Skip to content

Has it come to this? Are we to live like Americans?

December 31, 2008

“Walk around the neighborhood, Lauren. Nobody has insurance!” –my neighbor, disabled, married, three children

If only to ensure that I always have something to repent, I manage to blurt things on a fairly regular basis that immediately make me feel like an elitist blockhead.

Last summer I expressed incredulity that my neighbor didn’t have any health insurance. Now I understand why.

A change in benefits at the firm employing my husband sent us on a whirlwind tour from our comfortable insured status as Sheltered Americans to the unnerving one of Shopping Americans. It isn’t a very welcoming marketplace out there if you’re shopping for health insurance. In fact, it’s rather brusque.

I can only speak for my one-day experience in Washington state. Few carriers even care to do business here. For those who do, it’s pretty plain that they’re in the wellness gambit. If you have any sort of illness, you’d better stick with your group.

The group insurance we’d had was converting to an HSA (Health Savings Account). To opt to continue the same type of coverage we have had would require me to purchase individual coverage. That would be a change in plan, an event that would trigger a 30-page health questionnaire.

The questionnaire is the insurance carrier’s insurance, designed to exclude anyone likely to cost it anything. I didn’t even check it out. I knew I’d flunk. If you flunk the questionnaire, you are politely referred to the state’s risk pool. If you can afford that, you probably also have People who are reading this for you while bringing your coffee on a silver tray.

The telephone shopping expedition was stressful and led us back to the firm’s new plan, the HSA. Basically, this means we’re on our own to pay for my life-sustaining prescriptions, labwork, and endocrinology visits. The Plan picks up the tab for the wellness stuff–preventive care. In my case that saves us a few hundred a year at the cost of a few thousand. We did all the math, retrospectively and prospectively as best we could know, and it seemed the HSA would actually result in lower costs for us than the individual plan I could opt into–in the unlikely event that I could opt into it. We knew it would certainly be lower than the state risk pool. There was no question the HSA was the best deal for my healthy husband.

“O God,” I said to my husband. “We’ll be living like Americans.” I wonder who will be my generation’s Dorothea Lange.

  1. Vic permalink
    December 31, 2008 11:13 am

    Of course, there are still those groups, generally speaking, who don’t live like Americans. Among them: government employees and union auto workers. . . .

  2. December 31, 2008 11:23 am


    Hey! Instead of the 30-page health questionnaire, I could complete the 60-page background questionnaire to work for Obama; then I’d get really primo coverage. But my chance of flunking that one I’d put right at 100%.

    And so, as Americans we trudge bravely on.

  3. Jane permalink
    January 2, 2009 9:10 am

    I don’t mean this in the trite way that it often comes across, but I AM praying with you about this. Both you and I are plugged into the health care procedure thing as tho by an umbilical cord; it is a continual need. As God has been Faithful to me in this regard, so He will be to you. As a pastor we both know has said, “All things are a test of faith”.

Comments are closed.