My mother works as a medical biller. Being her son, I have had a stable foundation when it comes to health insurance after hearing her rant about people uncovered by health insurance every 365 days in a year and every year for the last five years. As a result, words such as BCBS, United Healthcare, CPT, deductibles, co-pays, and dependent have been steadily integrated into my vernacular language at the dinner table. Every day, there was always at least one patient who showed up without insurance demanding for costly procedures such as an Echocardiogram or Ultrasound and had to pay an out-of-pocket cost of around $350. This was just one of the many unbearable consequences of being uncovered by insurance. While money is just one of these reasons, it is perhaps the “biggest reason” for why there are still a plethora of people uncovered by health insurance. Most people who do not have insurance usually use this excuse of cost to justify their reason for disregarding insurance. In reality, however, it is usually not due to the costs that prevent people from purchasing insurance, but it is actually due to the lack of knowledge and understanding of how being uncovered by health insurance can sting in the long run. To justify how costs are usually not the primary reason for people to neglect insurance, I will use my family’s situation as an example and demonstrate the importance of insurance in my life, as well as in others.
Contrary to other seniors in high school, I have been exposed to health insurance for as long as I can remember. However, contrary to other’s beliefs, this exposure did not make me feel more obligated to invest money into health insurance. Perhaps this irony can be compared to the concept of “diminishing marginal utility” in Economics. The more we are in contact with something, the more “ordinary” it becomes. As I gained more knowledge on health insurance, I started to become more arrogant believing that I knew everything there is to know. The paramount concept became a normality in my life that could wait longer. Besides, an active, fit, and invincible man like myself could never be prone to fractures or diseases. This was my first excuse. Aside from this, since our family stagnated in the lower-class, I was indirectly pressured to always believe in the whole “Insurance is too costly” notion and never had a thought about buying a new insurance after my Medicaid eligibility ended. In reality, it was not that I did not have enough money to purchase insurance, but more like I never bothered to look. It was in this year that things spiraled downhill, and I learned the importance of health insurance.
Throughout high school, I have always had series of stomach aches that would only go away after I ate a fulfilling meal. This would go on every day throughout the three years of high school, but I rejected the idea that I had stomach problems and instead believed that I was simply hungry. With this false belief in mind, I decided not to tell a soul. It was not until the first few weeks of my senior year that the pain became unbearable and hunger should not feel this painful. I decided to finally tell my parents about it despite knowing that we were not covered by insurance and the costs would be overwhelming for a doctor’s check-up. My parents knew that I needed to be diagnosed right away and be subscribed to medical treatment as fast as possible or my future health would be at risk. Not to mention, the longer we delay treatment, the more potential costs that would build up. The next morning, we went to see the local clinic’s doctor.
It was my turn to check-in and paradoxically, I saw the familiar one-hundred-dollar Cash Patient checkbox on the Demographic paperwork. Inside the room, my doctor diagnosed my condition as a bacterial infection in the stomach lining known as H. Pylori infection. H. Pylori is a common form of bacterial infection in people of all ages and are usually harmless, but my infection was much more complex. The three years of high school I spent delaying treatment allowed the bacteria to feast on my stomach lining every day to the point where it created an ulcer, a hole, in my stomach. If this is left any longer without treatment, the hole would enlarge to the point where stomach bleeding would become a prominent problem, leading to many other health risk factors. The doctor then suggested that we pay an estimate of six-hundred-dollars to treat the infection with a two-week drug regimen. At this point, any form of treatment is a necessity.
The doctor then completed my Superbill and asked us to sign. Later, this Superbill would most likely get processed by the biller of the clinic, and the biller would probably discuss Self-pay patients at their dinner table. “This is so ironic,” I thought to myself. Regrets started to form in my parents’ faces and in my own mind. I knew fully well of the consequences of being uninsured, yet I still chose to ignore it because of the “high cost” and my own ignorance. As soon as I got home, I began to research for the ideal Health Insurance Plan with the lowest deductible since I am willing to trade off the high premiums for lower costs. Miraculously, I discovered the perfect insurance with an affordable deductible that I did not know existed before. With this plan, I was able to feel a sense of assurance if I ever stumbled across an unnatural infection such as the H. Pylori. I would know exactly how much I would be responsible for, and walking into a clinic would never again feel like releasing my mom’s hands to go to Pre-K on the first day. This perception of assurance is what everyone living from poverty to high-class should associate “Insurance” with and not just simply high costs and frequent hospital visits. I realized that most people often have this perception in mind before they even try to find a suitable plan and as a result, most remain uninsured without realizing that there is always some form of insurance just perfect for their situation. My situation was a prime example of what could happen, and from my experience, I learned that: Insurance will not miraculously show up to us, we have to stand up and look for them.
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