Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Can Someone Explain Health Insurance To Me?

So it turns out that, as a result of the urgent care and brief hospital stay Suzanne underwent when Aaron was born, we owe the hospital, ambulance company and lab somewhere in the neighborhood of $7000.

Now, the amount isn't that shocking. Medical care is expensive, and these folks basically saved my wife's life. OK with that. Totally.

But here's the thing... we pay around $200 a month for health insurance, and they aren't really covering any of it. Because our deductible is $10,000, not the $5,000 each that we thought it was. Again, more or less our fault, we had a high deductible, OK.

But what the hell is the point of paying for insurance if it doesn't cover health costs? I mean, I pay around $150 a month for car insurance on two cars... if I have an accident, that insurance will take care of the car. Isn't that what insurance is for? To get insurance that would actually pay for these uncommon expenses, we'd need to be paying near $1000 a month. Which I sure as hell can't afford. I imagine many can't.

I realized that the health care system and medical insurance system was broken, but I hadn't realized just how badly. The sick part is, I still have to pay over $200 a month for insurance that basically does *nothing* for me on the off chance something catastrophic happens and our bill does go over $10,000 somehow. This is not unlike paying $50 a week for "Godzilla insurance." It's not likely to happen, but if by some chance Godzilla does rampage through Austin, I'll be covered.

So I guess the budget will be a little tighter for the next year or two while we pay off the hospital in installments. Not gonna kill us, but it is frustrating that we'll be paying basically *two* medical bills each month, one for past costs and one as a mostly ineffective hedge against future ones.

2 comments:

CHunter said...

Randy,

I think that you understand it in a nutshell.

We took my (then) 2 year old to the ER one night because she was so sick. Had fever, lethargic, etc.

We had no insurance at the time.

Got her looked at. $3000.

It was the same ER that I currently work at. Looked at the itemized bill (which you should look at as well) and $2700 of that was just the hospital fees. The other $300 was for the spinal tap the doctor did to rule out meningitis.

I talked to one of the ER docs that I work with that is also the ER Medical Director about what I should do about it.

This is what he suggested and I will suggest to you: Pay the minimum monthly fee that you can. At the same time, save up a lump sum on the side. Most hospitals will accept a large lump sum for a lesser amount and write the rest of the bill off.

Offer something like a 50% lump sum payoff for the rest of the bill. Or just ask them what they would take and negotiate the rest.

DON'T feel like you have to pay that full amount because you DON'T.

Yeah, man, healthcare sucks.

Have you seen SiCKO by Michael Moore yet? That movie really shows just how messed up our healthcare system is.

WARTORTLE said...

That's good advice, by chunter. I'd do what he says Randy. The reason the fees are so high is because too many don't have medical insurance and just walk away, raisng the price for those who do pay. I'd suggest walking the line and following the above advice. If you come to some sort of agrrement they won't destroy you credit history. If you don't pay they probably will.

Regards,
Wartortle