I found myself asking this question this week after a series of health costs that have exceeded my income.
I have health care coverage. I have dental, vision, car, renter’s, pet, and life. I am an insured person. I have a salaried job that puts me in the middle-class income scale. I also consult and teach fitness classes. I have never worked less than two jobs simultaneously since I graduated college over 10 years ago.
Despite the fact that I earn more money than over half of the population and that I am insured, I am unable to pay for my health costs.
Recently, my ear issues (I was diagnosed with Meniere’s Disease over six years ago) became unbearable. In fact, they caused me endless bills, missed flights, and daily nausea and vommitting since they began over three weeks ago. Because of this and their threat on my ability to consult, to travel, to drive, and to function normally, health care is a necessity.
Yet, despite this necessity, I question how “bad” is too bad to bear to avoid the rising costs.
This is not a question I should ever have to ask. But, I’m asking it now and I’ve asked it before. How many health issues must I cast aside, hoping that they do not cost me my life and happiness? How many others face this question? Why are insured, middle-class individuals asking this same question?
Yesterday, I completed vestibular testing for my ears. When I went to check out, the assistant said “that will be $600. Would you like to pay by check or card?” I was caught off-guard. She said $600 in the same tone she would say a “$25 copay.” I wondered if these amounts were routine for her. She did not give me a summary of the costs – only the total.
Compare this to the automotive industry: Your car breaks down so you take it into the shop. They give you an itemized quote PRIOR to completing work on your vehicle. You have the option to continue with the costs or take it elsewhere, knowing your car WILL get fixed.
Within the health care industry, there is no itemized quote PRIOR to procedures. And, you don’t have an option to take the imaginary quote to another doctor. It’s your health – you want to get it fixed. You need to get it fixed.
Have a car is a necessity, but it’s not the same as your life. Why are we given more options for payment when dealing with a car than when dealing with our health?
Why does an hour’s worth of tests – that include ear plugs and glasses – cost $600 AFTER insurance? Why does an MRI cost a patient over $1600 AFTER insurance.
The problem is two-fold: Why does insurance cost so much and cover so little? And, why are these costs so high to begin with?
How much is your health worth? How much is your life worth?