Wednesday, February 13, 2008

When is Pre-Paid Health Insurance Not?

A big part of keeping healthy lives in American today has to do with health insurance. It is the new class – those who have and those who have not.

But what about those who think they “have?” After all, we have been members of a health cooperative for over 25 years. Remember? We called them pre-paid health insurance programs. Well, they were partially right. Over the years limits and co-pays have eaten away most of the “pre-paid” concept.

Some of you may know of my relationship with money – non-existent – that is, don’t both me with it unless I don’t have any – then I am in a panic!

So, understandably, Sabine has handled our finances. She does the checking account, squirrels away money for vacation and travel and keeps me out of this alien territory.

When we were recently informed that our dialysis benefit was capped at $30,000 we were elated. That’s a lot of money. That is until we found out that the average annual bill for a dialysis patient was at least $100,000.

Now $30K didn’t seem to be a lot of money. Where would the remainder come from? Should we sell “the family farm?” But what about the second year of dialysis?

Thanks to a great social worker at the dialysis center and a dear friend that works at Social Security we learned that we must file for disability with Social Security and tie into the dialysis programs. When Sabine goes on Medicare the government will pay 80% of the remaining costs. But that still leaves $14,000 each year to be covered (and what about the rise in medical costs each year?). After all, we are both on a relatively fixed retirement income.

So, I started thinking, how many hours each week would I have to work as a greeter at the local Walmart store to cover the remainder?

But grace is found were grace abounds (who said that?). Sabine had purchased a catastrophic health insurance policy when she was with the State of Wisconsin and we found out today that they would be “the last payee” and cover the remaining balance.

Thank God! One less worry on this scary journey.