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…
- What if we hadn't had any income
- What if we hadn't had a safety net (we really don't anymore)
- 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.