Thursday, July 23, 2009

I saved about $150,000

That's entirely true.

More than 10 years ago we were forced to look at our health insurance because of a premium hike. We paid almost $1,200 per month to BlueCross for a family of three. We decided to cut the costs for reasons more compelling than free-market principles, and canceled our insurance. We figured that the benefit doesn't add up to the costs. It wasn't only the premium but the co-pays, the stuff they didn't cover, exclusions, and so on, added to the premium that would, at average, come to more than $1,400 per month. That's $18,720 per year, or a small car, cash, every year.

At first we thought it would be a bit of a shame to admit that we don't have insurance. But, we quickly learned to say that we don't have insurance, we pay cash. Not a single of our health care providers refused to give us huge discounts. Now, we were flying solo, so to speak. Our costs immediately plummeted to about $100 per month or even less on some months.

There was a constant fear that something serious might go wrong and, sure enough, it did. My daughter had migraine headaches and my wife contracted a rare skin disease that made her skin just fall off leaving large, gaping wounds. The medication she took caused cataracts and rendered her legally blind within three years.

Ta-da! Progress report: Her skin condition will, according to all expectations, finally clear up this year after more than four years of daily dressings, hospital stays, in-home nurse care, and so on. My wife has brand new lenses in both eyes done by the best surgeon in the country (we didn't skimp and chose the best), my daughter's migraines are way down, and our medical bills are plummeting.

Not wanting to bore you with gory details, our medical costs for the entire family for the time since we quit our insurer came to about $50,000. For 10 years! Doctors would sometimes cut their bills by 60%; some would say, if you come in now, or between those hours you can get it at such and such a discount. Some would not bill us at all if it's just a consultation; you know, just talking for 10 minutes. (When we get hold of rare wines, we'd make up a package and send them some. We call it good customer relations.) I guess they figure it's sometimes a bit slow and seeing someone at a reduced rate is better than not seeing anyone at all, or sometimes it's just not worth the administration to punch up a bill for a short chat in the office. I don't know. (We are likeable people, too, so that might be a reason. ... ... ... Perhaps not.)

Let's do some math here. If we had to pay the premiums, pay the co-pays, additional costs to cover limitations, and those bills that were not covered, we were looking at about $20,000 per year with insurance, or $200,000 for the past 10 years. Without insurance, our health care cost us $50,000 for the 10 years and we didn't skimp on the important stuff.

I cannot show the money we saved today, but I sure as heck know that there was no way we could have afforded having insurance. Would it have been fair to ask the tax payers to help me keep my home or car or insurance if I stayed insured? Heck, no.

If the free market could work so well for us, living proof of that reality, why would it be bad for others?

You tell me. I don't get it.

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Seeking the truth until I find it.