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He's uninsured but unafraid; his readers are (largely) supportive but skeptical

September 21, 2009 |  1:13 pm


J. Duncan Moore had a fine insurance policy -- a "luxury" policy, he calls it. But that was when he wrote about health insurance for a news organization. Now he finds himself a freelance writer -- and he's decided to forgo the safety net that so many Americans have and that so many others desperately want.

He writes in today's Health section: "I have no insurance partly by accident and partly by intent. I'm not freaking out, though. Should I be? I'll tell you what I know. Then you decide."

In "Choosing to not have medical insurance," he then told us. And readers then decided...

From Barbara in Venice:

"Those who decide to go without insurance are the reason that insurance has to become mandatory, with a stiff penalty assessed to those who evade it. Otherwise, we will be paying very large sums for their irresponsibility."

But then this from Bonnie in Los Angeles:

"I could tell Mr. Moore about the $50,000-plus in retinal surgery costs I incurred, for a condition I never knew I had until a black spot appeared in my field of vision. I could remind him that cancer strikes healthy nonsmokers too, and that even people with savings accounts can be driven to bankruptcy without insurance coverage. I'd tell him all this, but he wouldn't want to hear it. Good luck, Mr. Moore. I hope someday you'll live in a country where you don't have to choose between ruinously expensive insurance and playing Russian roulette with your health."
From Patrick in Santa Monica:

"I kept looking for hints that this article was written tongue in cheek, but it didn't happen, so I will address it directly. Many of the points made stand up on their own, but they do not add up to risking all you've got on the chance you won't be afflicted with a terrible medical problem unexpectedly. I know. Nearly six years ago I was diagnosed with multiple myeloma (a blood cancer) for which there is no known cause or cure."

From Jim in Santa Monica:

"I have thought often of doing what you describe. Here's why it doesn't work. Should you ever require any serious surgery, which you seem to think "can't happen to me," you will be billed by the hospital at 5 times the rate that they pay insurance companies for the same surgery."   

From Stuart in L.A.:

"Unless Mr. Moore, 53, has socked away a couple million, ... he better stay safe and healthy until Medicare clicks in. And pray that those health industry-owned legislators in Washington don't aid their benefactors by, wink-wink, extending the age of eligibility."

... And those are just some of the responses. Many have been supportive (a few almost envious), but others have an edge reflected in the current debate. The status of the uninsured, after all, affects everyone.

-- Tami Dennis

Photo: For the uninsured, safety measures take on new meaning.

Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times