With the rollout of the Affordable Care Act, a lot of people are in the process of making decisions for themselves and their family regarding health insurance. I figured I would weigh in, as a mental health professional and a mother. I’m well aware that neither of those roles make me unbiased, or qualified to tell others what to do.
So I’ll go ahead and state one bias up front:If you read my last post, you know that my husband was recently hospitalized for sepsis. It was a surprising event–he had an infection that didn’t respond to antibiotics and worsened, quickly. If we didn’t have health insurance, a five-day hospital stay would have drained all our savings, maybe even bankrupted us.
My daughter also had an unexpected hospitalization due to an infection when she was only five months old. She was in the hospital almost a week, also. If we had not had insurance, between her and my husband, bankruptcy would be almost certain. That would have negatively impacted our whole family’s future, and affected what we would be able to provide for our daughter.
You could say we’ve just had a run of bad luck. That’s certainly true. But when you decide to opt out on health insurance, you should consider how lucky you’re feeling.
I used to work for a lawyer who didn’t believe in insurance of any kind, including health. He said that insurance is about people betting against themselves: You pay a premium because you’re betting something will happen to you; the insurance company accepts those odds, and figures they’ll make more on you than you’ll cost them. He said he was choosing to bet on himself.
I was 21 at the time, and I found his argument intriguing, if not actually compelling. Because I’m far too risk averse to bet on myself. Even at 21, I never felt invincible. I certainly don’t feel it now.
People who don’t have health insurance tend to let more time lapse before they obtain medical care–for both physical and mental conditions–and that can impact their prognoses. As a mental health professional, I work with people who’ve suffered for longer than they needed to because of lack of access to care. In some cases (for example, bipolar), that makes their illnesses more severe and harder to treat.
And mental health issues are fairly common. Who among us doesn’t know someone suffering from depression, anxiety, or bipolar? We don’t always know when those issues are going to first arise in our lives. Sometimes it’s in reaction to an identifiable stressor (like losing a job, difficulty adjusting to parenthood, etc.), but sometimes it hits people suddenly. Opting out of health insurance because you believe you’ll never need the services might be an act of hubris that you will someday regret.
I respect people’s right to make their own determination, and to hold their own points of view. To be honest, I won’t be engage in a political discussion about Obamacare. I am approaching health insurance as a personal decision rather than a political one. I know there are plenty of blogs to debate the relative merits from a political and societal perspective.
But I would welcome people sharing their own experiences in terms of health care and the factors they are considering in terms of opting in or out. Thanks for reading!
Young doctor image available from Shutterstock.
This post currently has
You can read the comments or leave your own thoughts.
No trackbacks yet to this post.
Last reviewed: 7 Oct 2013