Playing Doctor: Lifestyle in the Age of No Insurance

Without health insurance, a dose of alternatives may be prescribed.

I don’t have time this morning to write my usual post because I’m too busy researching health topics; so I thought I’d quickly post a note describing how we’re coping without health insurance.

Today I’m researching IBS, since digestive issues have been a problem for me for years.  I won’t go into symptoms since that’s not the purpose of this post; rather, I hope to illuminate our perspective on health issues and share our personal discoveries.

Is Insurance Always Necessary?

Enjoying a Healthy Moment (Hiking the Arkansas Goat Trail)

I see insurance as something that protects against not being able to afford fees associated with emergency medical situations, NOT something one needs to stay healthy.  My personal opinion is that early diagnosis is not the same as prevention, even though various doctor’s charts and posters suggest this.  In the case of an emergency or for chronic illness requiring medication for a long period of time, insurance might be the only way someone can afford treatment.  Besides those circumstances, are we helpless, sick people without health insurance?

It’s a question worth asking because I’m not sure what the answer is.  I lean towards “no”.  I’m not going to get very far living being self-employed, if I feel that the only way to survive is to acquire health insurance even if I can’t afford it.  So, I’m playing with the idea that I don’t necessarily need it.  The past several years of research and exposure to alternative medicine has taught me a few great lessons.

What I’ve Learned About Health

  1. Longevity. Those who live longer than anyone else in the world, in the “Blue Zones” of our planet, did not necessarily use health insurance or traditional medical systems to survive.
  2. Teeth. Dental care seems to be unnecessary (to a degree) in the absence of refined sugar. If I choose to eat sugar, I should probably see a dentist periodically.  For now, I can only afford to brush and floss daily, drink no soda, and eat a teeth-friendly diet.
  3. Herbs are powerful, and my unfailing solution to alleviating nausea has been peppermint tea. Herbal remedies have not yet successfully replaced antibiotics to treat my past infections, however.
  4. With & Without Insurance. Growing up from age 1-18 was the unhealthiest period of my life, despite an abundance of doctors, pills, hospitals and a traditional medical system including health insurance.  Ages 18-26, my current age, has been much healthier, despite a relative absence of traditional treatments.
  5. Self-Diagnosis. Researching just a little bit online makes for dangerous self-diagnosis, but researching a topic for months with appropriate sources could be better than a 5-15 minute session with a doctor who doesn’t know much about my symptoms.  I think empowering people to comprehend health information is essential.
  6. LIFESTYLE.  Accidents, genetics, and forces beyond our control do play a part in health, but lifestyle takes center stage.  In general, I’ve found that these factors reduce illness and also help me cope with pain or illness that wasn’t prevented:
    • A Peaceful Mind. Tolerance, compassion & relaxing moments go a long way towards health.
    • Fun Exercise. Motion that I enjoy seems to do more for my health than going to a gym.
    • Appropriate Diet. Eating food that compliments my lifestyle (see Ryan’s upcoming post for details).
I can’t say for sure whether I’ll do well outside the mainstream health care system, but I think that having an open mind for learning health information and a determination to modify my lifestyle as needed will help me stay healthy.
Note: I am not a healthcare professional and make no claims that what works for me will work for you. But these strategies have greatly empowered me; today I can say that my life is better because of the knowledge I’ve gained.

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