Thursday, September 12, 2013

The ACA Has Come for Me, So I Will Shrug

A letter from my health insurance provider finally came that I have been expecting for some time now. I now have the confirmation of my fears in black and white right in front of me. My current so-called high deductible, Health Savings Account-eligible (HSA) policy is being discontinued and will be replaced with an Affordable Care Act (ACA) compliant one. They even included a side-by-side comparison of my current plan features with the "Bronze" level plan it will convert to.

The substantial differences:

Deductible: was $3,500; now $5,000 in-network, $10,000 out-of-network

Coinsurance: was 50% for all categories of providers; now 30% in-network, 50% out-of-network

Out-of-pocket max: was $5,000 in any scenario; now $6250 in-network, $12,500 out-of-network

Other listed services are basically the same as they were before, which was that they were covered after my deductibles had been met. What is now covered that I didn't have before is maternity care, which sure makes me feel more secure about my non-existence uterus!

The price tag:

My policy was $140/month.

It will now be $254.57 (the Bronze plan is the cheapest one).

This is a premium increase of 81.8%, and a deductible increase of 42.8%. The other changes are largely meaningless, except that they add to the expense of the insurance.

My answer: No.

That's it, I'm done.

I'm out.

The purpose of insurance is supposed to be to protect one against catastrophe. It is supposed to be a relatively small exchange of value now as a hedge against unpredictable, crippling calamity later. It is also supposed to be insurance, period, not a laundry list of pre-paid medical services, many of which should not be paid for via insurance at all, but rather out-of-pocket and as needed, because they are routine and expected things. Further, insurance is supposed to be something one adopts as a virtuous move, voluntarily jumping into the "pool" before it is needed, such that the pool will exist for you and your fellow voluntary participants when it is needed. To protect the value of what the participants are investing in, the pool must necessarily exclude those who wait until it is too late to participate. As this law is written, anyone can jump in at any time, well after their need has been established, and such that the necessary security and longevity of the pool (that is, the protection of the early adopters' investment) simply cannot exist. Being a willing participant in health insurance pools before one is sick is now a sucker's bet.

Beyond the specific purpose of insurance and its correct form, there is the much bigger matter of its value within the context of my life. Properly structured and priced, health insurance is supposed to serve me; that is, it should enhance my life by providing greater value than it costs me. My existing health insurance plan, though it has many warts and could be cheaper, at this time does do that: I can both afford it and make contributions to my HSA without negatively impacting other things I am doing in my life. These changes, and the resulting price increases, would force me to draw resources (money, which is a tangible representation of my finite energy and time) away from other parts of my life to devote to the new policy. If I do not do so, then basically I could afford the new policy only by scrapping what I am contributing to my HSA and redirecting it to the premium, which destroys the utility of the HSA. Or, if I maintain my HSA contributions at their current levels as a percentage of my premiums, I will have to eliminate from my budget many of the other things that I enjoy in life: saving, investing, paying off debts, any number of leisure activities, etc. To keep everything in place in my budget and my life that is there now, I would have to work even harder to earn more money, sacrificing more of my time and energy in a way I would not otherwise choose to (resulting also in paying more taxes, and moving even further away from eligibility for a tax credit to offset the cost of my "affordable" health insurance).

In any scenario, the requirement that I own one of these idiotic health plans requires that I begin sacrificing higher values to what is now a lower one: my health insurance, which was always supposed to serve me, now requires that I serve it. This is value-destroying, which means it is life-destroying, and is therefore insane.

So I am dropping out. I am cancelling my existing policy before it automatically converts to this new, destructive policy. I fully acknowledge the risk I am taking, both in terms of my future health and the statutory punishments described within the ACA for not carrying insurance, but the math is very simple: I am alive and healthy now and can find much higher value and utility in having my life, my time, and my energy more in my own hands and at my disposal than I can by sacrificing it to the destructive policies dreamed up by unaccountable bureaucrats and would-be aristocratic "elected leaders." It is better to access more of what I value now, rather than constantly putting my dreams and goals on-hold for the sake of what some bureaucrat thinks I should devote my life and time to doing.

I accept that by choosing to more fully enjoy my life now, that I may subject myself to a potentially painful and rapid end later. I accept that I may have to take the end of my life into my own hands if the situation becomes hopeless enough. However, I find it preferable to seek and seize more of my own happiness now, as I conceive of it, with the possibility that I may not get sick and die relatively early in life. The gamble is an easy one to accept: I know that if I pay for one of these policies that I will lose value now and for the rest of my life. I know that ultimately I will die anyway, and that when I do die the chance is higher that I will go to my grave regretting everything I wanted to do but could not afford to do because an evil, out-of-control government forced me to devote my time and energy to what they thought was best, not what I valued most. I am going to take more of my own life into my own hands, and I am going to demand that all others back off and leave me to its entirety.

This is what I am choosing to do. I do not require that others follow my lead to validate what I am doing, but I do urge everyone else to do the same. To defeat and destroy this monstrosity that is being forced on us all, enough of us must refuse and resist. Let this be an open declaration of war upon schemes such as this one and those who seek to empower themselves as dictators trying to ride the tigers they have created: we know that you need us, our lives, and our energy, and we will make as many people as we can aware that they do not need you. Our weapon will be our non-participation; we will destroy you by doing nothing. We will remind the disillusioned and disappointed at every available opportunity that the new pains being forced upon them come from you, and that you can be removed and the pains alleviated. We will not voluntarily participate in your schemes, except in ways that will bleed out and destroy your creations. We will force you to reveal your true natures and initiate physical force against us when we do not accept your shackles and resist. We will put your creditors, both foreign and domestic, on notice that we intend to remove your access to our productivity by choosing to reduce it, such that they will cease backing you up by buying your debt. Through example, philosophy, persuasion, and demonstration, we will help individuals remember and realize that they are an "I," not a "we," and that you simply are not the predicate of anything relevant to, or required of, their own happiness on this earth; that you are mere men and women not worthy of respect or fear, only of scorn; and that you are in fact the antithesis of an individual's happiness.

Each of us, as individuals, has everything to gain by resisting: we can reclaim ownership of our own lives, and then do with them as we will, cooperating with others on a voluntary basis if we so chose, to whatever just ends we as individuals might identify. The would-be dictators and collectivists that presently attack us at every turn stand to lose that which is not rightfully theirs: power over you. This is a fight that is very much worth having. Living your life, as you see fit to do so, depends on it.


Anonymous said...

Hey, Paul, it's Monk, from the old LiveJournal days. I was moved to google up your blog, and I thought this was a particularly strong post. I hope you don't mind my linking to it for discussion at LJ. We don't have much life there these days, but it might draw some more eyes here.

Paul E. Zimmerman said...

Hi, Monk! Long time, hope you're doing well.

I saw your comment several days ago, but it came in as I was returning from a continuing ed. conference in Portland, OR (for my pest control licensing), which immediately followed a week-long, 60 acre weed control project spread out across three wind farms. In short, despite November 1st typically marking my "off season," this year thus far it has been anything but.

And I'm still at it, I'm afraid. Today I scheduled no appointments, but outside of running my business I now have over half of an acre of land to keep up with. Someday soon I'll actually be off for the season and then I plan to devote more time to my blog again.

A bit of good news came my way since I've written this post - I had forgotten that I am enrolled in the VA system because of my participation in Desert Strike in the mid-90's. They wrote to me on my birthday to remind me that because I'm one of theirs, I do not have to do anything further to meet the ACA's requirements. I don't use their services because of my general inclination to avoid/oppose socialist schemes, but in this particular case also because I would prefer to leave the finite resources there for my brothers and sisters in arms that did not come out of their service whole as I did. But, since merely being enrolled is all that's required of me - to just be a name in a computer database - that's acceptable.

Now, I did quickly want to address one thing said in the discussion thread over there, about my income: I'm not going to share it, and it's not the point anyway. All I will say is that being single and having the income I do from my business and a rental property, I qualify for no subsidies. My exact income is an objective piece of data, but it's subject to subjective analysis, and I can already tell that the people raising the question are priming to make some statement such as "oh, you can afford it, shut up." Whether I can or I cannot is not the point; being made to spend my resources that I acquire by trading away my finite time on this earth on this or that is the point, which as I described in my post, necessarily requires diverting them away from things that I value toward something someone else values and is coercing me to purchase.

I also will add, for the "sweet oranges" comment one person made: bullshit. Washington state infested its insurance market with the features of Hillarycare back in the 90's after that plan failed to even make it through the DNC dominated congress of the time. We have had all of the terrible features that all ACA plans now mandate already, except for one: mandatory maternity coverage. Despite being larded up with those things (and more) and having pricing warped by community rating, my plan was still cheaper than what it would become now, both in terms of premium and deductible. I have not just relied on what my former insurance carrier told me the price would become, I also checked my state's exchange website and verified that the prices were similar (to within about $20/month). Further, our state's website has been screwing up the subsidy calculations it has been showing people, such that some prices that have been indicated are LOW by as much as $200 per month:

So far, it's not looking like I'll have to work too hard at helping to destroy this thing. The way this is playing out, it appears it may destroy itself. That's no surprise, as any law passed against reality will eventually fall apart, but it appears this one may be mercifully short.

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