A reader writes:

As an independent contractor, it's very difficult for me to get insurance. A comprehensive plan in my state runs at a minimum of $500 per month. I'm 28, exercise daily, have never smoked, rarely drink, and have never had a health problem aside from a few cavities as a kid, yet I can't get decent insurance for under $500. A year ago, due to pressure from family, I caved and bought a lower-level individual plan from AETNA. It was around $170 per month, and the coverage seemed satisfactory.

About five months later, I was playing basketball and suffered a pretty severe corneal abrasion. I was forced to go to the emergency room. The ER was just over $1,000, and the ophthamologist with whom I had to follow-up four times was around $700.

My insurance company volunteered to cover $300 of the ER fees and none of the specialist's. Eventually, they caved and offered to pay a little to the specialist, which left me with $1,300 of the $1,700 of fees. So, while my policy stated that insurance would cover 75% of any medical fees, there was fine print which exempted them from paying anything they didn't want to pay. They only offered to cover just over two months of premiums. From the time of the ER visit until things had been sorted out, I had spent well over $1,700 for this care (including premiums). AETNA made almost a 100% profit.

I decided that I can't afford health insurance because it costs more than not having it, unless you have a great plan. I should also point out that I don't make a lot of money. $1,300 is not chump change to me. Bring on socialized medicine!

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