I continue to get several emails a week from Organizing For Action, pushing me to sign up for Obamacare. For those who don’t know about OFA, it’s a non-profit organized by Michelle Obama and Barack’s former campaign manager to push the Dear Leader’s agenda. The latest email struck me as particularly ridiculous.
This one comes from my friend (at least she called me friend – I’m pretty sure I’ve never met her) Beth Kelly, the Deputy Health Care Campaign Manager at OFA. She told me of her personal experience without insurance and how it affected her. Here’s what she said:
“I love running.
Last July, I entered my fourth half marathon. I didn’t have health insurance.
After the race, I began to have significant pain in my right knee. But I avoided going to the doctor — I knew I couldn’t afford the bill from the consultation, much less the X-ray and MRI that would likely follow. So I waited — months went by before I had coverage, and could finally get it checked out.
Now that I’m covered (and healed), I realize how lucky I am that it wasn’t worse: An emergency could have landed me in debt for years.”
As I read her story several questions came to mind – Why would you need an MRI? What was the doctor’s diagnosis once you got insurance? Why didn’t you have health insurance in the first place?
Like my buddy Beth, I’m also a runner. In 35 years of training and racing I’ve had several knee injuries and eventually surgery. You know what I never got in all that time? An MRI! MRIs are expensive, so doctor’s love to use them. It’s more money in their pocket. However, it’s unlikely an MRI will tell the doctor anything about her knee that a simple exam and x-ray won’t. She didn’t need an MRI.
So what was the doctor’s diagnosis? Has she been able to start running again? There’s a wonderful website that publishes race results called Athlinks.com. You can look up results for individuals and see what races they’ve run going back to the 1990s. So I looked up Beth. The half marathon she ran last July was the Rock n Roll Chicago race on the 21st. She said it took her months to get insurance and she couldn’t see a doctor until then. Since the injury was so bad it required medical attention, there’s no way she could have done another race in 2013 because of the rehab. Curiously, she raced again at the end of November. Hmmmm … I guess the injury wasn’t that bad after all. In fact, I bet she never went to a doctor. That’s why she never told us what was wrong.
So why didn’t she have insurance? I checked her Linked-In profile. In July of 2013 she was working for a different “progressive” non-profit called the New Organizing Institute. I guess the NOI wasn’t progressive enough to provide insurance for its employees, but that shouldn’t have mattered, because she started working for OFA the very next month. Does OFA, the organization that is so concerned with my insurance situation, not provide insurance to its employees? If not, doesn’t that make them a bunch of hypocrites?
Her story seems to have a few holes in it, but that doesn’t really matter, because Beth has a much bigger problem. She doesn’t understand how insurance works.
She seems to think having insurance means you pay little or nothing when you go to the doctor. She’s only 31, so she probably hasn’t seen one often, which would explain this delusion. Let’s take a look at Beth’s scenario with her knee and figure out what it would cost had she used an Obamacare plan.
Beth lives in Illinois. She could get a bronze plan on the exchange for $139/month with a $5,000 deductible. Over the course of a year her premiums add up to $1,668. I bet that’s more than she pays for her cell phone (subject of a different stupid email from OFA). But hey, it would have paid for her doctor visit, right? Wrong. Obamacare policies don’t start covering bills until you’ve met your deductible. Had Beth agreed to get x-rays and the unnecessary MRI, the bill probably would have been $1,500 – $2,000. That’s less than her deductible. Beth would have been on the hook for most, if not all, of the bill. So between premiums and the uncovered bill, Beth would have spent over $3,000 to get her knee checked. Good thing she was uninsured last year, it saved her a pile of money.
But Beth’s real point is you need insurance in case something terrible happens, like cancer or a car accident. She’s right about that, but her solution isn’t very good. Instead of overpaying for the Obamacare plan, Beth could get a short-term plan (also known as disaster insurance) for $65/month with a $1,000 deductible. I found the plan using Ehealthinsurance.com. This plan would have covered part of her bill for her knee and she would have saved $888 in premiums. It also covers her if something bad happens. It won’t cover her drug treatment, pediatric, or psychiatric care, but I’d be surprised if she’s still seeing a pediatrician.
Plans like this were available in 2013 when she hurt her knee. She didn’t need an expensive, intrusive, and useless government program to cover her. She could have done it herself. The fact that she didn’t leads me to believe that Beth is either ignorant or irresponsible. You know, the kind of person Michelle Obama calls a “knucklehead”. That’s not really the kind of person I want advice from.
Wayne Middlesteadt is the author of Five Ways To Beat The Market, proven methods to lower your risk while making above average gains in the stock market. For more information on the book visit http://www.slightlyangryoldman.com/Downhome/Five-Ways-To-Beat-The-Market