest person. If people making over a million dollars a year have to pay more, watch those prices drop, but, anyone in the country should be able to get immediate care, without proof of anything other than being sick. We could examine every other system in the world and take the best from all of them until we get it right The drug companies are worse than every Columbian/Mexic an/American Cartel Kingpins.
 
 
+5 # hoffhort 2013-12-25 10:37
Carl, have you gone over your options with a professional? I suspect you don't really understand them, or how the plans work. Is this $300 with a subsidy? You certainly qualify. Carl, I was in a car accident once and was taken to the ER. EVERYONE asked me if I had been wearing a seatbelt. Yes, I had, which is why I walked out later that day, but if the answer had been no, how the personnel would have despised me. The day will soon come when people who refuse to get coverage are despised when they end up sick or injured. You could still get treated and someone else would ultimately clean up your mess (although not your credit rating), but do you really want to risk being such a social outlier?
 
 
+3 # William P. Homans 2013-12-26 10:43
I cut my only credit card in pieces 10 years ago. I have no credit rating, or a negative one, because I told Visa to take a hike, and wasn't nice about it.

I own everything that I have free and clear. No mortgages, no payments, no debts. I will never borrow any money. If I can't pay cash for something, I just don't buy it. I will refuse to be treated for illness or injury that is not covered by Medicare part A, and I will not BET that I will be damaged.

Another commenter has it exactly wrong: the Inscos bet that you will NOT be damaged, and so they will be allowed to keep 100% of what you pay, or BET. YOU, the buyer of insurance, BET that something bad WILL happen, and that it will be bad enough to exceed your deductible.

I will choose to refuse: I'm going to leave what modest things I have to my daughter, my heir, rather than spending everything to get much older than I am (I will be 65 in April). Thus, I will pay the penalty. The insurance industry says I have 4 pre-existing conditions (though i am completely recovered from all). You can imagine what my deductible will be, for paying-- BETTING-- dozens of times that $300 penalty.

The ACA says I must be offered insurance. However, it does not say that I must be offered the same rate as a non-smoking healthy 26-year-old. I've made my health bed, and I will cheerily sleep in it, double meaning intended.

In the US we have socialized GAMBLING, but no socialized medicine. Bah Humbug!

Merry Christmas to all.
 
 
+13 # tedrey 2013-12-25 11:40
When I was visiting New Zealand, I went to see a dentist. He was very apologetic. "I don't quite know how to say this," he told me,"but I'm afraid that because you're not a citizen, you're going to have to pay something."

This was in the 1950s! We're way behind.
 
 
+14 # Futilitarian 2013-12-25 12:43
Well, I've read a lot of the comments and not seen this subject so far. I'll inject it. Carl Gibson makes about $30k per year. Assuming full time employment, that's about $14.42 per hour and just shy of the $15 per hour that many fast food workers are now demanding. I have read repeatedly that many economists project that to equal the buying power of the $2.00 and $3.00 per hour minimum wages of many years past, that the minimum wage today should realistically be in the $22.00 per hour range. Yes, one can survive on $30k per year, but I'm betting that if Carl was making closer to $46k per year, he might be more inclined to purchase the insurance rather than pay the penalty. And I'm also betting the he'd probably be happy to have it deducted right out of his pay as a "health care tax" for a good single payer plan that he never has to worry about. While Wall St. is getting ready to release $90 BILLION in just bonuses at the end of this year, I find it hard to argue that there isn't enough money in the economy to have a $22.00 per hour minimum wage.
 
 
+1 # Dudu101 2013-12-25 13:46
I will inject some more. I was told last fall by insurance agent that high deductible insurance often reduces out-of-pocket indirectly. Because the insurance co. contracts with your health provider, pushing the charges through the insurance provider discounts the charges. This makes it harder to reach the deductible, so the insurance co. is happy. Carl would be happy to pay less out-of-pocket, assuming he would not reach his deductible anyway.
 
 
+6 # ganymede 2013-12-25 13:43
Carl, a very nice piece, but you miss the point, which is very simply that the only rational outcome for our medical mess is Medicare for all which will put the US out there as the country offering the world's best healthcare for its citizens. The reason why every developed country now has vastly better healthcare for all its citizens is because they've recognized that good healthcare is a Human Right, and they've chased the private health insurance companies out of the business of regulating health care. When the main goal is to make money out of sickness you wind up with what we currently have. To Obama's credit, he is the first politician to open the door and shed light on our corrupt healthcare system. If all of us push we will have universal, socialized, whatever you want to call it, healthcare for all in 2-3 years and Carl Gibson won't have to worry about his deductible, and, yes, those 1 percenters will still be able to get their private insurance plans.
 
 
+1 # rtwx 2013-12-25 14:00
While I most emphatically concur with the vast majority of what Mr. Gibson has written and share his reasoning for the most part, There are two assertions that he makes with which I most emphatically do not.
The first is that private health insurance should NOT be abolished. This is the same draconian approach that the right uses to justify its moralistic interventions to so much national detriment. If private insurers wish to compete with a single-payer system, LET THEM! Healthcare should be treated in the same vein as public education. If you want to send your kids to private school, do so, but you still have to support the public system.
The other objection I have is the writer's assertion that healthcare is a right. It is not! Like a free public education it is a worthy benefit. This may seem a trite distinction, but it is not. As a retired teacher, I can assure that many if not most of the problems we have in public education stem from the blurring of this distinction. The only proper justification for the loss of a right is the violation the right of another. A benefit, on the other hand, can be lost if one does not comply with the conditions of the benefit. So, for example, if a child repeatedly disrupts the learning environment, that child should be removed from the classroom. The actual RIGHT to an education redounds on the parents. Similarly, if you smoke, drink excessively or otherwise make no effort to provide minimal self-care, a penalty is not inappropriate.
 
 
0 # Susan1989 2013-12-26 21:40
There is a huge problem with this philsophy in terms of health care. This could be extended to mean that the health system could force people to take certain drugs, innoculations, tests...or be denied treatment. Just try telling a dentist that you don't want xrays.
 
 
+4 # Sarek 2013-12-25 14:29
Those who truly cannot afford the healthcare should be covered by the subsidies or covered under Medicaid (of course, the Republican-cont rolled states have undermined this for millions). The rest, apparently like Carl Gibson probably can't afford the premiums because of their $150 cable bill with premium channels, their $150 smart phone bill, and so on. And, of course, they don't believe they will have a medical problem, will get into a car accident, will have something else happen to them. Then, they will go to the hospital or the ER and not be able to pay the costs and the rest of us who have carried insurance since we left home will get to pick up the tab. And they will still bitch about it.

Carl, grow up and take a little responsibility for your life.
 
 
+1 # William P. Homans 2013-12-26 10:22
Quoting Sarek:
Those who truly cannot afford the healthcare should be covered by the subsidies or covered under Medicaid (of course, the Republican-controlled states have undermined this for millions). The rest, apparently like Carl Gibson probably can't afford the premiums because of their $150 cable bill with premium channels, their $150 smart phone bill, and so on. And, of course, they don't believe they will have a medical problem, will get into a car accident, will have something else happen to them. Then, they will go to the hospital or the ER and not be able to pay the costs and the rest of us who have carried insurance since we left home will get to pick up the tab. And they will still bitch about it.

Carl, grow up and take a little responsibility for your life.


*****************************

I own no smartphone, nor TV, much less premium channels (I grew up when watching TV was free after you bought the set). I own everything I have. No mortgage, no payments.
I will NOT bankrupt myself on health care if I get sick or injured. I'm almost 65, and I will go ahead and die with dignity, as my mother did at 78, or take only what Part A Medicare pays, if I choose to repair myself.
I should be allowed to make this responsible adult decision. But if I am not, I will pay the penalty.
I have 4 pre-existing conditions. I am privately uninsurable. However, I have recovered from everything I have had, and I refuse to bet that I will get sick or hurt.
 
 
+1 # AndreM5 2013-12-26 11:16
WPH: You do know that denying insurance for pre-existing conditions is now illegal due to the ACA?
 
 
0 # Susan1989 2013-12-26 21:50
At 65 you are eligible for medicare part B...which is available to all. Some of your statements are incorrect.
 
 
+1 # Malcolm 2013-12-27 23:03
I'd have to check but I think I'm paying $80-10/month for part B.
 
 
+6 # tref 2013-12-25 16:36
I think perhaps Carl doesn’t know what the word insurance means. That’s understandable for anyone under 70 because they weren’t alive and paying premiums when “insurance” actually meant insurance.

Insurance, sans quotes, is that which one purchases expecting to never use it. So how does insurance work? Well, you pay a fee to a company and in return, IF you have a loss that is greater than your deductible, the company steps in and pays it for you.

In the late 90s early 2000s, I made somewhere around $20,000. My Blue Cross insurance which started out at about $100/month with a $3000 deductible steadily rose till just before I went on Medicare, I was paying close to $300/month with a $5000 deductible. Did I like that? Hell no. But… it was insurance.

In 2007 I had a fall that resulted in 21 broken ribs and two collapsed lungs. The helicopter flight alone cost $18,000. The 10-day hospital bill over $200,000. Doctors, drugs, all the usual expenses associated with a bad accident at least another $100,000. And I was to pay that how???? My home was only worth about $30,000, net of mortgage. Savings? About $120,000 in IRAs. Without insurance, I would have been wiped out and STILL owed at least $150,000. But I HAD insurance. I paid my $5000 deductible and Anthem took care of the rest.

Do I prefer paying Medicare’s $100/month? Sure. Did I STOP paying for Anthem before I got Medicare? Hell no. My mama didn’t raise a fool.
 
 
+1 # davidr 2013-12-25 18:04
Well said. We commonly think of insurance as an ACQUISITION ("buying a policy") when in reality it is a DISPOSITION. We displace a certain risk upon the insurance company, which accepts it for a fee. It's an odd kind of "product", a bet really, wherein we collect if we lose, and not if we win. All we get in the transaction is an intangible quality of assurance. And like you, tref, I've never met anyone who was sorry about having no insurance CLAIM, but I've met a few who were sorry about having no insurance.
 
 
0 # WestWinds 2013-12-25 18:46
Hey, peeps, go to Netflix and watch:

Underground: The Julian Assange Story

It's a must see.
 
 
+3 # tomslockett 2013-12-25 20:22
Quoting Susan1989:
...I will go one step further in saying that the resistance to a single payer plan in the US is only a symptom of a far deeper problem at the heart of American culture which worships at the shrine of its capitalistic system. It has gotten to the point where people are viewed merely as cogs to feed the system that benefits a few at the expense of the rest of us. This has bred a sense of loneliness, isolation, and fear which is of late emerging as rage--which is why we are hearing more and more stories of acts of mass violence. These are not isolated incidents...but more an expression of hopelessness and desperation at the increasingly impersonal and cold environment that we have become entrenched in without fully realizing its toxicity. Our young people are feeling more intensely what we as adults have somehow managed to push under the rug. Basically we as a country have become cruel.


Susan is correct, cruel. The ACA is torturous to the poor who cannot afford it. They are forced to play a cruel game of predicting an unknown future by gambling with Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum poker chips, or pay a fine, none of which are "affordable" options to them. Some fortunates who can afford it are looking down their noses and righteously accusing them of "wanting" to gamble and recklessly taking risks for themselves and their families. These costs are nothing to many wealthy Platinumers. It is downright mean, cruel, to blame the entrapped poor.
 
 
-1 # irvingwood 2013-12-25 23:09
The author of this articles an ass. The reason we pay even when we are not sick is called cross subsidisation. You are paying for somebody else's treatment, so that when you get sick they will pay for yours. I find it alarming that an American cannot grasp this arrangement, which is the basis for all communally-held industries and services. You don't give a policeman a credit card when you call for one, you pay for it through progressive taxes, levied according to the value of your home and your income or wealth. That is pure communism. Drawing according to need, and contributing according to ability. What do we have to do to persuade you that your health-care will improve when you kick the private investors out of the market and help each other.
 
 
+2 # Activista 2013-12-25 23:39
Author is very pragmatic ... simple calculation show that he is better off WITHOUT insurance industrial complex in the USA.
USA Money = power culture is way off as the health care goes. Young person can travel to Mexico or Cuba and get the fix there - universal health care is only viable option for the USA - any civilized society has it - till then these private fixes are jokes.
 
 
+2 # Alice W 2013-12-26 17:59
right, young person can pay thousands to fly to Mexico and Cuba--and live there while they take his appendix out. Or treat his brain injury when he falls off his bike. yes, universal health care is the only way; but until we get that, give ACA the benefit of the doubt--sign up.
 
 
+2 # cabotool 2013-12-26 02:39
I am a well educated, very creative engineer, age 78. I am very well cared for by Mayo Clinic. My wife, age 50 will be in America in March of 2014. She is in very good health and I cringe at the costs/poor care I see for her with the ACA. My reaction to this situation is to seriously consider leaving the USA to live in some other country. Perhaps Australia, Russia or Ukraine. My wife speaks perfect Russian and I speak enough Russian to get by. The prospect of ever increasing premiums to benefit the corrupt health care system of America makes me feel sick. I would rather live free in a foreign country than to participate in the health care system of America.
 
 
+3 # RoseM 2013-12-26 08:12
What happened to government of the people, by the people and for the people....
What we have is government of the rich by the lobbyists and politicians and for the rich. NPI, no people involved. When did we stop caring for the masses of hungry, down trodden and freedom seeking people, or did we never care for them.
 
 
+3 # Nell H 2013-12-26 08:37
When our children were young and didn't have health insurance, my husband and I bought catastrophic insurance to cover then.

Why? Because we knew that we would sell everything we had and bankrupt ourselves if one of our children was sick or injured and money could help them recover.

This 26-year old is shortsighted. One in four people uses hospital services every year. People don't realize how high hospital costs are until they encounter them. This lady can buy a silver policy for about $200/month.
 
 
+3 # Nell H 2013-12-26 08:54
How much of our current insurance payments actually cover the cost of hospital treatment for the uninsured? A recent article in Vanity Fair claims that it is as much as 1/3 of premiums paid to private insurance companies.

If this is true -- if we are all paying a lot of money to cover the treatment of the uninsured, we ought to all want see these people pay their own way.
 
 
0 # Billy Bob 2013-12-26 09:19
Thank you, Nell. Great comments.
 
 
+2 # William P. Homans 2013-12-26 10:04
I will be 65 this April. I have at least 4 pre-existing conditions (though I have completely recovered from all of them) according to the insurance industry, which has turned me down flat since 1998 since I had the first of them (an ischemic stroke). One Blue Cross representative said my premiums (after my 2002 heart attack) would be about $16,000 per year, for a $1500 deductible.

Personally, I am ready to die with dignity. My one child has left home, and by my own labor I own my home free and clear, as well as every other possession I have.

I'm not going to a hospital if something goes really wrong with me. I have lived a rich (in experience, not money) full life, and I intend to leave everything I have to my heir, not to an insurance company in advance, or a bunch of doctors and hospitals at the end. I pay between $42 and $65 per visit to an excellent chiropractor. If some illness does get to me, I will decide whether it is worth fixing with cash. Till then, I will pay the penalty for not being insured. When I was in Norway, where I was treated for the most recent of my pre-existing conditions in 2010, all treatment AND doctors' fees (3 MDs involved) cost me about $500 US. Here, the same would have cost me thousands. And I wasn't even a citizen there!
Damn and Blast the American capitalist health system. I will not take part! I will go ahead and die first, and cheerily. It HAS BEEN a wonderful life. Merry Christmas, or whatever you celebrate, to all.
 
 
+2 # AndreM5 2013-12-26 11:22
For Pete's sake, your pre-existing conditions CANNOT be used to deny you insurance ANY LONGER! The ACA has been in effect for a long time now. Healthcare workers don't want you to die because you don't want to pay for care. They don't want to bankrupt you either anymore than they want to go broke caring for the sick without insurance. Our healthcare system may be stupid and immoral and the ACA may be a half-a$$ed half step but it isn't worth dying over!
 
 
+1 # rmk948 2013-12-26 13:05
It's interesting to see the fury that Mr. Gibson elicited by stating that he planned to be a "rational actor" with his decision on healthcare. Some of the posters sound as if they would soil themselves with glee if here were to get seriously injured or develop cancer. If a program can only work if large numbers of people can be conned into buying into it, don't be surprised if it fails sooner or later.
 
 
0 # Alice W 2013-12-26 17:28
You are a fool. I'm sure this has been stated elsewhere, but you are saying that I as a taxpayer have to pay your health care costs--and you will need health care. Well, I refuse. If you won't take care of yourself I don't feel the need to take care of you either. You can roll the dice, but you have to pay your way. If you can't pay because you have chosen not to have insurance, sorry for your luck. You have choices, and responsibilitie s. Grow up.
 
 
+2 # tarantilla 2013-12-26 18:15
Only a matter of time before you get a huge hospital bill(double or triple what insurance company pays). You could afford a lower deductable plan, you choose instead to waste money on car payments. Now you pay a fine, soon you will pay with your life when hospitals don't treat people who don't/can't pay. and taxpayers will no longer foot your medical bills.
 
 
+3 # Blandis 2013-12-26 21:56
Here are the reasons you should pay for health insurance rather than pay the penalty

1) As an insurance holder you will benefit from the negotiated rates not applicable to non-insurees. This is significant, availing you of the $80 office visit vice the $250 visit and equivalent savings for drugs.

2) You will use healthcare differently as an insuree. You are more likely to go to the doctor to have that spot on your arm checked for melanoma. The delay may be the difference between stage 1 melanoma (treatable) and stage 4 melanoma (untreatable). Check out the Texan who had a fever and waited two weeks because he had no insurance. He got to the hospital two weeks later and died within 2 days of H1N1 swine flu.

3) As an insuree, you get certain free preventative services including annual checkups, X-rays, etc. Will you go without checkups because you have to pay?

4) Look at the 20 year outlook for likely expenses. If, in the next 20 years, you fall down and hit your head, putting you n the emergency room and a three day hospital stay requiring MRI and other diagnostic care, how would you deal with the $30,000 bill? Over a 20-year period, this kid of an event is relatively likely, even for someone who believes himself to be in good health.
 
 
+1 # falken 2014-05-04 11:15
I agree, insurance is important to have and all your points are very valid. However, what does one do when their potential to pay for this service exceeds their disposable income by $50 a month? The cost of everything is very high, and some simply can not absorb such a huge addition to what is already being paid out. I don't qualify for discounts via healthcare.gov and I just can not afford the premiums they offer despite what the government has taken upoon themselves to assume I can afford.
 
 
+5 # tauzinger 2013-12-26 22:00
A friend had kidney stone surgery today because just in time for the holidays she started to have agonizing pains and the beginning of an infection. Thinking of our friend Carl I was curious how much he would pay without insurance, and the national average for this routine procedure is $17,000.
 
 
+3 # cymricmorty 2013-12-27 09:12
Whether an accident or illness does or doesn't strike, and no matter who or what pays for it, underlying all arguments for or against the ACA, is the fact that medical care and anything related to it is too hideously expensive in this country.
 
 
+5 # GlennCaton 2013-12-27 09:34
Having read the voluminous comments on this article, I marvel at a continuous commonality among them that is not addressed by either the article or the comments: the first "A" of the ACA, affordable.

When three quarters of workers make less than it costs them to live on their own, buy a mid sized car every nine years, responsibly insure themselves,save 10% of their income for emergencies, and plan a retirement after age 67, it should not come as a surprise to anyone that nobody can afford even reasonably priced insurance. In order to do those things, you need to earn a salary of at least $48,632 a year or $24.32 an hour. For our society to work, that HAS to be the new minimum wage, with cost of living figured on the basis of durable like a car or the cost of rent.

For point of reference, that was slightly less than the average manufacturing worker twenty years ago when the manufacture of consumer goods for domestic consumption formed the largest segment of the United States' Gross Domestic Product (according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis)

This problem was caused almost exclusively by our involvement in the World Trade Organization and the International Monetary Fund, based on the hubris that U.S. Workers could be convinced to compete on a level playing field with workers from sweatshop nations that could be easily bribed to ignore worker rights and environmental standards.
 
 
+2 # Malcolm 2013-12-27 23:13
Excellent points. Without a fair minimum wage, all of us are giving walmart and their ilk a giant subsidy, thru our tax dollars. How fair is that?
 
 
+2 # GlennCaton 2013-12-27 09:52
If we were all making a reasonable living wage, we could mostly take care of ourselves.

By suppressing wages we socialize the operation of irresponsible business and create an environment where business expects to have their expenses socialized and their profits privatized. This is why the stock market soars as incomes plummet.

Globalization has harmed everyone in the world except those who have corrupted themselves into control of their countries. The countries least effected by globalism are those with high tax burdens that penalize large incomes. Unfortunately, many of these countries have also outsourced consumer goods manufacture and are experiencing the high unemployment and underemployment that is the necessary consequence of that policy.

We have a hard choice: internalize and maintain mass prosperity, or continue globalization and ensure inequality.

Affordable Health Care is just the most proximate symptom of a questionable direction.
 
 
+2 # chemtex2611 2013-12-27 10:30
Silly, silly, silly……
If you have NO insurance, you will pay 3 times more than everyone else for the same service. There's a less than 1% chance that you will need $3000 worth of health care any year in the near future. Well, for you, it looks higher.

However, if you are severely injured, you will risk bankruptcy as a result of the medical bills and rehab coast.
 
 
0 # falken 2014-05-04 11:05
Quoting chemtex2611:
Silly, silly, silly……
If you have NO insurance, you will pay 3 times more than everyone else for the same service. There's a less than 1% chance that you will need $3000 worth of health care any year in the near future. Well, for you, it looks higher.

However, if you are severely injured, you will risk bankruptcy as a result of the medical bills and rehab coast.


It's so weird that my doctor here offers lower prices when I didn't have insurance. Because he knows when I paid cash he got paid, some of the insurance companies deny payment and cause rifts between the doctor and his patients when he has to send them to collections. I'm in arizona, my health plan is to go to mexico if I need health care, they're just as good as we are but they charge a reasonable price and use the same techniques and medicine.
 
 
-1 # DLT888 2013-12-27 11:29
Good for you, Carl!!! We need more people like you to stand up against this FASCIST law of forcing people to throw their much-needed money to the super-rich insurance companies. I'm proud of you!
 
 
+2 # MylesJ 2013-12-27 12:23
Carl,

My sister got cancer when she was 30 and spent nearly 6 months in and out of the hospital before she was well again. Insurance paid out between $300K and $500K by my estimates. I too believe in single payer insurance but don't impoverish yourself for life trying to pay back a medical bill like that one.
 
 
+1 # BigSkyMikeSmith 2014-01-24 09:42
I realize that as Mr. Gibson states it the very first line of his article, he "didn't ace math in school." He then later asks "Does it make more fiscal sense to pay $3800 to $6800 a year to have health insurance and see a doctor when shit happens, or to pay $300 to be uninsured and hope for the best?" Using the numbers he states, his annual cost will be $1,500 per year ($150 times 12 minus the $300 penalty) if no "shit happens" - his words - up to $1,500 per year , assuming he chooses the lowest deductible, because as he said, he does not plan on using it. The answer to his question is unequivocally: "YES!"
I see his shortsighted argument, and there are many excellent comments below showing examples of its errors, but to inflate numbers, especially costs to illustrate a point is disingenuous and misleading at best.
 
 
+1 # falken 2014-05-04 10:59
I'm a relatively young individual and I am not getting insurance this year for the reasons Carl states. To those of you that say you are playing with fire by not getting coverage.... If you are barely scraping by to save $100 a month after all expenses are covered, then adding a bill of $150 on top of that puts you in the red. No matter what way you cut it, you can't afford it. Should he get rid of his car so he can have insurance? Should he go without a phone? Should he lower the quality of his life right now to comply with the law? I need my car, I need my phone, I can't cut them out. Here is the mindset of the young with limited financial options. If I break an arm, I'll get in my car and crash it into a wall and file a claim to get medical coverage that way, if it's a hospital bill, I am not paying it, and I'll file bankrupcy. The problem is the costs need to be addressed, and that's not being done, they're not working on the problem, and this won't be solved.

Carl can save $300 over the course of 12 months to pay this ridiculous fine. He can't afford to take on $150 in additional costs regardless of what it is for, that's the real problem.
 
 
0 # FL Resident 2014-06-28 13:04
Your comments about the overpricing of plans on the health care exchange is very accurate and on target. A person with a relatively healthy lifestyle is very unlikely to have catastrophic medical costs.

On the other hand, many people underestimate the costs of full-taxpayer funded systems. Many total around 20% of earned income. That is in addition to other income taxes. In the United Kingdom, their National Health System (NHS) is supported by payroll taxes totaling about 20% of earned income - 9% employee and 11% employer. France's system is supported by a 14% employer tax plus other taxes that total 21%. Most economists believe that employees ultimately pay the entire payroll tax, including the employer portion, through lower wages.

That makes intuitive sense, as businesses don't plan to lose money when they hire people, and competing businesses seeking the same employee must also pay the sames taxes.

With that in mind, a European-style system would probably cost a person earning $30,000 an additional $6,000 per year, comparable to plans here. Basically, the $30,000 job would become a $27,000 job, with the employer and employee each paying $3,000 per year, and leaving the employee with $6,000 less income.

To really lower health care costs, we need to look at the biggest causes. Obese people, for example, cost 4 times as much to insure as normal or overweight persons. Insurance could be priced to give discounts for not being obese.
 
 
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