I’m extremely thankful to have health insurance

I’m so, so thankful I have health insurance. I received a statement in the mail from the University of Maryland Medical Center for the surgery to remove part of my large bowel last month.

I'm extremely thankful to have health insurance - Bent Corner
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Because I have health insurance, my out of pocket cost for the whole thing was zero.

I’m lucky to have health insurance. Actually, I’m lucky to be married to Sheri who works for a company that offers health insurance at a subsidized cost. One of the drawbacks of working in the gig economy is that I don’t have employer-subsidized health insurance. That’s because I’m my own employer.  And yes, my boss is a real jerkface.

Not having health insurance is not an option

I’d like to think I wouldn’t put myself into a situation where I didn’t have health insurance. Without actually being in that situation, I can’t be 100 percent certain, but if Sheri didn’t have access to health insurance, I would get a job, any job that provided subsidized health insurance.

The topic of not having health insurance has come up recently in the online Magic: The Gathering community. Wedge, a popular YouTuber, does not have health insurance. He had a serious problem with his back and traveled against doctor’s orders to Grand Prix Las Vegas from upstate New York. The day after he arrived, he woke up not being able to move his legs.

He was taken to the hospital by ambulance and had surgery the following day. Being that he didn’t have health insurance, his sister started a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for his hospital bills. So far they’ve raised nearly $80,000.

I'm extremely thankful to have health insurance - Bent Corner

Because of people who donated to the GoFundMe campaign, he was able to make a huge dent in his medical costs.

I'm extremely thankful to have health insurance - Bent Corner

For everyone’s sake, I hope Wedge does whatever he needs to do to get health insurance. First, it’s the law. Secondly, I doubt people will donate to a GoFundMe campaign the next time he has something majorly wrong with his health. Then again, maybe they will. It’s really hard to say for certain. If there’s anything people online can be counted on to do, it’s doing the unexpected.

My wife is my hero

If I wasn’t on Sheri’s health insurance, if she didn’t work for a company that provided subsidized health insurance, I’d have to jettison my dream of driving strangers in my car and get a job doing something I hated even more than driving strangers in my car. I could still do e-commerce integration jobs on the side. I could also still sell WordPress plugins on my business website. The nice thing about that stream of revenue is it’s all automatic. I created the plugins a while back and people can buy them and then download them without any action taken by me. It’s all automatic. Someone bought one last night when I was sleeping.

Making money while you sleep is the real American dream.

I cannot wait for Thanksgiving this year

I'm extremely thankful to have health insurance - Bent CornerI’m looking forward to Thanksgiving this year. I have quite a lot to be thankful for. I’m thankful to be married to the greatest woman in the world. When I first experienced complications from what would be later diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, I’m thankful I was taken by ambulance to Meritus Medical Center where I received world-class care, especially from the nurses on staff. I’m also extremely thankful to have Dr. Tu Bui as my primary doctor. He not only provides excellent care when I see him for an office visit, he visited me in the hospital several times. In fact, he told me I had Crohn’s before any of the experts in gastroenterology made the diagnoses. He’s the best primary care doctor I’ve ever had. Finally, I’m extremely thankful I was able to have Dr. Andrea Bafford perform the surgery that saved my life. 

I’m a lucky and thankful man.

I’m a famous YouTuber. Now pay my hospital bills

There’s a guy named Wedge. That’s not his government name. That’s his online name. He runs a popular Magic: The Gathering YouTube channel called The Mana Source.

While in Las Vegas for a Magic: The Gathering tournament, Wedge experienced debilitating back pain. The next morning, he awoke to find out he couldn’t move his legs. Someone called an ambulance and doctors performed emergency spine surgery.

The good news is Wedge is going to be alright. The bad news is he doesn’t have health insurance.

Reportedly he now owes over $200,000 in hospital bills. He wants his fans to pay 75 percent of that. A GoFundMe was started. As of this morning, he’s been able to raise $73,242.

Why didn’t Wedge have health insurance?

Ever since the Affordable Care Act was passed into law in 2010, people have been required to have health insurance. If they choose not to have health insurance, they’re breaking the law and they have to pay a fine. A person cannot be denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition. By all accounts, Wedge is in a place financially where he could afford health insurance. If he can afford to travel to a Magic The Gathering tournament in  Las Vegas, then he can afford health insurance.

Life is a series of choices

He chose not to have insurance. He rolled the 20-sided die and lost. Instead of facing the financial consequences of his shitty choice, he wants his YouTube viewers to bear most of those financial consequences.

As I type this, I’m recovering from my own major surgery. As it turned out, if I didn’t have the surgery, I could have died. We didn’t even know that going in. My surgeon discovered it on the operating table. The thing is, I have health insurance. I’ve had health insurance my entire adult life. It’s not cheap, it’s not very affordable. Not only do we pay monthly premiums, we have a large deductible that must first be met before the co-payments kick in. Once a certain threshold is met on the co-payments, everything is paid by the insurance company. Leading up to the surgery, we spent so much out of pocket that we easily reached that threshold.

For example, on March 7 I went and had a colonoscopy. I had to pay $1,018 out of pocket just for walking in the door. Even when you have health insurance, you end up paying a lot of money out of pocket.

Will Wedge now get health insurance?

Who knows if Wedge will now go out and get health insurance like he’s supposed to. I guess it depends on how comfortable he is living on the kindness of strangers. If it was me, I would feel very uncomfortable receiving money from people I didn’t even know. Then again, I would never be in a situation where I didn’t have health insurance. I’d worked a lot of terrible jobs in my life and one of the primary reasons I continued to work at them was for the health insurance.

I not only follow the law, I practice common sense.

How many YouTubers don’t have health insurance?

Will someone please go and fund me?

I wonder how many other popular YouTubers don’t have health insurance. I guess we won’t find out until they start asking their fans to pay their hospital bills. Even then, we won’t really know who has health insurance. You can say you don’t have health insurance and need people to donate money to you. It’s not like you can just call up the hospital and verify the bill. This is all very much a faith-based system. You have to have faith the person raising the money actually needs it for their hospital bills and not something more nefarious.

Wedge takes a break from asking people to pay his medical bills to lecture them on what words they’re allowed to use.

When people elect not to buy health insurance and then cannot pay their medical bills, it’s normally the people that have health insurance who cover the costs. The price of treating the uninsured is rolled into the cost of what the insured pay. It’s an unfair system. This is why the Affordable Care Act included a health insurance mandate. It wasn’t fair for the insured to pay for the uninsured.

YouTube should look into this

Before YouTube cuts a check for a YouTuber, they should have to first prove they have health insurance, especially if that YouTuber is making serious money. It would be easy to do. All the YouTuber would need to do is take a photo of the front and the back of their health insurance card and upload it. Uber requires something very similar for proof of a drivers license and insurance. A typical Uber driver makes far less money than a typical YouTuber.

I think it makes YouTube look bad to have their content creators beg for money, money they need because they refused to follow the law. Some YouTubers are critical of how Jimmy Kimmel, Stephen Colbert, Conan O’Brien, and James Corden seem to take up so much bandwidth on YouTube. At least you don’t have to worry about them ever setting up a GoFundMe to pay their hospital bills because they chose not have insurance.