Friday, March 29, 2013

Immigrant Robbed of Care Assurance

Born and bred in the Netherlands, I've been insured all my life. 

One way or another I've been covered head to toe. First by my parents, and later, when I was on a payroll, my employer paid the premium. As an independent freelance designer, I had to pay the premium myself. Either way, when I went to a doctor in the Netherlands, I never ever saw a bill.

For the past 18.5 years I've lived in Seattle, in Washington State. Thanks to my husband's affiliation with a Union, he himself is covered, and I'm able to buy into the Group Health Insurance for close to $500 per month. But only if he works enough hours. If he doesn't "bank" enough working hours (easily done when he's in remission due to surgery, and a two week road trip), his regular coverage is stopped, but while he may refer to COBRA, I am kicked out all together, notwithstanding the fact that I'm not behind with my payments. In case of calamities I will be covered by COBRA, but only for 60 days. After that it's free for all, or rather, pay it yourself all together.

And if you think I don't have to make any out of pocket payments after writing that monthly check of $467.30 you're mistaken. When I enter my provider's building, I make a co-payment of $25 and that's only the beginning.

Last week I saw my doctor's assistant because of a painful knee. She thought it might be arthritis, and that the only way to find out for sure was getting an X-ray made. Since my dental hygienist considered a spot on my gums suspicious, and I was at the doctor's anyway, I had her look at that. That spot has been there for at least three decades, but seems to become more pronounced as my gums are receding a bit with age. My doctor's assistant suggested I'd see a specialist for that.

I declined the X-ray, for once I knew it wasn't a blood clod that created the swelling (which would cause me to drop dead just like that, as someone at the gym had suggested), I guessed I had probably overdone a work-out, and that icing the area, plus taking it easy at the gym and elsewhere considering my knee would help. And yes, it's getting better.

The specialist decided to do a biopsy of my gum, and would have done one of a skin tag in one of my nostrils if I had let him. But the anesthesia made me feel flushed, and I refused the shot in my nostril (no numbing there, the skin's too thick for that), and so my tag was left where it was.

Today I received the bill for the "surgery" meaning the little bit of tissue the specialist scraped off my gum and planted in a specimen jar. Mind you, he did numb my gums, and gave me a shot of anesthetics. The total bill came to $1,053 of which I'm supposed to pay $604.30 on top of the premium I pay.  Did I mention I had to buy the anti-bacterial ointment the specialist prescribed for my nostril, just to see if it does more to the tag this year than last?

Oh, and before I forget, earlier this week the price and there for co-payment of the estrogen prescription my gynecologist prescribes is three times as expensive as it was two months ago.  Why is that I wonder.

I've had health insurance my whole life, and I kind of saw that as a savings account, paying into care I expected I might need at certain times, such as childbirth, calamities, general upkeep, and finally old age.

Is it strange I feel robbed?

And yet, feeling robbed of total care is such a luxury, especially compared to the debacles those who have no insurance coverage at all face every day.

This work by Judith van Praag is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License
Post a Comment