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West Jordan Journal

A Bitter Pill

Jan 04, 2024 03:15PM ● By Peri Kinder

I’m at the point where each doctor visit starts with “Well, at your age…”. I need to get my liver rotated, my heart valves oiled, my lung filters changed and I need a lot of bodywork done. Nips and tucks won’t do it, I need parts replaced and a complete undercarriage overhaul.

I’ve got 99 problems and the cost of health insurance counts for at least 90.

When I found myself without health insurance at the end of last year, I jumped on to explore my “affordable” options. The site states that four out of five people can find a plan for $10 or less a month, after tax subsidies. 

What they don’t tell you is that the fifth person has to get a third job, sell organs on the black market or start printing money in the basement to afford a healthcare plan.

As I scrolled through my health insurance options, I got irrationally angry. Plans started at around $500 per month, with deductibles ranging from $7,500 to Lamborghini. Keep in mind, this was for one person, not an entire family with pets and farm animals.

Since I had to register by the middle of December, my email was flooded with reminders from the site. Have I registered? Why not? Did I forget? Did I become independently wealthy? Did I decide to use the money for something fun instead?

No. On the day before the deadline, I put on my adulting hat and signed up for health insurance. I’m still irrationally angry. I am seriously considering Alternate Healthcare Plan B, which is file for bankruptcy in the event of a major medical emergency. Still haven’t ruled that option out. 

I also have Healthcare Plan C: try not to get sick or need a blood transfusion or get concussed or go for an ambulance ride or break a bone. No emergency room visits. Just good old-fashioned stubbornness and denial.

There are also herbal remedies and a variety of healing crystals that don’t actually solve my internal issues (there’s only so much power in a rose quartz) but it’s cheaper than an MRI.

Or there’s always my mom’s answer to any illness when I was a kid: a spoonful of paregoric. The opium-based medicine made me feel very sleepy and hazy. 

But, for now, I’ll end up paying at least $7,000 per year to cover my annual physical, a series of blood tests and a couple of prescriptions. But I still have a copay because that seven grand isn’t nearly enough, obviously. 

I’ve been without health insurance before, but here’s the thing, affordable insurance shouldn’t be tied to employment. Because I’m not made of diamonds, I took a part-time job to cover health care costs. 

When we stayed in San Diego last summer, we dreamed about staying in a luxury hotel for $800 a night. Hospitals charge that much just for the ice chips. But our family learned the hard way that a one-week stay in the ICU can quickly reach nearly $100,000, or about $14,000 per night. And that’s without the beach access and sunrise mimosas. 

Ironically, Intermountain Healthcare recently rebranded as Intermountain Health. Literally taking the “care” out of health care. 

I’m just one more person complaining about the high cost of insurance, but when medical expenses are one of the leading causes of bankruptcies in Utah, shouldn’t we start looking at the root cause? 

At what point do we put the “care” back in healthcare and create affordable options so I can get my joints greased, my oxygen system replaced and my body’s systems recalibrated?