I didn't, though--not always. When our Aurora (Ohio) Schools faculty first got health insurance (early in my career ... late 1960s), I hardly used it at all--not for years, even decades. An infection now and then. Strep. That was about it. No bad injuries. No grievous illnesses. I was lucky--and didn't even know it. I was bloated with the youthful belief that I would certainly never get seriously ill; I would never ... you know ...?
But my family needed it now and then. Our son was born in July 1972, had to be rushed to Children's Hospital, his life in danger--and our insurance covered practically all of it. Joyce began having chronic problems early in our marriage, and our insurance has covered practically all of it.
Of course, later, there were worries. Changing jobs? Very unwise. Insurance plans did not cover "pre-existing conditions." A worry. You could also reach the limit of your plan. If you collected too much, they cut you off. When our son turned 21, we had to come up with some sort of stop-gap plan until he got a job. It was expensive. That's all different now--at least for the nonce.
Now, both Joyce and I have Medicare (a wonderful plan, by the way); each of us has, as well, a supplementary plan to pay (most of) what Medicare doesn't.
And this is a good thing. Because from about the time I turned sixty, Stuff started happening: skin cancer (requiring surgery), Bell's palsy (ditto), metastatic prostate cancer (ditto--and I'm now on very expensive meds). And more. Joyce's conditions have altered too--and not for the better.
So the simple fact is this: Without our health insurance plans we--long ago--would have been bankrupt and would now be living in a box under the freeway. If we were still alive, of course.
All of this is what I find so alarming about the alacrity that Congress is now displaying as they move to cut off health care for countless Americans. Congress: A body of folks who all have gold-plated medical plans (government-provided), a body of folks who have decided that many of the rest of us (a) don't need it, (b) don't (somehow) deserve it.*
(An amusing or not-so-amusing sidebar here: I often hear a group of older men in the coffee shop complaining about government handouts, etc. All of them are on Medicare and Social Security.)
Yes, we all pay in to Medicare and Social Security, but most of us take out far, far more than we put in. We spend our early lives paying for our elders; then when we become elderly ourselves, others pay for us. That's how insurance works. That's the deal we've made with one another. Abrogating it is a horror beyond horrors. Why does it seem that so many who disdain Darwinism embrace Social Darwinism with a passion?
I've written here before about our need for humility, for imagination. We need to be able to imagine what it would be like to grow up in poverty, to live in a dangerous neighborhood, to attend some of the worst public schools in the country, to live in an area where there are few jobs--and those are low-paying, how it would feel to have to make a choice between seeking medical care and feeding your family. And on and on.
We who have been fortunate--in birth, in circumstance, in health, in educational and employment opportunities--need to help those who have had to struggle. I have no problem paying taxes and insurance premiums to help others. None. After all, there's that whole thing about how a government should "promote the general welfare"--right there in the Preamble to the Constitution. And Lincoln's Gettysburg line about government "for the people." And so much more. For many, many Americans, government is not the enemy; it is Hope.
So ... the sight of our representatives in Washington hurrying to nullify the Affordable Care Act--hurrying as they have rarely hurried before about anything--horrifies me. Powerful people attacking the powerless. It makes me ashamed. And angry.
So ... who needs health insurance? I do.
So do you.
*Yes, there has been talk about a replacement ... but what? And when? And how? Few details are available. And remember, the Affordable Care Act took a couple of years to get up and running.