November 18, 2007

Health Insurance

I haven't posted for a while because I've been planning family things for the upcoming holiday, and catching up for lost time. I always thought that retirement brings a lot of free time (heaven knows I'm unsuccessfully trying to find some hobbies for my grandpa to keep him active) but I'm quite busy nowadays. This is a good sign, because being unproductive would mean my retirement is failing because of the violation of Rule #3.

When I finally found some time, I read some comments on my previous posts and I feel that this retirement plan of mine has a lot of issues to address. Some issues that my readers brought up I have thought about while others I have not, and for that, I would like to thank them for keeping me on my toes.

One of the things that were brought up was health insurance. Obviously, my retirement does not yet factor any kind long term plan for that. I'm currently on a health plan from my previous employer that has an expiration date. After that, I might have to go without insurance or maybe a skeletal emergency plan that costs less than 100/month. A lot of Americans today don't have health insurance. This is the reality and a lot of people just have to make-do. My retirement plan is and will always be about adjusting.

So how am I going to adjust to finding health insurance? Well, currently, the mayor of San Francisco has promised to provide free city-wide health insurance. Thankfully, I live here so if that comes through, you can be sure that I will be one happy camper. However, let's say that falls through. You can tell by this blog that I am kind of idealistic. I probably won't be this way forever but there is a reason why young people are idealistic - they can afford to be. There are millions of Americans today that don't have health insurance due to a faulty system. Most people feel that they would just have to accept the system and make the best of the shackles they wear. I don't like accepting unfair systems and I don't think the rest of the nation does either. As a result, I feel this will have to change in the future whether it is a change forced by the hands of the people, or just through innovativeness to get around the HMO's. Instead of sacrificing an unfair amount of resources now to have health insurance, I can look forward to being one of the beneficiaries when a more realistic plan comes through for myself and many other fellow Americans.

Also, another thing about health insurance is that it is an assumed need - like shelter and sustenance. This may be true for some (older) people but I'm young and healthy and I recover from sickness quite fast. I feel that while it is something I will have to address in the future, I'm free to lower it on the priority list for now. This concept is hard to grasp because it breaks away from the status quo which makes it seem like I have to prepare for limbs getting hacked off and life-threatening diseases flying around rampantly. The truth is that the time my health becomes an issue is the time I will have to adjust to the problem.

Finally, it does not take a health plan to enforce preventive measures. I eat healthy, I exercise and I research best health practices because I actually have the time to do all 3 now. Whereas before when I was sitting in front of the computer for 40+ hours a week, now my body is much more energetic and probably better prepared to fight any health problems that come my way. Just like volunteering, I am able to trade money for time and turn that time into something that will save money. My retirement is about trade-offs and trying to find the benefits of the alternative to working - the alternative in this case being having more time to be healthy but not having health insurance. Out-of-the-box thinking has a huge impact on making my retirement work.

There is risk involved but I can't always plan for the worst. Afterall, why doesn't everyone also get UFO Abduction insurance? This is an extreme example but it illustrates the point for my current situation: the risk is too low. I will adjust when the time comes. Hopefully by then, I will be sending a gift basket to the mayor of San Francisco.

I'd like to thank my readers for inspiring this post and to encourage them to keep commenting. One of the reasons I have this blog is to allow an open forum for discussion to help me work through the problems I will face in my retirement.

1 comment:

Brip Blap said...

That's a good analysis. I'll agree that you can't always plan for the worst, but the simple fact is that it only takes ONE health event to ruin your retirement plans. I hope it never happens, but even 2 days in the hospital for my 2-year-old son for a bad virus cost $8000 ... covered by insurance. I almost was hospitalized with the same virus, and obviously one or two incidents like that every 2-3 years and you're screwed. I am very healthy - eat mostly vegetarian, no smoking, exercise, etc. - but you sit next to one disease carrier on a plane or a train and you're in trouble.

So you can definitely play the odds but unless you live in a progressive city like SF you are begging for a disaster. Until this country stops the dependence on corporate health care a lot of people are going to be trapped by their dependence on health care to avoid "worst case" scenarios. I know I am.