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Monday, March 02, 2009

HEALTH INSURANCE IS IMPORTANT

I can’t imagine not having health insurance. Even as a foolhardy kid who never felt sick and figured I would live forever, I wanted to always be sure I had health insurance in case something catastrophic hit. It didn’t have to be a health problem; accidents happen too.

My parents always had some type of health insurance for my brother and me when we were kids. It was cheap in those days and even when I got married in the late ‘60s my wife and I only paid $13.50 a month for Blue Cross. When we both graduated from college, our companies provided insurance so we were well covered. It came in handy in 1984 when I tore an Achilles tendon playing basketball well past my prime and needed surgery.

When we retired to Arizona on a permanent basis in 1989, we went on COBRA for 18 months which was expensive but better than nothing. After that, I worked at various part time jobs that provided insurance and the most I ever paid for it was about $80 per month. With today’s health costs, I considered that a good deal especially in 1998 when I needed eye surgery. I was on an HMO and the surgery didn’t cost me a cent. I don’t hear much about HMOs anymore.

In 2000 my wife went to work for Safeway on a part time basis of about 20-25 hours per week. Part of her benefits were free health insurance. Another benefit for her was that I became Mr. Mom and cooked a lot of meals, did ironing (you should see my creases), washed dishes, grocery shopped, etc., but that is a story for another time.

That free insurance came in handy when I had cataract surgery last year on my right eye. It was a simple procedure but I shudder to think of the medical costs coming out of my pocket. I know of people my age who have no insurance because when they inquired about it they were told either that because of some prior condition, they were uninsurable or, if they were insurable, the cost would be astronomical with a high deductible. Most are taking a chance and waiting for medicare at 65 which costs about $190 per month not counting supplemental policies.

Anyone who has been to a hospital knows about the high cost of health care. I have seen people lose all their savings because of that cost and because they didn’t have health insurance. If you don’t have it, but there is a way you can get it, I would advise going for it.

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