I had the unpleasant/pleasant experience this past weekend of having a colonoscopy done. Combined with an endoscopy, my doctor was literally peering inside me from both ends. Apparently, my rheumatologist in her rush to treat my arthritis ignored the impact that medicine would have on my digestive tract. My esophagus and intestines had been burned out after a few years of prescribed meds.
To get to the end of the story, everything is fine and treatable by, you guessed it……..more medication. Now, I have to take a med that will heal the damage done to my internal digestive tract from the previous med I was prescribed.
When the admitting agent checked me into the hospital, I was informed my co-pay for everything was just $75. Since the colonoscopy and endoscopy was categorized as a routine annual exam and performed in an approved hospital I was not subject to my $1200 deductible. If I paid my co-pay within 15 days, the hospital took 10% off the fee. I was given a pre-stamped envelope and told to send in my $71.25 payment within the time frame.
The cost of my new prescribed medication was $105 per 30 days. I told my gastroenterologist doctor that I didn’t have prescription coverage under my current health plan and could a generic be substituted. Instead, he gave me a health discount card and I was able to buy the meds, at a Wal Mart pharmacy for a more affordable price (to me) of $34.
I spent this whole past weekend, on the couch, with a heating pad on my stomach (the doctor had to cut some lesions) and as my luck would have it, HBO was running a free screening till Monday. I had lots of television shows to enjoy while recuperating. One HBO special that I have been dying to see since its 2012 release was Hard Times: Lost On Long Island, a documentary about our current financial collapse and the impact it has had on a certain New York location. I used to live on Long Island but moved away and downsized after the dot-com disaster in 2001.
I realized this past weekend that despite it all, my husband and I have made some really good yet difficult financial decisions regarding our lives. The first one was realizing that continuing to live in an expensive, dead-end area, such as Long Island was a mistake. The second one was switching our health care to a HDHP (High Deductible Health Plan) and dropping prescription coverage. Both choices have saved us tens of thousands of dollars and have enabled us both to survive in an America of financial insecurity.
In the documentary, Hard Times, the wife who complained most about her economic collapse, Heather Hartstein, later endured the death of her chiropractor husband, David Hartstein. Now, she not only lost her house and most material possessions, she was left without a husband to blame it on, plus two children to raise alone (one of whom has Down Syndrome).
The star of the movie, to me, was Alan Fromm. Despite being unemployed for over two years, this man never gave up looking for a job. Alan has strong family ties and even stronger religious beliefs. When he would reach the lowest point in his day, he would read a letter of encouragement that his daughter had written to him. When he could no longer face another day without a job, he turned to God for guidance. Eventually, Mr. Fromm found a job with a pharmaceutical company, which included traveling to India several times per year. I am certain that the first time Mr. Fromm arrived in India and witnessed first hand what true, authentic poverty looked like, he and many of us, have come to realize how lucky we all are to be living in America. Despite it all. Despite it all.
In a follow-up, current interview with Alan Fromm, he is still working for the same, new company. Mr. Fromm says he and his family will NEVER go back to their original, free-spending days. Alan knows that this job could evaporate overnight. So, the family keeps their budget tight and their savings account even tighter. The new company has recently opened up an American location, on Long Island, only 17 minutes from Alan Fromm’s home. Alan never had to move or re-locate. He and his family got to keep their lives. The Fromm’s, in my opinion, are most surely blessed.
This past Monday, my husband was told, for the third week in a row, that his main client still didn’t have the funds available to pay him. This is NOT a good sign. DH and I didn’t fight about it. I don’t blame him for anything. This is just the way it is. We’re a team and in this together. Thankfully, when times are flush, I sock away as much money as possible to tide us over these thin times. There’s nothing to cut out of our budget when lean times come because we live on the basics anyway.
As our luck would always have it, DH got a cash job yesterday and earned enough to buy groceries for the rest of the month and tap off both of our cars with gas AND put some money away for another day. I found it cute and adorable that DH called me from Aldi (a discount food chain) on his way home from the work to ask what groceries we needed to get by.
DH and I are finally on the same wavelength when it comes to financial responsibility.
And that’s a very good thing.