Skiing Naked

| December 22, 2009

Well, naked as in without health insurance.

I’ve got quite a few friends who ski without any sort of health insurance and have done so myself in the past.  My case was semi-accidental as I started out with self-employed health in$urance, which represented almost as much per month as my mortgage,  and then after a year, it was raised for no apparent reason.  I hadn’t filed a claim, visited a doctor or been late on a payment, yet it went up about 20% and the insurance company said that’s just the way it goes.  So, I decided to cancel that policy and look for another, yet they were all pretty much the same – sizeable monthly payments and HUGE deductibles which in essence only covered major surgery.  For anything as trivial as a broken arm, torn ACL or taking a ski tip in the head, you were on your own.  My one week search turned into a month… then another, then another, and since I hadn’t been hurt, it started to lose its urgency.

It's not funny until somebody gets hurt.  Courtney about to go into shock when he sees what a trip to the hospital will cost him.

It's not funny until somebody gets hurt. Courtney about to go into shock when he sees what a trip to the hospital will cost him.

I eventually became insured again, but for quite a few of my skiing/climbing friends, especially those on the Pro Dirtbag Tour, health insurance is about as obtainable as a new Massarti.  Another factor with this is that some seasonal skiing jobs provide lodging, food and even season’s passes, but not insurance.

In Utah, there is a lawsuit which has been dragging on for years over an uninsured skier who broke his back and is now paralyzed.  At first blush it seems like a standard case of taking personal responsibility, but for a growing number of people, it is becoming a choice between skiing, or being insured.  To afford insurance, you can’t work a part time job at a ski area.  Working a full-time job with benefits means that you won’t be skiing.

What’s the point?  Nothing really (aside from the awesome photo of Courtney with his soon to be chick-magnet scar) except as food for thought.

Help support and hope for the best with a Adventure Medical Savvy Traveler First Aid Kit from Click on the photo below…

Category: Commentary

About the Author ()

Andrew McLean lives in Park City, Utah and is a gear designer, writer, photographer, ski mountaineer, climber, Mountain Unicycle rider and father of two very loud little girls.

Comments (22)

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  1. KatieC says:

    You know, Andrew, I think it’s a moot point, because insurance companies don’t cover the most common backcountry skiing afflictions anyway. I tried to get my bruised ego paid for recently, and Select Health told me to take a hike. (“I did,” I said. “That’s the problem.”)

    And when I called about my crushed spirit, they didn’t even pick up the phone.

  2. Tim says:

    I’m graduating from college soon and I often wonder what the future will look like for my health insurance once I go off of my parents n, plan. Helicopter rescue insurance will be a given (working in AK backcountry) but if the company does not provide health insurance, it seems like I am on my own. Hopefully there is some sort of sliding scale cause I won’t be making $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

  3. dave says:

    hahahah it’s funny you posted that pic today… i was that guy last night. unfortunately it was a fist and not a skiing accident. on the bright side, it only cost 50 bucks to get stitched up at the er. thank god for insurance.

    and please don’t ask about the other guy… he is fine. hahahaha

  4. Polly says:

    Stayed tuned. Our government may yet have a solution! Go Obama and the democrats go!

  5. fred says:

    Yeah CP. Why does that smile not even surprise. Look forward to seeing that scar in person. Cheers.

  6. Lil'C says:

    It’s going to be a magnet for chicks? That would explain the attention from all the babes at Geoff’s office.

  7. cgd says:

    move on up to hoserville, you might have to wait in the E.R. for a day or so but you wont lose your house.

  8. OMR says:

    Careful now, given you live in Utah you’ll probably be black-balled by the imbiciles who run the place, and maybe the Fox Stooges as well.

    But I agree with you 100%. Insurance premiumns are way too high, and the health conscious are paying for the treatment of those who abuse themeselves and the system (generally). My rule of thumb is wait a month before seeing the Doc and 99% of all ills disappear on their own. Basically, health insurance follows the same business plan as the gaming insdustry, that is, many must lose for a few to win. And in Utah the situation is amplified to treat depression and anxiety. Why is it that religion dictates permission from the Doc to use mind-altering chemicals? A beer or glass of wine works just fine. PBR for premium reduction!

  9. Skiing says:

    Hello, why are you laughing ? Don’t you feel the pain ?

  10. Bill says:

    The new health plan makes it mandatory to have health insurance. If you don’t you will have a $4,000 fine. Will the cost of health insurance go down? I hope so, but I doubt it.

  11. Nate says:

    There are a handful of accident and/or sprt insurance groups that son’t cover you if you get H1N1 but will foot the bill for an ER trip with a broken whatever. They usually don’t run much and usually seem WAY worth it for the lifestyle. it sucks to be thinking about mortgaging your future income when dropping a nice line.

  12. Jeremy says:

    Hard to feel to sorry for people that CHOOSE to only work part time but want those of us who work full time to pay for their health insurance so they can ski or play more.

  13. Jeremy's cleansing jet says:

    It’s good to like everybody. I try hard to do just that, with varying degrees of success, but in all honesty, it’s almost fucking impossible to like a douche bag.

    Be more likable, Jeremy. Don’t be a douche bag.

  14. Andrew says:

    Part time versus seasonal are two totally different things. I had a seasonal job a while ago where it was stated up front that in no uncertain terms was I to go over so many hours/months, as that would put me over the limit to the point where the employer would have to insure me. Many season workers (like ski resort people) are in the same boat.

    And, going without insurance is not the end of the world, or necessarily a burden on society. I have a bunch of healthy friends and when/if they get hurt, they pay cash.

  15. Robert says:

    Liberty and Personal responsibility are essential in the framework of the lifestyle many of us choose to pursue. Regardless of the party the bottom line is that most policy is an obstruction in regard to our pursuits.

  16. Derek says:

    Well, since it’s a political blog post…..

    Hurry up and wait, because if this bill gets to the prez’s desk, it won’t even go into effect for four years. Might want to stick to the groomers or Meadow Gnar Chutes in the mean time.

    When it does go into effect, as I understand it, there will be no price reduction in premiums. So is it reform?

  17. dannyh says:

    there is something to be said – but goes without saying — about the positive mental health benefits of skiing, and you know what they say about an apple a day – perhaps it is not the nutritinal value and vitamin contents of the apple that gives it it’s health benefits, but maybe it’s the act of eating the apple itself – beholding the lucious red globe – that keeps the doctor away. so skiing you say is dangerous, but sitting on a couch watching tv may indeed be more dangerous — phycologist or surgeon, take your pick…

  18. brian harder says:

    I’ve been a climbing/skiing/guiding skid intermittently for the better part of 15 years. I’ve always had insurance of one sort or another and have only used it once for an ER visit ($1500).

    In my other life I work for orthopaedic surgeons as a physician assistant. It gives me an interesting perspective when fellow dirt bags come in busted up. The docs treat them, of course, but have essentially no sympathy when the patients are uninsured. We like to say that if you can afford a season pass, you better find a way to afford insurance. It’s a serious roll of the dice to do otherwise. Depending upon the injury, you are looking at $50,000 to over $100,000 in bills. That ranges from ACL reconstruction to big fusion procedures for spine fractures which are becoming more common with terrain parks. (Thoracic Parks?) I wonder if my friends knew what kind of expense they were facing if they would be better covered. Probably not but perhaps the info should get out there in case.

    Some dirt bags become douche bags and walk on their bills. Not cool. The docs point out that the uninsured expect the best care in spite of not being able to pay their bill and they will be the first to sue the pants off of everyone if something goes wrong.

    I would propose that until reform happens, the under and uninsured should place more pro when they climb and drop fewer cliffs when they ski. It’s no guarantee to be injury free but it might improve their odds a bit and reduce the severity of possible injury. Demonstrating some restraint will also gain you some respect from your orthopod. He just might cut you a break on your next bill.

  19. Stan says:

    Andrew, I would like to ask you for an advice with insurance. You can reply here or you can send me an email, but your input would be much appreciated as I am almost lost now.

    I live in Canada and I am traveling to Europe for 2 months (in February) to compete in various skimo races and of course ski anything I come across in spare time, some high peaks too.

    What company do you use for your insurance (and package)?
    What would you recommend for me?
    How much should I expect to pay?

    Do you have experience with DOGTAG? According to their site it looks like what I need. They seemed to be based in UK.

    Thank you very much for your advice Andrew.

  20. Andrew says:

    Hi Stan – sorry to say, but I can’t be of any help here. I have health insurance, but that’s it.

  21. Stan says:

    That’s OK Andrew, thanks for reading the comment then :)

    I have moved on with my research and it looks around $200-400 depending on the company and options.

    The silly thing is that you never think of this before you try to calculate your expenses, then it hits you…another couple of hundred bucks need to be paid :)

  22. Alex says:

    Luckily I don’t have this problem because I live in Norway (maybe more importantly not in the US) where we don’t need an insurance to be treated at an hospital. Here the first question when u arrive at the hospital, is actually about your symptoms, NOT your insurance! I belive this will get much better for u guys if Obama gets his health reform! So good luck!

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