This blog is not intended to provide legal advice, legal services or legal anything else. Don't sue me. All I have is debt anyway.

Monday, October 8, 2007

My healthcare soapbox

If you haven't voted for Kim yet for the Blogger Scholarship, go do it!! If anyone deserves that award money, it's her! Just the bills I've gotten for my pregnancy complications have nearly given me an ulcer, I can't even imagine what they're going through with the bills from cancer treatment. Nothing like opening a pile of ridiculous medical bills to kick you when you're feeling down.

I've been reading through the health care platforms of the Democratic candidates, and honestly, I'm pretty disappointed. It's all just so... naive. And maybe you have to be in a situation where you find yourself actually needing medical treatment to understand why.

I have health insurance. My husband has health insurance. And the cost of our premiums are very reasonable. But when you closely read the policies, they leave much to be desired. And you don't realize that until you're hit with the medical bills, because how the hell should I know that an amniocentesis alone costs $2000? Better policies weren't even available to us through the University, and honestly I didn't think we even needed better policies. If this had been a normal pregnancy, it would have been great coverage. I never dreamed that I needed more than $2500 in "outpatient diagnostic coverage," but one MRI alone cost that much. During my last few years of full-time employment before law school, I watched as our policies got crappier every year. It wasn't so much the problem of our premiums going up, as it was our policy coverage going down. The co-pays going up, prescription coverage decreasing, maximum policy benefits decreasing, and suddenly large deductibles on top of it.

There are plenty of people out there without health insurance. However, I think an even worse problem is actually paying for health insurance and it not covering anything. Giving hands, giving you the finger. My mother works in retail and makes $11/hr. She pays nearly $200 a month for her premiums. She has a very large deductible, and after that it's 80/20, with very low policy maximums. She lives paycheck to paycheck. One stay in the hospital would bankrupt her. She's 52 years old, at risk for a whole slew of nasty medical conditions, and the older she gets, the more likely she'll be to end up in the hospital for something.

It's the middle class that suffers most. When I called financial services at University Hospital, the same University that I pay outrageous tuition to, the same hospital that employs (and underpays) my husband, a public hospital where the majority of the patients don't pay their bills anyway, I was practically laughed at when I told them what our yearly household income was and we needed assistance. Yes, I understand we live very comfortably -- without obscene amounts of medical bills, that is (or student loan payments as much as our mortgage, but I digress). Then I explained how just our weekly ultrasound visits will total close to $10,000 and that's the least amount we will owe, considering what we owe to the Other University Hospital and the Children's Hospital. But still, no discount. I got to set up a payment plan, and the bills have to be paid in full within 12 months or they get sent to collections. There's my own school, giving me the finger as usual.

My point is that having health insurance doesn't mean shit if it doesn't actually pay your bills. The "universal health plans" give lip service to "choosing your coverage." Somehow I doubt that. But then choosing the best of the worst is what we do in politics, so why not in health insurance coverage? Here's your health insurance... uh, just don't get sick.


PT-LawMom said...

That's BS about collections. Don't get me started on medical bills. We pay $250/mo. for family insurance (thank God my company pays the bulk). We have a $600 deductible per person ($1200 max) and have to pay 20% out of pocket for all lab work, x-rays, etc. Last year I was really sick and paid $4500 out-of-pocket, NOT INCLUDING MY PREMIUM, CO-PAYS OR MEDICATIONS!!! Just for one surgery and related x-rays/lab work. I currently have a $400 bill from the "surgery" to remove my IUD (she pulled on the cord and it came out - two seconds flat - but it's billed as "surgery"). Health insurance sucks eggs!

Thanks for the shout-out for Kim. I really hope she wins!!!

lbarrett said...

I'm in the same boat kiddo. Yes, as of today, I'm having a routine pregnancy, but add on top of that the arm debacle in June (which on top of my $600/mo premium -yes that's right-my firm pays 1/2)that "accident" has cost me roughly $6500 out of pocket! Apparently putting a metal rod in my o-so-tiny wrist costs $10,000. Oh, and the hospital I was put at, yeah, their financial services lady actually chuckled when I asked for assistance! Apparently, I'm no where near the range for financial need...um...tell my empty bank that! And, at least you get 12 months! We got 60 days, or as the nice lady with the smoking cough informed me, I could certainly make payments through the collection agency! Now we're already paying an outrageous monthly fee arrangement w/ my OB so that I can give birth at the hospital! If its not paid in full when i go into labor, I guess the baby's coming in the parking lot!

Kim said...

Thank you so much for posting the scholarship info on your blog! And yes, the whole health insurance fiasco in this country is a nightmare in so many ways for so many people.