Dec 14, 2012

Health Insurance...I think I'll pass?

I turned 26 this year which means I'm no longer covered by my parent's health insurance. It's open enrollment time for benefits at work, so it's time sign up and get some insurance to cover myself like a big girl.

Tell me if I'm being an idiot, but I don't think I'm going to do it. The insurance rates are $260/mo for just me and $514/mo if I wanted to cover me and Trevor. Which is way more than I can imagine ever spending on health care. In the last five years, I doubt our household hasn't accrued more than $400/yr in health expenses.* We're fairly healthy and fairly safe. The odds of the health insurance plan paying off are pretty low it seems.

Now, I know, insurance isn't designed to pay itself off every time (or insurance companies wouldn't even be in business); it's there to protect you in case of surprise accident or illness. Maybe I'm dumb and young and think I'm invincible, but it almost feels like health insurance is a scam preying upon people's fear of medical emergency. What are really the odds of us having something happen this year that leads to expenses of more than $6,168 (the amount we'd be paying for coverage for both of us)?

The most likely "medical emergency" I could see us running into is if I got pregnant. Oh, but wait, the plan my work is offering has a $8,000 maternity deductible before they start covering anything pregnancy-related. So pregnancy would be super expensive anyway.

I don't know. It seems worth it to take my chances and just pay out of pocket if anything comes up. Health expenses can be paid out of savings if need be and I'll be able to save more if I'm not paying for insurance. Then if we don't have medical expenses come up, it's money saved instead of money thrown away.

Again, tell me if I'm being an idiot.

*Human health expenses, at least. Veterinarian bills are a completely different story. There's some some sort of dog or cat medical emergency probably twice a year, not to mention vaccines and spay/neuter costs. Pet health insurance would pay itself off in our household.


fortitude_north said...

I hate lecture-y blog comments, but you asked and I think this is here goes. I think you're being an idiot. You absolutely should have health insurance. The biggest thing that you didn't mention that I can think of is a car accident. Not that uncommon. There are also things like appendectomies and gallstones that maybe aren't super likely, but they happen to young people and they need to be taken care of right away and they are expensive because they involve surgery. You can't put them off, you can't prevent them, and you can't see them coming. Sure, you can pay out of pocket for your normal doctor's visits and it's not a big deal, but any one of those things I just mentioned can rack you up tens of thousands of dollars without blinking. You could go into debt for years. A couple summers ago, I had heart palpitations. I had an EKG and I wore a monitor for a day and had blood work done. It didn't seem like a lot, and I was never in the hospital or anything, but it was something like $1000 worth of bills (90% of which I had covered through my insurance). That was just for tests to figure out if something was wrong (nothing was, I just drink too much coffee).

One option would be to look for something apart from your work that just covers catastrophic stuff. I'm not sure, because I get health care through school and haven't shopped around, but I think you can get something relatively cheap if you don't expect it to cover normal bills. On the other hand, from the point of view of your health, you're more likely to get things checked out early if you have good insurance, and thus more likely to catch something before it gets bad...I grew up never going to the doctor but I find myself going more now, mostly for my own peace of mind.

Anyway, that's my two cents. Love, L

Betty said...

I'm not really good with all the technical terms, but does the insurance plans cover most of the costs of work done (i.e. as long as you pay the copay, everything done at the visit is covered or they cover 80% of outpatient services, etc.)? If so, I would take advantage of all the preventive coverage then(i.e. yearly medical exams, physicals, etc), since you're paying for it anyways each month.

But you can also shop around for lower-priced plans (although i'm sure the coverage is pretty crappy), but it's for those "just in case" moments.

I have been getting sick once a month this past year, so I've been to two doctors. In August I went to UCLA Medical, and I paid my co-pay. The doctor wanted me to take some blood tests, so I went one floor up. 2 weeks later I get my results back, and it doesn't really find an answer (I don't have mono, etc.). A week ago I get a bill of $141 to pay UCLA (because the bloodwork was done "outside" of the doctor's office). The original bill was almost $800 (pre-insurance)!

I totally get where you're coming from in terms of you being pretty healthy and likely not going to visit the doctor, but maybe you can see if there are non-work options out there.

Steff said...

I'm with you. I don't think you're being an idiot. We haven't ever shelled out for those policies because we are HEALTHY. We decided we would just pay cash if we needed to be seen, and in 5 years we've never really had issues. (Well, except for my pregnancies, but those were super cheap because we did the midwife route and paid cash... and TOTAL for every pre and post natal appointment, one ultrasound, blood work, newborn care for 1 month after birth, etc... it cost under 3k). Anyway we DID purchase a "major medical" policy though and it is relatively inexpensive. Before we had kids I think it was roughly 1k a year for the two of us (although now that the healthcare laws have changed prices are probably higher). Basically, if anything MAJOR happens... heart attack, cancer, etc, surgery, etc... we would pay a 5k cash deductible and insurance would cover up to $1M a year. We feel pretty comfortable with that because if we need medical attention, it's most likely gonna be for something major since we don't go to the doctor for minor stuff anyway.