Sunday, November 26, 2006

Public Service Announcement

Please, please, please make sure you have health insurance.

The bills from my adventures in pulmonary disease are starting to come in. My four-hour visit to the emergency room cost $5,800. Essentially, I had an EKG, a CT scan, some drugs, and then I was sent home. I didn't receive any treatment, and I wasn't admitted, and if I didn't have health insurance I would owe the hospital $5,800 right now.

A few years ago, I found myself uninsured after the company I was working for went bankrupt. While looking for new employment, I got a temp job at Children's Medical Center in the internal audit department, and I regularly saw hospital bills in the six figure range. I immediately started shopping for health insurance and was able to find a policy for a little more than $100 a month. It didn't cover routine doctor visits or some pre-existing conditions, but if I were badly injured or seriously ill, I knew I could cover the deductible and avoid going bankrupt myself.

Another important action to take is to know what your deductibles and out-of-pocket limits are on all your insurance policies (not just health insurance) and be sure you have a plan to cover those amounts if you need to. If you don't have any savings and you're barely making ends meet, it can be just as impossible to come up with $1,000 as a million. In fact, one of the most common reasons for middle class people to declare bankruptcy is medical bills, and most of those people had health insurance when they got sick. (See this article for example.)

At this point, this post could easily veer into a long rant into what's wrong with this whole country. But, I'm just writing this to urge you to be aware and do what you can to take care of yourselves. If you are reading this, I probably really like you and don't want anything bad to happen to you.

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