Insurance BENEFITS?

I guess it does. Really. I have rheumatoid arthritis, and one of the reasons my husband can't retire just yet is because of what my medication costs. HE doesn't make an issue of that, but it does bother me. Even though I am still mobile.

In their never-ending quest to run test after test, last October my doctor ordered an MRI. My husband and I didn't think anything was wrong, but we decided it was better to be safe than sorry. The bill was almost $6000. I was right at the transition point where I had lost my really good teacher insurance and was picked back up by my husband's not so hot but better than nothing insurance. The bill made me gulp.

Much to my surprise, the teacher insurance, for which I had no co-pay if I stayed in network, paid the bill. I didn't quite understand it, but there was a grace period on my prescription coverage, so I figured there was a grace period on the hospital bill,too. After I saw that payment, in October, I didn't worry. There were some other papers that came in from my husband's insurance that they had paid, too, but I figured the hospital would sort all of that out.

TODAY, seven months later, I got an overdue notice for $951, our share of the MRI bill. I had never received a bill after the insurance payment, but it seems that in the meantime, my teacher insurance took their money back. Evidently there was no grace period. And all of this transpired without my knowledge. Gulp!

The lady at the hospital was really nice, and she said we could set up a payment schedule with no interest if that is what we want to do. I did call my husband who, true to form, said not to worry. But still…that's a big bill, and I do worry because, since I have RA, my health care will be costly for the rest of my life.

I know, really, that insurance does benefit. I know that people go without care and medicine that they really need if they don't have insurance. And I am grateful for the medical advances that have kept me mobile. Still, I wonder sometimes if I should be pickier about the tests the doctor orders. That MRI found….nothing. And my husband recently had a stress-echo which was very costly and which found…nothing.

I waffle, though. What if the tests had found something? Something that we could have made better (or at least prevented from becoming worse) by the finding? When do you just tell your doctor no? And what might be the cost to your health or longevity if you do?


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May 2006
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