We could talk about jobs going overseas, we could talk about employers being able to pay cheaper illegals, we could talk about the relationship of the price of gas to eggs, but I want to get one problem out of the way before Zach Wamp and company has to have a stand off at the state line with federal regulators: Me.


If you've been paying for health insurance, I've been screwing you. Not yet really; it's going to be one of those unexpected bills, "hidden costs." I've had health insurance a couple of times, but I happened to leave both of those jobs soon after eligibility (after a year of employment). I might should have soaked them for some services before I left, and that might have been where you were expecting this story to go.

Basically, I've never had health insurance as an adult, and although while never making a lot of money I have always managed to scrape together enough for "pot, booze and maybe a little blow". I'm 36, I haven't been to a doctor since maybe for some cold medicine at the UT clinic in the early 90's, I've overused all forms of tobacco with no dental visit since '93. What should I expect to pay in monthly premiums if I ever choose to exercise my freedom to purchase health insurance? Did I mention that I've been known to have unprotected sex with the help? I hope not. It's not about the risks I have taken or if I love my life more than you today. I could have been a perfectly careful poor dumb bastard that never put any money into the system that could already be costing you plenty by now.

For buying into the system so late, if we decide that my premiums should be double or triple or if I should be allowed to die like the barbarian that I am, we would be disappointed to learn that I'm going to eventually somehow cost you more money than if I had been doing what I should have been doing all along, if you had been getting your kids to do what they should have been doing once they were old enough to be dropped from your insurance plan. Insurance doesn't work if you game the system by buying it when you need it and dropping it when you don't, and I am winning so far. Winning hard. Contribution zero. What am I going to end up costing you if you don't make people like me start paying (I might not be able to afford cable news or the cartoon channel) at the border of adulthood? Our dictator has imposed a mandate to buy health insurance? I owe you, old man and I should have been paying all along. If I had you'd be more likely to be able to afford yours right now.

Let's keep a close eye on where we're putting our nickels together and see if we can find ways to put off me having to pay someone to wipe your ass for an extra forty years up the road and see if I can't live to see three centuries. We should have made that deal generations ago.

Warmest regards,
Eric Lykins

Virgil Proudfoot's picture

Little-known fact about "Zach Wamp"

This fact isn't widely known outside of Cherokee linguistic circles, but the name "Zach Wamp" derives from the Cherokee term "Zachie Wampus," which appears in Sequoyah's dictionary with the meaning "crazed ignorant white man."

R. Neal's picture

True confessions

Hah. We knew it. Time to pay the piper.

On the other hand, here's our story.

We always had pretty good insurance through work up until 1995 when we quit our jobs to start a company. During that time on the job, we only ever filed one claim between us (about $1000 for an MRI when I had a herniated disk, and let me tell you the pain is right up there with child birth, or so I'm told).

Then we had to get our own insurance. We were living in Florida, where state law requires insurance companies to write you an individual policy. We were able to get a private family coverage policy for the two of us (no kids) at about $700 per month. We had a $5000 deductible each.

Then we moved to Tennessee. About a year after moving here, our insurance company decided to get out of the health insurance business and sold all their policies to another company. The other company decided to drop us with no explanation. I'm sure it had to do with a pre-existing condition of mine, but they refused to say why.

In Tennessee, insurance companies aren't required to write anyone a policy if they don't want to. We tried all the usual suspects and were turned down. I even called TennCare to see if they had something I could pay some outrageous premium for, but we made way too much money to qualify. I asked the guy what we were supposed to do, and he just laughed.

Then we incorporated and found out state law requires insurance companies to write group policies to businesses, just not to individuals. My dad suggested I check with the Farm Bureau (!), and we were able to get a pretty good BCBS group plan for our two full-time employees (me & the Mrs.) for about $500 month total for both. It, too, has high deductible $5000 each. And we've never had dental, vision, or prescription drug coverage on any policy.

So we have never filed a claim on either policy that we've had and have basically paid everything out of pocket for 15 years. I have two doctor visits per year, one for full physical that normally costs $600 and a second follow up that is about $200 but my doctor gives a 40% discount for cash self-pay. We've been pretty lucky to not get too sick or injured or need many expensive tests or prescriptions.

I figured up how much I've paid into the "system" over the years and it totals about $108,000. The net present value to the insurance companies is about $186,000 (at a modest 2.5% return, which was much higher in the nineties but we'll use that for a conservative average), and they have never paid out a single penny in claims.

Without this bill, I'm sure they would drop us like a bad habit the first time we filed a claim, or jack up our premiums by about 3X. Now if we can avoid trouble for six more months we'll at least be protected from that. If we can keep our business going for four more years we'll be able to shop around in an exchange (assuming Tennessee doesn't opt out) if our rates go up or we decide to sell the business.

If we can hold on ten more years we will enter the sweet embrace of Medicare, and all will be good. Unless you youngsters screw it up. So please don't screw it up. Or Social Security.

bizgrrl's picture

Yes, I am amazed when people

Yes, I am amazed when people don't have insurance.

We've almost always been pretty conservative and played it safe when it comes to finances and insurance. Regarding health, auto, and homeowners/renters insurance, as Randy said, we've paid in for many, many years with very small, if any, reimbursements. RE: health insurance, no claims in 20 years (not 15). RE: auto insurance, two claims in 35 years and one was due to hail damage on a brand new vehicle. RE: homeowners/renters insurance, as best as I can recall, no claims in 30 years.

I sure wish you would get some health insurance. Of course, I also hope we don't get ripped off when it comes time for us to need our health insurance.

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