"In the broken US system, you will pay 5 times as much as the insurance companies do if you self-insure and need treatment. Maybe with Obamacare you can wait until you get sick and then purchase
Yes and no, Don. A lot depends on whether you know the system at all, and none of us are taught how to really use it. There are large numbers of hospitals in the US that participate in federal programs that require them to bill uninsured patients on an income-basis. So if you have a very low income
, you may find a specialist's treatment and examination costs you $15 and a 30-day rx for ANY med costs you $2.
Walk in through the same ER to the same care, and you may pay $500 for the $15 service
if you don't ask for aid.
The trick is, even if you know which local hospitals participate, or have programs of their own, you also need to know to ASK if they have any programs for uninsured folks with low incomes.
Most of us never find out about these programs, because they are not advertised or taught unless you are in the social welfare system.
Still, they exist.
And with private practitioners, a surprising number will also accommodate uninsured patients, or unemployed uninsured patients. Tell the receptionist "what's the bill?" and you get the track rate. Tell them "I have no insurance" and you often will be charged the Medicare rate, which can be 1/3 of the rack rate. The trick is, you have to ask.
Does this su** ? Damn right it does. Somehow a "professional service" doesn't seem like it should be negotiated the same way as everything else in the bazaar. At least, not to me.
Now with Obamacare...it will take a good six months before that gives the insurers a chance to reformulate their new games. They already started a new one, claiming that because of the massive demand (which Congress claims has been nearly no demand) they're so backlogged it has taken many of them over three weeks to simply assign new policy numbers and issue new ID cards. Meaning, you can't give anyone your membership
number, so they can't submit bills, or order meds, and you have to pay everything yourself and file for reimbursement. Even if you paid in December for January coverage.
New plans, new names, same old games. And no rule
book to help the rubes.