If You Don’t Think You Need Health Insurance So You See No Reason To Pay For It, Here’s A Story For You

randomstockimageDuring this whole “health care debate” I’ve had several people tell me that they don’t need health insurance because they never get sick.  I can relate – I’m lucky enough to be one of those same people.  I’ve been sick twice in probably the last 6 or 7 years.  Heck, it might be longer than that.  Outside of a food poisoning incident in 2003, I really can’t remember being sick with anything.

But I still see the value of health insurance and believe everyone needs it.  Granted, I would prefer we had universal health care like the rest of the industrialized world, but that’s still a ways away.

In fact, I’ve seen first-hand why every American needs health insurance.  What happened to my mother is a perfect example.

She’s self-employed, wasn’t old enough for Medicare but didn’t qualify for Medicaid.  She, like millions of other Americans, fell into the crack of not having access to health insurance.  Sure there were some local programs she could get into, but they didn’t qualify as “health coverage” – they were just basic programs that helped her get stuff like blood pressure medicine.

Well, one day walking in her house she had a slight accident.  The toe of her rubber soled shoe caught on the hardwood floor and caused her to trip, dropping her down on her knee.

Long story short, an ambulance ride later to a Dallas hospital revealed she had broken her kneecap in two, requiring surgery that she had to have for the knee to heal.

Oh, and a $20,000 medical bill she couldn’t afford.

Amazing isn’t it?  She hadn’t been sick.  She rarely needed to go to the doctor.  Outside of getting older, as a means to help her maintain her health, she really didn’t have much need for health care at the time (she couldn’t afford it anyway), yet there she was in a hospital with a $20,000 medical bill for an unexpected surgery she had no way of anticipating.

One stub of a rubber sole on a shoe cost her $20,000.

This story isn’t rare.  Hell, it isn’t even that expensive compared to the horror stories I’ve heard about Americans being saddled with unexpected medical bills for heart attacks or cancer treatments.

But it does show just how fast it can happen to anyone.

That’s why when people say something like, “I’m healthy, I don’t go to the doctor, so why do I need to pay for health insurance?” I just shake my head.

It’s the same reason why we have car insurance.  Sure, if we’re driving it’s something we’re legally required to have in all states except New Hampshire, but for most of us we’ll pay for car insurance while rarely getting back what we paid into it.  We have it to cover us just in case something catastrophic happens in our lives.

But I saw first hand what one wrong step walking within your own home can lead to – a $20,000 medical bill.

Allen Clifton

Allen Clifton is a native Texan who now lives in the Austin area. He has a degree in Political Science from Sam Houston State University. Allen is a co-founder of Forward Progressives and creator of the popular Right Off A Cliff column and Facebook page. Be sure to follow Allen on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to his channel on YouTube as well.

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  • Pipercat

    About seven years ago, I had an argument with a table saw. The table saw won, of course. Not a bad injury, but required three stitches and tetanus shot. 2100 bucks!

    • Jo Clark

      Good point. My father, when he was with us still, was healthy as a horse. He too had a run-in with a table saw and the saw won. He also had a run-in with a tree once. Again, the tree won and he fell out of the tree, breaking his ankle and dislocating his shoulder.

      Me? I’ve never broken a bone. Had a few hospitalizations, nothing catastrophic, for sure. I’m constantly waiting for the sky to fall.

      Chit happens, people. It’s life.

      • Pipercat

        I don’t have that issue nowadays, as of 1/1/14, that is!

  • kbf

    The wing nuts who would rather die than have a requirement that health insurance, like the excellent example of required car insurance, be obtained by all need to understand that competition and free markets and all that don’t begin to apply to “consumer” medical care options. This is a great example. In an emergency, you go where the ambulance takes you, accept the care the professionals provide, but then have no say in whether the costs were fair or reasonable or competitive. And, when you don’t pay the bill, they can force you into bankruptcy. The theoretical free market is a total failure here. Why aren’t we doing something about it? It’s why single payer just makes sense. It’s not socialism–its just one more example of securing the public good by pooling resources and payments. Think, people. Where would we be without roads, schools, etc which are largely public projects.

    • Michael Moerland

      Sadly the government wing nuts all have health insurance, they just want to make sure others can’t get it.

  • Southside Bill

    Universal health care is over do in this country. PERIOD!

    • Temporal Detective:Templeton

      Did you mean over due? ‘over do’ means almost the opposite.

  • Lisa Kazmier

    I like Chris Rock’s explanation for needing coverage: “in case —-“

  • rob

    Guess any insurrance don’t work hmm funny you stated she fell at her house.. take it the medical insurrance on her house didn’t cover the fall, well it does and she could of used it. Oh wait does she rent ? If she does then land lord would be paying more then 20k.

    • T.K.

      This article was about why it isn’t smart for a person to say they don’t need health insurance because they never get sick. The point was she DID NOT HAVE insurance. She did not think she needed it. Did you read the beginning of the article? And no the landlord would not have been required to pay the bill as the fall was not caused by a defect in the property that they had previous knowledge of.

    • Stay Loose

      Medical insurance for your house? Where do you get that? Your solution is suing the landlord or claiming on your homeowner’s insurance? That doesn’t work for cancer or most accidents.

    • Cathryn Sykes

      ????? The medical insurance on her house? What are you talking about? And unless you are injured via their negligence, landlords don’t pay medical bills for their tenants either!

  • Baron Von Keyser

    You know i asked this question on my FB page yesterday.. “Why is it when people are told they need car insurance nobody bats and eye but when they are told they need health coverage they all go batshit crazy”… Well after 70 comments the most common answer was, the cost is through the roof. I dont know about the cost as i am covered through my employer and even if i wanted to look i couldnt because of the great state of Oklahoma and their unwillingness to use the ACA marketplace. Still though nobody could give me a reason why they shouldnt have it just reasons why they dont like it…strange how that works..

  • Mary Welch

    If you are a single head of household earning less than 48K a year, you qualify for a subsidy applied to your premium. If I had to pay for full premium, I could not afford health insurance. Now, I have a low deductible plan from Humana, and the tax dollars I have paid into the system for decades are coming back to me to pay two thirds of my premium. First time I’ve been able to afford health insurance in 7 years.