They say an apple a day keeps the doctor away; yeah well so does having no medical
insurance. Many of you reading this right now may be thinking Iím only kidding but
the alarming fact is that 43.6 million Americanís are walking around right now with
no medical coverage at all. That is nearly 16 percent of our nation who sacrifice
their annual physicals and rely on self-diagnosis of minor ailments, which may be
indicative of bigger problems. I only know this because Iím one of those who
havenít been to the doctor since my college housing required it and I have yet to
jump through all the hoops it takes to obtain a reasonable coverage program.
Is this possibly the latest hobby for thrill seekers? The latest craze for those who
like to live on the edge? No, in fact I would emphasize the fact that with no medical
coverage Iíve become quite the germophobe and will rarely be found without my
two best friends instant hand sanitizer and my big olí can of Lysol. The time I spend
each week on WebMD and the money I lay down for my vitamins is a story for
another day. The sad thing is I was never like this prior to acknowledging the huge
out of pocket costs that accompany an uninsured visit to the doc. I was never afraid
of cutting my hand open on a piece of unbroken glass or to nervous to drive during
rush hour traffic in fear of risking an accident which would surely involve major
So maybe Iím exaggerating a little on that last one but the point here is
with no medical insurance, you can either watch your back or pay the gianormous
fees that doctors are allowed to charge. Of course you will then have to watch your
back from all the creditors who will be out to get you and just might do things to
you that doctors canít fix.
What is even more worrisome is the types of occupations that do not offer medical
coverage these days and the growing number of people being required to insure
themselves. A brief study (involving me walking around the mall with a clipboard-
and looking very official might I add) exposed that its not just part time retail
workers who have to scrounge the bottom of the bargain barrel for leftover HMOs.
The list included occupations ranging from a drycleanerís store manager (who had
to buy her own coverage) to a fellow writer for a local newspaper. Respondents who
toped the list however included a pre-school teacher (I was under the impression
that a job of that service would most definitely merit some form of benefits) and a
construction worker (but as long as he never gets sick and only gets hurt on the job
heís perfectly safe)!
We are so lucky to live in a country where all the best technology and medical
research are at our dispose; unfortunately the flip side of that coin makes these
resources virtually inaccessible to so many of us. Lets face it though, not all
ailments just ďgo awayĒ and Nyquil may indeed help you get your Zís but it certainly
wonít do the trick against any form of meningitis. Sometimes, you just have to
break down, throw up the white flag and make a visit to the doctor or even worse,
the dreaded emergency room. Now Iíve had my fair share of jaunts to the ER and
donít get me wrong, I would never complain about the care and attention I received,
the doctors and nurses in those places put up with more than I could ever imagine.
But from my experiences I will say that the ER is one of the few places where even in
todayís politically correct atmosphere, judgments fly and assumptions are a way of
Sure there are some alternatives such as a doc-in-the-box or free clinic but in the
absence of insurance even these can get pricy. For those out there who werenít in
the mood to wait out that stabbing pain on the right side of your lower abdomen or
didnít have enough chewing gum in the house to fashion your own cast when you
broke your ankle donít be afraid to reach out and ask someone for some assistance.
Find someone to contact because aside from becoming Canadian citizens and
signing up for their free health insurance it looks like our only other option is to sit
tight and wait for Congress to come to our rescue with a bill forcing employers to
cover their employees (better not hold our breath on that one). For more
information on who you may contact, just follow the link and I wish you all the
health (and hand sanitizer) in the world.
Katie Spencer is a contributing writer for a number of international financial journals both online and in print. Katie has been delivering financial education to the public in a variety of areas to include budgeting, credit and debt management, and money saving tips. Recently, Katie has been in partnership with a national educational foundation to deliver financial advice to American consumers via the web.