Simply put, basic health coverage isn't a waste of money. Saving money each month by not paying for health insurance is no more than the thousands of dollars that health emergencies can cost. That said, you may overpay for your health insurance. If you're young and healthy, you'll probably pay more in the pool than you benefit from.
When inflation is added to rising health care spending, savings tools don't offer adequate protection. Obviously, if nothing happens and there is no need for medical attention, not paying for health insurance is cheaper. This means that these plans often exclude coverage for topics such as pregnancy and mental health, and you may be turned down for pre-existing illnesses, such as asthma or cancer. Understanding health insurance isn't easy, so don't hesitate to ask your employer, a counselor, or someone you trust for help.
If you think you're healthy now, the best option would be to get a high-deductible plan because it fits you anyway, and then you can put money into an HSA for when you're older and really have problems. Health insurance is a valuable resource that can help you cover the costs of future medical expenses. You don't even know if you're “healthy”, since you haven't been to the doctor in almost a decade. Opting only for a catastrophic plan, if you're healthy and have enough savings to cover the difference, can be a good compromise.
You're right that, at some point, it all comes down to a cost-benefit analysis, but you should remember that without insurance your exposure is limitless. Cosmetic jobs are not covered by dental insurance, so any teeth whitening, veneers and the like will be out of your pocket and can number in the thousands. The problem is that a significant medical expense can amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars and, once done, you can't opt for insurance. A health savings account (HSA) is a good place to do this, because the money you deposit here reduces your taxable income.
If you want to see how much health insurance is going to cost, start by comparing the cheapest health insurance options available anywhere you live next door to another. If you need a filling or treatment, part of the treatment is covered by insurance and you will have to pay the remaining costs. There are different companies and platforms available to help you save on your medical expenses, from finding the best insurance rates to cheaper medications.