At Urgent 9, we’ve spent a lot of time thinking about — and writing about — the issues with the healthcare system as it currently stands. No matter your opinion on how to fix it, there seems to be little disagreement about the fact that health insurance as a viable option for Americans is currently broken. New data released by Covered California shows that the free market completely agrees with this assessment, as enrollment absolutely tanked this year thanks to the absence of any tax penalty for individuals without a plan.
As this new data brings to light, the current options for ordinary Americans craving access to quality health care are slim. They can pay an exorbitant monthly premium for the privilege of forking over an enormous deductible should they need anything remotely complicated done; they can pay an even more sky-high premium to slightly lower that deductible; or they can forego health insurance altogether.
Last year, that final option carried a stiff tax penalty of its own. Didn’t want to participate in the broken health insurance system? OK, prepare to owe a massive tax at the end of the year for your insolence. This year, however, that tax penalty has been removed. And the result? A jaw-dropping number of rats fleeing the sinking ship, so to speak, as Covered California watched new enrollments drop by 24%.
The message from the marketplace is clear: Californians want nothing to do with this dysfunctional system, given the choice to opt out. It’s clear that, for many citizens, health insurance is not about routine doctor appointments, nor is it about saving money on reasonably standard procedures. It’s a safeguard against utter financial ruin should they find themselves the recipient of a major diagnosis or an extended hospital visit. And considering the immediate impact to the pocketbook that Covered California premiums have, it’s clearly a gamble that many Californians are willing to take.
For those not willing to shell out huge monthly premiums for a service they may never use, there is in fact another option out there. Increasingly, medical facilities like Urgent 9 are offering a cash pay model that brings a modicum of financial control back into the patient’s hands. Instead of endless provider paperwork and bizarrely inflated treatment costs, the cash pay model is simple: you pay an affordable, transparent price that’s fair for the medical service rendered.
You might be thinking: “there’s no way I can afford to pay cash for medical care.” That’s probably because you have a grossly warped view of what medical care actually costs, due to the absurd inflationary practices that are spiraling out of control between doctors and insurance companies. In reality, a doctor operating on a cash pay model can charge an affordable, totally fair price that’s within reach of most average working class people.
If you’re one of the people who decided to opt out of Covered California and their wildly expensive plans that make next to no financial sense, consider voting with your wallet again by visiting Urgent 9 and opting for a cash pay system instead. As more and more Americans reject the broken insurance marketplace, we move ever closer to a future where the system works for everyone.