Tips for Living Without Health Care Insurance

I have given up on ever having access to health insurance. Unless you are one of the incredibly lucky ones to have employer sponsored health care, you are out of luck. Even if your employer does offer a medical plan, they still might not cover enough of the payment to make it affordable. My spouse’s former job is a perfect example of this: He was working as a college level professor, and he was offered health insurance through the school. Sounds good? Well, that is until you figure out that they are only paying a tiny percentage of the monthly fee. So tiny, in fact, his share would have been several hundred dollars a month; and that was just for him alone.

After doing research on purchasing health insurance directly from various health plan providers, thereby bypassing the employer’s involvement, I was both surprised and unsurprised with the results. The cost was LESS than if my spouse had gone with his employer’s plan (this surprised me); however, the price was still higher than economically feasible for us (this part didn’t surprise me). The cost was over $450.00 PER MONTH. Granted, this amount covered our family unit, but it would still put a huge dent in our budget. I know we are not alone in this problem, either.

Consider these statistics:

� In 2004, 45.8 million people were without health insurance coverage, up from 45.0 million people in 2003.
� The percentage and number of children (people under 18 years old) without health insurance in 2004 was 11.2 percent and 8.3 million, both unchanged from 2003.
� With a 2004 uninsured rate at 18.9 percent, children in poverty were more likely to be uninsured than all children.

(Source: U.S. Census Bureau http://www.census.gov )

The United States is the only industrialized nation without universal health care for it’s citizens. The United Kingdom has it. Canada has it. Germany has it. The list goes on. And, of those countries that do have it, they generally spend a great deal less per capita than the United States does for it’s form of health care coverage.

Another fact of interest: Article 65 of the Salvadoran Constitution guarantees universal health care for all citizens of El Salvador. El Salvador is regarded as an economically “poor nation”, yet they have health care for their citizens.

If you are waiting for the Government to bail you out, forget it. It is too preoccupied at the moment; and healthcare is on the very far back burner. Your employer? Big business? No. With very few exceptions, they are too worried about the bottom line. WalMart’s new “strategy” for cutting health care costs is a good example of this. So, what is the answer? How about a complete overhaul of our health system. Let’s stop with empty promises of health care reform. Let’s stop tweaking the system as it stands, by proposing minor changes. Start from the ground up. It will cost millions, if not billions. It will take years to complete. It will have plenty of bugs to work out. Loads of political bickering. But, in the end, it will exist. That is what matters. Write to your congressional representatives. Protest the current lack of available health care by voting for political candidates that have a proven track record of working for change. Join an organization that supports health care for everyone.

For the sake of our populace, this is an instance where the ends would justify the means.

Tips for living without health insurance:

– Open a savings account that is solely devoted to funds for health related issues; such as doctor’s appointments, prescription, etc. This will provide a nest egg for medical bills when you need it. One plus to this system is that you are not paying a monthly premium to an insurance company for coverage that you may not use for months on end. Any money deposited into a savings account remains there until needed; it is not forfeited or lost if not used.

– Consider purchasing a health care discount card. There are plenty of companies that offer a card for a small monthly fee that will give you discounted services through participating doctors, dentists, and pharmacies. While this is not insurance, it is an affordable way to access health care.

– Look for doctors and dentists offering sliding scale fees for people in lower income brackets. Also, look for doctors and dentists offering reduced fees for services, regardless of income.

– Some doctors and dentists will consider payment plans, if you can not pay the full amount.

– If you are in need of emergency care, go to the ER. A 1986 Federal Law prohibits hospitals that participate in Medicare, which is most American hospitals, from turning away anyone in need of urgent or emergency treatment, even if that person is unable to pay. (This is only for urgent care, however.)

– If you are able to, consider applying for Medicaid or Medicare.

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