So. Let me tell you about my latest catastrophe.
I have a job. I have a good, possibly even great job. The only problem with my job is that there is no insurance. Realtors, being independent contractors, are unable to have group insurance, and there are not enough non-sales employees to warrant us having a group policy. Thus, the only medical insurance I have is a little supplemental policy from Aflac, because I have been dealing with my health from the “It’ll never happen to me” standpoint.
Recently, I rethought that attitude when my buddy Rhonda, the smartest woman in America, told me I could totally have a regular major medical policy for as much as I was paying for my craptastic supplemental policy. So I called up to my local insurance guru, who put me in touch with the agent who handles medical insurance for her office. This is where my trouble began.
As I know absolutely nothing about the insurance world, I had no idea what to ask about my coverage needs. The main two questions I had were whether maternity insurance was included (in case of an Act of God) and if my psychiatry appointments would be covered.
Here is your lesson for the day: Honesty is NOT always the best policy.
As soon as I said the word “psychiatry,” the red flags went up. The agent (Who, I might add, was nothing but helpful and I would highly recommend using her to anyone local who may read this post.)said that psychiatric appointments were generally not covered by individual policies, and if she were to find a carrier, my premiums would increase by 20% to 70%.
Twenty to Seventy percent.
TWENTY to SEVENTY percent.
So I told her to forget the mental health coverage and just run the numbers with “normal” coverage., but she was required to enter my specific diagnosis as a pre-existing condition.
Although my doctor says I have a “mild mood disorder,” there is no official diagnosis for that. My official chart reads “296.60, Bipolar I, D/O mixed unspecified.” Bipolar disorder is one of the mental health diagnosis with the “uh-oh” connotation. If somebody says they have anxiety issues, people think, “Eat a Xanax, you’ll be fine!” If you admit to having bipolar disorder, they look at you like you should be in a ward somewhere, or at the very least on heavy, heavy medication.
I am not remotely embarrassed by or ashamed of my diagnosis. I am thankful and happy that I have a very “light case” (for lack of a better term) of the disorder that can be handled with one tiny pill daily. There are horror stories about people who truly, truly suffer with Bipolar Disorder every day. One of the reasons it is so hard to get medical coverage with the disorder is the instability of many patients and the likelihood that they will harm themselves, costing the insurance company money. I am lucky in many, many ways.
However, my luck apparently ran out at the insurance counter. The agent tried to find a carrier who would accept me, and had no luck. The entire insurance community has given me the Heisman.
Let’s think about what this means:
Unless I choose to leave my very good job in this unstable economy and take a chance that I can find an employer offering group insurance, which does not have the same restrictions, I will have to pay out of pocket for any medical care I receive. Pap smears, regular visits to a GP if I get a cold, eye doctors, anything. A major procedure would, quite literally, bankrupt me. Bankrupt.
I am a college-educated, tax-paying, productive member of society with steady employment who has no insurance. Do you know who can receive medical care, including mental health benefits? People enrolled in the Medicare program. Here is a link to the government pamphlet explaining your mental health care benefits under Medicare: http://www.medicare.gov/publications/pubs/pdf/mental.pdf
Ideally, I would like for my insurance carrier to cover my once-every-three-months shrink appointment, but I could handle (because I am employed, remember?) shelling out for those visits, if I could pay a co-pay for things like the OB-GYN and the regular general physician. But I cannot even do that. All I have been thinking about lately is a long string of what if’s.
What if I got pregnant?
What if I broke my leg?
What if I were in a car accident?
What would I do?
How would I pay for it?
How would I pay for the rest of my bills?
Maybe I should quit my job…..