6 hours ago
Monday, June 22, 2020
The Final Bill (Maybe)
So I was sick in December, as all y'all who read regularly know. It was a kidney stone, or actually several kidney stones. This is not an unusual medical event. Most of us can count on having some minor medical emergency like this at some point in our lives.
I have insurance. I get it through my university, and along with the extra fee for dental insurance, it costs me about $600/month. That's a little over $7000/year, or about ten percent of my pre-tax income.
I had to be hospitalized twice, and I had four separate "procedures," as they're called. Twice the stones were pulverized with sonic rays (or however they did it) and twice I had stents put in, and during the last procedure, the stent was removed. Multiple X-Rays, a CT-Scan, drugs.
After a $1200/deductible, the insurance covered 80% of the costs. Since part of the treatment happened in 2019 and part in 2020, I paid the deductible twice.
I made payments going into the hospital, and some coming out -- these were small payments, maybe $300 total.
Today I just finished setting up all the payment plans to pay off the rest of what I owe.
The hospital: I will pay $137/month over the next 18 months.
The urologist: I will pay $75/month over the next 18 months.
Anesthesiologists, etc: I will pay $50/month for the next 18 months.
Also, I had an abscessed tooth a few months ago. I am paying $100/month for the next 12 months on that.
This means, for the next year, I will be paying $362/month in medical payments, plus the $600/insurance. (For six months after that, I will be paying $262/month.)
That's almost 20 percent of my income in medical payments.
Good thing we don't have single-payer health care. Think how poor I would be then!
(Oh -- and here's a twist. In Arkansas, it's illegal for healthcare providers to charge interest on the debt you owe them. In the past, that meant someone like me could pay off the debt at a relatively reasonable rate -- I could pay maybe $50/month to the hospital, and $50 to the urologist, and so on. But now if you can't pay the debt off in under 18 months, hospitals and doctors just sell your debt to collection agencies, who sue you, and charge you high interest rates, plus "fees" -- or else garnish your wages. USA! We're NUmber One!)