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.
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