Matt Zankich is a health care cynic. He's gone years without it. He generally doesn't think it's worth the money when you're a healthy, fit guy like he...and in fact his entire family. This is a guy who paid cash for the delivery of two children! Call him crazy, but he did the math, figured it out, and still thinks he saved money.
So, why does a guy who says he doesn't have health insurance because he "doesn't need it, and it's a waste of money" eventually break down and get care?
And how do you make a health care cynic like Matt happy?
Read more about Matt's story...
Matt is a 41 year old guy, married with two kids. He was a painting contractor and is now a real estate agent...which does partially explain why he hasn't had regular health insurance. But even his type of employment doesn't explain six years without insurance...through the births of two children!
What does? A couple of things. First it dates back to a family who included a few hypochondriacs and a bunch of antibiotics abusers (doctors and patients.) I gotta say I feel for Matt on this one...I really am appalled by the use on antibiotics when there's no clear reason. I think both doctors and patients turn to them as an easy way out...and maybe even as a placebo. And it's bad. But his second reason is really just a feeling that a fit, healthy, active person like him is never going to get his money's worth on maintenance health coverage.
Now, I clarified with Matt: it's not like he and his family don't do the good, preventative stuff...yes, they go to the dentist; yes his wife gets her annual exam, yes his kids got their shots. But they pay cash (or credit card) and other than those maintenance visits, they never go to the doctor.
So, what changed his mind?
Well, not too surprisingly...it was when something big hit close to home. A couple of good friends got cancer. Matt and his wife saw that if something big hit them...they could be wiped out financially, and that would be bad for the entire family.
When they decided they needed something, they did a lot of Internet research...looking for the lowest cost out-of-pocket plan that would cover major medical events. They found one plan through an association for the self-employed, at a rate of about $170/month, but from there, the rates went up every year for several years, even though they hadn't submitted a single claim.
So finally they did another Internet health insurance search, via my sponsor eHealthInsurance.com and found exactly the coverage they wanted:
-Low-cost...only about $125 per month for the whole family
-Rather high deductible of $2500 (although I have to say my deductible is $1500, but I pay a hundred bucks more than Matt a month...and that's just for me!)
Matt may be an exception, not a rule. he doesn't think for one second about health care...when he's covered or when he's not. It occupies no brain space. And he thinks coverage is a privilege not a right. He sounds like he's got a strong Libertarian streak if you ask me. He doesn't mind paying taxes to maintain a community...whether that means public safety, education, roads etc., so he's not a full-on Libertarian. But he doesn't think it's the government's responsibility to take care of people's health care. I guess back when they had their kids Matt and his wife could have qualified for government assistance and didn't take it. The paid off those bills over five years and feel better for it.
I'm not an expert, as we've well-established by now, but I tend to think that as a society we pay in other ways when people don't have health care...lost productivity, more spread of communicable diseases, over-taxed emergency rooms (what am I missing?) So I think it's a pay now or pay later situation.
I had one last question for Matt: was his wife also a health care cynic when he met her, or did he have to win her over?
Well, apparently two health care cynics met, fell in love at first sight and married within a few short months...and have been together for almost two decades!
It was pretty fascinating for me to talk to Matt because he's very different than me when it comes to his attitudes toward health care. I, too, have cost my health insurers very little over the years, but it never occurred to me that it was something I didn't need to have. I bet if I actually did the math, I might be surprised. But I'm pretty much too lazy!