Joining the Ranks of the Uninsured?
by Lorien E. Menhennett
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 16% of Americans – that’s 49 million people, folks – were uninsured in 2010. I am on the brink of joining their ranks.
When I was a student, I had health care coverage, a decent PPO at that, through my university. It wasn’t that expensive, either (a little over $100 a month). That coverage runs out at the end of August. Which is in … *gulp* … about six weeks. I was hoping that my part-time lab job might, just might, offer health benefits. But I just got the new-hire paperwork e-mailed to me today, and one of the stipulations for the position is that I don’t qualify for benefits. None.
So I am left in a quandary. There is absolutely no way I can afford comprehensive (i.e., decent) coverage out of pocket. And as I understand it, the Affordable Care Act health insurance “exchanges” that would make decent insurance more affordable for people like me don’t go into effect until 2014. By that time, I will hopefully be starting medical school, and will be again covered under a university policy.
The question remains: What do I do until then?
When my sister was in a similar situation, she purchased very basic insurance. Emergency insurance, really, in case of a serious accident or illness. That’s my plan as well. Because knowing my luck, if I don’t purchase some type of coverage, something terrible will happen.
For kicks, I just now got an online insurance quote from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois. Out of curiosity, more than anything; mainly I chose BCBS IL because they were my previous insurance carrier and I’m familiar with them. The coverage I was quoted (which is obviously not guaranteed) ranges from about $175 (for a $5,000 deductible plan with 80% coverage after that) to almost $700 (for a $0 deductible plan with 100% coverage). Even for the most basic plan, which would provide me with absolutely no benefits unless something catastrophic happened, I would be paying $60 more than I am paying for my student plan now, which offers excellent benefits. It’s a sad situation. For me, and for 49 million other Americans.
While I guess I won’t be completely uninsured, I will be practically uninsured, which is scary. If I get sick, I will have to pay to go see the doctor. And those bills can add up really quickly. Well, let’s hope they don’t, right?