Cara R

Insurance to me was once a distant and “grown up” concept for a very long time. Of course I was aware of car insurance that my mom had to pay every month, or the health insurance that we did not have which made our doctors’ appointments so expensive growing up. But the dire importance of having insurance did not hit me until November of my senior year of high school. Yes, that is right, I was already a senior when I came to this insurance revelation. My mother, who is my primary and only care taker, got diagnosed with cancer. If your heart just sunk from reading that, you are not alone, mine did as well when I first received the news. A million questions ran through my head at the speed of light. “Is she going to be okay?” “How are we going to pay for treatments?” “What and how much do treatments for stage four Colorectal/ Liver Cancer cost?” Without hesitation I started my own research.

My first go-to question,” What will our Health Insurance plan cover?” After about two weeks in the hospital following diagnosis, my mother’s medical bills had already wracked up to a whopping $12,000 dollars! After hours on end of paper work, phone calls, emails, and endless Google searches, my mother and I had figured out that thank goodness, our health insurance plan was above average. Health Insurance is a miraculous privilege that is denied to too many, but it definitely did not cover everything. But still we were grateful that we found a spark of relief from the health insurance amidst all the worries and chaos that was begging to consume our lives. To answer the treatment question that I had been worried sick over for days in the beginning of our journey, Chemotherapy treatments (for only one of the several drugs to be administered) was around $42,000 out of pocket. One drug. This was the moment that I realized: not only is cancer absolutely devastating, man is it expensive!

Deductibles, co-pays, write-offs, and reimbursements quickly became the talk of the table at our house. Medications, that of course my mother needed in order to fight this battle, were coming out to be thousands of dollars. Doctor visits, scans, treatments, and tests were necessary but there was a catch. Oh yes, the dreaded “catch” part of things that usually comes tied to with any good news. In order for our health insurance plan to start covering any medical cost, we needed to hit the deductible first. This meant that if our deductible was $3,500 we would need to pay that much money out of pocket before insurance could start to kick in and begin to alleviate a few costs. For two women working full-time jobs and one of us, being me, a full-time high school student, we were already living paycheck to paycheck and picking up any shifts to make ends meet. After hitting the deductibles very quickly, we left everything up to insurance.

Insurance, most specifically, health insurance has changed our lives forever. My family and I can say that without health insurance in our lives, we honestly do not know where my mother would be today. It is utterly terrifying to think about the “what-ifs” of not being covered by insurance. It is a fear that runs down your spine and makes the hair on your arms stand straight up to not know if you can pay for or support the most important person in your life when they become ill. But on the other hand, it is as if the weight of boulders has been lifted off of your shoulders when you realize that you have insurance there to help you. There are people in this world that do not have the luxury of health insurance so they are forced to live in painful, hazardous, and often times lethal situations for long periods of time because they simply cannot afford to go to a doctor’s office so they have no choice but to live with their ailments. As horrible as it sounds, illnesses, diseases, and impairments generate a lot of money in this world and the medical field. And having insurance is a dire need sought out by many.

Insurance is important to me, because in retrospect, it is saving my mom’s life. Through insurance we are able to manage minimum costs for things with the aid of insurance covering the bulk. With insurance we are able to make those middle of the night emergency room runs when the pain becomes too unbearable. With insurance we are able to get the help that we need. This concept that once used to be so incredibly foreign to me for so many years of my life has now become my saving grace. Amongst all of the fear, tears, hugs, trials, and triumphs, insurance has been there every step of the way in this journey of healing and curing my best friend, my mentor, but most importantly, my mother.

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