Number One Priority

by Nook Schoenfeld
in Editor's Note
Nook Schoenfeld, Editor, PLSN
Nook Schoenfeld, Editor, PLSN

I believe we are all thinking the same thing as this year closes. Glad it’s over, and how the heck is the new guy gonna keep everyone insured, yet make it affordable? I question why I pay what amounts to a second mortgage to Aetna for my family of four, a company that has paid their CEO, in terms of overall compensation, more than $90K per day. Repeat: per day.

Hope for the Best

I find it stressful to hear many people in our business say, “Forget it. I’m just gonna pay the fine. If I get sick, I will pay the doctors.” Or how about “I’d rather die owing the medical community money than be bled dry by insurance companies.” I can’t say what’s best for anyone. But what bothers me is that these are statements made by friends of mine. If they get sick, they and their families may be on the street fairly quick. I think the state of medical insurance now leans towards insuring for the big hit, as opposed to the typical office visits.

I’m one of the lucky ones who was saved by Obamacare. When I turned 40 I went for my first routine physical. I felt fine. Hadn’t been sick in years. But I was told that at 40 I gotta go every year. On a routine blood test they found some cancer. It was small and treatable. Six months after finding it, it was gone. I had great insurance, and it paid for all the treatments. My medical bills came to $85K. Ouch, right? I paid just $600 out of pocket. Once I had cancer at 40, no company would insure me unless I was part of a big group plan. I couldn’t cover my own self until Obamacare.

Nobody expects to get really sick. It just happens, and it’s gonna happen to you eventually. What if you are 40, have a significant other and a couple kids at home and you get really sick? Like in a hospital with diverticulitis sick. A disease you hardly even heard of. You have to heal before they can go in and operate. You can’t do anything physical until you are fixed. You need to fix this so you can work and pay bills. But what if you have no insurance, and within a week, you are $100K in debt? You may get better, but now you have this extra mortgage just to pay past bills. You may lose your current house, or never be able to afford one.

Plan for the Worst

An even worse scenario – what if, God forbid, your significant other gets sick? Really hard to go on the road unless you are supported by a serious network of friends and family. No tour = no income = dire straits. Insurance can also help when income stops rolling in. I pay an extra 25 bucks a month that insures me $2K in income per week if I can’t work.

Years ago, I was a ski bum in between tours, just like my roommate. We both broke our legs the same year. I had insurance, he didn’t. I got a pin in my leg, a walking cast, and six weeks later, I was on the road. My roommate had no operation and subsequently required a full leg cast for six months of zero work.

Another friend tells me that he won’t get insurance. He tells me he pays a $5K a year fine to the feds instead. I was shocked the fine was that high. So I went online to one of the Obamacare places and pretended to be 44 years old, single, independent and in need of the cheapest insurance. I found a package that was crap. It had a $5,000 deductible and no co-pays for doctors. It was definitely insurance needed should something heavy go down in your life.

The quote I got was about $375 a month. That’s $4,500 per year. Highway robbery for a single healthy person. But still $500 less than the fed’s fine, and you are covered for that catastrophe. There is no solution in sight, and who knows what our new leader can do. But the thought of not having health insurance scares the heck out of me. Almost as much as all these Go Fund Me sites set up weekly for sick techs.

For Nook Schoenfeld's introduction to the Dec. 2016 issue of PLSN Magazine, go to