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Personalizing the insurance discussion

23 March 2010
  • In February I was surfing the knitting community site Ravelry and came across the blog of a 30-something academic who writes about and designs knitting patterns. She had just suffered a stroke, and since then she’s been recording her experiences in rehab and describing the difficulties and small successes in re-learning how to make her body do what we all do without thinking: sitting, standing, walking, creating. One thing I recently realized she never talked about was any bureaucratic issues with insurance coverage or payment of the intensive rehab treatment she’s undergoing. No surprise, seeing as she lives in Scotland. But what a gift it is to be able to focus all your attention on getting well, and not having to concern yourself with payment, continuation of care, or treatment caps.
  • I spent an hour yesterday chatting with a college senior over coffee about freelancing, copyediting, and freelance copyediting. Her largest concern wasn’t finding a job (although that will certainly be difficult in these loopy financial times) but finding herself without insurance coverage. She was leaning towards putting her dreams aside and taking any old job just so she wouldn’t be among the uninsured. (Although, after yesterday’s vote, we are at least moving in the right direction!)
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6 Comments leave one →
  1. 23 March 2010 12:04 pm

    “She was leaning towards putting her dreams aside and taking any old job just so she wouldn’t be among the uninsured.” — I really don’t understand this kind of thinking (though it’s incredibly commonplace). Insurance is an expense, yes, but so is a car, a cellphone, an apartment. Can she afford those items? Is she really that close to the financial edge? Am I missing something?

  2. Three of Four permalink
    23 March 2010 12:24 pm

    Wil: I don’t think it’s that simple. The (thankfully) few times I’ve faced the possiblity of having to buy my own health insurance because I didn’t have or wasn’t eligible for company-sponsored insurance, the monthly premiums rivalled my rent. I could not afford both and still eat — not without losing electricity, heat, and basic supplies, or without defaulting on less negligible debts/obligations.

    Sure, used cars can be had cheap to avoid that big expense; and city living can eliminate their need entirely. Cell phones can be eliminated, too. But, as a recent college graduate in this job market, she probably could not afford her rent AND independent insurance — even if she cuts out those luxuries. Even with the credits and subsidies from the new legislation, the premiums will be a bigger expense than most new graduates are ready for. I think we still have so much more to do with healthcare in the U.S.!

  3. 23 March 2010 12:40 pm

    I guess it depends on the insurance (cost vs. coverage, deductible, etc.), your needs, your health, etc. My wife and I have never been attracted to company-sponsored insurance. And our insurance costs have always been far, far below the cost of housing.

  4. 23 March 2010 1:16 pm

    Although we don’t have the same problem here in the UK because of the wonders of the National Health Service, I can really sympathise. It never ceases to amaze me that a modern, first-world nation has no basic healthcare as an automatic right; when I read blogs where people either struggle to get insurance or find that they can’t pay the bills insurance won’t cover, it just astounds me. Hopefully this is a (small) step in the direction of rectifying this.

  5. Peaceable Imperatrix permalink*
    23 March 2010 4:00 pm

    Three of Four, thanks for the great response. Wil, I did say to her that if one has to go uninsured, the best time to do it would be right out of college; but later I felt that may have been making too many assumptions. Maybe she’s under care for a chronic illness right now, maybe she’s on birth control, maybe she’s particularly accident-prone (I have a sister who was that way when she was younger)? I also think that we always underestimate the usefulness of proactive care: with health care, you go in for your yearly check-up, your twice-a-year dental cleanings, and problems can be dealt with while they are small and easily fixed, rather than waiting until they are more tenacious and perhaps life-threatening. She wants to get into the publishing industry, and there are many internships in NYC — unpaid! So even if she could cobble together enough money to survive in NYC for a year without income, there’s no way she could afford any sort of independent insurance on top of that.

    EW: Yep, it’s really too bad that insurance in the US began as something that was tied to employment. All these changes we need to make now seem over-expensive and overwhelming, but only because we’re trying to play catch-up on the rest of the developed world.

  6. 23 March 2010 9:23 pm

    We’ve been in that “any old job for insurance” category — actually, we’re still sort of there. Spending $20k+ in a year for COBRA and spending almost 2 years to find coverage for a healthy family of 4 who are not under treatment for any condition, yet still routinely denied is definitely a big stress that “any old job” can “help”.

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