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Vitamin CH Chocolate: that substance without which we would get nothing done

Poverty is a big issue today in the blog-o-sphere. We in America are trained to not let the problems show. A close friend or neighbor could be living beneath the poverty line, and you would never know it. For Blog Action Day, I wanted to share a personal story with all of you about what health insurance can cost. For my husband and I it almost cost us everything.


For many years, my husband and I ran our own business. For most of that time, that meant carrying our own insurance policy. When we started the business, he worked for a company that had insurance for both of us at a reasonable charge. When that company downsized, our insurance did too. We went looking for new insurance.


We eventually found a plan that the state of Arizona was offering to small businesses. The cost was about $300 a month and most things were covered. That worked for a long time. Then, about three years ago, the premiums started going up. Over time, the monthly payments went from $300 to $500 to $800. But that wasn't the worst of it.


In addition to the premium increases, the plan started cutting benefits. First there were higher co-pays. Then there were uncovered costs. Then medicines started being "not covered". Eventually, we were paying $800 a month for the insurance, plus over $500 per month for prescriptions, plus $150 a month for regular lab work.


At about this time, I had my most recent knee surgery. The insurance decided that close to $3,000 of the costs were "above and beyond". That meant that we had to cover them. We could no longer afford it. My husband had to go back to work to a lower paying job just to get the health care. They also played games that caused a surgery to be delayed several times. We think they were hoping we would switch companies.


And then we discovered how bad things were.


The insurance for his new job looked great at first glance. Then, we discovered that it was not covering things that we thought it was. Instead those things had been taken automatically out of the flexible spending account that was supposed to cover the co-pays and new glasses.


Now, I know - it could be much worse. We could have no insurance. We've been there. In truth, it wasn't much more to go without than it was with the coverage over the last couple of years. I figure that insurance and health costs over the last 3 years have cost us between 40K and 50K. That's a lot of money. It makes me think… What if…

  1. What if we hadn't had any income
  2. What if we hadn't had a safety net (we really don't anymore)
  3. What if he had not been able to find work that had some coverage


Luckily for us, the business brought in enough that we made it through. There were rough spots. There were days where the account was overdrawn and the next check wasn't going to cover the bills coming in. There were weeks where dinner was minimal. There were many times when the choice to be made was rent or insurance.


I am very thankful that those days are behind us for now. I still wonder how others survive it. We are slaves to the health insurance industry. Because we are no longer in our 20's, one of us must always be working for a company that provides health coverage or we risk bankruptcy. Private coverage is no longer available to us.


Posted on Wednesday, October 15, 2008 4:50 PM SocialMedia | Back to top

Comments on this post: Health Insurance almost made me go broke

# re: Health Insurance almost made me go broke
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There never seems to be any happy medium in North America when it comes to health care. In Canada we have universal health care...our taxes are what pays the bills and we don't have to look at personal insurance outside of dental and optical.

But you get what you pay for, and our health care system...while also not necessarily what I would consider top-quality health care. Weeks and months on waiting lists for cat-scans or surgeries, huge lineups at the walk in clinics, shortage of doctors...

It's funny that while the US system seems to be very costly and potentially corrupt, a two tiered system of health care is what some (including me) would like to see in Canada: one where if you have the money you can opt to pay for your medical services instead of being part of the regular pool. Many see that as using money jumping the queue...I see it as those that work hard and succeed being able to leverage that success instead of having to be clumped with the lowest common denominator.

Anyway, thanks for sharing your experience. It's interesting for us Canadians to see more of how the medical system in the states works.

Left by D'Arcy from Winnipeg on Oct 19, 2008 9:29 AM

# re: Health Insurance almost made me go broke
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With the current economic meltdown insurance companies find themselves in the same mess that we individuals face: less investment opportunities that will cover future expenses. For insurance companies this results in delays in approvals and more denials.

As always, those who will pay wind up paying the most. As unemployment goes up the numbers of individuals paying premiums drops thus those who can pay will pay more via rising premiums. The alternative is less operating capital resulting in fewer claims paid.

This holds true for a tax based system as well. This is why knee surgery is denied for obese individuals in the UK, and assisted suicide is now part of the Oregon and Washington systems for those with chronic disease.

But what if all that money one spent on premiums during the years of not needing medical care could have been saved tax free?

60% of health care costs are administrative: What if one could take that savings and negotiate a cash price for that knee surgery? This is why some people fly to India for procedures to be performed in brand new state of the art hospitals, get picked up in a limousine, and put up in 5 star hotels; all for the price of their co-pay and deductible.

What if keeping healthy was a priority for our culture and tax credits for maintaining a more ideal BMI was implemented?
What if things that promote health like organic foods, gym memberships, personal trainers, nutritional counseling, supplements, chiropractic care, massage, and vacations where write offs?
Would more people be motivated to use these services? Would this result in less dependence on the insurance and medical systems? Would supply demand economics result in lowered medical and insurance costs?

Experts in all fields estimate 90% of ALL ailments are lifestyle related (due to either neglect or abuse). What could our country do with even half of the 3 trillion dollars we spent on health care last year alone? Can you say economic stimulus?

The answer isn't cheaper insurance, socialized medicine, cheaper drugs or cheaper surgeries (although each of these need to be addressed); the answer is a cultural shift towards making the care of the human body a lifelong first priority and creating a mindset that healthy habits are the only investment that continuously pays benefits.
Left by ken on Jan 31, 2009 7:21 AM

# re: Health Insurance almost made me go broke
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From what I understand, universal health care is also the reason common goods are more expensive in Canada. Am I right?
Left by Tony on Dec 03, 2010 6:57 AM

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