46 million people in America are without health insurance. But by some
estimates, as many as one-third of them are what you might call
"voluntarily uninsured." These are people who could afford coverage
but don't buy it.
Robinson is one of them. She's the owner of Zenith Holland Gardens, a wholesale
plant nursery in Des Moines, Wash.
a small business owner, sometimes it's hard to pay the bills every month,"
the athletic 52-year-old says regarding why she doesn't have health insurance.
She's driving to an appointment with her chiropractor, which she pays for out
months I can do that, but every couple of years I'll run into a dry spell where
maybe for three or four months it's a struggle, and things like health
insurance, medical premiums, I'm not going to be able to pay," Robinson
Weighing The Costs
estimates that health insurance would cost her about $500 a month. That's a lot
of money for a policy that might not even cover the kind of preventive care she
drives down the interstate, Robinson explains that she's a big believer in
alternative medicine. She regularly visits not only a chiropractor, but also a
naturopath, an acupuncturist and a massage therapist.
rather use the $6,000 a year that I would pay in health insurance premiums and
put it toward actual care, pay the doctor directly," she says.
particular day, Robinson is going to the chiropractor for a variety of aches
and pains related to her active lifestyle. This summer she sprained her ankle
on a 10-day backpacking trip. She also has a cracked rib from inner-tubing with
her grandson behind a powerboat.
chiropractor's office, Greg Summers gets right to work on Robinson's rib. It
sounds awfully painful. She cries out as he manipulates her torso.
me?" Summers jokes.
manipulations later, Summers is finished and Robinsons says, despite her
painful yelp, she feels good.
that moment it hurts, but always afterward it feels better," she says.
pays her bill, which is $35 a visit. She says another reason she's uninsured is
she doesn't particularly trust insurance companies. She thinks they interfere
in the relationship between patient and doctor - driving up administrative
costs and deciding what is and isn't covered.
A Calculated Risk
likes the power of deciding where and when to spend her medical dollars. Just
like when she climbs mountains and goes snowboarding, she says, not being
insured is taking a calculated risk.
sure that there's people out there that are going to say that's crazy and
irresponsible," Robinson says. "Maybe it is, maybe it isn't. Maybe
we're just brainwashed into believing that we are supposed to have insurance to
be fiscally responsible."
not as though Robinson's philosophy about health insurance hasn't been tested.
Nearly a decade ago she fell while Rollerblading and badly broke her wrist. She
had to have two surgeries. The whole ordeal cost her $14,000 out of pocket. You
might think an experience like that would have shaken Robinson's belief that
she can go through life without the blanket of protection that insurance
affords. In fact, she says it had just the opposite effect.
I have one of those kinds of incidents once in 10 years, I can pay the bill
because I haven't paid worthless insurance premiums, I haven't paid out $6,000
a year for the false security that somebody's going to take care of me if
something happens," Robinson explains.
Seeking A Plan That Works For Her
as she is, Robinson admits that in a perfect world she'd like insurance, if it
was affordable and if the plan was tailored to her.
says she doesn't want to subsidize people who live unhealthy lives, and she
doesn't want to pay the same premiums as the average 50-something woman.
they could factor in my health - like, I could be rewarded for the fact that I
have low blood pressure, low cholesterol, low body fat, low resting heart rate,
I should benefit from that," Robinson argues. "Those that don't have
that maybe pay a little more. But maybe I pay a little more because I ski and
says participating in this story has made her give a lot of thought to being uninsured.
And it's rattled her a bit. If she got really sick or hurt and racked up
hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills, she could lose her business.
For that reason, Robinson says, she has started
shopping around for lower-cost catastrophic coverage, just in case.
Source: Kaiser Health News