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Thanks To Medical Bills, Falling Deeper Into A Hole Called Debt.

I’m going to be brutally honest here…debt F’in sucks. There, I feel better now. We worked very hard to get rid of all our debt except for our car payment, and now we are finding ourselves right back in it again, and it is all because of medical bills that keep showing up, even after I was declared “fine”. And although we have health insurance (which I have written about before), the costs for the kinds of tests I had been getting are astronomical. I thought the bills were bad back when I wrote about being thankful for having insurance, but that was only the beginning – before the really expensive tests started. It’s not so much that I don’t have the money to pay the bills, but rather it just sucks to have to empty an emergency account to pay for a doctor – in the most powerful country in the world – when most other developed countries have some sort of universal plan. In just the last week I have received bills for:

$278
$813
$122
$249
$102

Total: $1,564 in JUST THE LAST WEEK

That’s in addition to the several hundred I already paid, and I am still expecting several big bills, including the one for the 3-section CT scan, which outta stop my heart when I read it. And although I am still glad that I have insurance, it sure does not feel like it is saving me that much money – I could probably get these prices without insurance by negotiating directly with the hospitals themselves. And to add insult to injury, our monthly Blue Cross premium just went up. Thanks guys, appreciate that!

The insurance system in this country is an absolute joke, I gotta say.


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Comments (30)

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  1. shawna says:

    I feel your pain. My other half has had to have a lot of MRIs and such and thank goodness for the insurance but our part is between $600 – $800 per bill! It’s really frustrating.

    I’m hoping the next president can do something about our “healthcare system”. I’ve heard about Obama and Clinton’s plans, with the main difference seeming to be that Clinton’s provides coverage to more people with the whole “everyone gets covered no matter what” thing. Do you know what any of the other candidates are saying in regards to healthcare issues?

    Too bad we aren’t one of those free healthcare countries 🙁

  2. david says:

    Sorry to hear that Shawna – it’s a tough road. My main problem with the candidates is that we have heard it before – people have been saying we would get universal care for over 30 years and it has never come close – the insurance co’s and pharmaceutical companies will never allow it to happen without a major fight.

    Clinton and Obama’s plans are interesting, but there is one problem with them – all they say is that everyone will be covered, but not how much it will cost. Sure, we can easily cover everyone if the premium we have to pay is $1000 a month each…so they can sell the plan without telling the difficult part to sell, which is how much it is going to cost. Neither of them have a real plan, in my mind – just something to tell us while they run. As soon as one of them get elected, I am sure it will never come to fruition, at least not the way I would like it to. It’s easy to cover everyone if you charge them the right amount, which is what Clinton’s plan sounds like – you are guaranteed coverage, but not cheap coverage.

  3. Patrick says:

    David, I’m sorry to hear about these bills. It’s tough. The good news is, however, that you seem to be healthy. In the long run, the bills are a small price to pay for that knowledge. 🙂

  4. David says:

    I agree Patrick, but it’s still a pain in arse. 🙂

  5. Mrs. Micah says:

    Ouch. My mom’s annual treatments cost more than twice as much as my dad’s annual gross salary (and he’s in the low 6 figures). Fortunately, she’s currently covered by insurance for all that. If she wasn’t, we’d just have to let her go I guess. But she’s also had the benefit of some experimental programs which cost little or nothing to enter.

    Good luck with your bills, I imagine that must be a really disappointing setback.

  6. Mandy says:

    I feel your pain. We had a baby with insurance 5 months ago and the bills are still rolling in. Fortunately, almost every place will give you a good percentage off the total when you pay in full so don’t forget to ask! 🙂

  7. Ryan Daigle says:

    Universal healthcare is not the answer. It only takes from the healthy and gives to the unhealthy. Plus it will raise everybody’s costs even further.

    We need to address the problem and not the symptoms – we need to reduce the costs of healthcare independent of the system.

    Sorry to go off on a semi-political rant – I obviously feel strongly about it as a healthy adult!

  8. David says:

    Ryan

    I was a healthy adult until 4 months ago when they thought I had multiple cancers and leukemia. Best of luck staying a healthy adult forever.

  9. plonkee says:

    I have to say that I agree with you about healthcare, I actually cannot conceive what it’s like to pay a substantial medical bill – the thought gives me the shivers. One of these days, you guys will join the rest of civilisation and do something about the cost of healthcare. Universal healthcare works, it’s not perfect, but it works – and it’s cheaper than the American system.

  10. Deamiter says:

    Ryan — universal health care is taking a percentage of the country’s earnings and using it to give health care to the entire population. Yes, the healthy generally pay a larger portion of the costs since the unhealthy often can’t work or can’t work as hard, but the benefit of available health care is received by all citizens.

    In the American system, the richest get the best benefits and pay the least while the poorest receive no coverage and end up in the highly expensive and inefficient emergency rooms. Since they can’t pay the inflated prices (MUCH higher than preventative care) the costs are absorbed by the hospitals and we all end up paying through inflated hospital bills and insurance premiums anyway.

    Because of the incredible inefficiencies involved in insurance and giving emergency care to the uninsured, universal health care can cost less than insurance-based systems (though bureaucracy eats up any savings in most countries). However, the main benefit is that the poorest among us aren’t treated as second-class citizens and given only the very minimum care necessary to keep them alive.

  11. stngy1 says:

    I feel your pain, too, having a daughter who had extensive testing this last year. Surprisingly, for us, our FSA/HSA set aside covered a good deal of the out of pocket costs.
    For 2008 we allocated twice as much in our FSA anticipating major surgery for our daughter. Luckily she doesn’t seem to need it, so I guess we’re all getting our teeth fixed, glasses bought, & lotsa other “optional” stuff this year!
    We definitely have a broken healthcare system, and every idea proposed is flawed in some way. Unfortunately, as with Social Security, I’m betting that insures nothing will change.

  12. Olafia says:

    I live in Iceland and I very glad that we have a health care system that is almost free. We have to pay some arrival fees, between 10-30 $ and when you have paid 325 $ in one year you get 50% discount. The maximum we have to pay for a surgery or test is 325 $. Children pay nothing and seniors get about 50 % discount.

  13. David says:

    Yea Plonkee- it pretty much sucks.

    Thanks Deamiter, appreciate the comment.

    Stngy, I agree – I am not sure anything will ever change. It’s too bad though that we as a collective people cannot decide that we want to actually take care of each other as humans, rather than shunning everyone other than the ones who can “afford” healthcare.

  14. stngy1 says:

    i worked 32 hours/week in a medical office and along with even fulltimers was not offered ANY medical insurance. Heaven forbid the Docs not break $1 mill/year! It sucks. Even when I worked in a hospital, our “health insurance” allowed $2000 for a pregnancy/delivery–what a hoot!
    I hope this is indeed a year of CHANGE. Even if one were totally self centered, the wisdom of a healthier general population would seem to be self evident!

  15. shawna says:

    Maybe we can get some of those people from Iceland to come to the States and show us how it’s done 🙂

  16. david says:

    Iceland, France, Canada, England, Spain………….

  17. Ryan Daigle says:

    David – clearly being against universal healthcare does not imply I have no sympathy for those that are sick.

    I would just ask everybody to consider if they really want to move towards a socialist society (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Socialism)

    There are better alternatives.

  18. david says:

    Ryan

    We already are socialists – we all pay for fire, police, roadwork, public education, etc. So adding health insurance won’t make a bit of difference.

    It’s amazing how when individuals stop looking out only for themselves that we can help everyone. You think all those other countries on earth have it wrong, and we have it right?

  19. Deamiter says:

    Indeed, the extremes of ANY political or economic philosophy tend to turn out horribly. If we became a pure socialist state the way Marx envisioned it, we would be in a horrible country indeed! Socialism is not particularly efficient and is prone to abuse by those who distribute resources.

    Similarly, capitalism is prone to abuse by those who are driven solely by profits. Capitalism is by far the best economic foundation (in my opinion anyway) but it can lead to a severe neglect of the poor if left unregulated as Ayn Rand would prefer. Of course, the very nature of regulations allows corporations to continually skirt the edges of what is legal (or in the best interest of society rather than simply what leads to the most profits). Therefore, a good economic system will always exist in a struggle between the free pursuit of profits and the minimum standard of living allowed or forced on the poorest citizens.

    Many these days strongly feel that we’ve let the poorest among us suffer too much and too long. Others still feel that the government regulates too heavily and that less interference will help our country as a whole. It is a mistake, though, to argue that this issue is black and white — that we can’t consider any socialist policies or we’ll suddenly become Marxists!

  20. Four Pillars says:

    David – sorry to hear about the costs – that really sucks.

    Ryan – the problem with non-universal health care is that it is a bit of a lottery system as far as who has to pay the price. Most people are relatively healthy until they get older but the ones who do get sick/injured can pay a hefty fine (like David). What do old people do? They tend to get sick more and I imagine their insurance would cost more.

    A big benefit of universal health care is the bargaining power of the health organizations/governments who buy drugs, equipment etc.

    Mike

  21. david says:

    Thanks Mike, appreciate it.

  22. Lulugal11 says:

    Wow. I understand your pain as I recently had some medical bills myself and I have some surgery to undertake at the end of this month.

    The nutty thing is that the bills keep coming from all directions….I got anaesthesia bills from the hospital and from the anaesthesiology lab then two bills for blood work…..etc.

    I asked the hospital to give me an estimate of the upcoming bill and what they told me AFTER insurance almost stopped my heart.

    Yup healthcare is really expensive here and I now understand how people go broke….from hospital bills.

  23. david says:

    Yea, it is unbelievable that these costs are AFTER insurance, isn’t it?

  24. […] at My Two Dollars is falling deeper into a hole called debt thanks to his recent medical bills. My mom’s treatments cost more than my dad makes in a year. But her insurance has covered it […]

  25. m says:

    Deamiter, very well said (both times)! And David (and Deamiter), great responses on the socialism comment. You both took the words right out of my mouth.

  26. […] other day, David at My Two Dollars lamented how he’s falling further into debt due to his medical bills. The gauntlet of procedures he’s going through just reminded me of my own situation. In fact, […]

  27. Jeff says:

    Man that sucks to have to pay so much for your medical. I use to live in Canada and frankly social medicine isn’t all it is cracked up to be. Sure the Dems can mandate social medical plans where the person only pays say 50.00 per month but then you will only be able to go to doctors who are over worked, etc and the quality of your service will be even worse.

    The problem is the whole medical system. If you think about it the system’s financially incentivize when you are sick, there really isn’t a financial incentive to make you healthy. From what I understand there is a system that is opposite to ours… the Chinese system, each doc is assigned a group of people he is to keep healthy and as long as they are healthy he gets a check from the gov’t. As I understand it If one of them gets sick he stops getting his amount for that person. If this were the case in the USA, you can bet there would be a whole lot less sick people no matter what drugs the big pharma was pushing. 🙂 (Oh and from what I understand the Chinese docs don’t use drugs to treat their patients either.)

    Personally I am looking at going the HSA route it seems to be the lesser evil in the health plan line up.

  28. David says:

    I believe social medicine can work fine, if done correctly. So many things in our country are “socialist” based that we could make medicine work as well…if we truly wanted to. But big pharma and the ins. co’s doesn’t allow that to happen.

  29. […] we don’t have credit card debt anymore, my medical bills are mostly paid off, and I have been doing my best to put money aside for the future, I have decided to spend $250 on […]

  30. […] in April I wrote about how our medical bills were starting to really pile up due to my brush with leukemia, and at that point we were really worried about how much it was all […]

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