America’s new health insurance exchanges opened today. So get a check-up after all these years. Or let Uncle Sam jam his finger up your you-know-what.
Which is it? A conservative ad campaign says it’s the federal finger and you should opt out; Obamacare fans say it’s your path to good health. Here are four things you need to know.
1) Opt in or out on your terms.
If you have no health insurance, why rely on the agenda of millionaire politicians and billionaire bankrollers you’ll never meet? It’s YOUR body, YOUR family, and YOUR finances. Politicians and marketers on either side of the aisle shouldn’t scare you into making decisions on YOUR health.
2) Sometimes that stomachache is appendicitis.
The argument for staying insurance-free assumes you’ll never be hurt or sick. Do you believe your car will never need maintenance and repairs? Why would you believe that about your body? Sometimes, that sore shoulder is a torn rotator cuff. Sometimes, that fever is Lyme disease. Sometimes, your bike wheel slips into the old trolley track, and you break your arm. Adequate planning is what adults do.
3) Even a damn UTI can cost you hundreds.
You probably won’t have a catastrophic accident or get a fatal disease. But if you live paycheck to paycheck, try finding a couple thousand dollars in your budget for the emergency room if that kitchen knife slips and you need stitches. If you get rear-ended, want to take your chances with whiplash? Millionaire politicians assume you can afford it. Can you?
4) Antibiotics or rheumatic fever: your choice.
One doctor visit and some antibiotics for strep throat now are cheaper than rheumatic fever (with its risk of heart failure) later. Discovering your pre-diabetic blood sugar now and changing your lifestyle is way cheaper than a lifetime of insulin injections. Understand the gamble if you skip preventive care because you don’t have insurance.
For the ladies and babies, and people who love ladies and babies:
In their Creepy Uncle Sam ad, opt-out advocates say the government shouldn’t get between a woman and her doctor. But some of the same politicians also insist that government should limit contraceptive access, force women to have trans-vaginal ultrasounds they do not need, and stop women from legally terminating an unwanted or health-threatening pregnancy. So who’s playing OB-GYN here?
Ladies, anyone telling you to opt out of insurance is doing something especially dangerous, and not just for you. According to an April 2013 report, the US has a higher death rate for one-day-old babies than any other industrialized nation. One factor in this is that half of all US pregnancies are unplanned, and moms aren’t taking care of themselves. Health insurance gives you access to a branch of modern medicine known as reliable birth control. And good prenatal care gives future babies a better chance.
Opt in or out. But it’s not a wealthy ideologue’s choice. It’s yours.
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