This is one of those topics that is really difficult for me to write about, simply because I feel so uninformed. Health insurance and all things related are way over my head. I do my best to read and understand the fine print, but the important big picture question, “what should I do?” is the one that stumps me. I just don’t know. I read about all the controversy about this health care reform bill and I wonder, “how will this affect my situation? Will it even help me? Will it be too late?”
Four years ago, I had great coverage. I worked for Walgreens and my insurance (Blue Cross Blue Shield) covered everything with a very small copay. My decision to leave that company was complicated, and because ties haven’t been cut altogether, I really shouldn’t delve into it, but as a result, I lost that incredible coverage. My next job was at a small company that could not afford to provide group insurance. (Moving to a job without group insurance was probably my first mistake.) My husband worked at the same company and was still a student. At that time, we decided to look into private insurance. We didn’t have a lot of money to spend on insurance, so we chose a plan with a large deductible through Assurant Health. The premium was still $175 or so each month with a $5,000 deductible. We tacked on maternity coverage since we planned on starting a family.
A few months later, my husband got a new job which provided group insurance. I chose not to apply for his policy at that time because we were told I would have to pay my own premium – that his employer did not cover the whole family’s premium, only his. The coverage was considerably better than our policy at Assurant, so naturally we assumed it would be too expensive. My premium at Assurant went down to $120 a month. Midway through my pregnancy with Micah, we reconsidered (I can’t remember why – I think we planned on reorganizing our budget) and I tried to enroll with his insurance. I was denied because I was coming from a private insurance policy. Apparently I could have been added if I had applied in the first 30 days of his employment, but that was my only chance under current circumstances. I wasn’t about to get fired just to get insurance. I immediately regretted my decision to go with private insurance. Would I have been better off uninsured at that point? It’s possible but I’ll never know, I suppose. The next blow came when we added Micah to Eric’s policy and realized his paycheck stayed the same. So… we weren’t being charged extra for additional family members? Were we misinformed or did we misunderstand? I still don’t know. The third blow came when we got the bills from the hospital. Everything was charged on separate accounts, meaning the $5,000 deductible was barely met and Micah’s treatment costs were applied to a separate deductible. Some pregnancy/delivery related treatments were billed as non-maternity. Essentially, our “insurance” covered next to nothing. We racked up nearly ten grand in medical bills. I looked back on the thousands of dollars in premiums I had paid and wondered, ‘what was the point of all that?’ Nearly a year later, we still haven’t paid Micah off (though I’m hardly worried he’ll be repossessed, hehe).
Last month, my policy with Assurant was due to expire and I had the option of renewing, but at a 68% increase in premiums. Given our current financial situation, I had no choice but to not renew. Considering how much that insurance helped me, I did not mind dropping it. Especially because this past time around, I would have been better off as a self pay because I would have gotten those discounts. As it stands, I am currently uninsured. I’m not necessarily worried because I’m healthy, but we want to have more kids and can’t afford to take on any more medical bills at this point. Even if we could come up with 8-10K, if I ended up needing an emergency c-section, the bills would devastate us. I’m not sure how long it would take to recover from that. We would probably not be able to afford a third child then, and that would break my heart.
At this point, my only shot at getting insurance is through Eric either getting a new job, or his employer buying a brand new group policy with a different company (and even that is not a sure thing, I suppose). There is no way we can afford private insurance. Any plan that we can afford will end up costing us more than not having any insurance at all.
Why must affordable health insurance (that is worth anything) be tied to a job (at a larger company) and why is it so hard to get? Why are there so many exclusions? What are people like me supposed to do?