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, 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 his shitty choice’s financial consequences, 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, but we also 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. We spent so much out of pocket that we easily reached that threshold leading up to the surgery.
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. I would feel very uncomfortable receiving money from people I didn’t even know if it was me. 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 health insurance.
I not only follow the law, but I also practice common sense.
How many YouTubers don’t have health insurance?
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 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.
When people elect not to buy health insurance and then cannot pay their medical bills, it’s normally the people with health insurance that 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 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 driver’s 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 to have insurance.