Health insurance, especially the deeply flawed Obamacare (ACA, or Affordable Care Act), is much in the news these days. To go without any health insurance at all, as my disabled wife and I do by choice, is considered “unthinkable” by most if not all of the pundits out there and by the majority of ordinary citizens we encounter as well.
Still, there are reasons for our decision to “go bare”. I thought I’d written a bit about those reasons but was unable to locate a specific post on the subject just now. So, on this page, I’ll attempt to pull all the threads together for our readers.
Early Personal History
Pam and I both grew up in households where personal health insurance coverage was simply unknown. Employers provided Workers Compensation (called Workmen’s Compensation back then, before political correctness took hold). Large employers, especially (but not exclusively) union shops, often provided group health insurance. But for the most part, the average household did without.
Even when my first wife and I were expecting our first born child in 1967, health insurance was not part of the picture. Fortunately, neither was the exacerbated sue-the-doctor state of affairs which has driven many of the best physicians out of the medical field altogether.
Vicky (my ex) and I worked on a freeway fence construction crew throughout the summer of 1966. My wages kept us fed. Hers went into the bank and, in June of 1967, paid the doctor and the hospital in full.
Total cost for Kim’s birth: $500, give or take a smidgen.
Pam (wife #7, believe it or not) and I met in 1996.
Yes, that’s right. In one 30 year period, I blew through six divorces. But this post is not about that.
When we met, my redhead had been homeless for two years and had just gotten under cover in a studio apartment. Having fought long and hard to receive recognition for her disabilities, especially her mental health issues, she’d finally been approved and was receiving assistance–SSI and Medicaid–from the State. So yes, she did at that point have medical coverage at a price she could afford.
Fast forward nine and a half years.
In the spring of 2006, Pam and her adult son, Zachary, were living in Sierra Vista, Arizona, roughly 15 miles northwest of the acreage on which we now reside and on which I built the home we call the Border Fort. I had retired in Montana in 2002 and had no intention of moving to Arizona but did commute to see her for one week out of every month.
Enter the first reason why we have not carried any form of health insurance since that time: Government control of your body, mind, and Soul.
In April of 2006, Pam’s federal caseworker started getting really nasty. She intimated during several phone calls that Pam was committing welfare fraud, living in a home she could no way afford on her disability income. When Pam explained that most of the place was her son’s and that she simply paid for her share–one bedroom, where she spent most of her time, plus kitchen privileges, roughly 20% of the total house–the bureaucrat quite obviously did not believe her.
Pam and I discussed this problem at length and decided, hey, let the feds investigate. It would be a hassle, having a suspicious-by-nature caseworker going through the place, but the 20% usage of the home could be documented and numerous witnesses were available to attest to the fact that she (Pam) did not use the rest of the home at all. Not even to watch TV or listen to music; she had those amenities plus a private bathroom right in her own quarters.
Unfortunately, the caseworker didn’t even bother to investigate. The next thing Pam knew, she received a letter from the Social Security office in Douglas (Arizona). Her monthly SSI stipend had been arbitrarily slashed from $627 to $425 without any investigation whatsoever. They didn’t even bother to state a reason.
That’s when my redhead called me up in Montana and stated, “I don’t know if I have it in me to fight one more war with these people.”
I knew what she meant. Every year I’d known her, the federal bureaucracy had required her to jump through various hoops to keep her financial assistance in force. In one case, while she was still living in Montana, she had to go to Butte to be tested by a government funded psychiatrist whose goal was clearly to prove she was not insane enough to qualify.
As it happens, she’s plenty crazy enough, my girl, but the stress factors were threatening to kill her off early if nothing else did. Perhaps even more than the fear of losing the financial support was knowing these people believed, or at least suspected, she was being dishonest.
Like me, Pam can be bought with trust. Unlike me, knowing someone distrusts her is devastating to her fragile psyche.
Understanding all this–I literally knew more about Pam than Pam knew about Pam–I agreed with her self assessment: Fighting this newest battle with the system, win, lose, or draw, could kill her. So I reminded her,
“Honey, you remember I said from the beginning, if the feds got to hassling you too much, we’d just get married, tell them to take their money and go piss up a rope.”
So that’s what we did. We got Pam completely out of the system in May of 2006 (we were married on May 18)…and despite the fact that every dime of her care has come out of my pocket from that moment forward, it’s one of the best moves we ever made.
If you’re getting money from the government, they own you.
Now, hold on just a minute. I’m not saying our military veterans shouldn’t use the VA hospital system or that the destitute among us should not take advantage of whatever government programs they can access. The vets damn well earned it, the destitute have to survive anyway they can, and that’s the name of that tune.
What I am saying is that if you can see your way clear to do it, steering clear of the system has more benefits than any insurance policy ever thought of including.
I knew I could find a way to support Pam no matter what…and so far, though there’ve been more than a few close calls along the way, I’ve done it.
Obamacare has a high number of very detailed control-you tools built right into the legislation. Before we get to discussing that, though, here are a few of the ways Pam and I’ve managed to get by pretty well when it comes to surviving her disabilities without having a lick of insurance for the past 7 1/2 years and counting.
1. Physicians. We simply let Pam’s doctor know that we’re self pay. When we lived in Colorado because my water hauling job required it (after a lack of money forced me out of retirement and back into the job market), that didn’t help a whole lot, but we did get a 10% discount on lab work. Then, when we finally hooked her up with the doctor she’s used for the past three years (and ongoing), that simple statement of fact (self pay) resulted in her primary physician charging just $25 per office visit and stretching her visits out so that she only has to see the gentleman twice a year.
Show me the Obamacare policy (other than Medicaid for the destitute) that nips only $50 per year out of your pocket for office visits to your doctor. I dare ya.
2. Psychiatrist. Her shrink isn’t comfortable with seeing her just twice a year but settled for quarterly office visits. However, the clinic put us on a sliding scale that ended up charging $12 for each visit, so, $12 per visit x 4 visits = $48 annually for the psychiatrist.
3. Prescription meds. On occasion, Pam’s M.D. will have a few samples around that he’ll pass on to her. Not always, but getting a free inhaler for her COPD once in a while is a noticeable help. Beyond that, the entire staff at our pharmacy does their best to look out for us. They’ve managed to provide some meds at $3.99 each, with the highest priced prescriptions running in the $60 range.
That still adds up, as many medications as Pam has to take to survive from day to day. The tally tends to run somewhere between $3,000 and $5,000 per year–which is still noticeably less than a lot of the Obamacare premiums alone.
4. Alternative health measures. We do a lot on the “non-AMA” side of things to keep the official medical costs down. For one thing, we live off grid in an extremely private, semi-remote area where one unscheduled visitor per month would be startling while the peace and quiet is healing. Additionally, I research a lot of supplements that we’d be taking regardless of our health insurance situation. They work with the meds or, in some cases, counteract certain side effects of various prescriptions.
That’s a quick look at our survival techniques for getting along without insurance. Now, back to the control factors embedded in Obamacare.
I’ve told Pam–and, after listening carefully to what I had to say, she agrees–that we will never under any circumstances sign up for Obamacare. In fact, we won’t sign up for Medicare, either, when she becomes eligible (as I’ve been for some time) in a few more years. Even if we won the Lottery, just enough to make the Obamatax penalty really bite, we wouldn’t sign up.
The reasons are legion. Here are some of them.
1. She’d lose the doctor, psychiatrist, and pharmacy we’ve both come to know and trust. Her case is so complicated that even her present M.D. watched her like a hawk for the first year and a half of treatment, convinced that no little 97 pound redhead could possibly function on all the drugs she was taking. She had to be an addict. He was convinced.
Now he knows better, but he’s no fool. He’s not going to be involved with Obamacare patients; we’d bet our bottom dollar on that.
Losing these health care professionals could literally kill my wife in very short order. Thus, avoiding government control of her health care decisions is literally a life and death matter. It’s no joke, and we’re not kidding.
2. Privacy invasion considerations are also high on the list. The IRS, all too often an abuser of its power, will have access to the medical records of all who sign up for Obamacare. In fact, healthcare.gov pulls together data from Social Security, the IRS, and your personal medical history, all in one handy dandy ready-to-control power point.
Doncha love it?
3. Principle. We are strong believers in limited government. Handing over this much to the feds–well, the image that came to mind was cutting off a leg and delivering it to the White House to roast over a spit. If We the People truly slide the rest of the way down the slippery Obamacare slope, it’s all over but the wailing and gnashing of teeth. Benjamin Franklin, when asked after the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia what form of government we’d been given, replied,
“A Republic, madam, if you can keep it.”
Right now, we are not keeping it. It might well be argued that America is functioning as a democracy or perhaps an oligarchy, maybe one of several other forms of government, but certainly not a Constitutional Republic.
I have a clear understanding of what a Constitutional Republic should look like, though, and healthcare as an entitlement is not in it.
To this point in the post, I’ve stuck to detailing reasons why my wife and I choose to go without healthcare insurance. Now, just for a few lines here at the end, I’d like to add a couple of thoughts you might want to consider before you sign up for Obamacare. It’s your decision, of course. If you do go that route, my best wishes go with you–along with, I admit, some deep reservations and doubts, but the wishes are no less sincere for all of that.
The thoughts are expressed by others, people who’ve posted comments on Obamacare’s official Facebook page.
I’ll leave you with that for now, and may the blessings be.