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Scott Adkins is the co-founder of the Brooklyn Writers Space, Room 58 and Sock Monkey Press. The Brooklyn Writers Space is a shared writing space for writers in Brooklyn. It[…]

Abolish ordinary health insurance and expand catastrophic coverage.

Question: What are your views on healthcare for freelance writers? 

Scott Adkins: I have huge issues with health insurance. Ah, I don’t actually believe in it. I think we should abolish it completely. It’s actually a form of nationalized health care that doesn’t work because it’s only available to a few, and not to everybody. And it seems like we already have mechanisms in place like Medicare and Medicaid to take care of catastrophic situations. So if you can divert health insurance money into a larger pool to handle catastrophic situations then you don’t need health insurance. What that would do to the overall economy, I don’t know, and I’m sure there are plenty of economists who would disagree with getting rid of health insurance because of the jobs that it creates.

But personally I just feel that a 20 to 28 percent profit margin on the individual’s health is immoral and unnecessary. And then once catastrophic is guaranteed and paid for by the government, we don’t have to worry about it. And you move into a competitive market, and you make your preventative care, paid for on an as needed basis which sort of changes the entire model of how to take care of yourself. So you make sure you go to the doctor once a year, you exercise more, you eat better because if you take care of yourself, it will cost you less money, then the services become competitive, so you can actually shop around. You’re not restricted to an in-network type of doctor or that sort of situation, and I think you will see a drop in the expenses of how much health care is and everyone will be able to afford it and will go to the doctor. Why we expect a preventative care health to be paid for by anybody is sort of a strange phenomena and it also causes a lopsided service within the economy and for the general population.

Question: What do you think of the Freelancers Union healthcare policy? 

Scott Adkins: The model that the freelancers’ union has is actually probably a step in the right direction because they’ve taken it on their own, providing their own service of health insurance, reducing the profit margin, eliminating it, giving the power of group to negotiate rates downs.  You still have the fundamental issue of in-network and lack of choice but it does create a model that’s more affordable for freelancers. So it’s a necessary stop gap I think to probably the ultimate goal which is to abolish health insurance by and large.If you look at the differences between how much health insurance cost in New York state versus how much health insurance cost in Iowa, say, it’s a dramatic difference, and that just shouldn’t exist. Why does health insurance costs more in certain places and in certain places not? It just shouldn’t exist.

Question: Do you like any overseas healthcare models?

Scott Adkins: I look at them as mostly unattractive just because of the nightmares that they project. If you look at the National Health Service in England, I know people who think of that as like how not to provide health care which is why the concept of a competitive healthcare market becomes much more attractive than a completely nationalized one. What you want to do is create an environment where people are seeking services for what they need, and not unnecessarily. Health insurance actually makes you seek services unnecessarily because you want to get more bang for your buck. Just because a corporation or a company provides your healthcare, doesn’t mean that it’s not being paid for and it’s an unnecessary weight on corporations to have to pay a thousand dollars a month per employee to be competitive in a market. Health insurance is just a lot of money that is going into other people’s pocket unnecessarily.

Question: Are retirement savings plans practical for freelance writers?

Scott Adkins: It sounds like Sarah Horowitz and the Freelancer’s Union is actually making strides and helping the independent worker. But I really can’t speak too much on it because I’m not that familiar with it. 

I can give you my personal take on retirement savings which is just my own personal confusion as to how the stock market actually works in our current time as a contemporary stock market versus its previous inception which was to help companies expand and give them money to do their work. It seems like we’re moving towards the decorporatization of the country because corporations actually fundamentally are flawed for some reason so in that sense it feels like “Why are we pouring more money into the stock market? Do we really understand where we put money in to the stock market, how it’s being used?” We’re trusting funds to be managed by very few people in the country, and to invest it wisely and we’re looking at bottom line returns and the expectation is to get a return on that versus thinking of it in terms of  “I would like to invest in this company because it’s a green company and I believe in it and I’m not going to worry about the return. I’m actually putting my money in there because I want that company to do well.” So the model of retirement savings is a broken in a way because the expectation is you need a seven to eleven percent return annually over the life of your investments over thirty years so you can have enough money to retire with. 

Retirement is a strange concept to me as well as a freelancer because I don’t believe I’ll ever retire. And so I sort of have, I have very mixed feelings about putting money into a retirement plant right now. My only investment plan is I put a hundred dollars a month into Intel, into a dividend reinvestment plan because I believe in technology, I love technology, I’m an addicted technolophobe or whatever and so I give Intel a hundred dollars a month. I just give it to them.  I don’t expect anything. I hope it does well. The dream would be to have the stock growing and double and do all those sorts of things but those are pipe dreams in the end. You can’t bank on that, you can’t rely on that. So I have no current plan in my retirement savings because I don’t have enough money to do that. I wish I did.

Recorded on: April 24, 2009