Saturday, April 14, 2012

Health Insurance 103

I thought about opting out. 

My medical insurance premiums will cost me 4 times as much as a retiree as they do as an employee.  This was expected.  We planned for this; we budgeted for this.  But now that I’m seeing the numbers face to face and realizing that for the next 10 years I’ll be paying this bill directly – no more having it deducted from my paycheck before I had a chance to miss it – it’s given me cause to reflect on the state of health care in our country.
Reflection #1:  Health insurance is truly a benefit.  A benefit that, according to 2010 Census Bureau data, 1 in 6 Americans does not have.  
Reflection #2:  I am fortunate to have access to health insurance as a retiree.  Many corporations are not offering coverage to their retirees, no matter the cost. 
Reflection #3:  From May 31 to June 1, the only thing about me that will change is that I will be a retiree instead of an employee.  Why are retiree health benefits so much more expensive?  It’s all about risk, and the numbers don’t lie.  People my age and older have more illness and tend to recover from accidents more slowly.  Insurance companies have to mitigate their risk by charging more to everyone in the “pool.”  Once again, I did the math, and it would be a lot cheaper to skip the hefty insurance premiums and just pay for the preventative services that I use every year.  But I won’t opt out.  I’ll buy health insurance – for the same reason that I insure my cars and my house – to protect myself and my family from catastrophic loss.
Reflection #4:  As I ponder the debates over the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, I realize that “affordable” is a relative term.  I am choosing to afford health insurance, and I refuse to feel guilty because I can make this choice.  But wouldn’t it be wonderful if nobody had to choose to go without health insurance because they couldn’t afford it.
So aas I hear about the indiviual mandate and why the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act won't work without it, I think I see what all the fuss is about.

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