Friday, July 24, 2009

The Costs of Health Care, if You Can Call it That

I just opened yet another stack of medical bills and my spirits are struggling to stay up, to have faith in God's providence.

I KNOW that He has done so much for us already, but it's almost as if our health care system is gambling with God right now. Oh yeah, well I see your $5,500 raised by your churches and I'll raise you $8,800 plus the unknown of the pulmonology bill that has yet to come. Or something like that, as I'm not a gambler.

And let's not forget that the state of Colorado wrote off a great portion of our hospital debt - like $65k worth of a $68k bill - through the Colorado Indigent Care Program. Thanks be to God, because without that we'd be in financial ruin right now. But here's the rub, and one that especially grates at my husband's ego as well as those of many others who qualify for CICP: we are not "indigent" by definition of the word:

in⋅di⋅gent [in-di-juhnt]
1.lacking food, clothing, and other necessities of life because of poverty; needy; poor; impoverished.
a.deficient in what is requisite.
b.destitute (usually fol. by of).
Rather, my husband happens to be a hard-working man who works 50+ hours/week at a physically demanding job making pretty good money for our area. His employers offer health insurance, and we had it after I quit my job with the city for Lil Guy's prenatal care through his birth. However, the premium was scheduled to go up, again, s of May 1, 2009. To $880/month for our family, with a $5,000/person deductible, and then 60%/40% co-insurance after the deductible. Max out of pocket expenses in a year was $20k. Now, I don't know about you, but to pay virtually another mortgage payment every month so that I was assured that I wouldn't have to pay more than the $20k that I don't have sitting around for medical expenses didn't quite fly with me. We'd already downsized our income to have me be at home with the kids, and couldn't really afford this blow either.

But, rather than be irresponsible and have NO insurance at all, we knew that we needed to look for a plan B. So we found an independent broker and got our own health plan, then terminated Charlie Brown's before it renewed on those awful terms.

The only problem was that we had a 2 week gap.

And I happened to get deathly ill in that 2 week gap. Just 4 more days and we would have made it.

I'm grateful that CICP exists, don't get me wrong. But it's not enough. Thankfully God has supplemented us with the contributions from our church.

And I'm angry that people removed from these kinds of struggles are pitching a fit about health care reform - because this kind of thing happens EVERY DAY in America. I'm angry that people who work hard every day are being bankrupted because of medical expenses. I'm angry when I hear health care workers complaining that they have to do more with less - because really, what industry ISN'T being told that right now? Health care costs are TOO high. Particularly the insurance part.

I don't know that government insurance is the answer necessarily, because I haven't read up enough on the policy specifics to know what the bottom line is for taxpayers. And because quite honestly, where would the money for it come from? We are already tapped out fiscally as a country and if we just continue to spend our dollars will soon become as worthless as the German Marks did during the Great Depression.

But those naysayers who don't even want to have the conversations about doing something, anything, bother me. That's all I'm saying. I think.

© 2009 Ramblings of a Red-Headed Step-Child. All Rights Reserved


  1. Oh sweet Red you'll get no argument from me about the need for reform. Is the healthcare system perfect on my side of the border? Far from it, but I don't worry about what would happen to my house if I got sick. Young women with the breast cancer gene don't have to worry that they'll be denied insurance if their family history is revealed. Do I wait to see specialists? Yes, but only if I *can* wait...when the need for care is urgent, it's there, and it's good care. My hope is that stories like yours will be fewer and further between in the coming years in the U.S., and that good people who were making smart choices with their money won't get caught in a 2-week technicality and have to add stress to their lives. Hang in there and pray for change!

  2. Well said, and what a mess health care is.

  3. Okay, that is stressful. But you have to rely on your faith, even if you don't have it, because look where it's gotten you so far. I of all people ought to heed these words. And if I had a million bucks, I'd send you at least five.

  4. I agree 100%! There is no reason medical bills should bankrupt a family!!

    Something HAS to change!!!