Happppy Monday everyone!!
You’re in luck as I heard a Financial Fairy was going around granting people wishes today – free of charge! – but you could only pick one of two options…
Would you rather….
Have ALL your student loans completely wiped away?! (If you don’t have student loans, you can choose your mortgages/cars/credit card/etc)
– OR –
Get free healthcare from now until the end of your days?
I think I’d take the No Debt option and wipe out my $265,000’ish mortgage as that would free up $2,300/mo on the spot AND we could start enjoying the effects right away!, but wiping out a major concern like that in FIRE would be a helluva blessing too… Both in terms of the insurance itself, but also our own health – as we saw with my poor friend Agatha last week and what she’s now suffering through out of nowhere!! (NOT covered by health insurance, btw…)
And speaking of which – you guys have now donated over $2,000 (!) since Friday – THANK YOU SO MUCH!!! Cannot wait for her to check her fundraiser page and see the outpouring of love coming in from the community… She’s gonna be so thankful – and it’s all because of YOU!! :)
But back to this magical question – which of them would you pick? Freedom from DEBT or freedom from insurance costs/worries forever?!
Drop your answers below so we can all fantasize with you!
I’m not sure exactly *when* this fairy will be visiting us, but I do know it never hurts to put stuff out there in the world just in case ;)
Just don’t stop making moves while you’re waiting!
As Bruce Lee once put it,
“If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you’ll never get it done.”
And Bruce Lee knows everything. So keep going!
PS: Shout out to LendEdu for inspiring this who recently put out a report that found that 40% of Americans would rather have the U.S. completely forgive all $1.61 trillion in student loan debt instead of implementing free universal health care, which was selected by 60% of respondents. Would your answer change here if it meant wiping out *everyone’s* student loans vs just your own?! (And conversely, giving EVERYONE universal healthcare for free as well as yourself?)
More fun Would You Rathers from over the years:
- Would you rather… Win $15,000 in dollar bills, or win $20,000 in quarters?
- Would you rather… Be rich 100 years ago, or average today?
- Would you rather… Have a salary of $50,000 where everyone around you only has $25,000 – OR – Make $100,000 but everyone around you makes $200,000?
- Would you rather… Be attractive as hell BUT you never make more than $30k a year for the rest of your life – OR – you’re damn ugly BUT you’re as rich as Oprah Winfrey?
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Free QUALITY healthcare for everyone. This should be a universal human right. Everyone should have the right to be healthy or get the best quality treatment one need to get into the best condition one could be. If you think about it if you are healthy, you can sort out the rest for yourself ;)
I’d pick healthcare too if it included *everyone* :)
I would absolutely choose high quality, free healthcare.
Healthcare coverage and costs are so unpredictable. Student loan or Mortgage debts are more easily impacted and planned for by the individual.
That’s very true about the planning.
If we all do our civic duty in primaries/the general election this year, there are some candidates for President (backed by Congressional/Senate/local state officials) who could give all of us BOTH of those wishes (at least in terms of student loan debt forgiveness and quality universal healthcare).
Please check your voter registration/register to vote at https://votesaveamerica.com/ and vote in upcoming elections.
That’s a hard question. As a professional in healthcare I’ve studied universal healthcare and as a veteran I get healthcare through the VA. Looking at other countries that have “universal” “free” healthcare it is neither universal, nor free. It is typical for these countries to have a tax rate upwards of 65%, and healthcare is rationed in order to provide it. In a perfect world where healthcare could be universal without bureaucracy, I would be all for it. However the reality is that universal healthcare, by necessity, would be shackled with controls in place to keep costs down as well as high taxes to pay for it.
E-rock, I completely agree. Working in the healthcare field gives me a somewhat different perspective than others might have. The rationing of care, the availability/under-served areas, the taxes! Universal healthcare is a wonderful goal but before I jump on the bandwagon I want the real issues deeply explored.
I do agree with those who’ve posted about paying off debt. We can all make plans for that. We can follow our well-laid-out plans (if we are motivated). Not having to worry about my health care costs lets me sleep at night.
The knee surgery I had in November 2019? Bills now total more than $100K. My responsibility: $150 to the hospital. And $20 (twenty freaking dollars!) every Physical Therapy visit. With the help of my FSA I come out even almost every year. BUT…I, again, planned and knew with reasonable certainty what was coming. IF universal healthcare can be tweaked from what’s proposed now, I would definitely vote for that. As it is now, no thanks.
I hope it feels a lot better after that? :)
Hi E-Rock, which countries did you have in mind here? I was surprised by the 65% number so tried to track one down and I couldn’t find any country with a top 65% rate. I’m wondering if it maybe used to be true a few decades ago but no longer is?
The top tax bracket in Canada for 2019 was 58.75%, but that’s only if you make over $210,000. But with lower healthcare costs and educational costs, we have a better quality of life with lower salaries, and we have all sorts of tax deductions…especially if we have kids.
I think the true foundation of this country is the idea of a level playing field. We are all taught that anyone can grow up to become President. We get upset about people not paying their “fair share” of taxes. The wealth gap can cause protests, and the achievement gap in education is serious. It is all about everyone having equal chance to live their best lives.We won’t all have the same success (life is more arbitrary than fair) but we can try to have everyone at the same starting line. Wiping out student debt doesn’t help that. Those who aren’t suited to college would have no benefit, nor would those whose families saved and sacrificed. Healthcare for everyone would level that playing field, and everyone gets the same benefits. If you want extra insurance, buy it. But at least you know that if your kid is sick you can go to the doctor. And so can your neighbors.
I now descend from my soapbox :)
I struggled in answering the question because paying off my student loans and having free high quality insurance for life are both of what I really need right now. However, if I can only choose one, I would opt for free high quality health insurance. Healthcare cost a lot of money and one never know what to expect with healthcare costs or what the unexpected events are with one’s health. At least keeping our body healthy means quality of life and will give us more meaning to strive to live life fully and have a purpose and also can give the ability to pay bills such as, student loans.
I like it :)
I wouldn’t pick either of them. (Is that an option?) We already give free education through high school for everyone, but that doesn’t make a level playing field. Some of the wealthiest people in America didn’t complete college. I also think wiping our student loans causes people to keep making bad decisions about money.
The problem with “free” anything is that it isn’t free. And it makes people dependent. Most of the people in the FIRE community preach minimalism and DIY to reduce costs, but then they want free stuff from tax payers.
I would rather have people build wealth and be generous with their money to help people who are less fortunate. Let’s teach people how to be content with what they have and handle their money well.
I take that all back. I would support giving everyone a free, sexy budget.
Haha…. much better answer.
I’d choose free, high quality healthcare (and it should include everyone!). Right now I’m fairly healthy and have decent insurance through my work, but I worry that an accident or healthcare costs 20-30 years from now when I’m elderly will be really expensive for myself or my husband.
Ah, a 2 sided choice such as white or dark meat? (still chicken). Republicans or Democrat vote? (one gov’t entity)
I choose neither
Individuals already have the “right” to seek out medical attention. There are places in the community that provide free healthcare. But what is being suggested by many is Gov’t run healthcare.(Obamacare / ACA) Do you really and truly believe the gov’t can effectively handle everyone’s health needs? See the VA stats…
Do you believe that its paid for by the gov’t and that it will not effect you financially? How about if I eat refined sugar, neglect getting out of my chair and taking a walk for my heart, smoke cigars all day; then go to a doctor and you foot the bill for my negligence? Does that make you happy?
This is a road to socialism… So NO. I don’t think healthcare is a basic human right.
Is higher education needed for some studies? Absolutely.
Is free tuition free? No. You are asking me to foot the bill via tax increase.
I point you again to https://college-education.procon.org
Now argue away with the comments.
Since my mortgage is less than $50k (Woo hoo!!) I’m going to chose the free healthcare. But the BIG question is, will it cover Lasik, or a neck lift?? Lol! Inquiring minds want to know!
It’s a magical fairy – it covers everything ;)
My vote is for free* healthcare. It’s probably the number one reason I’ve seen for people staying in jobs they don’t like, but also the number one worry people have. Half of my co-workers aren’t eligible for company-sponsored medical coverage.
I also injured my knee about a month ago, so I’ve gotten a cold reminder of what medical procedures actually cost. Anyone had to pay for an MRI lately? Oof.
*Yes, I know it’s not “free” per se.
I’m a healthcare analyst and studied econ, so I would choose all debts wiped away. Although it would be nice not to not have to worry about healthcare costs though free healthcare you would end up paying via taxes…lots and lots of taxes. Most people die from heart disease which is almost completely avoidable which is why I think providing more education around health should take priority. Just my 2 cents.
Free healthcare, any day. I was totally in charge of where I went to school and whether I had debt, but health issues can completely blindside a person. If my husband and I had not had health insurance when he had a subarachnoid hemorrhage, brain surgery, extensive hospitalization, and years of care, we would have been bankrupt within a month. Health issues are hard enough without worrying if everything you worked for all your life will be wiped out.
Ugh, very true… Debt you can plan for, health not so much :( I hope your husband is recovering okay from all that!
Born and raised Canadian, now living in the US, I’m still trying to figure out my health coverage.
I don’t have student debt (any more), I don’t carry credit card balances (any more), and I don’t have a mortgage (any more). Why don’t I have those – I worked and planned and saved and paid them off. I can’t plan on when my next medical expense is going to be, or what it will be for, or how it may impact my future earnings, etc.
My son and daughter in law have lots of student debt, and lots of medical expenses. What would I wish for them? I see them making great strides in paying off their student loans. I worry about what could happen with medical expenses. I’m willing to pay more taxes to allow my neighbor access to health care. I don’t want to pay for their schooling which they may or may not need, be suited for, or in a program that actually makes sense for them. How many underwater basket weavers do we need?
I feel bad for all legit underwater basket weavers, lol…
I’m going to spend $13,000 on healthcare this year (premiums and my wife hitting the out of pocket max for the year in Feb), and that assumes I don’t need to go to a doctor at all during the year. That number would be close to $50K without insurance.
I have $4000 in debt total.
Easy decision. Although even if I had a mortgage I think I’d take the healthcare – nobody is going to die if something happens and I can’t pay my mortgage.
Very true on that last one! Although the stress of carrying debts def. isn’t the healthiest either…
I’m with COD. Our mortgage is just over $127k and we have no student loan debt; planning around that for the next ten years is absolute peanuts compared to a potential health issue that could mean life or death. ESPECIALLY if expanded to everyone in the nation. And of course it would intensely decomplicate our FIRE-at-50 plan.
“OMG but do you trust the gubmint?!??!” So long as there’s accountability and transparency, yes. I’ve lived within a dozen miles of DC almost my entire life — the public servants I know are incredibly dedicated people who tend to be driven by a sincere desire to help, which is why they aren’t making bigger $$ in industry. Now if only the rest of the country could stop sending us their loudest village idiots…
Healthcare, for sure. The cost of healthcare will keep increasing. Debt, you can work on.
Mortgage, in particular, isn’t a big problem. You can sell the house and pay it off.
Because I live in the US-the freaking insurance. F#cking a##holes. And, I STILL have student loan debt.
Healthcare (especially if I’m deciding for everyone). I lived in South Korea, the only country that hates communism more than the US of A, and they had a national health insurance plan that was wonderful. I lived through two hospitalizations as my (diagnosed there) chronic disease was diagnosed and first treated. The care was excellent and didn’t totally bankrupt me (in fact, it cost me less than birthing my first child in the US–with no complications, simple delivery, and with reasonable health insurance). People who hate on socialized medicine in the abstract cherry pick the data from fear of the unknown and one or two internet horror stories. Everyone I’ve ever met who lived under those plans spoke favorably of the routine and urgent care they provided, even as they admit to some of the bureaucratic issues. Meanwhile Americans go broke getting an xray or antibiotics. It’s shameful.
When were you over there? I Iived in South Korea too for a bit! I’m glad you were able to take advantage of the healthcare while there… We had the military insurance and went on base for anything health related but not sure how good or not it was as I didn’t pay attention to such things back then (was in high school)…
i was in Korea 2007-2010–met and married my husband while teaching English. Loved it!
Military base care is a whole ‘nother world. I was treated at University-affiliated hospitals for the most part.
Ahh cool cool… I was there in the mid-90s. My mom loved teaching English there too – made lots of money *and* friends! :)
Our current healthcare system is full of bureaucracy. I think everyone should have the right to focus on their health and getting well instead of worrying about medical bills.
There’s no such thing as free. My heart rate goes up a few beats with these political canidates who run on “forgiving” student loan debt. I’m sorry why should tax payers pay for your decision um no thank you. I went to college free actually made out with a couple Grand my parents paid ZERO. I went to a FL HS school and recieved bright futures a very optainable scholarship that paid the majority plus a couple other scholarships I applied for. I was not in sports, band, and my academic were decent but not outstanding and I did it. When people sign the doted line on a loan document they are responsible for repaying it not me or any other person.
Free healthcare as the costs are unpredictable. The student loans can be reduced greatly if you are willing to work.
Without hesitation NOT free healthcare but UNIVERSAL HEALTHCARE FOR EVERYone.
We can figure out the rest if we don’t have to worry losing everything if we get hit by something nasty like a cancer or what your friend has…it’s so devastating.
It is beyond me how some people are OK supporting going back to the “pre-existing condition” freebie that insurance companies used to enjoy. What the h… is wrong with people? Seriousy!
I like how this has riled up people’s political opinions, even if you were just asking about what WE would want.
I’d choose the healthcare. It would help me sleep at night. If I lost my job (and simultaneously my health insurance) and at the same time, was diagnosed with a debilitating or expensive to treat illness, it would break me. If not at first, eventually. I could sell my house. I could manage a few months of mortgage payments or piece together enough from odd jobs. I couldn’t do that for several hundred thousand of medical bills.
And to sort of jump on the politics bandwagon ;-) I don’t know that universal healthcare is the real answer but I do generally support the idea. What we are doing now isn’t great. I’ve known of too many people who have suffered. Yes, rich people could still get better care than the poor, but at least the poor could get adequate care. I don’t hear loud dissatisfaction from people in countries who have it, frankly…even with higher taxes. I’ve known of people who moved back to their respective countries or in families with two nationalities, chose the other one than the US solely due to healthcare. I think the issue is right now, I pay my fair share of taxes, and I don’t feel like I get a whole lot…and I know there are filthy rich people and corporations NOT paying their fair share. Things don’t feel fair.
That being said, I also think the student loan thing needs to be fixed. (I don’t have loans anymore so this isn’t self-serving) Yes, it’s a “choice” but not a well-informed one, and that isn’t always the fault of the young people making the choice. If you come from a poor area and poor family, you aren’t learning finance. And financial literacy should be part of required curriculum in my opinion because most people suck at it. And all you hear is: get an education and you’ll be rich. Not the truth which is “it depends”. That’s how people get sucked into crap degrees from for profit schools…or not so crap degrees but crippling debt from other schools.
One last thought, I’m all for personal responsibility…and I understand that sentiment, but not everyone has to pay as much for their mistakes. And I’m saying this as a goodie two shoes…even I know I haven’t. That is all. :-)
Yeah, probably shouldn’t have put that “PS” in there as this totally went in a different direction than I intended, haha… Oh well, it is always refreshing to hear people speak their mind whether you agree or not :) And no fights have broken out yet!
Canadian here (where healthcare is not free but is very affordable aside from dentistry) so I would definitely go with student loans. Wipe those buggers out and revel in a full salary for a month or two…then ‘pay the loans’ into a savings account like a responsible adult, haha.
I like the way you do things ;)
This is easy; I would choose universal healthcare. It is a real choice to take on student loan debt, as such education is not a primary need at all. It is less of a choice to choose to use the medical system in the first place, but when one does, one gives the system the power to charge whatever and the sky is the limit. Universal healthcare would automatically bring certain reforms that are essential.
You’re cheating, J. Your mortgage is not a student loan.
Please allow me to abstain. No student debt and affordable healthcare. But yeah, different country, different style, and definitely different fiscality.
(I don’t even have student debt anyway. Never did.)
It really is amazing that we’re the only ones who can’t figure that stuff out here :(
Thanks for the article and ability to vote on it J!
I absolutely, unequivocally vote for healthcare. This, as the son of a physician who is ending his 40 year career, and a bunch of family employed in the healthcare field (nurses, medical records, etc.)
The amount of people that go bankrupt in America due to healthcare is ASTONISHING.
My friends, just read the UVA healthcare article in the Washington Post to see how horrendous (and dare I say evil) the current, greedy money sucking healthcare system is in the United States.
Before I get labeled a communist I am a lifelong Republican, and I feel passionately that healthcare should be a bipartisan issue. We need to fix the broken system in America. Look how nice Medicare works! Why don’t we extend Medicare coverage to everyone? Why don’t we? Oh that’s right – the health insurance industry lobby!
The Declaration of Independence says Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. Part of “Life” is healthcare.
OK, RANT DONE. In a nutshell, healthcare applies to everyone and student loan debt (while a problem) is controllable – you don’t have to go to college, and if you are careful you can minimize your loans. A lot of us have no control over genetics and health issues.
“Part of “Life” is healthcare.”
First let me say I work in healthcare- If something happens to you a hospital cannot turn you away and you will be treated but, you will owe for the care. For big deal issues like multi-trauma from a car wreck or a traumatic brain injury or early onset Multiple Sclerosis without healthcare you have to think AFTER you go home from the hospital. You can’t get the medication you need, you can’t get the therapy you need, you can’t the the equipment you need-especially in the certain states where Medicaid is extremely limited and charity programs are virtually non-existent. So not only do you now owe 6 figures for your hospital stay, but you may need a power wheelchair ( easily 5 figures- depending on which features you need). Ongoing therapy for your neurocognitive impairment – the sky is the limit. Medication- well everyone has heard the stories – that are true- about how expensive medication is. Our health care system is totally broken and even 1%ers would be awed by how expensive it can get. Not only is your life changed forever, but if you are in a family their lives are also changed forever. It is so sad and it not unsolvable. But I do not see the light at the end of the tunnel where this gets fixed. But for the grace of God do any of us escape a serious injury or chronic condition that could condemn us to a life of poverty. Some things we can control like how we treat our bodies, but we may not be able to avoid a car wreck, or a disease.
You’ve officially scared me :(
Free healthcare. I went through student debt but if it’s doable to pay it off at certain amount of time then I can live through that rather than paying for healthcare for the rest of your live. I would love to have free healthcare especially as I get older or if I need it sooner.
Like your friend Audrey, I have CRPS (thankfully just in one limb) but I live in the UK so recieve health care free at the point of delivery. I would choose universal healthcare everytime – and would happily pay more tax to ensure better standards in our NHS.
Within my family people have been treated for cancers, dementia, infertility, congenital heart defects, genetic conditions causing significant long term issues as well as childhood illnesses, diabetes, gut stuff, skin conditions etc. All of this has been free when needed, not just immediate care but aftercare too. When my uncle’s bowel cancer returned he didn’t turn into Walter White. When my neice was disgnosed with cystic fibrosis as a tiny baby her parents did not have to worry about how to pay for her lifelong treatment.
I have recieved excellent care (usually!!) for a long time and never have to think if the cost of a treatment plan in terms of financials, just the impact on my wellbeing. For those worried about universal health care leading to socialism or nanny state – without doubt the treatment I have had, and continue to have, keeps me in work and making a financial contribution to my country. I work for a charity and could not afford to do that if I needed to pay for my health care directly.
AHHH THIS IS SO BEAUTIFUL!!!!
And all these examples are just withing *your* immediate circle of friends/family too! Imagine the loads of care/support from the millions of others living there!!! A blessing!!
I would def. have to say Health Insurance. I was with a company for fourteen years had health insurance could only afford to use it if I got a bonus or saved up. Dental insurance coverage at a reasonable rate would be amazing…
I’ve never had student loans, so I would choose the free healthcare. I do have a mortgage and also around $30,000 in vehicle loans, but I think it would be much better peace of mind to know that for the rest of my life, even if I have a catastrophic injury or illness, I will owe no money for it. Especially because the debt payoff seems like one and done, you can still end up in debt again, but healthcare is continual for life.
I am going with debt/student loans. I work for the state and my salary is very small compared to ‘outside’ wages, but we have really good medical and in 4 more years (I will be 50, and have worked here 24 years) I will have lifetime medical for a small premium. I know I choose to make less to have good benefits, but it would also be nice to make comparable to what others in my field make. But after 20 years here, I am not going anywhere until I hit that sweet 50 spot! lol
20 years!! What a record!! I’d keep going too until you hit that 50 haha… especially if you’re enjoying it, which I’d assume you’d have to be for sticking around that long, eh? :)
As a Canadian I choose health care every day of the week and twice and Sunday. I can choose whether to have other debt and take on as much as I can handle. From my experience you don’t get to choose how much a medical emergency costs or when it will happen. Pretty nice to never worry about the costs of getting better – just getting better.
I would pick health care every time. I would also pick universal health care free for all. I’ve been through a bout of cancer and had my knee fixed. I have great health care so the out of pocket cost has been very minimal, no impact to our financial health. But I’ve gone through many years of paying large sums for health insurance and still having to pay a pretty penny for treatments.
Wiping out debt is a great thing, but it would now stop you from going back into debt. Also paying it off and changing your outlook/habits is a great motivator. You just don’t get that life lesson any other way.
Great question though.
Thanks Mike! Appreciate you adding to the conversation and really hope you’re doing okay w/ the cancer stuff! That $hit is no joke :(
I live in Canada, so I’m just amazed when other people don’t want universal healthcare! Instead of thinking of it as paying for everyone else, look at it like car insurance. I have a car – therefore I have to get it insured. Sure, insuring my car helps protect others (if I hit them, cause damage, etc.) but really, it’s for me. Do you get angry at having to pay car insurance? Why is it more acceptable to get insurance for inanimate objects rather than your health? Yes, I pay a bit more in taxes, but I’m nowhere near the 50% bracket!! I’ve had car insurance since I started driving, but never once have I used it. I have universal health insurance, and I use it a lot.
I had stage 2 cancer years ago, and luckily I was able to just focus on getting better instead of figuring out how to pay for it. I consulted with multiple specialists, had surgery, follow-up appointments, etc. and it cost nothing. I did have to pay $70 out of pocket at the beginning, but I was able to get reimbursed through my tax return. I have a family doctor that I see for check-ups and chronic issues, I have a walk-in clinic that I go to for emergency appointments right near my house (they also have a nice service that will text you when it’s your turn to go back to see the doctor rather than spend hours in the waiting room), and I rarely need to go to an actual hospital. Sure, wait times can be long for certain things, but I’m sure that’s not any different than in the USA. We have a plastic card that looks like a driver’s license, but it’s our medicare card. You swipe this everywhere you go – no need to carry cash or credit cards. The other thing about universal healthcare is not just the freedom from having to pay, but also the freedom to go anywhere. I can go to ANY hospital, clinic, or doctor (as long as I can get an appointment with them). There’s no need to check if I’m covered or if they’re in my “network”. Occasionally, we do have to pay for certain procedures out of pocket, and sometimes our prescriptions aren’t totally covered by the government. For example, I had to have a special eye exam that cost $150, and recently I had bronchitis and had to pay about $90 out of pocket for my medications. But for $90, I got 2 asthma pumps, antibiotics and codeine cough syrup. I’d say that’s a pretty good deal. So far, it’s been an expensive year for me healthcare-wise, but these expenses are tax-deductible at the end of the year.
Student loans/credit cards/mortgages are more “fixed” expenses that you can predict and control to a certain degree. But healthcare can vary widely and you never know when you’ll have an emergency. Also, the stress of having to worry about payment when you’re ill or facing an emergency is just incomprehensible to me.
Danggggg so different there!!! Didn’t know about those plastic cards y’all have!! Or that you can go *anywhere*??! We really do suck here… And people are so stubborn with their views that no one wants to be convinced otherwise so we’re stuck :(
Letting go from all of that student debt is a tempting choice but I’d rather choose FREE quality healthcare. I chose healthcare because I was shocked after hearing my aunt’s 5-digit hospital bill! I can’t pay that amount!