First, a bit of background.
I grew up without consistent health insurance. Depending on the jobs our parents had at the time, neither had college degrees, we had either no insurance at all, minimal insurance like ER visits only, or just plain poor coverage. Consequently, the only time we saw a physician was for required school physicals or when a piece of our body was hanging off at an odd angle.
For better or worse, we survived.
When I was sixteen I started working as a nurses aide and as a bonus, received some health benefits. At twenty five I graduated form nursing school and the health care benefits came rolling in, high on the hog style. For a minimal paycheck deduction I had excellent coverage in and out of the hospital for my children and spouse. This hey day of health care continued for over three decades until I retired from nursing in 2010.
During that time I saw every kind of abuse of this system one could imagine. From patients who claimed toothaches were medical emergencies and clogged up our ER's, to physicians who billed for patient visits when they never stepped into a patients room. I witnessed medical supplies being marked up 300% and insurances being billed astronomical fees for dressing changes or other procedures that took mere minutes.
The US's health care system was destined to crash and it is is losing altitude daily. The initiation of Obama's Affordable Care Act was not the cause of this collapse, but merely a symptom of a convoluted system that rewarded crooked health care providers and third party payers and ruined the health of a people by focusing on the pharmacy of illness instead of on the educational requirements required to promote health.
Our current situation is this. When I returned to college in 2014, I was automatically enrolled in the university's group insurance and the small premium was paid by my Children of Veterans Scholarship. That coverage ceased last May when I graduated. Keith was covered through one of the marketplace plans and received a nice subsidy making his monthly premium very affordable, about $20 a month. Then, when we did our taxes last Jan. we were fined several thousand dollars because ACA had miscalculated his subsidy based on our income (we were still receiving monthly payments from our contract for deed people on our Chatsworth farm.) It was ACA's mistake but we had to pay.
So we did and we promptly did not sign up for any other plans. A few months later Keith cut his thumb badly with a circular saw and required 17 stitches. The ER bill was over $1500 but when we informed the hospital we had no insurance, they immediately dropped the charges to just over $800, which they allowed us to pay over time, about $100/month. Funny, how the "costs" of treating a patient suddenly lesson, when there is no deep pocket third party to bill.
This year, before ACA's December deadline, we again investigated our options. Based on our projected low income we appeared to qualify for subsidies towards our monthly premium, our out of pocket costs and our deductible. But we also would qualify for our states Medicaid program (with an income limit up to 138% of the Poverty level of $16,200 annually, or around $22,000) if we did not elect a plan through one of ACA's approved providers. So, do we pay anywhere between $20-$100/month with assistance not guaranteed, for healthcare we may never use, within a program Trump is threatening to demolish, or do we take our chances, do all we can to stay healthy and, if a catastrophic event occurs, apply for Medicaid coverage when we need it?
We elected the last option.
Keep in mind, we have no plans to apply for government assistance via Medicaid, even though I paid into that system for decades, but if we must, we will. It's also important to know, all of our children are grown and financially independent of us, if we still had wee ones at home, we'd make different decisions.
Over the years we've pulled far away from modern day physician care since it is the very rare one who doesn't rely heavily on pharmaceutical intervention rather than diet changes, or alternative medicine which was accepted medical practice until the "alternative" label took hold in the 1960's. Drug prescriptions interactions is the number one cause of death in the elderly and the number of drugs prescribed every year continues to escalate.
It's not just the physicians fault, as many will tell you that patients come into their offices not only insisting on a new prescription for whatever ailment they have, but actually making suggestions for specific drugs and their doses.
We also want to keep as much money in our own pockets as we can, and not toss it into the heathcare wind circling around us, hoping it will benefit it. I'd rather spend the premium money on lotto tickets. It is rare that either of us feels ill but when we do we go to to the basics; lots of fluids like healthy bone broths and raw milk, extra rest, fresh air every day, essential oils for stuffy noses, chests, honey for coughs and the occasional generic ibuprofen, for aches and pains. It is the last over the counter med we use and neither of us are on any prescription meds. We used to be on several meds, but over the last three years we have taken ourselves off them and substituted improved nutrition in their place.
We understand fully either of us could suffer a stroke, an MI, debilitating cancer, but we feel strongly the more we take control of our own HEALTH instead of relying on western medicine to treat our illnesses, the more likely we are to live the life we are meant to live. It's kind of a crap shoot anyway as I cared for patients who never smoked a day in their lives who died of lung cancer and also for patients who smoked constantly and had only hemorrhoids as their big surgical need.
When we told our children of our plan to live and work here on The Poor Farm until the day we croak, one of our sons said to us, "Well, you don't want to just die outside chopping wood when you're 80 do you?"
Yes we do, we answered. Yes, we do.