Life under Obamacare: ‘Like betting against your own health’

September 27, 2013

When President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act in 2010, he declared that "health-care reform is no longer an unmet promise. It is the law of the land." Now, we get to see whether it works. Starting Oct. 1, millions of Americans who lack medical insurance or buy their own coverage will have their first chance to sign up for health insurance under Obamacare.

My colleagues and I have spent the last month interviewing some of these people, who you can read about here. Today, I'll be pulling out a few profiles of people I spoke with – and how their lives might change under the health overhaul. 

(Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post)

Irwin Hoenig voted for Barack Obama in 2008, but he is adamantly opposed to the health-care law, especially the individual mandate requiring that almost all Americans have health insurance beginning Jan. 1.

Hoenig has gone without insurance since 1997 and won’t start buying it now, he said. He’d rather pay the fine, which for the first year would be $95, or 1 percent of his income, whichever is greater. The penalty increases in subsequent years.

A self-employed health-care practitioner, Hoenig specializes in craniosacral therapy, which involves touching the skull and other points to relieve tension.

He said he has gone to the doctor just twice in the past decade and is happy to pay out of pocket for medical services.

In a sense, Hoenig is an older version of the “young invincible.” That was a term coined during the health-care debate to describe people in their 20s who supposedly believe they are so healthy that they don’t need to buy insurance.

“Health insurance is kind of like betting against your own health,” Hoenig said. “If you pay a certain amount, you feel like you should collect on that.”

Hoenig said he would consider signing up for Medicare when he turns 65.

Right now, though, Hoenig doesn’t worry about getting sick.

“I try to eat organic,” he said. “I try to stay away from chemicals. And I’ve actually outlived quite a few people who I believe could have not ended up the way they did.”

Related Links:

- Use this calculator to see what Obamacare will cost you.

- Have Obamacare questions? Wonkblog has 42 answers.

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