Health insurance is obscenely expensive, and for many people, from grad students to waitresses to freelancers, it is beyond reach. However, second to saving for retirement, I think it is absolutely essential to have. One unfortunate incident in a taxi, a few weeks in the hospital, and suddenly you have medical bills to rival your doctor's student loans. But how to pay for it?
The article has some links, but more importantly there are commenters who run through their own experiences with buying health insurance, and the piece becomes a conversation. For people in the restaurant/bar industry in NYC, the Healthy New York website is great, because most people in the service industry meet the income requirements. Also, they assign you an actual person (oftentimes in libraries or certain street corners you'll see people from Healthy New York-- get them to sign you up!), so filling out the forms isn't so bad. For a few years I had my health insurance through them and it was great (and free!!) A lot of states have a version of state health insurance, not just New York, check out healthinsurance.net and State Coverages Initiatives to see what's available in your state. Even if all you can get is private health insurance, and the only affordable thing is the high deductable. Take it. So it costs a couple hundred dollars a year to see a doctor, really what you're protecting yourself from is a financial wipeout. Which brings me to my next point.
Just because you don't work nine to five, you don't go to the doctor, and you don't have prescriptions or serious health care problems-- it doesn't mean you shouldn't protect yourself from financial ruin. Because from a financial perspective, that's exactly what not having health insurance is, a high risk for financial ruin should you ever get into an accident or have serious health issues. Which is, like, everybody once in their lifetime.
- photo by adesigna via flickr, and PS-- anyone with a pre-existing health problem should ignore this post; health insurance is a health necessity more than a financial bottom line for you.