How do people without medical coverage manage it? I guess the real answer is they don’t.
Over the past few months, I’ve managed to accrue close to $1700 in sudden out of pocket medical expenses. I’m going to have to set up a payment plan for some of it.
First, the boy faceplanted on the basement floor. He busted his glasses and hit his face very hard on the concrete. Seemed reasonably OK, but several hours later he was mentioning stars and a headache and some flashing lights. Straight to the emergency room we went! An MRI later, we walked out knowing he had a slight concussion, but nothing more serious than that. About a month later, got the bill. It was around $1800. The insurance, Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, paid for the doctor’s exam and the initial fee to step in the emergency room — but not a penny for the $1400 MRI. I don’t mind paying my part, but I’m not sure how they can justify paying nothing for an MRI when a head injury pretty much automatically dictates one. Who knows, maybe the hospital took advantage of my ignorance on the matter.
Afterwards, I’ve found myself facing some interesting medical issues of the female variety. Things are still uncomfortably in process, but so far I’ve gotten a look at the “real” bill versus what my insurance company gets to settle for. Some procedures are being billed for $500, but the company settles with the doctors for about $160. How does your average Jane with no insurance company rep to lobby for her pay out of pocket for that?! I’m not even done yet, haven’t gotten my latest lab bills or procedure bills, and I’m in it for about $200 already. Not bad, for sure, compared to what it could be.
My health insurance is just as tenuous as my job. If that contract doesn’t renew in March, I may lose my health insurance by the end of May. I’ve done without it before for years, but it’s not a risk I like to take. I should probably check into private health insurance and see what the cost would be and then think about just switching to that so it isn’t linked to my employment.
I won’t flog the old arguments and statistics about the United States and sickness, missed days of work, expenses related to medical costs and our general decline in health as a country. That’s all been done to death. I have done my best to get to the point where I have access to insurance, especially for my son. I try to be reasonably healthy. I try to eat right, cook most of our meals from scratch, etc. But sometimes prevention isn’t possible.
Sometimes things just happen. Even with insurance coverage. What then, for those of us on a glamorous little budget? What then?