Self-employed singles face tough choices when they have to pick between their entrepreneurial dreams and getting health insurance coverage.
There are some great perks when you’re single — freedom, independence, no need to compromise. It’s a great state to be in if you’re starting a business or taking some kind of career risk since you’re not responsible for “holding down the fort” for another person. But these days, it’s become so difficult to get individual health insurance that some of us are giving up our entrepreneurial dreams and taking corporate jobs — or we’re getting married — just to get access to the “blue card.”
I’ve been a wage slave before and certainly enjoyed the days when the boss paid my group health insurance premium in full. Back then, the deductable was small and there was little, if any co-pay. There was no need to fight insurance companies to get claims paid, there was a wide network of doctors to select from, and most importantly, there was the comfort of knowing that if anything happened, from sore throat to major catastrophe, I’d be well taken care of.
I’ve also been self-employed and turned down flat for an individual plan because 20 years ago I had colitis. The agents from various insurance companies told me I’d have a better chance if I’d get my large intestine removed because it would guarantee I wouldn’t submit a claim for problems in the future. Huh? Have surgery to remove a healthy colon just so I can get health insurance?
There were also times, as a freelance writer, when I was so broke that I qualified for services from the neighborhood health clinic. What I found there was excellent care and waiting rooms filled with illegal immigrants who were encouraged to tell their friends and family to come in for the free services. Meanwhile, some of my single, self-employed friends were trying to manage an $800 a month health insurance premium.
I know a few people who still have platinum healthcare plans and who are concerned those plans will be taken away if there is nationalized healthcare — that it will strip them of their hard-earned benefits so that people who haven’t worked hard or who aren’t even citizens will have access. But really, it’s our next door neighbor, our trainer at the gym, the guy sitting next to us at the tax preparer’s office and other hard working Americans who are most at risk of losing everything they’ve worked for if they face a medical emergency and don’t have health insurance.
These are people who don’t qualify for free or sliding-scale benefits because they have jobs, have a mortgage, own a car, have money in the bank — or because they’re single and self-employed, and can’t afford premiums that run upwards of $1,000 a month. And what about the singles who can’t even get an individual healthcare plan coverage because they once had an ingrown toenail, i.e. a pre-existing condition?
It’s the middle class Americans who are losing their access to healthcare, and especially self-employed singulars who could lose everything if they get sick or hurt in an accident. For these independent singulars, the message from “the man” is give up and get that corporate job — or give up their independence and marry that person who has a group plan. In either case, every time that kind of compromise is made, a little part of what made this country great — the pursuit of life, liberty and happiness — dies. And with it, that spark, that innovation, that idea, that creation, that invention that would have happened if they could have pursued their dream, is forever lost.