Dear Liz: I really enjoy the columns you’ve written about living frugally and especially appreciate when you discuss healthcare expenses. I find it extraordinarily frustrating when people who promote a frugal lifestyle answer that they keep healthcare expenses down by “eating healthy.” I recently experienced a serious medical situation even though I maintain a healthy weight and otherwise take care of myself. It is in this area, I believe, the frugal community lacks understanding. Some believe that you get sick only because you don’t take care of yourself, or assume that their emergency fund will get them through a rough patch of health issues. Those that believe this are setting themselves up for disappointment should they have the unfortunate experience of a healthcare problem. Thank you for drawing attention to the importance of healthcare and making sure your family is covered.
Answer: Eating healthful food, exercising, maintaining an appropriate body weight and investing in preventive healthcare can lower healthcare costs on average. But no individual, no matter how vigilant, is immune from an accident or illness that can result in catastrophic medical bills.
So you’re right that people who voluntarily go without health insurance are deluding themselves. They’re pretending they have the sole power to determine their future health, when that’s clearly not the case.