Insurance Anxiety

Just the thought of changing insurance providers for our health care causes me anxiety and a touch of heart palpitations. I’m very dependent on my health care insurance, which is through my employer, and is a great policy. It’s one of the perks of working for a private, faith based university with a commitment to social justice. I’ve had over 25 years of not worrying that I was able to get the care I needed, when I needed, and without any financial surprises if we became catastrophically ill.

This carefree thinking about my coverage is about to end because my work status is about to change. I have been on disability for a year and am about to convert to the status of being a medical retiree. I didn’t ask for this – it’s just something our human resource office says will happen. I’m not old enough for social security retirement with full benefits but my husband is… he has been on my health insurance for this same length of time and it has served us well through my multiple sclerosis, his open heart surgery over 15 years ago, and more recently two hip reconstruction surgeries. Yes, we had to cover co-pays, but that was a small amount compared to the total bills.

Now that I am changing status with my employer, and my spouse is full retirement age and medicare eligible, we have tough choices to make. Fortunately for now, this university still offers medical care to its retirees, and at a very reasonable price. The cost for my spouse will go up some, but from what I can tell it is still comparable to what we would pay through moving him over to Medicare and finding the appropriate supplements. Or maybe not, it’s so darn hard to tell what the right thing might be to do. We tried meeting with a benefits advisor a couple years ago to review our options and we walked away even more confused over what all these options for people on Medicare might mean.

I am so concerned about making the wrong choice, and finding that we have taken on more debt due to our health conditions than what we had planned that it’s hard to even consider a change. Right now, between deductibles and premiums and our assorted visits to the doctors, I can guess it costs us close to $10K this year for our health care. That number is for everything through the year, and I can’t figure out if that is a good amount or if there might be better options. I should note that both of us maxed out the out-of-pocket maximum amount we had to pay thanks to some costly surgeries and procedures.

Besides the cost, there is another thing to consider when faced with changes in insurance. We really like our doctors and trust them as partners in our care. We’ve all heard of people no longer being able to see their preferred doctor because of changes in insurance. We don’t want to make any switches in our choice of doctors and certainly don’t want to be forced into this by changes in our health care insurance and who might be the preferred providers.

Having MS is very expensive and health insurance is a necessity – particularly if you are on a disease modifying therapy like I am and it involves regular trips to the neurologist and the infusion clinic. I can’t afford to make mistakes in my health care coverage and that applies for my spouse, too. So as we go into the fall and the season for open enrollment, you can find me in the corner reading over Medicare supplements and marketplace health care options and having my own private breakdown. I can only hope if my anxiety over making the right healthcare choices becomes serious, whatever insurance I choose will cover my treatment.

Wishing you well,

Laura

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