Health Insurance

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      I know something about health insurance, having once been self-employed and having to pay for my own insurance.

      First, I don't think $3-$500 for a family of 4 is bad…in fact, that's a GREAT price….but what does it include? I bet it has a huge deductible. I am employed as a nurse at a hospice and I pay $300 a month for 2 people and the rest of the premium is subsidized by my employer's group plan (son & myself) for their best plan ($20 co-pay for doc visits, some dental, $75 co-pay for ER visits, most lab test and diagnostics, surgeries covered 100%, there's a co-pay on prescriptions.

      It's higher if you don't use their mail order service.) Still – it gets expensive after shelling out for health insurance and then having to pay the extra co-pays. But…recently, my son had a bout with a respiratory infection and ultimately dehydrated. I took him to the er.

      they gave him a prescription, chest xray and a liter of saline iv to rehydrate him. total time spent there: 3 hours. Total bill: $2000 My cost: $75.

      The last self-pay policy I had thru State Farm was for my son and myself and it was somewhere around $150 a month. For that, I had a $5000 deductible (meaning everything and anything that happened, I was responsible for, up to $5000 per person). after that was met, i was responsible for 20% of all medical expenses, up to $10,000 per person.

      so i'd first have to pay $7000 before the insurance would pay 100%. God forbid we were both seriously ill at the same time! They'd pay up to $1,000,000 per person per lifetime.

      that sounds like a lot, but if you've seen what something really major medical can cost, it's not much. This policy to me was practically useless unless I coughed up a lung or needed a kidney transplant. But it was the best I could do at the time and figured it was “catatrosphic” insurance.

      If I had a heart attack or got cancer, those deductibles and premiums would've been a drop in the bucket compared to what the hospital/docs would have charged.

      I found out while I had no insurance for a time – and my son was ill – that he qualified for something called “Carenet”. It was something thru a local Catholic hospital for people like us who had fallen thru the cracks —- not poor enough for welfare — but not well off enough to have health insurance for whatever reason. They picked up one of his hospital bills 100%.

      There were tons of forms to fill out. Apparently owning property did not exclude me from participating in the program. It was based on income.

      Check with your local hospitals. I'm sure this isn't a unique idea our local hospital has.

      There's so many things to consider when choosing insurance….how old are you, do any of your have pre-existing conditions, do you generally have health-seeking behaviors (don't smoke, drink, drive fast, use drugs, etc?) My best advice to you is to look in the yellow pages and call some of the insurance companies that advertise health insurance. Keep a chart and write down all the particulars….name of insurance co, levels of coverage, person you spoke to, premiums, deductibles, what services are covered, pre-existing condition waiting periods, are they a preferred provider participant (for instance, will they pay more if you go to certain hospitals or doctors?) and of course, the premiums. Figure out what you can live with. The way I looked at it at the time, I had to “self-insure” by taking good care of myself.

      I drive like I'm 90. I figured if someone injured me, their insurance would have to pay.

      Also be aware that no hospital can turn you away for inability to pay. They have to work with you if you don't have the means to pay them. If you own no property and have no income, you really don't have much to worry about as there's no way for them to collect.

      With the exorbitant cost of healthcare, I suppose that's something they've built into the system to cover.

      May I ask where you are from? Sounds like you're from somewhere that has a socialized medical system. The U.S.

      is the only industrialized nation in the world that doesn't have one. Really sucks, doesn't it? My family lives in Sweden and they are constantly amazed when I tell them of the healthcare costs we endure here in the US.

      Best of luck.

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