I believe all the medical bills from Rachel’s recent adventure are now in and we can tally the damage at $4,733.55
We do have health insurance, but it is a high deductible plan and covers very little until that is met. We very rarely seek any medical care, so don’t really have much cause to use it. It does re-price charged amounts based on negotiated network agreements, and I think it also covers an annual checkup for everybody, but we don’t do that. The insurance would really only pay for itself if something really bad happened and we sought treatment in the U.S. Otherwise, it just sucks $650 out of our monthly budget.
While we would prefer to pay directly for medical care, we find it very difficult to do so. In our experience, cash discounts are paltry or not available. The only time we really felt mildly successful with this tactic was when Sam was born. No, our insurance does not cover maternity costs.
The discount offered by the hospital after Rachel’s recent trip was only 10%. We gambled that the negotiated network price through our insurance company would be better, and it was. The insurance company re-priced that $4,733.55 down to $871.15. That’s an 80% reduction. Am I happy about that? Sure. But the $8,000 I spent on insurance premiums over the last year tempers my enthusiasm somewhat. I’d be much happier to get that kind of discount directly and not pay for the insurance at all.
I’ve been threatening to drop the insurance for years, but I’m afraid to do it. There are no guarantees in life, and I’m slightly uncomfortable with the unknown. I’m not paralyzed by it, but so far I’ve been willing to pay $650 a month to feel better. That’s probably about all the good it does.
What are the odds we’ll ever need the insurance anyway? Apparently, better than I might have thought. My 4-year-old nephew was diagnosed with cancer last year. My brother’s family coincidentally has the same insurance as we do and it made a huge difference in the financial burden of surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. I have no idea how it might have turned out without the insurance, but he’s once again a happy little boy.
When we think about it logically, continuing to pay for health insurance is inconsistent with the other lifestyle decisions we’ve made. One of our mantras is “safety does not exist.” But by paying for health insurance we're keeping one foot in a system we despise in the hopes that it might someday save us from something terrible. Just as there are no guarantees that something terrible won’t happen, there are also none that modern medicine and insurance can save us if it does.