If you follow this blog you’ll find I’ve written about healthcare a few times. Not so much the care itself but the cost of it. Coming from the Netherlands where healthcare is done differently was the actual motivator for me to build our nest-egg. I was worried that no matter what social status, you’re truly one disease away from bankruptcy.
Since, I’ve seen two fund-me-now campaigns to support former colleagues, both battling cancer at the time. These were well-insured colleagues, higher up the corporate ladder than I was. Surely they could afford…
Last year, our boy broke his elbow and the accompanied surgery put us on the hook for $12,700. Yes, that was our deductible. This year our policy reads different and my wishful thinking puts us at an individual deductible of $6,550.
Last year I was caught off guard by semantics so I hold my breath hoping that won’t happen this year.
Why could it happen again this year? Well, the same fella that broke his arm last year was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. It’s been a couple of weeks now and we’re still distraught but at the same time convinced we’ll get through this, not the least due to the courage and optimism our boy is showing through all of this. Type 1 Diabetes is complex; they don’t know what causes it and at the moment there is no cure.
For families that live with Type 1 diabetes (yes this is a family affair) things get complicated as well. Besides having to non-stop worry about your child’s well-being, you’re dealing with counting carbs, blood glucose levels and units of insulin all day long. There are so many questions and probably lots of (yet, for me, to find) answers. Never in my life have I used the phrase “I don’t know” as as much as in the last few weeks.
Here is what I do know already. Type 1 Diabetes is expensive! Not all the bills are in yet, but discovery/diagnosis alone, is coming in at over $6,000. At this point everything is still out of pocket. I will soon find out if coverage kicks in at $6,550 or if I’m fooled again and it will run till $13,100. That was just the diagnosis. Next, there is the daily care of diabetes: Glucose meters, test strips, insulin (one kind for the day with shots throughout the day and one kind taken once at night).
There is the choice of insulin pens or syringes. The pens come with disposable needles (to be discarded after each shot). The pens take cartridges which I’m told are much more expensive than buying actual bottles. The pens seem so much easier and convenient to use though. I have yet to find out the difference. For now we’ll keep going with what’s most comfortable.
I’ve also figured out that the testing strips covered by insurance are over a dollar a piece (need at least 6 of these per day) but if I buy a different brand on amazon.com they cost 0.18 cents a piece. That is the difference between $6.46 per day and $0.95 per day. Keep in mind this potentially for the rest of his life. As of today there is no cure.
At this point you may be saying: jeez you’re kid is ill and you’re whining about the finances. In my defense, I do worry about my son’s well-being more than about money. I’m also not whining but being realistic. Life does go on, and besides providing for the best healthcare we can get, to keep life as normal as it gets with this illness, we also still have a mortgage to pay.
I also worry about the finances because this disease may go on for many more years. I just saw a video of a middle aged diabetes researcher that was promised (as a child) a cure before he would even get to college. It is taking a long time. As long as our son is under our roof and our policy we’ll take care of it (and probably beyond) but at some point we may no longer be able to. He will go into adult life with some serious expenses ahead of him. Expenses most of his peers won’t have to deal with. While his buddies maybe deciding where to go on spring-break, he’ll need to figure out how pay for insulin. I’ve been on a lot of #T1D (type 1 diabetes) blogs and have already read the stories of students forgoing their insulin shots simply because they couldn’t afford it. From what I’ve learned, this might cost them loss of eye-sight or loss of limbs later on in life.
I love this country for all of its greatness and despite some of its flaws but I somewhat hope that my son, when the time comes, seriously considers moving to Europe where he could get an education without the associated debt and the medical care without the financial concerns. He’s “lucky” in that sense that through my continued Dutch citizenship he’s can have the same.
Who knows, maybe something remarkable will happen and things may change for the better here. Better yet, maybe they’ll find a cure to Type 1 Diabetes real soon. Wouldn’t that be nice.
For now we’ll figure out how to deal with the finances. After all that is what we prepared for, right? Never in my life did I imagine I was preparing for this to happen to one of my children.
In the mean-time, should you want to help, visit the jdrf.org website read up on Type 1 Diabetes and if at all possible donate to them. They seem to be doing a lot of great stuff regarding research towards the treatment and cure of Type 1 Diabetes
Stay healthy and good luck reaching your financial goals