People I know who have to buy their own medical insurance -- self-employed or employer doesn't provide insurance -- are paying $300-$400 a month for one person! One health care activist who has studied this told me recently that he expects buy-it-yourself medical insurance to be up to around $500 a month in a couple years. Very few can afford that.
I'm on the Oregon Health Plan, Oregon's expanded version of Medicaid. Due to the state budget crisis and a dysfunctional legislature, benefits -- dental, mental, drug treatment, vision and prescriptions -- have been cut for most of us on OHP. I'm just thankful that I can get by without any of that, but, at 63, for how long? Most major illnesses require expensive prescriptions. I fear for those on OHP who need prescriptions to survive. Also for the mentally ill, whose outpatient treatment has been eliminated.
As for all those lucky people who are getting insurance through their jobs, premiums have been rising at double-digit percentages every year, and your employer will eventually pass some of that on to you. In other words, here comes a pay cut. Is it worth it to you to keep paying the grossly inflated overhead of the medical insurance companies? Government medical insurance programs like Medicare have a much lower overhead than that of the insurance companies. No profits, high CEO salaries, etc.
If you have medical insurance through your job you will lose it every time you get laid off. So you have no security. Better not get laid off and have an expensive illness at the same time. I've been there.
If you're young and have a good deal now, be aware that by the time you hit your late 50s you will probably have a life-threatening, very expensive illness. The way things are going, by then there may not be any medical insurance system to pay your bills. The system is slowly collapsing, and we need to change it now.
People in this country without medical insurance have a higher death rate than those with it. Health care in this country is rationed by income.
And no, you can't just go to the Emergency Room. Their job is to stabilize you and get you back out onto the street, ASAP. They are not set up to provide the long-term treatment needed for chronic, life-threatening illnesses.
It's a myth that people in other countries with socialized medical insurance have it worse than we do. Canadians are NOT flocking across the border to get medical care. They much prefer their system to ours. They may have to wait for elective care, but they will not be denied it for lack of money. Don't believe the lies shoveled out to you by the corporate news media and medical insurance companies. Those lies could kill you.