Playing the health care lottery

More than 50 million Americans gamble with their futures by not having health insurance, an option they won’t have under all proposed health care “reform plans” coming out of the Democratic Congress.

The uninsured face the possibility of financial disaster if a catastrophic illness or accident puts them in the hospital but they also pay less for routing health care than most Americans with health insurance.

But they face a fine from the federal government if any of the proposed health care reform plans become law.

Opponents of the federal mandates say it is an infringement of individual rights and just another example of big government from the Obama administration.

Reports The Associated Press:

Call it a health care gamble: the decision by some people to opt out of health insurance, paying cash for routine care while playing the odds that an accident or catastrophic illness won’t plunge them into financial ruin.

President Barack Obama’s goal of requiring everyone to carry health insurance has drawn a great deal of skepticism from this group. Many pay far less for health care than they would on premiums, and doubt that insurance would even cover them if they needed it.

It’s unknown how many of the nearly 50 million uninsured in the United States voluntarily go without coverage. Researchers at the Kaiser Family Foundation, which studies the uninsured, said most are young, generally healthy adults who are self-employed or in relatively low-wage jobs that do not offer insurance coverage and don’t pay enough for workers to afford individual policies.

“Income is key and most of the uninsured have low incomes,” foundation researcher Karyn Schwartz said. “If you look at your budget and think you can’t afford it or can afford it if you eat only ramen noodles, you may choose not to get it.”

All the health care plans that have emerged from the Democratic-controlled Congress would require everyone to have insurance, the way drivers in nearly every state must purchase auto insurance. Proponents say that by bringing everyone into the system, medical risk is spread over a broader population, bringing costs down.

Those who opt out voluntarily might have to pay a penalty. Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., who drafted the Senate Finance Committee’s plan, set the penalty at $3,800 for a family but cut it to $1,900 amid complaints that the original level was too high.

Republicans have called the insurance mandate a new tax on the middle class. Obama disputes that, saying that whatever plan emerges from Congress must offer subsidies to lower-income people that will make coverage affordable.

One Response to "Playing the health care lottery"

  1. woody188  September 29, 2009 at 12:35 am

    It’s piqued my interest that a nurse doesn’t carry health insurance. Perhaps she knows some things about health care that we do not?

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