For those of you who follow my blog I’m sure my post on Shop around for health care, really? is fresh in your memory. If not, check it out but the short of it is that, my son broke his elbow 4 weeks ago and required surgery. I was frustrated by the myth that high deductibles will make people shop around and vented my thoughts on it.
like my son’s cast above has changed from bright orange to somber black, so has my mood. In the original article I mentioned a health insurance deductible of $6,700 I was guaranteed to have to pay out of pocket. Well, I made a huge mistake. The deductible is actually $12,700!!
Why the mistake? Well, the plan booklet said the deductible per individual was $6,700 and the deductible for the family was $12,700. Silly me, here I thought that since only one individual required medical attention the deductible would only be the lower amount. Turns out, if there is more than one person on the plan that lower number is ABSOLUTELY MEANINGLESS. Why they put it there? I don’t know, I was told by law they had to.
So now the bills are starting to roll in. We’re already up to $11,713.79 and the cast has yet to be removed. With aftercare which will include additional surgery I’m sure we will hit the full $12,700. I will keep my fingers crossed in hopes there won’t be any more surprises above that (I’m skeptical).
Now don’t play that small violin for me yet, if you’ve read my book “How to make a million in 10 years, and how we did it in 13” you know this is exactly why we built our financial nest egg. Being faced with these kinds of bills will not put us into bankruptcy, I prepared for this. That said, it still hurts, I too had to work hard for that money.
What I don’t get is how most other “affordable care act” customers can pay these kinds of bills. I have two separate bills (for now). One from the Medical College that took care of our son for $5,800 and a similar amount from the Hospital for a one night stay and drugs and supplies (that is as specific as the claim gets). We are grateful for the care they provided to our son, not so happy with the price tag.
I called to see what my payment options were.
The Medical college offered a payment plan (interest free) with monthly payments of $580 a month. More importantly they offered me a “prompt payment” discount of 20% which does save me $1,160 on the total.
The Hospital offered a similar plan of $580 per month for 10 months or an extended plan of 18 month with $326 monthly payments. They did not offer any discounts on early payments.
I don’t have a lot of answers in this article but if you take one piece of advice from it it’s this: NEVER PAY OUTRIGHT. Call for your options; a 5 minute call saved me $1,600.
Given the 10 month plan to pay off for both bills it would be monthly payments of $1,160 per month. That is like paying an extra mortgage! How are most people, who are living paycheck to paycheck, supposed to take on a second mortgage payment for 10 months? Is it surprising people file for bankruptcy due to medical bills?
I wish I had answers to this problem but I don’t. Those of you that have medical plans through employment may have lower deductibles, although when I left corporate America, higher deductibles seem to be the trend as well. When you’re left with the affordable care act, most plans have these high deductibles. I don’t know how to fix it but I know it can be done differently. You can read about that in cost of health care elsewhere, seen firsthand. My father has a full punch card (fall 10 times, get a new hip for free) at the local hospital and he never sees a single bill.
One other word of advice I will give you is that this again shows the importance of an emergency fund. I know it is tempting the spend the money that comes in but please try to be prepared for these types of events. Set some aside for unexpected events like these. It can be the difference between a headache and bankruptcy.
Well that was the latest, I’ll keep you posted.
Good luck reaching your financial goals.