I’ve reached the time of life where parts of my body randomly fall apart. I’ll wake up feeling fine, but by the end of the day I’ve got a dislocated shoulder, bunions and smallpox. That’s all well and good, but 18 months ago we lost our health insurance, so now we carefully scrutinize each symptom to see if it’s really necessary to see a doctor.
Is the ache in my chest a heart attack or that spicy burrito from Taco Bell? Is my cough a result of the disgusting Utah winter air, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease?
For Christmas, I asked Santa for the deluxe edition Fisher-Price doctor kit. Now I can set my own bones, remove any suspicious lumps with a melon baller, and unless I’m leaking blood from my armpits, I can avoid medical offices and expensive procedures for a while.
But this time of year always reignites the discussion in our home regarding health insurance. We’re two basically healthy adults who experience the occasional strep throat or flu, and we visit our docs for annual check-ups that we pay for out-of-pocket. So far we’ve survived (fiscally and literally).
However, once again we have the “opportunity” to buy into an “affordable” health care plan. After talking with insurance experts, our monthly premium will be equivalent to two car payments, or one payment on a really cool car. At around $700 a month, once you add in our $5,000 deductible (each), that adds up to nearly $20,000 a year.
So we’d be betting thousands of dollars that my husband or I will have a horrific medical experience this year. And I thought gambling was illegal in Utah.
This health insurance discussion has done everything but ensure my health. The thought of paying those high premiums causes insomnia, anxiety, high blood pressure and the desire to eat copious amounts of comfort foods.
Because I’m a writer (which doesn’t involve much danger besides nasty paper cuts), as long as I avoid sick people or falling pianos, I’m sure I’ll be fine. So, I’ve devised my own healthcare program that will save me thousands of dollars.
First, I’ve taken to wearing a bike helmet, knee pads and wrist guards everywhere I go.
Second, I’ve invested in a nurse’s outfit, a first-aid kit, face masks, vitamin C tablets and gallons of hand sanitizer.
Third, I will continue using WebMD to diagnose and treat everything from emotional exhaustion to rare infectious diseases. WebMD comes in handy when I’m pretty sure I’m dying, but just want a second opinion.
Fourth, if I happen to break a bone that I can’t set myself, I will drive my car into a light pole so my car insurance will cover it.
Finally, I will ask the universe to keep me healthy and safe this year. Because Oprah said that works.
The definition of health insurance reads, “A type of insurance coverage that pays for medical and surgical expenses that are incurred by the insured.” It doesn’t include the disclaimer that says, “Insurance kicks in only after you’ve paid premiums and deductibles equivalent to the purchase of a Harley Davidson, a 10-day Hawaiian vacation and the complete DVD set of ‘Dr. Who.’”
My husband and I have gone over our budget, trying to eliminate unnecessary expenses like dairy products, new socks, 24-hour electricity and pomegranates. But unless we win the not-yet-approved Utah lottery, we won’t be forking out thousands of dollars for health insurance.