But I don’t want insurance!

I’m not one for much political activism. I do vote and encourage everyone else to as well. However, when a bill is rammed through congress on a divided vote that gets no votes from one party, there’s something seriously wrong. Something as critical as health care shouldn’t be allowed to pass without votes from both parties.

The bill is over 1200 pages long! I wonder how many senators have read it fully to understand all the details themselves. I wouldn’t mind passing this in smaller bits at a time because it’s so complicated. Deal with one aspect at a time.

So here’s a copy of a letter I’m sending to my congressional delegates.

Thanks, but no thanks. That’s what I’d like to say about this new health care legislation. I’m one of the millions of people without health insurance in this country.

Mine ran out over 10 years ago when I was in college and I couldn’t afford a replacement policy. I have a heart condition and was turned down twice. The state offered a policy for those who can’t get coverage, but it cost more than my monthly salary.

I’m thankfully in relatively good health. When I go to the doctor I pay my bills out of pocket. I always tell the nurse at at the office I am on a self pay. Usually, they will allow me a few months to make payments or even reduce the bill itself if they can. I have no medical bills in collections. I understand that if I or my family needs a doctor, I’ll have to sacrifice to pay the bill, but I always pay the bills. I don’t expect others to have to pay for my basic health care.

Part of my business is running credit checks on potential tenants. I’m always amazed at how many people have relatively small medical bills (less than $1000, often less than $500) in collections and don’t seem to care. This is what’s driving up medical costs. People seeking treatment without any intention of paying the bill. These people eat out, drive (pay car loans, gas and insurance), and go to movies yet don’t pay their medical bills because they are “poor”. I’m sorry, if you can eat out and go to movies, you can pay your medical bill. You just don’t want to spend the money that way!

I can think of no other service that you can get without paying for and not get in trouble. All the doctor or medical provider can do is send you to collections. They can’t repossess your car or foreclose your house like when you don’t pay those loans. In the mean time the doctor or medical provider still has bills the pay. There should be some way for them to recoup this loss or penalize the patient without raising costs for others.

What irks me are the people who think superior medical care is a right. It’s not. You get what you pay for. If you want the best care, you have to pay more for it. Just like if you want the best plumber or chef. Doctors and health technicians are service providers, not charity workers. There’s only so many patients they can handle. Simple law of supply and demand says if you have high demand and limited supply you can get a high price. Therefore, if you want the best doctor you must pay higher costs because they are in high demand.

However, that’s only part of the reason for high costs since basic health care costs are high too. Instead of forcing those who can pay to pay for those who can’t or won’t, we should attack the cause of the high costs to begin with. We need to limit liability and lawsuits so the doctor’s insurance goes down, thereby lowering (theoretically) the patient bills. We need to do a better job of preventative care with affordable and accessible local clinics so people don’t have to wait for a crisis to seek care. To go along with those, we need to increase the number of PA’s, general and family practitioners so people don’t need to wait as long before they can be seen. We need education about what is and what isn’t a reason to go to the doctor. You don’t need to go for every sniffle or splinter. We need to have a sliding scale fee system so everyone pays at least something.

If 15-20 percent of the population doesn’t have health insurance for whatever reason, how is forcing them to get insurance going to bring costs down? Forcing insurance companies to accept anyone who applies will increase their costs, especially while restricting their income by limiting premiums. Where’s the money going to come from for the insurance company to pay the health care providers? Health care providers are going to start being picky about what insurance they will accept because the insurance companies will no longer be able to afford to pay everyone. Then what? The insurance companies will decide what care we should have, not the doctors. We’re back to HMO’s or government managed healthcare, either directly or indirectly.

Forcing business to provide health insurance raises costs of their goods or services. Businesses originally started offering health insurance to recruit better workers when they were making money. Now that times are tough, it doesn’t make sense to straddle them with this obligation. What is better in a recession: having a job with no health insurance, or having health care and no way to pay for it because your company lays you off since it can’t afford both?

If my small company has to buy insurance for workers, we will have to lay off someone. That’s a fact. I know the law is for business larger than mine, but I’m afraid it’s only time until it’s all businesses. Health insurance should be a privilege, not a right. My employees know this and would rather have a job and get their own insurance than see lower wages or layoffs. A recession is a bad time to be indirectly taxing employers by forcing them to provide health insurance (on top of workers comp, unemployment, social security and other government taxes plus liability insurance depending upon the business type).

Yes, I understand that some get better care than others. Yes, some will die because they can’t afford better care. Yes, I’m worried about paying for my care if I get seriously sick or injured. Perhaps there should be policies with very high co-pays and/or deductibles for lower premiums for people like me. This would cover me for major medical, but keep costs low for everyone else since I, not the insurance company, would be paying the smaller bills. There should also be ways for health care providers to refuse care for those who don’t pay for it so the costs can be kept low for everyone else, especially for smaller amounts (under $2500). I don’t see any of this in the current legislation (at least not in anything mentioned by the media). Otherwise, we’re in danger of socialized medicine through the guise of health insurance reform.

Health insurance shouldn’t be an entitlement. Insurance should pay bills only when a person absolutely can’t. Not just when it’s inconvenient. Does this mean people will have to sacrifice? Yes. Does this mean the system is broken? No.

No free health care. No forced insurance. That’s been tried in other countries and it doesn’t work. It brings the overall quality of care down.

Now the government has made me an outlaw. I’m going to be forced to get insurance I don’t want or pay an increasing fine. The current law does nothing to solve the reasons behind the high cost of health care. They have the cart before the horse. Chances are that if I do get insurance, it will cost more than I’m spending to pay my own medical bills. Yeah, that makes sense.

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3 Responses

  1. The Old Order Amish and Mennonite are exempt from buying most government-legislated insurance. They depend on the church to be their insurance; that is, their neighbours will help them out if they have huge medical bills they can’t pay. We’ve had to do that ourselves to some extent, since my husband’s stroke. Although his basic hospital care was covered by Canadian Health Plan, prescriptions and such are not. The church and friends from the church have helped us as we’ve needed it, since I still don’t have a job. He goes to an outreach community clinic for his basic care now, and a university hospital for specialists. People who think universal health care works should take a closer look. Prevention is the best cure. While Nicholas’s stroke was not preventable (it was due to a heart anomaly no one could have foreseen), many illnesses are, and we all need to take some responsibility for our own health care.

  2. Personal responsibility seems in short supply these days. The conservative Mennonite churches I’ve been to have a different cause each week for the offering aside from the general fund. One week may for be the school, another the food bank, another the medical bills, etc. The families pay what they can first before asking for help. If bills are larger than the congregation can support, they will ask other churches to help.

    I don’t remember what the reason was, but I had a larger than expected medical bill last year. I just casually mentioned it to a woman at church and she immediately asked if we needed help to pay it. She wasn’t trying to be condescending, but was concerned, supporting, and generous.

    Here in Fairbanks, we have spaghetti feeds and auctions to help uninsured families with major medical expenses. They’re advertised in the paper and on the news. It’s amazing. Strangers as well as friends and family are so generous as long as you’re willing to pay what you can yourself first. But to expect someone else to pay all your medical bills instead of you is irresponsible.

  3. The whole thing just aggravates me. We have medical insurance that isn’t worth the price we pay for it. We’ve often talked about going with out insurance and paying out of pocket. Of course the only thing that scares us is hospitalization/ major surgery.

    I rarely go to the Dr. I finally gave in after 3 weeks of ear pain. The Dr. ended up having to clean wax out of one of my ears so that she could see if it was infected. I had to pay $80.00 for her to spend 2 minutes getting that little bit of wax out of the way. They billed it as a surgery. My insurance refused to pay for it. My kids have asthma and my insurance won’t even pay for them to check their oxygen levels with that little device that goes on their finger. I get a bill for that every time. It’s truly frustrating!

    I could say a lot more about the government, but I’ll stop now. 🙂

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