How might your life be different if you didn’t have to worry about health care?

For many Americans, access to health care depends on having an employer who offers it as part of a benefits package. Others may depend upon a spouse’s coverage. Does a fear of losing health care affect your decisions? How might your life be different if you didn’t have to worry about health care?

I wouldn’t have to decide between groceries or the doctor. -Ben, Minneapolis

Not having to worry about health care comes at such a price I’m not willing to pay. There are no fee lunches. -Charlie, MN

I’d feel free to make bolder career choices, and able to change career paths if I didn’t have to be concerned about health care for me and my husband. -anonymous text message

If i didn’t have to worry about health care i could quit the job i hate and start doing what i love. -anonymous text message

I stayed with a company who offered excellent benefits for 25 years because of serious health issues, even though the job was not well suited to my skills or temperament. It is hard to know how my life may have been different if I had the freedom to get health care benefits that were not dependent on my employer. -Linda Swaggert, St. Paul, MN

I never would have married my first wife if we had some other way to come up with health care for her and our expectant baby while I was in the military. In addition, even though I held a Master’s Degree, I took a job in corrections working for 20 years at something that only required a high school education so that my family would have health care. -Bryan Emmel, Moorhead, MN

I think its wise for me to worry a little about health care because it motivates me to live healthier. Fortunately, I have pretty good health care coverage now and am well. Although I believe there will be some form of health care when I ready to retire in 20 years, I am planning to pay a lot more out of pocket than what today’s health care consumers pay, especially for conditions caused by my behaviors (as opposed to accidents and genetic markers). So, I’m tying to save a little more and keep my weight under control. But, there are enough worries for today. Let tomorrow worry about itself. -William Knutson, New Brighton, MN

People will always worry about health care, until there is no more sickness or death. Either we’ll worry about the cost, or we’ll worry about access, or we’ll worry about rationing, or we’ll worry about waiting lists. Nothing in life is free, especially things subsidized by the government. Farm animals don’t worry about health care. It is provided them at no cost by their owner. Their owner also makes all the decisions, based upon cost effectiveness. Americans are more than just the government’s beasts. We are a free people, with the right to worry about whatever we wish, even health care. -Kevin Masrud, Chaska, MN

This question treats health care as if it is something that can magically fall out of the sky and bestow its blessings on lucky recipients. How might your life be different if you didn’t have to worry about food? How might your life be different if you didn’t have to worry about retirement? How might your life be different if you didn’t have to worry about your children? Health care is a personal responsibility, just like food, retirement, children, and all the other things that life so cruelly makes us provide for. If you can’t afford your own health care, seek help from charities. Don’t extract it anonymously and forcibly from my paycheck. -Jonathan Kovaciny, Mankato, MN

Share your reply in the comments.

  • Deb Staley

    Your question leaves out the phrase, ‘the cost of’.

    I too, am lucky, my employer provides good health care. Having said that, the health care is one reason I work where I do. My employer does not provide dental coverage, does provide a set amount per year for dental/eye care. So, dental/eye care are sometimes deferred.

    If, I did not have to worrying about the cost of health care, like most people in most industrilized countries, when I divorced the concern health care coverage of my then spouse would not had to be an issue.

    Although I have coverage, I have friends that are unemployed that have no coverage and I am concerned about them. They are depressed and have no access to services, which in turn makes the depression worse.

  • John Reynolds

    I wouldn’t have to worry so much about losing my job because health insurances is my largest monthly cost. It is about 4x larger than my taxes.

  • I would be able to spend more on consumer goods as my paycheck wouldn’t have a large chunk taken away for my premiums.

  • Lisa R

    I don’t worry about the cost of Health Care anymore as I had to discontinue what little health care I had as of July 1st because I could no longer afford it.

    I do worry about not having any insurance because I have epilepsy and osteoporosis, I have been unemployed for three & 1/2 years and I would love to get a job and go back to work.

    I don’t give up very easily. I am still determined to get a job and get back on track.

  • Jane Crain,

    At age 59+ I am working to have medical care. If I did not have that consideration, I would go back to being a full-time community volunteer and activist. Someone younger would be able to fill my job. Many others would benefit from my ability to work without pay in the community.

  • Mike

    My life wouldn’t be much different than it is now, because I’ve been very fortunate to never have to worry about where my healthcare comes from.

    As an engineer, I’m acutely aware that the cost to fix a problem is much, much lower at the design stage than during construction. The same applies to healthcare, and to the larger question about the societal cost of healthcare, we should be responsibly and proactively treating medical issues before they reach the ER. If we were doing this, I think there would be a lot less stress and strife about the cost of government.

  • Sara

    I would be able to save for college for my kids!

    As self-employed people, we pay for our health insurance out of pocket every month–which really makes the cost clear to us. It is like a second morgage payment, even though we are healthy and have a 7,000 deductible. There is not enough money left over to save for college educations or retirement .

  • Darielle

    It’s interesting because as a person without kids in my early 30s I end up going without health care fairly often. I don’t have much choice as I can’t really afford the $400 a month that I would need to pay out of pocket, employers often don’t start providing health care for a few months after starting a position, and I refuse to give up traveling and other fun things I like to do. I’m just glad I don’t have kids – I have no idea how I could afford to insure them.

  • Ida

    Saving for my own retirement would be more feasible.

    The problem with saying that healthcare is a personal responsibility is that we are already paying for healthcare for a vast swath of people in this country. We have accepted that it is okay for the elderly (or not so elderly–many 65 year olds I know are in better shape than I am) to accept our tax dollars for their healthcare. On what moral basis do we exclude everyone else? What is the cost benefit of paying for dialysis for a morbidly ill 75 year old, but not for the asthma medication for a fifteen year old?

  • Danielle

    I would consider staying in the U.S. I think that there is an unfounded fear when universal healthcare is mentioned. One should ask who really is benifiting from the high cost of health care now? There is a cost for health care either way – higher taxes or ridiculously high monthly payments. I think that the higher taxes is a better option because I assume that the money is going into health care that will provide benefits for each of us rather than going into lining the pockets of pharmaceutical companies and insurance providers.

  • id jump off a lot more non lethal bridges

  • Paul

    I’d be more entrepreneurial and creative outside of my job. Maybe would change jobs or go for self-employment. Current salary is nice, but it’s the health insurance for me and my family that sticks me in one place. Sometimes I’d rather hit the water with a new idea or career than find another secure stepping stone with similar health care benefits. With what I have I consider myself lucky, so why the longing? In sum my view is that worrying about health care stifles creativity, something our economy desperately needs.

  • Tim Connelly

    My life is different because I don’t have to worry about health care. I am a veteran with a service connected disability and can get all my health care at no cost. However, the quality of the health care causes the concerns for me.

    The VA health care system can drive you crazy one day and save your life the next day. I appreciate the benefit but you never know what to expect. However, I think that’s the state of medical care today at any hospital or clinic. Things have certainly changed in the way health care is delivered since I started pushing wheel chairs to the Mayo Clinic for $1.35 an hour back in 1966. The technology has gotten better but the people skills have gone to heck.

  • Nicholas

    When health care is finally declared a basic human right, not a privilege, which eventually leads us to single payer universal health care under the MInnesota Health Plan ( http://www.muhcc.org/ ), then we’ll all be better off and not be tied to our employer sponsored health care plans.

  • Stefan

    “Free” health care will change all of our lives. Our personal spending on health care will rise dramatically as taxes rise to operate the same outrageous, inefficient bureaucracy that runs our mediocre public schools. In order to control ever-rising costs, health care will be rationed, clogging our hospital waiting rooms and creating months- or years-long waiting lists for specialist care. One need only look at Canada’s health care system to see the results of such a policy.

    But the problem goes deeper than that. We do not have a right to the labor of a doctor, or the wealth of a businessman. Stripping our medical professionals of their right to liberty and our businessmen of their right to property in order to provide ourselves with unearned benefits is an outrageous injustice. Health care is not a right, and nationalized health care is a refutation of the real individual rights that have allowed us to be free of such arbitrary power for two centuries. We cannot allow that in a free society.

  • joe musich

    Ya know ! If we spread out the expenses between all of us it would be cheaper for each of us. Then due to the chaotic nature of existence if we needed it it would be there. Those who cry socialism either live in fear of losing something that may never have been theirs to lose or have beaten the odds by not falling into a catastrophic health experience but the karma is coming.

    But to the question I suspect the 700 plus bucks I pay per month for healthcare for family would not change by dollar amount too much. However I do thing the sidebar hassels we need to endure would become more minimal. And eventually ahs we become a healthy society expenses for all of us would go down with the next generation. Yes that’s right the hgealthcare question is multigenerational. It’s not all about me.

    Thanks

  • Anne

    If I didn’t have to worry about health care, it wouldn’t matter that I have had cancer;. Now I’ve had a ‘pre-existing condition’ and need to stay with my current coverage until I’m considered a low risk again.

    If my relatives didn’t have to worry about health care, my brother-in-law would not have to live with us while he works here so that he can afford health care for himself, his wife and his daughter. He could get his own place and be more independent.

  • Vicki

    Jonathan Kovaciny, you would do all of us a great service if you would post a list of those charities that provide health insurance to people who can’t afford it. Thanks.

    That being (ironically) said, I must say that I have the most complete health coverage of anybody that I know. Everything is covered; my only expenses are a very small copay – between $1.10 – $3.40 per prescription.

    The only catch is that my income is $833 per month – the amount I get from Soc. Security. This puts me below the federal poverty line, which makes me eligible for both Medicaid and Medicare. If I were to work again, as I hope to, my benefits could be cut and I would have to pay my Medicare premium. I’d have to make sure that I wasn’t paying so much for my health care that it made no financial sense for me to work.

    I think the idea of tying health insurance to a job has long outlived its usefulness.