Sunday, July 5, 2009

....And I Have Good Insurance

The last few weeks, I have been engaged (off and on) in an unpleasant activity. Perhaps it could even be considered hair-raising. At the very least, it has been enlightening.

I have been paying medical bills.

Admittedly, it's been an interesting spring. At the end of March, I had a bout of severe flu that sent me to the emergency room in an ambulance to get intravenous fluids. Then, later in spring, I fell down in a parking lot (not unlike our esteemed Secretary of State, I'm sure) and broke my arm. I managed to get by with a visit to Urgent Care and four X-rays this time.

And I finally got a couple of new pairs of glasses (two, because I'm always misplacing one of them.) They are progressive lenses, which of course, makes them more expensive.

It hasn't been fun paying the bills for all these things. I'll tell you one thing: I'm going to think long and hard before I go anywhere in an ambulance again. And while I haven't been happy about the amounts that I pay out, when I look at the original bills -- well, that's the enlightening part.

Now I have good insurance. It covers (except deductible) almost everything, including certain mental health coverages I might need. And it's not cheap. I know what our church pays for us to be able to have this coverage.

I also might note: these have been minor illnesses. My arm needed no cast, and I spent no overnight time in the hospital when I had the flu. These aren't the catastrophic diseases and accidents some people have.

So while I am paying and looking at bills and cringing a little, I'm also thinking: what would it be like if I didn't have insurance? How would I feel if I was getting these bills and I didn't have insurance or didn't have work, or had uncertain work? Wouldn't it affect so many aspects of my life?

I realize that the issues surrounding health care are complicated ones; when we had a health care forum at my congregation a couple of weeks ago, a couple of nurses brought up the great point that besides money and insurance and good doctors, one thing that people need (and many don't get) is education: education about their bodies, about nutrition, about health.

Still, if I was getting bills and I had to write out these checks, and I didn't know how to pay them, I think I'd feel a lot less healthy.


PS (PSanafter-thought) said...

I've always had good insurance and, yes, I've also been shocked at the total of the bills. In fact, even though I'm not paying most of these bills out of pocket, the prices have sometimes still influenced my decisions to not have certain follow up tests. And I haven't suffered any consequences yet. Sometimes tests are ordered to "cover the butt" of the doctor, or, perhaps, as my doc says, for the radiologist retirement fund.

Once when my son just happened to go to an out of network clinic [how was he to know?] we really looked hard at the bills, including having Son request medical records. Then we wrote a stern letter to the clinic, which defended the doctor's charges. Then the letter got even sterner and more specific, and we got a reply which admitted that the doctor had misused (innocently they said) the electronic medical record system, by telling the computer that every time he saw a patient, he was doing a complete history and physical. So corrections were made, and the clinic manager said that they were reviewing all that doctor's records. Spouse has expertise in these matters, which became apparent to that clinic.

Purple said...

I so hear you.

Presbyterian Gal said...

Yeah, I'm about to go from having one of the best insurance policies to having nothing. Which I believe took a couple years off my life.

Daunting to say the least.

Rev Scott said...

Tell me about it. Paying for two deliveries would have been utterly, completely impossible, but what do you do - tell them to put the baby back?

It's past time we did something to help those who simply aren't in a position to help themselves.

Border Explorer said...

Medical insurance and medical expenses for just me is our biggest family expense. And I have not had to make a claim in 18 months. This is crazy.

Get this: Senator Grassley (R-IA) told a constituent at a town hall meeting that if he wanted quality care like Grassley had that he should "go work for the federal government." It's on video: