I am 60 years old, and I have never paid for medical insurance in my life. The only time I ever had it was as a child, covered by my parents. People ask me how I sleep at night knowing that I could be wiped out, and I tell them: like a baby.
First, medical insurance has nothing to do with keeping me well, and, it’s staying well that matters to me. So, I pursue that quite avidly. But, why should I bet against myself by spending hundreds of dollars every month on the prospect of my failing? I refuse to live that way.
But, I also know that, for a healthy person, medical insurance is a very bad investment. Of course, if you are getting it for free from the government, or if it’s part of your compensation from your employer, it may be a very good deal. But, since I am self-employed, neither applies to me. So, let’s put it this way: unsubsidized health insurance is a very bad deal for a healthy person, and it’s because the system is rigged against the healthy.
The cost of insurance is supposed to hinge on risk. In some areas, risks are spread out pretty evenly. For instance, with automobile insurance, we all pay about the same rate, although there is some recognition of individual risk. If you have a clean driving record, and if you haven’t had traffic tickets, you may get a little discount. But, it usually isn’t much, and that’s because no matter how good a driver you are, you can’t control all the risks, particularly, other drivers. That’s why traffic density is the biggest factor in determining auto insurance rates. Obviously, age is also a big factor. Younger people have more accidents, so they pay higher rates.
And with fire insurance, you may get a discount for doing various safety things, such as installing smoke detectors, but it doesn’t amount to much either. Ultimately, you pay based on the value of your house and the cost of replacement.
But, health insurance should be different. My risk of experiencing a heart attack in the next twelve months is much more predictable than whether I am going to be involved in a car wreck or a house fire. With today’s advanced technology, it is possible to accurately assess my risk of having a heart attack, for instance, through safe, affordable VAP testing, which involves intricate testing of blood lipids. Then, there is carotid artery ultrasound which, without ionizing radiation, can tell you whether your carotid arteries are clogged or open. And it’s reasonable to assume that whatever the condition of your carotid arteries, your coronaries are probably about the same. Carotid artery ultrasound, including the radiology report, only costs a few hundred dollars.
Heart disease is still the most deadly and expensive disease in the US. If it can be shown that my arteries are healthy, I should get a huge break for that. It isn’t a matter of luck. Heart attacks don’t come on like hail storms. If my arteries are clear, I should be placed into a special low-risk category with other people like myself where our money is pooled at low rates- very low rates. But, that isn’t done. There is very little consideration given to being low-risk in the health insurance business because: the whole idea is to get healthy people to pay for sick people and to deliver huge profits to the insurance companies, the drug companies, and the whole medical establishment.
The New York Times reported in May of this year that “The nation’s major health insurers are barreling to a third year of record profits. Yet, the companies continue to press for higher premiums, even though their reserve coffers are flush with cash, and shareholders have been rewarded with new dividends.”
Where are those profits coming from? Obviously not from sick people. Those poor folks are generating huge costs for the insurers. The profits are coming from healthy people and from taxpayers, like you and me, since government pays about half the nation’s medical bills. So, I know I am contributing to their windfall profits indirectly through my taxes, but do I also want to hand them cash directly? I really don’t.
And like the gambling house that sets the odds so that they can’t lose, so too do the insurance companies. Either, they offer me good coverage at an outrageously high price, or they offer me outrageously poor coverage at a lower price. Either way, I stand to lose, and they stand to win. I get pitches almost daily from medical insurers: by phone, mail, and e-mail. It’s the phone calls that really irritate me. Why are they doing this? It’s not because they’re worried about my health. They just want me to pony up. And it has to be that way because the premiums that I, and others like me, pay have to cover all the expenses of the sick people (which, as you know, are huge) plus the operating costs of the insurance company, plus the regulatory costs, plus provide them handsome profits, bonuses, golden parachutes, etc. The only way that I could possibly come out ahead is if something hugely catastrophic happened to me. And even then, it’s not clear that, over the course of a lifetime, that I would come out ahead. And that’s especially true for young adults.
It’s the young people I most want to speak to. You are just starting out your adult life. There’s a certain amount of insurance you have to buy, such as auto insurance. The state makes you buy it. And if you get a house and have a mortgage, you are forced to buy fire insurance. Of course, I realize that you might want to buy those kinds of insurance anyway. But that may be costing you around, say, $2000/yr. But, you are also spending 15% of your income on retirement insurance (Social Security), and they're not even saving that for you. It truly is a Ponzi scheme. It's going right out to other people, and not a dime is being put aside for you. And of course, you have no choice about that either. Are you willing to spend several thousand more each year on medical insurance? If you do, look how much you are going to spend over the course of your lifetime. And if all goes well and you stay healthy, it’s not as though you are going to get any credit for the money paid in. Every time you reach another significant milestone, such as age 30, age 40, age 50, the rate goes up. I was shocked to see how much my rate went up just for turning 60. Hey, I feel as healthy at 60 as I did at 59. But, those actuaries and statisticians know the score. They know what has to be brought in. You are just a cog in the wheel.
So, what should you do instead? Do like me, and go naked. Hey, it’s not so terrible. If something comes up, and you need some medical attention, you pay cash. And, many doctors today offer discounts to cash customers. Substantial discounts. And don’t be afraid to ask for such discounts. When doctors don’t have to bother with insurance filings, it saves them time and money. And since many insured individuals have high deductibles, it’s comforting to realize that that the initial money you spend would have come out of your pocket anyway, despite having insurance.
Second, increase the medical coverage on your auto insurance policy because trauma is a risk we all face, and the greatest risk of trauma comes from vehicular accidents. Here in Texas, the state won’t allow me to buy more than $10,000 of accident-related medical coverage. But, I can buy as much as I want of uninsured/under-insured motorist protection. I bought $1,000,000 worth, and it cost very little more. But, it means I’m covered only if I am not responsible for the accident. But, that’s a risk I’m willing to take. I am more than willing to bet on myself- on my ability to not cause an accident.
As for being a victim of violent crime at home, first, I am armed, so criminals beware. Second, I signed up to receive daily reports about crimes within a 5 mile radius of my home. Go to www.spotcrime.com and sign up to monitor what is going on in your neighborhood. You’ll get a report every day. It will give you a sense of awareness which is the first step towards home security.
Then, since I lack medical insurance, I avoid high-risk activities. I don’t ski. I don’t go motor biking. I don’t play with firecrackers. There’s lots of stuff I don’t do. I’m just a boring guy, but I’m happy.
But, the biggest thing that gives me solace about going uninsured is realizing that medical care, itself, involves risk- a lot of it. How many people are injured or killed by Medicine each year? Thousands. Realize that Medicine is mostly about getting you to take pharmaceutical drugs. But, there aren’t too many I would be willing to take- under any circumstances, even if I were insured. For instance, the statin drugs, such as Lipitor and Zocor, for high cholesterol, I would not be willing to take even if I had high cholesterol, which I don’t. None of the drugs for hypertension would I be willing to take: not the diuretics, not the angiotensin inhibitors, and not the calcium channel blockers. I’d sooner live with hypertension (although I’m sure I would pursue other, safer methods to get the pressure down, and I would get it down). The only drug for Type 2 Diabetes that I would be willing to consider, if I were to become diabetic, is Metformin, which is based on a natural herbal substance. But, generic Metformin is cheap. Or, I could take the natural, non-prescription form of it which is even cheaper: the herb known as goats rue.
If I had cancer, I would not be interested in getting chemotherapy. However, I might let them operate to excise the tumor, but only if it were practical and efficient to do so, where I could get in and out of the hospital quickly, such as a localized, accessible colon cancer, or certainly a skin cancer, the removal of which is usually an office procedure.
I don’t think I am ever going to develop clinical heart disease, but even if I did, there is absolutely nothing about conventional cardiology that I think is correct: not the drugs, not the bypass operations- nothing. Figuratively speaking, if they took all the conventional cardiologists and dropped them in the middle of the deep blue sea, the world would be better off. So why should I pay for the coverage?
The bottom line is that of the three big killers- heart disease, cancer, and diabetes- the only standard medical treatment that I would consider is Metformin for diabetes. And I don’t need insurance for that. If it comes down to it, I can afford to buy it, and I can manage it myself too. But, if necessary, I could get a doctor to help me, and I could even do so online. And I am talking about responsible, competent, affordable medical help.
Don’t be shocked, but my attitude is that most pharmaceutical drugs are outright poisons to be shunned. They don’t even purport to cure anything. They are all about suppressing, twisting, and manipulating symptoms- while doing serious harm in the process. The exceptions are few, Metformin being one of them.
But, here’s another reason why I pass on medical insurance. You know that there is an alliance between Medicine and the State. If you support one, you support the other. When you put money into medical coffers each month, you increase their power to force vaccinations on children and to pass the liability on to taxpayers, to control health education in the schools, to use the fascist FDA to corner their markets and destroy their competition, etc. In practice, orthodox Medicine is a mixture of good and bad (with more bad than good in my opinion), but as an institution, Medicine is altogether as corrupt and duplicitous as Government itself. Why would you want to support it and make it stronger?
So, if you are essentially healthy, and your only option is to buy unsubsidized health insurance, don’t even think about doing it- even if you can afford it. Join me in trying to weaken the system. Let’s take this Goliath down. And if you’re inclined to worry about it, then take whatever money you would have spent on medical insurance each month and put it into a special medical savings account for yourself instead. It will build up quickly.
And of course, you should start taking responsibility for your health by eating whole, natural, unrefined foods, and I mean all the time. And you should exercise. And you should secure adequate rest and sleep. And, you should consider a good nutritional supplement program. And you should get your weight where it needs to be. And you should drop any and all destructive habits, such as smoking, drinking, drugs, etc. Why wait until you are old to get serious about your health?
Of course, unfortunately, they’re on to us, and with ObamaCare, we are slated to be forced to buy medical insurance, starting in 2014. But that’s a couple of years off, and even mainstream presidential candidates for 2012 are calling for its repeal. It is also being challenged in the federal courts. It remains to be seen whether it will ever come to pass.
But for now, I say cast off your medical shackles. You know how the word is spreading that, for many young people, a traditional college education is a bad investment. Well, it is equally true that for healthy people of any age, unsubsidized medical insurance is a bad investment. It’s not about helping you; it’s about you supporting the system. So, break free of it. Go naked, Baby!