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Cars and Health Costs

My sister is in the process of shopping for a new car and is struggling to find her way through all those stickers for the best deal for her. She lost her old car through no fault of her own.  Sure, you’ve heard that before, right?  But this time it really is true.

While at a stop light, out of pretty much nowhere, her car was hit in the rear end at full speed by a person who turned out to have passed out behind the wheel  due to the influence of heroin. Her car was totaled, the person who hit her car did not have insurance, and the only good thing out of this mess was no one was seriously hurt.

My sister’s auto insurance was paid in full, but yet she is getting only a fraction of what it is going to cost to put her into a similar type new car even though her car was only two years old. She is also retired, and doesn’t have limitless amounts of money to put her into another car, and she is starting at a disadvantage of less money than she began with.  For her it is critical she knows how much that car costs because her budget only has so much room for payments. She was a good consumer, shopped around and talked to many people;  she negotiated a fair price;  and is now linked into monthly payments on her new car for several years.  End of story. By now you’re saying – “what on earth does this have to do with multiple sclerosis?”  Hang in there and follow my analogy a bit further and you will see…..

Unexpected bills

Through no fault of my own, I was diagnosed with MS.  I was hit with it out of the blue, and it turned into a financial nightmare.  I had made payments on health insurance for years, and thought it would be ok.  It turns out, my insurance only covers part of my costs, so through no fault of my own, I now owe thousands of dollars on medical bills.  Not only that, these bills happen over and over and unlike a car that has a limited number of payments, my bills will keep coming.

But our similarities in stories take different paths here because unlike my sister who could shop around and know in advance what her means for mobility will cost, I haven’t a clue how much my care costs until I get the bill after my treatment is delivered.  This lack of information became even more real for me when my first infusion bill of the year showed up and I owe $4,000. This doesn’t include my costs for the insurance or the doctor visits.  I have no itemized bill that tells me this amount, nor can anyone tell me what any of my future bills might amount to.

Investing in our health

There is no greater purchase we make than investing in our health but it is a difficult and stressful task when we don’t know what that amount might be.  We buy a house, a car and everything else at a set price and know what the total might be when the deal is done. For now, I know I am responsible for 15% of my bills but what that amounts to is anybody’s guess. Why can’t we shop for medical care and walk out the door knowing what we have agreed to pay and not be faced with healthcare sticker shock?

Wishing you well,

Laura

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The MultipleSclerosis.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

  • Artanis12
    2 years ago

    I agree that no knowing the actual bill is a huge problem. But wishing for the current “system” to work according the The Law of The Great and Glorious Hand of The Market is a fools errand. The forces arrayed against letting the patient know enough to actually navigate the constantly shifting medical bill landscape, are formidable. The insurance companies and hospitals are trying to maximize their profits and minimize their taxes. That’s hardly a happy recipe for the patient.

    I confess I dislike likening health outlays to “investing”, or equating being a patient to being a “consumer”. Healthcare, being intimately tied to our personal survival, is not like buying a washer, and we shouldn’t try to make it so. For one thing, and we of chronic conditions know this, there is no when the “deal is done”. And doctors not being widgets, there is no reasonable substitute for a doctor who can deal with MS. Did you shop your doc for cost when you were trying to get diagnosed? Or did you simply *need* one of only a handful of docs in your area, who were skilled in doing what you needed? Not exactly a plethora of choices, which again, means it’s not like buying a washer.

    Without adequate access to real choices, and let’s be honest, not enough expertise on the part of the patient to even know what they need most of the time, and lack of ample information about costs, you have a totally failed market, which healthcare most certainly is. And should remain. Single payer is the only thing that will even come close to fixing the majority of the current problems. But that’s not going to happen anytime soon, sadly.

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