The cost of healthcare

Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

Every so often there is an article about a family going bankrupt over health care costs or the GoFundMe put together to help someone who needed and couldn’t afford healthcare. I know it’s a problem that exists and I have my own ideas about how we can be doing better for everyone.

I grew up and spent a good part of my 20s without good healthcare. It wasn’t uncommon for me to know or see people living in sickness because the couldn’t afford treatment, or have the knowledge or means to navigate any possible other options.

Today, the hospital customer service called to tell me that I would owe $4000 when I come in on Tuesday for my coinsurance. I explained that it wasn’t accurate as I had already met my out of pocket of $4000 for the year. They didn’t have that information. I ended the call advising I would contact my insurance company.

My plan has concierge service, which is a really nice part of the benefit. I called, they looked up the information and confirmed that no, based on the date of surgery I had a zero coinsurance expected. She then tried to call the hospital and was on hold for ages. We discussed that she would send me an email that I could in turn forward to the hospital. I’m not concerned that we won’t get it resolved in advance, but if I had suddenly had to pay out $4000 a few days after Christmas with a weeks notice, it would be difficult.

What I wasn’t expecting was the full estimated cost of my surgery — absent the doctor visits, the labs, the imaging, the entire road that leads to surgery — it was astounding. The costs are just around $350,000. Frankly, that’s the low end for this type of procedure. And that’s the privilege I enjoy — I’m able to get the surgery I need to attempt to live without pain and without having to really consider the cost. I know that if I need more time off at work, I can get it — even if I have to use short term disability, the bills will still get paid.

This is not the norm for most people. I am fully aware of that. Today is the first time though, that it hit me in this way. So, on this Solstice I’m practicing gratitude for what I have, who I have, and thinking about how I can be a better advocate for those who do not.

Song of the day: Fast Car, Tracy Chapman

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