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Is health insurance worth it?



June 04, 2009 – Comments (31)

I am of the opinion that health insurance isn't worth it.  I posted a comment with an interesting discussion that followed here.  The one guy describes how much he saved for medical by putting the money aside directly rather then paying an insurance company.

Well, it seems medical illness contributes to 62% of bankrupcies, and 3/4 of them had health insurance.

The numbers the guy in the comments describe are right in the range of what the research found, he said he's have had to pay $18k with insurance and ended up paying $31k.  The study found $17k and $27k for insured vs not insured.  

Seriously, with the premiums people describe to me, isn't that $10k difference a mere 2 years of premiums?

And there doesn't seem to be much to protect your job or your health insurance policy if you do get sick.

It just seems to me that with middle men there is less to be made/saved on either side and health insurance is a greedy middle man.  

Yet so many have been sold on the idea that health insurance is necessary.

31 Comments – Post Your Own

#1) On June 04, 2009 at 10:06 PM, tonylogan1 (27.65) wrote:

If no one had insurance, the price of the treatments would go way down, and care would be more affordable...

How much would an apple cost if the government subsidized 50% of all apple purchases and required $100 a month apple insurance?

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#2) On June 04, 2009 at 10:29 PM, Imperial1964 (93.98) wrote:

Couple of comments:

A simple appendix surgery cost #30k.  I'd hate to see what a real illness cost.

One of my older friends who is without health insurance went to the emergency room after a mild heart attack.  At one point, someone looking like a doctor walked into the room and started the sentence "Good afternoon, I am here to talk to you about... oh, I see, you're the self-pay.  Nevermind." And walked right back out.

I hate to do it, but based on some of his experiences trying to get health care, I may go ahead and pay for the insurance myself when I am without an employer who provides it.

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#3) On June 04, 2009 at 10:32 PM, devoish (71.46) wrote:

The bankruptcy stat is usually the tipping point for bankruptcy. usually the person already has debt and is struggling when the insurance doesn't pay the whole bill and the bill plus job loss sinks them.

Is what you pay in Canada worth what you get?

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#4) On June 04, 2009 at 10:46 PM, AnAmateur (< 20) wrote:

I don't like how some mother pumpking out kids in the projects can get free health care paid for by the middle class who can't even pay for their own.


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#5) On June 04, 2009 at 10:53 PM, russiangambit (28.80) wrote:

Having no health insurance in the US is an unmitigated disaster. One day of a hospital stay is 1-2K a day, not counting the procedures. A minor surgery is about 5K, visit to a doctor $100-200.

I had pneumonia last year, the visits to the doctor, the treatments , the shots cost around 5K alltogether. My healthcare premiums for last year for the whole family were around 2K.  In Russia, in the same situation, I would've been in a hospital for 2 weeks , free of charge. In the US nobody will ever go to a hospital with pneumonia. Not because they don't need it but because it will cost upward of 30K.

Only living in the US one can understand the depth of the healthcare issues here. The healthcare maze easily rivals anything Kafka could come up with.

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#6) On June 04, 2009 at 10:54 PM, starbucks4ever (91.46) wrote:

The short answer is, no. If we had a functioning health care system in this country, then insurance would be handy. As it is, your best bet is to pay for everything out of your own pocket when it's not an operation, and if it's an operation, your best bet is to get the emergency care you need and then declare bankruptcy. I think everybody would already be ignoring HMOs if employers did not push people into those programs on a mandatory basis.

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#7) On June 04, 2009 at 11:13 PM, devoish (71.46) wrote:

As to your comment that the health insurers are insolvent i would have to agree that most likely is the case. In the US it is ok because your policy (life and health) is guaranteed by the USA Gov.  Life insurance is guaranteed to a max of $500k, even though almost all policies are for much higher amounts.

Nothing could go wrong with finance companies supported by Federal Guarantees? Right? Nobody will take advantage of that will they?

I was unable to find what funds the USA uses to guarantee the insurers, but I am guessing it is insufficient. My Government has a well known history of not saving.


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#8) On June 04, 2009 at 11:14 PM, Harold71 (< 20) wrote:

The only reason I have it is so I don't have to go bankrupt if the worst happens.  I certainly know people that have been saved from bankruptcy by health insurance.  One was a 38 day hospital stay, mostly ICU...that will do it.

The inflation rate in health insurance is what really gets me.  Over the last two years, my premium has increased about 20 (yes twenty) percent annually.  They always cite the "rising cost of medical treatment."  There is something very, very wrong with this system.

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#9) On June 04, 2009 at 11:33 PM, AnAmateur (< 20) wrote:

"The only reason I have it is so I don't have to go bankrupt if the worst happens.  I certainly know people that have been saved from bankruptcy by health insurance."

Well, if you were an illegal alien or some Welfare Queen you wouldn't have to worry about it. Working is for suckers.

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#10) On June 04, 2009 at 11:38 PM, angusthermopylae (37.80) wrote:

Personal example:  My brother was in a car crash 63 days after getting out of the Marines...3 days after his military coveraged lapsed (this was years ago, so the policies may have changed).

Horrible crash, but his injuries were only two bumps on the head--where his head bounced around the car like a pinball.  5 days in a coma, permanent brain damage, long and repeated hospital stays for lasting effects...the works.

Needless to say, my parents had to guide him through his bankruptcy because 1) the bills were outrageous, 2) disability had/has a policy of "automatic rejection" for the first three applications, and 3) he was still looking for a job when it happened.

Bankruptcy was the only option to peel off the sudden massive load of debt that threatened to suck down not only my brother's limited life, but everyone in his family.  (Parents and me...he wasn't married.)

Health insurance, as practiced in the US, shouldn't be necessary, but the alternative is a single incident can completely ruin your life.

I had always been young, healthy, and mildly opposed to a public health coverage plan...but seeing how someone can be crushed like that for no reason at all really makes you reconsider your position.

(And just for a little background, the other driver had been involved in 2-3 serious wrecks of a similar nature--serious injuries to the other party, minimum liability insurance, no assets.  There was no money anywhere to take care of my brother.)

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#11) On June 04, 2009 at 11:49 PM, ChrisGraley (28.63) wrote:

The problem with health insurance is that it is over-used and consumers miss the whole point of having catastrophic coverage. I have a current plan with a high deductible and a health savings account. The health savings account allows me to set aside more tax free dollars. I am relatively healthy, so for the most part, my health insurance never has to pay for anything, because I never come close to surpassing the deductible. I get an ATM card to use to spend the money in my HSA and could use it to spend on something as simple as band-aids or vitamins if I wanted to, but I don't, because it makes me more money if I don't spend it. Now the best part of this HSA is that I can self direct how the money is invested. I don't have all the options to invest that I would like, but I was surprised with all the options that I did have. Now that I'm hitting an age where I might need to spend more of this money, I have saved up enough to pay my deductible for the next 10 years. I've only had the Account for the last 6 years. If I would have discovered this account in my 20's, I wouldn't probably need health insurance at all at this point.

Now let's say I decide I want something that insurance usually doesn't cover, like Lasik surgery. I can pull out my card and pay for it cash. I don't have to argue with anyone. Since I'm paying for it, I can pick whoever I want to do it. I can literally have the best of both worlds. My health insurance is pretty fantastic after the deductible is met and I'm covered for catastrophes. While I'm healthy I'm paying for health care with tax-free money with compounded interest.

I've had a physical every year and I don't have to pay for those, as preventative care does not apply to my deductible. I've had a few emergency room visits and I elected to pay for those out of my pocket rather than use HSA money, because it's better for me in the long run. I could. at any time pull out my card and pay for those right then and there though. Either way I decide to pay, I can get a discount for paying cash. Not a ton of people take advantage of this in my company and all of them seem to go to the doctor for not many other reasons other than the health insurance pays for it. All of these people were upset when their rates when up last year. I was shocked when my rate actually went down.

I've tried to explain to others why HSA may be a better deal, but they keep arguing that their family has to go to the doctor too often to make it worth it. I argue that 2/3rds of those people go to the doctor for things simply because the health insurance pays for it. These are the nickle and dime things. The things that might cost you $50-$150 if you had to pay for it yourself. If they had to pay for them themselves, they would elect not to go even if they easily have the money.

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#12) On June 04, 2009 at 11:55 PM, Harold71 (< 20) wrote:

>Working is for suckers.

I'd agree that often seems to be the case.  The whole Atlas shrugging thing seems to be playing out, live on planet earth.

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#13) On June 05, 2009 at 12:03 AM, russiangambit (28.80) wrote:

> I argue that 2/3rds of those people go to the doctor for things simply because the health insurance pays for it.

I keep hearing that. But who willingly goes to a doctor? It is no fun and there is still a copay for almost everything except yearly check up and you have to take time off work. Also, majority of people have very little sick leave, they have to take vacation. I don't think the system is abused as much as we are led to believe. In fact, I don't think I know a single person who does.

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#14) On June 05, 2009 at 12:53 AM, starbucks4ever (91.46) wrote:

" I don't think the system is abused as much as we are led to believe."

Here I disagree. I will grant you that PATIENTS don't abuse the system voluntarily (hey, who will want to spend time in a dentist's office for fun?). However, DOCTORS abuse it all the time. Whenever insurance pays for 3 visits, the doctor splits a procedure that would notmally take 1 visit into 3 thirds, and milks the insurance for all it's worth. Not that patients are happy about it, of course, but with treatment costing them virtually nothing, there isn't enough incentive to stand up against the practice, and besides, the doctor is not going to announce the game plan in advance. There will be the first procedure, and then he'll stop halfway and tell you to come again next week. What are you going to do? Go to another doctor and ask him to continue from the point where the first doctor stopped? The other doctor will most likely try to play the same trick and will also want to start from square zero. Besides, what are you going to gain in this way? It will still be more than one visit, so you may as well stick with the devil you know. This problem is particularry common with cheap insurance like Medicaid, and among ethnic minorities who, for psychological reasons (or simply for the lack of English) feel themselves stuck with the one and only doctor in their ethnic neighborhood. Finally, HOSPITALS also milk the system by running all kinds of checks first before asking you about your specific problem. You will be weighed and have your blood pressure taken before given a chance to tell the nurse that it is a dry eyes syndrome that brought you to the clinic. Rest assured, the hospital will successfully charge Medicaid for taking your weight, and good luck with attempting to avoid that procedure. You either take part in their little scheme or turn back and go home.

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#15) On June 05, 2009 at 8:39 AM, wrparks (79.01) wrote:

I too love the idea of the high deductible health savings account plan and am considering opening one since I currently buy my own insurance on the "free" (meaning I chose different plans from the one availible provider) market.  Much like I didn't report the minor ding some A*&hole gave my car in a parking lot to my auto insurance, I don't think insurance should have to cover basic cheap checkups, etc unless you decide you want them to.

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#16) On June 05, 2009 at 9:27 AM, engstocker (53.85) wrote:

"I am of the opinion that health insurance isn't worth it."

Health insurance makes since if you have assets you want to protect. My son spent 30 days in the ICU when he was born and another 30 days when he got RSV a month later. The first 30 day bill was $220,000. My out of pocket was $100. The second bill was $250,000. My out of pocket was $100. If I didn't have health insurance it would have wiped away all my assets (ie bankruptcy). So for me it was certainly worth it.

On another note about the idiocracy of our health care system. The second hospital visit could have been totally avoided if insurane would have paid for the shot that prevents RSV. But, it's $1000/per shot/per month. And I'm sure some bean counter has determined its cheaper to pay the hospital bills rather that give kids that shot, hoping not too many kids get hospitalized form it. The kicker: my son was premature by 4 weeks, If he had been premature by 7 weeks, or if my wife or I smoked insurance would have paid for the shot. Is that not some BS.

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#17) On June 05, 2009 at 10:04 AM, catoismymotor (< 20) wrote:

I am pro health insurance.

Before I was born my father's family suffered illness after illness. The medical bills added up to what would be in today's dollars to almost $500,000. This depleated the family's nest egg to next to nothing. If they had purchased health insurance then they would not have been out of pocket all of that money.

Another reason I am for it is tem years ago I was between jobs and had no coverage. I came down with strep and double case of bronchitis that turned into pneumonia on my left lung. Let me tell ya', without insurance the bill racked up while I was laid up. I never want to be in that position again.


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#18) On June 05, 2009 at 10:17 AM, FreeMarkets (40.65) wrote:

Clearly the LACK of free markets in health care have cause our health industry to deteriote to its current state.  The government has made it ILLEGAL for Insurance company's give discounts (or add fees, whichever way you view it) for people who are obese/overweight.  They CAN charge more for auto insurance if you are at greater risk, but can't if you're fat.  I'm 100% privacy laws, not insurance company should genetically test you and our right to privacy is protected by the Constitution.  But to get up on a scale and to be told you're paying $200/month additional premium because your 25lbs overweight would spread the cost of health care to those who USE health care the most and to those who can control the costs.  Would America be a bad place if a dinner conversation started with "Honey, if I lost 20 lbs we could save $200 a month"

We need free markets to solve the problem CAUSED by gov't.  I 100% guarantee that if univesal health care is adopted, America gets FATTER and unhealthier.

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#19) On June 05, 2009 at 10:41 AM, FreeMarkets (40.65) wrote:


I strongly recommend people have insurance, but the same can be said of many things.  For example, a guy crashed his car.  He had no collision insurance and now had to get $15k for a new car.  He's broke.

Another example, a guy dies at age 40 and was making $100k.  He had no life insurance, so his family is out at least $2 million in income for the next 20 years.

Should I be required by law to pay for these problems?  This is no different than requiring me to pay for someone elses health care.  It is nothing short of gov't theft.  The fact remains that all country's with gov't debt that's out of control are HURTING their citizens long - term prosperity.  Of the following countries, only TWO have economies that have GROWN in 2009.  Can you figure out which two?

Debt as % GDP (2008)
France  67
Germany 63
USA 66
Britian 50
Japan 170.4
China 16
Australia 15


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#20) On June 05, 2009 at 11:11 AM, outoffocus (23.77) wrote:

Health Insurance is necessary because we let it get too big. As someone stated earlier, if healthcare wasn't so largely subsidized by insurance it would be alot cheaper.  But because healthcare has been subsidized for so long, the cost of healthcare is outrageously expensive in this country for the insured, let alone the uninsured.

Also, there is no transparency into the cost of healthcare.  I have no way of researching the cost of a treatment prior to getting the treatment.  This prevents me from being able to shop around for a cheaper treatment.  I remember one time in particular I went in for a treatment and asked the receptionist how much it was going to cost.  I asked because I had a high deductible "consumer driven" plan and I was bearing more of the cost than most insured people.  The response I got was: Receptionist  "What insurance do you have?" Me "Aetna" Receptionist "Well then you'll be fine you have good insurance".  Anyone see something wrong with that picture? And of course I got hit with this enormous bill that I had to pay out of pocket.

Another example of the lack of transparency. I was in a parking lot on a hot summer day and mildly dehydrated.  I started feeling faint so I asked a nearby couple to call for help and I put my head down on a nearby car for a few seconds. After I started feeling better I stood up again, located my car and grabbed some water out of the trunk.  A minute later a police officer showed up. I got in the back of her cruiser and she turned up the AC to cool me down and then I was fine.  A few minutes later ambulance shows up. I kindly tell the ambulance that I'm much better and don't need to be taken to the hospital.  The checked my pulse and blood pressure, made me sign a paper saying I didnt want to be transported to the hospital, and left.  That took all of 5 minutes.

A month later I get a bill for $300 dollars.  $300!!! My health insurance refused to pay for it because I wasn't taken to the hospital.  I had NO WAY of knowing this ahead of time.  $300 for five minutes worth of work.  Now if I had known that ahead of time I wouldnt have either not signed the paper or just told them to go away or something.  Or I would have rode to the hospital anyway so I could get my $300 worth.

Healthcare is such a scam in this country that Universal Healthcare (as its currently proposed) will only make it worse.

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#21) On June 05, 2009 at 11:42 AM, clarkinbrazil (44.93) wrote:

Health care costs are out of control and so are the insurance rates. It's better to be without at the present rates they charge; paying those rates when you can't afford them, will make you sick. I believe in the saying, Live Rich and Die Poor; the present insurance rates and coverage they provide will make you live in misery! Move to Canada or Brazil, if you can when you retire. The U.S. just can't seem to get their act together.

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#22) On June 05, 2009 at 11:52 AM, Deepfryer (27.28) wrote:

Health insurance is certainly worth it to protect yourself from bankruptcy - just look at posts #16 and 17 in this thread.

Of course it doesn't make sense to get an excessive amount of insurance, because then you are just throwing money away. A cheap, high-deductible plan is probably the best bet for most people.

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#23) On June 05, 2009 at 12:30 PM, ElCid16 (95.50) wrote:

Outoffocus - how can you be so outraged about paying $300 for a police officer and an ambulance getting to you asap?  What if you were in the first or second stage of a heat stroke?  Just because your body ended up bluffing you out doesn't mean that you get a free visit from an ambulance.

If insurance agreed to cover the $300, I would consider it a plus.  An EMT was on-site probably within about 10 minutes.  Decades ago this luxury didn't even exist.  Having the peace of mind knowing that an ambulance is gonna show up if I have a heart attack is worth $300 per visit to me.  Think of all the other things you're willing to pay $300 dollars for, even if your a relatively thrifty person.  I think visits from the EMT should be up there at the top.

I agree that our health care system is incredibly flawed, and many people have described this with excellent examples.  The $300 dollar ambulance visit isn't one of them. 



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#24) On June 05, 2009 at 12:37 PM, outoffocus (23.77) wrote:

First of all I wasnt billed for the POLICE OFFICER.  I would have gladly paid the POLICE officer but it was the AMBULANCE who did hardly nothing that charged me.  However the police officer is already paid for through my taxes.  Besides, my point was I had no way of knowing ahead of time that I would be billed $300 for 5 minutes worth of ambulance work. I dont mind paying for services provided, but $300 is outrageous. Now If they had to resuscitate more or something that would have been a different story.  But they didnt have to do anything and yet I was still stuck with the bill.  Luxury or not, thats one expense I didnt need to be blindsided with.

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#25) On June 05, 2009 at 1:51 PM, tonylogan1 (27.65) wrote:

dkilgour16 - It is the transparency that is annoying. What stops them from charging $1000? or $2000?

If they do not tell you up front what they are charging, they should not be able to charge you. It is a deceptive practice.

Also, as I was trying to state in comment #1... Insurance should be mandated only for those things that would bankrupt you.

You should be required to have car insurance for if you cause massive damage to someone else. You should have insurance for medical treatments that exceed $5 or $10,000...

Does anyone think you should be required to buy food insurance? I mean, food is a necessity? But look what happens to the price of a dentist or doctor visit when it is subsidized...

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#26) On June 05, 2009 at 1:56 PM, portefeuille (98.82) wrote:

you might want to read this: Socialist Babies (a great post with an "interesting" comment section).

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#27) On June 05, 2009 at 2:09 PM, catoismymotor (< 20) wrote:


I am on the same page as you. I understand. Beyond the age of 18 we should be required to fend for ourselves. If family wants to step in and help that is great. But for the love of all that is holy keep the governent out of my business and pockets.


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#28) On June 06, 2009 at 4:55 AM, edbbear (< 20) wrote:

I have long wished that I could monetize my health insurance, altohugh I'm not sure I would actually do it if I could.  I have gone to the doctor twice in the last 4 years.  My insurance costs my employer at least $300/month.  That is $14 grand in premiums. 

 I will say I had an accident over a summer while not covered by school insurance and it cost me $3 grand, but part of that problem is that I failed to negotiate with the hospital and paying their ridiculous rate.  

If I was buying my own insurance I would buy a cheap policy that insures against cancer and large catastrophic illnesses and injuries with a high deductible. 

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#29) On June 06, 2009 at 10:30 AM, dwot (29.13) wrote:

Is what you pay in Canada worth what you get?

 Devoish, we have universal health care in Canada.  I am going by memory here, but I believe we pay about half of what America pays towards health care, everyone is covered and our health outcomes are better, so I don't think Americans get what they pay for.

Further, if you do an analysis of how wages are keeping up in Canada, doctors are not doing too badly at all.  But they whine and complain because they make comparisons to American doctors.

Canada does not have the same constant lawsuits against doctors so we have very little wasted there, and we do not have the health insurance sale business, so no waste there.  We also get better prices on drugs.

 The only thing that I would do differently with the Canadian system is make users pay 20% to make people think about services they use.  I would probably exclude things that people should do, like an annual exam and annual screening tests, blood, urine, pap test, prostate test, the preventative health stuff.  I would also charge a higher percent of uses of the health care system you want to reduce, like visits for the common cold.

I just realised we also do not have the enormous waste in terms of accounting.  Our doctors bill probably 90%+ of their practice from one source, the provincial governments and they are guaranteed to be paid.  There is no billing clients and paying significant amounts to keep track of money, ie., who owes what and which claims were denied, etc.

I would also let people go for private care.  Lots fight against that because they think the public system will decline and doctors will take private patients first.

We have enormous wait lists in some areas, but if what you need to see the doctor for is considered serious you move to the front of the line.  I had cancer and I was in seeing the specialist within 2 days.  My doctor wanted me to have a screening test on my colon another time and I had to wait 6 months or something like that.  

When my father had cancer he got his first operation to remove the cancer very fast, but the operation to fix his colon and get rid of the poop bag was wait listed about 6 months.

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#30) On June 11, 2009 at 1:39 PM, eldemonio (97.82) wrote:


My son was born under similar circumstances, my wife had some issues as well.  Our total cost was over $500,000, we paid $1000 out of our pocket.  It was definitely worth having insurance. 

The health insurance I have now blows.  The in-network vs. out-of-network costs require me to research not only the facilities where my family receives care, but also each provider.  My wife is pregnant again, so this means that we have to find an OBGYN who is in-network, who delivers at a hospital that is in-network.  Then we have to research all providers who will be billing my insurance that may have contact with either my wife or baby to make sure they are in-network as well.  What a pain is the ass.

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#31) On June 26, 2009 at 12:04 PM, ThosMN (< 20) wrote:

OK, someone has to say it, By definition, insurance of all kinds is legalized gambling, and insurance companies are just big, profitable casinos. I learned that in economics classes years ago, and did a couple papers on it. Yes, some hit the "big payoff" (by getting very sick and avoiding a huge bill), But overall, it's a losing proposition for most of us. It's funny that insurance is actually mandated in many ways, which may serve social ends, but is akin to requiring everyone to play blackjack for money, whether we want to or not.

I have an HSA with a high deductible policy. The rate on my policy rose 25% before I even got my first bill. I'll be cancelling it soon. What I will do first--and anyone can do this--is putting the $$$ I would've put into premiums into my HSA account, which will continue to allow me to file claims against it after my insurance policy ends. The money I put in is pre-tax money, too. I will be "banking it" against future bills, even a year or more later (I did this once before with a previous HSA). I don't get sick much, but I was sickened when I read the policy I got, from Health Partners which said "This policy is expected to return on average 78.6% of your payment dollar for health care."

78.6%! The rest goes to administration and to the profits of insurance companies as it must, they are for-profit and have shareholders to keep happy. Surely some of it goes to freeloaders who get "free" health care because they don't feel like working. Still, 78.6%? the odds are better in Vegas. Plus when something starts beeping wildly there, that's a good thing!

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