Hillary S

There was a point in my life when I thought of insurance as a nuisance.  It was an intangible idea that was deducted from my paycheck, taking away from my take-home pay, or a check that I mailed in once a year, without seeing an immediate return on my investment.  Insurance was something that the law required me to carry which I thought was an expensive burden upon my bottom line.  However, I found out how invaluable insurance coverage is when I was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, and again when my husband and I decided to start our family.  The medical bills I encountered proved that my previous beliefs were inverted, and that in reality, the unexpected circumstances people experience in life are too expensive to not have adequate insurance.

Every day I was in the hospital, waiting for treatments, injections, or blood products to be administered into my body in the hope that it would make me well again.  Some of these medications had to be hand delivered from the pharmacy in the basement, to the nurse outside my door because they were too expensive for the hospital to risk losing.  I found myself wondering if one dose was too expensive for a hospital with more than a billion dollar profit each year, how can a young woman in her early twenties possibly be able to afford multiple administrations of the same drug?  The only reason why I could receive those expensive treatments without encountering any delay or petition to the hospital was my superior insurance coverage, which I was lucky enough to retain through my father’s employer.  My insurance coverage is what allowed me to not only survive, but also thrive over three years of chemotherapy treatments.  My insurance coverage is what allowed me to focus on my fight to defeat the cancer cells multiplying inside of my body, instead of wonder if I could afford one more dose of treatment.  My insurance coverage, the invisible nuisance that I had doubted the benefit of only months prior, was now the silent sidekick, giving me the tools I needed to succeed.

Conversely, when I gave birth to my son, I had coverage from a different insurance company that worked hard to make sure it could find a way around paying every penny possible.  As a result, the three-day stay in the hospital for giving a routine birth to my son ended up costing $17,000 out-of-pocket in comparison to my three years of cancer treatments, which cost around $13,000 out-of-pocket.  Another way to look at those figures is to say that I spent 255 consecutive days going to outpatient treatment in the hospital, went to 52 appointments with a specialist, received 512 blood products, and had 32 appointments with a radiologist to have medication injected into my spine, yet I was only billed around $13,000 from the hospital.  Although $13,000 is still a large amount of money, when the sum is broken down to take into consideration how much I was in the hospital, that sum comes out to being charged $50.98 per day of treatment and all of the medications, blood products, and specialist appointments were “free.”  When I gave birth, I checked in on a Wednesday at 1:00 in the afternoon and checked out on a Friday at 10:00 in the morning.  There were no surgeries, complications, or transfusions for my son or me.  The daily total of this experience can be calculated out to $5,666.67.  This second experience expanded upon my first valuable lesson about insurance coverage showing me that it is not only important to have insurance for numerous different situations in life, but it is also important to have quality insurance coverage.

Although both major experiences that I had with insurance coverage hit me hard, I experienced them in different ways.  My first experience taught me exactly how vital having insurance coverage is, even when you’re young, seemingly healthy, and on your way up in life.  I was covered by a top-tier plan that allowed me to stress about my health rather than if I was going to be able to ever pay off my medical bills.  My second experience taught me that just getting insurance coverage for the sake of insurance coverage isn’t enough to make a real difference.  It is important to invest insurance premiums with a company that can be trusted to be there when their coverage is really needed.  Cutting costs on coverage rates, can sometimes mean that the coverage will be cut-rate too.  Even after my second experience, I still believe that insurance coverage is invaluable.  However, I now understand that there are two tiers to that statement: it is essential to have insurance coverage, and it is invaluable to have it with a company that can be trusted.

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