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I Paid Cash! :: Medical Expenses With No Insurance

Testimony submitted by reader, Jody

About four years ago I began to have terrible pain in my lower abdomen. I had been diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis, an “incurable disease” ten years prior to that, and knew that because of this, my chances for developing colon cancer were greatly increased. After much prayer I decided to consult with a doctor, despite the fact that I had no health insurance.

How I Saved

I was blessed to find a doctor who only charges forty dollars per visit if you are paying out of pocket. She spent more time talking with me than any doctor I have ever interacted with. She prescribed a CT scan to find out what was going on. Rather than just heading to the hospital to get this done, I went home and opened up the Yellow Pages.

I found about four or five facilities that did the CT scan procedure and called to find out how much they would charge me. The prices varied from over $1000 to about $600. When I told the place that was going to charge $600 that I would be paying cash, they reduced the price to $500.

I made an appointment to have the scan done with them. Then the morning of the procedure my brother suggested that I call and ask, “If I pay the cash today when I come in, how much will you charge me?”

I was really embarrassed to make that call. I honestly did not want to. But I did it and instead of them laughing at me, they reduced the bill by another $100!

Hooray! They even seemed rather amazed when I handed over the money that day.

What I Learned

  • Even though I am a patient, I am still a consumer and should shop around.
  • Medical facilities spend a lot of time and money trying to get people to pay their bills. You will save them that hassle by paying up front.
  • It never hurts to ask!

What I Gained

I waited for the results and was very relieved to find that the pain was not caused by a tumor, but an ovarian cyst, which eventually went away.

I am so thankful for the wisdom and guidance that the Lord has given me as He has led me through this illness. It has been quite a journey, and I have definitely received more than a bit of scorn for my choice not to carry insurance — especially considering my condition. For now, I do not believe that that is a burden that He has called me to bear, so I am trusting Him and rejoicing in His faithfulness as He continues to heal me.*

Every year I have been getting better from this so-called “incurable disease”, and I rejoice at the words of the song by Joseph H. Gilmore:

“He leadeth me, Oh blessed thought! Oh words with heavenly comfort fraught!
Whatever I do, wherever I be, Still ’tis God’s hand that leadeth me!
He leadeth me, he leadeth me, By his own hand he leadeth me:
His faithful follower I would be, For by His hand he leadeth me.”

I Paid Cash for Medical ExpensesPsalm 68:6 says, “God setteth the solitary in families”. He has truly done this with Jody by transplanting this Midwesterner to Texas to live with a family of nine and help with their home business.

________________
*Note from Crystal: While I completely respect Jody’s decision to not carry health insurance, my husband and I would strongly encourage you to prayerfully consider health insurance as a big priority in your budget. We’ve seen families whose finances have been destroyed by being hit with unexpected medical bills. We believe strongly in trusting in the Lord, but we also see carrying health insurance as being wise stewards of the resources God has given us.

Please note that comments which are discussing political views on healthcare, bashing other reader’s decisions or which are deemed to be inappropriate will be deleted. Let’s keep the discussion cordial and focused on the topic at hand.

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191 Comments

  • It’s great that you took the time to call around. While I also prefer to have health insurance, I’ve found that having a high deductible motivates me to call around and look for good prices as well. It also motivates me to try home remedies first (not that this would work in all cases!).

    • Kim says:

      @Cara @ Health Home and Happiness, I agree! We also have insurance with a high deductible – $5600 to be exact. My 3 yr old was just bitten by a copperhead last month and without out insurance our bill would have been over $25,000! (the antivenin was $19k by itself.) our deductible was high but we qualified for a hospital sponsorship program which took care of our deductible. So we ended up paying $200 OOP and our deductible is paid for the rest of the year. Even if you have insurance if you have a high deductible/HSA plan, I’d encourage you to ask the hospital about any financial assistance options that might be available to you. You never know what could happen!

  • Tovah says:

    We also prefer to have health insurance. =)

  • Joanne says:

    When one does not carry health insurance and needs emergency medical attention we all pay for it. It is a Huge problem here in Arizona. Huge.

    • Heather says:

      @Joanne, Not just Arizona. Everywhere.

    • Crystal says:

      @Joanne,

      You don’t ALL pay for it because some people actually do pay their medical bills. What I personally think is the ridiculous part is that out-of-pocket patients are usually charged at least DOUBLE what the insurance company would pay for the same services. THIS is the problem with this country’s medical care. When I get a bill for $500 for a service and then they accept a $150 payment in full from insurance, it’s not right. If they can accept that from insurance companies then they should accept that reduced rate from private pay patients as well. Most people (who have insurance) think that private pay patients get a discount but in reality that is NOT the case at all. I have worked in a medical office and have been both with and without insurance so I know that private pay patients pay much more than the insurance companies do for the same services.

      And, on another note, I think it’s really sad that you feel the need to judge someone just because they can’t afford insurance. I currently haven’t had insurance for the past 5 years and every time something has come up God has provided in one way or another and it doesn’t involve my not paying my medical bills so trust me YOU are not paying for it at all.

  • Kim says:

    My husband also suffers from Ulcerative Colitis. I think it important to note that Ulcerative Colitis is a disease that makes a person “uninsurable”. So, unless you are offered health insurance through an employer, or are extremely wealthy, you are out of luck. There is also no possibility of getting life insurance either. So, Jody was probably unable to get health insurance, at least at an affordable rate. Good for her being able to negotiate those deals!

    • Joanne says:

      Here in Arizona we do have a public policy so to speak but you would need to have the right income to qualify. I do not know her income nor is it my business.

      I have Lupus and am on SSD and my husband has a great job as an Engineer so I am lucky I suppose. If a sick person is on disability there is no excuse not to have health insurance.

      • Kim says:

        @Joanne, We were lucky enough to qualify for the income sensitive insurance while in school, however, we make too much money now. It’s too little, though, to purchase health insurance and pay all the other bills. Luckily, my husband was able to move to another office that does offer quality health insurance at a reasonable price. I just wanted to point out that some people have no control over whether they are able to obtain health insurance. It’s the luck of the draw, really. No one chooses to have health issues–at least not ones that don’t involve lifestyle choices. And, colitis is not considered a debilitating disease, as far as being able to work a certain job, so would not be covered under state disability payments.

        • Rhonda says:

          @Kim,
          Have you ever thought about the opportunities that medical emergencies offer to the Christian community to help bear one another’s burdens? We have a form of health insurance, but I do not look down on those who don’t. There are various reasons for not having it. Let’s not be too quick to judge the uninsured.

        • Joanne says:

          I guess I was lucky because as long as we were covered under a health insurance plan for at least a year or maybe it was two years…..The next plan had to accept us as long as we proved we had continuing coverage.
          Also I actually know a lady that is on Social Security disability for UC. She had to get a lawyer to help her get her disability but she got it.

      • Joanne says:

        I have not judged anyone. If you are receiving disabilty ( I am) You should try your very hardest to buy the super cheap ($80 a month?) policy that is medicare. If you cannot afford that please at least have the decency to ask what you can get for free as far a a policy through your government. Dont just show up at the ER and expect you will be taken care of for free. Please have a PLAN for yoru family. Why put that burden on your fellow people?

        • Andrea Q says:

          @Joanne, The government pays either way…with our money.

        • Crystal says:

          @Joanne, Why do you assume that people are going to do that? That is being judgmental. AND, what is the difference? If you’re on disability then “we” are all paying for that as well, right?

        • Crystal says:

          @Joanne, What about disability? We’re all paying for that too, right?

        • Mrs Spock says:

          @Joanne,

          I see providing health care for all as not a burden but an opportunity to live the words, “Whatsoever you do unto the least of my brothers, so you do unto me.”

          I am a nurse, and took care of many patients in our trauma ICU who could not possibly pay- including a man who was probably “illegal”, for many months. To NOT care for someone else in distress or need, and allow them to die or suffer instead, would be immoral.

          I now work in the insurance industry. Trust me, it is far less costly to treat an illness when it is still treatable, or provide preventive care, than to try and ameliorate it when it has gotten out of control. Let’s say someone does not have the insurance to pay for a liver transplant, and even frugality cannot pay the 1 million dollar cost associated with it. That person will still end up in the ICU at some point, acutely bleeding, and they cannot be turned away, despite the inability to pay the $25K a day cost.

          FYI- most of the people I cared for were not there because of lifestyle choices, but because of pure bad luck. We cannot predict a catastrophic injury or illness. Chronic illness (like ulcerative colitis, MS, lupus) are more treatable nowadays, and people live longer with them, and require treatment to maintain function- which is costly. 50 years ago, my grandfather died from a perforated bowel from his colitis, and my uncle died from kidney failure related to lupus. Now, they would likely live, with the help of regular medical care, disease-modifying drugs, and possibly a transplant.

    • Jody says:

      @Kim, Thanks – The health insurance I had when I worked at my dad’s office was $362 per month just for me. I no longer worked there, so it would have been dishonest to continue with the policy – and if I switched to a different policy my pre-existing condition would not have been covered. Besides a lot of dietary changes that I made I ended up doing two fasts – one for 25 days and one for 40 days. I am about 95% of the way healed now. I would highly recommend a book called “Fasting Can Save Your Life” to anyone with an “incurable illness”. A lot of why are health costs are so high is because people don’t take care of their bodies (not always, but a lot).

  • Erin says:

    It is a relief to see this article. I do believe in having insurance, but we have no way of getting insurance. I am a church secretary and have no insurance plan and my husband’s insurance is $1000.00 a month to carry. We do not have that kind of money. God is always faithful. The times when we needed insurance we had it. But I never see anything about those who do not have insurance, how do they get by? The Lord has blessed us and I have finally come to the place that I trust when we need it, we will have it or He will provide a way. Thank you for posting this article.

  • Jan says:

    Hard to shop around in an emergency, and Joanne raises a good point … we all end up paying for the uninsured through higher premiums, just one reason health insurance/healthcare in this country is a mess.

    • Joanne says:

      Yes!!
      I guess I just get upset because I have a very sick brother born with Cystic Fibrosis and will need a lung and liver transplant to live soon enough. ( he is 39 but my parents were told he would not live past 5).
      He has public insurance and it is not going to cover transplants after october 2010.

      Then I see the loads of illegals that endanger me every day here and crash because they have 25 people loaded in a old van. (Yes this really happens ) It is a danger to live in this state.They are helicoptered to the hospital though. Though some of them run away into the brush. This happens over and over on a daly basis. Do we not all deserve healthcare?

      Maybe someday……..

      • Crystal says:

        @Joanne, You are EXACTLY right! That’s one of the biggest reasons we left Phoenix! We have a son with CF (he is almost 4) & the ER wait time at PHX Children’s Hospital can be over 14 hours (that was 3 years ago, I can only imagine how much worse it is now).

        I hope your brother can get his transplants soon! My little guy has already had one lobe of his lungs removed (at 18 month old). Praying for that CURE!!!

        • Joanne says:

          I wish that cure would come. I would even take a “breakthrough”. I get SO excited when I hear something postive about CF in the news. I am literally in tears over it and usually am on the phone with my mom or my brother that has CF in 10 seconds discusing it.
          I wish you all the best and your son too!

      • Jen says:

        @Joanne,

        Please don’t assume they’re illegal. People born in America as well as naturalized citizens are also responsible for car accidents, etc. Also, no hospital can refuse to treat you if you have a life threatening emergency. Everyone deserves healthcare and is entitled to it in an emgergency-young or old, citizen or not, Christian or not. I seriously doubt Jesus checked a person’s nationality or immigration status before ministering to them.

        • Joanne says:

          Hello
          I am refering to what I have seen happen in my state of Arizona. I do not assume they are all Illegals BUT I do know they cross the border with 20 or more packed in older model not very well maintained vans and have the tires blow out. they then run or they get critically injured and are airlifted to UMC here. This is fact and that is what I was refering too. If they are here illegally they do not have any insurance. That is a HUGE burden on my state. You can google it and find it if you like. Or you can go here…

          http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2009-06-07-arizona-crash_N.htm

          http://www.kvoa.com/news/illegal-immigrants-involved-in-fatal-car-accident/

          http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/06/07/national/main5069923.shtml

          http://www.kfire.us/Articles/Illegals_in_Tucson_Accident4-8.htm

        • Joanne says:

          I am talking about the accidents Illegals cause in my state of Arizona. I am talking about how that raises the costs. It is hard to get discounts from a hospital here. We have too much burden on our system . That is what I am saying. I am all for getting a cheaper rate. Suffice it to say it is very hard to do here with whats going on. There are COUNTLESS stories such as the one below.

          http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2009-06-07-arizona-crash_N.htm

        • Crystal says:

          @Jen, THANK YOU! I get so frustrated at people who have beliefs that “white” people or “US” born people are somehow worth more as humans. I’m sorry but my life is no more valuable than an illegal immigrant’s is. we all deserve healthcare and quality of life. Those immigrants, illegal are not are precious in His sight just as we are.

        • Angela says:

          @Jen, Thank you Jen for your comment that everyone’s life is worth saving, regardless of immigration status. My husband is one of those “illegals” as many like to say, and several years ago he was attacked by someone with a cinderblock. He had to be airlifted to the hospital, and needless to say if he had been turned away due to his status and not being insured he would have died. Not knowing how the system worked, he actually was trying to pay for the monstrous hospital bill until a friend advocated for him and made it known that he had been a victim of a crime, and therefore not responsible for paying the charges. I am sorry that my post is somewhat off topic, but i felt as though i wouldn’t be being true to myself if i didn’t speak out. I am tired of americans blaming every problem our country has on undocumented immigrants without stopping to think about the situation they are risking their lives to get away from.

    • cher says:

      @Jan,

      I agree here too, our health insurance went up $80 a month while my inlaws who have no health insurance basically got my mother-in-laws foot surgery paid for – humm I wonder why our insurance went up, could it be because so many people don’t have health insurance and abuse the system?

      • Joanne says:

        I actually know a woman who has her three kids on state care here that you have to qualify for. her husband is a Chiropractor in a nicer area and he has a great practice. She was bragging about it at lunch one day and I kept my mouth shut. I seriously was in shock! To get that insurance you have to have a very low income and I am 99% sure they do not. I know there is abuse of the system going on. This woman does not cook they eat out or get take out every night! I would rather cook my own food and have the money used for insurance. just saying….

        • Andrea Q says:

          @Joanne They could be fudging the numbers, but running a business (and carrying malpractice insurance) is expensive. You would probably be surprised by the actual “income” that is on the books after expenses.

      • Sherri says:

        @cher, Actually, the financial assistance offered by hospitals is funded through our state’s indigent care fund, so it is paid for by our taxes (probably federal and state), not our health insurance premiums. And at $40K salary, we still qualified for a 50% reduction of our hospital bill- which we did not apply for, since we had saved the $ ahead of time to cover our deductible.

        Now, uninsured motorists, on the other hand, do indeed affect premiums. We pay roughly $100 extra per year to protect ourselves from those who choose to operate a vehicle without auto insurance.

  • Erica says:

    Consider http://www.samaritanministries.org if you don’t have health insurance. This is their welcome statement: Samaritan Ministries International is a community of Christians from around the world joining together to bear one another’s health care burdens in a loving, cost-effective manner that doesn’t involve health insurance. If we didn’t already have health insurance through my husband’s company, this is what we would go with.

    • Monica says:

      @Erica, Samaritan Ministries is such a blessing to our family! We do not have insurance, and that is our choice. We prefer to participate in this organization and share the medical burdens of others while also allowing them to help us. When my daughter was born last year, we were blessed to pay everything out of pocket after receiving 25-40% discounts from the doctor’s office and the hospital. After submitting our need to Samaritan, other members were assigned to send us their monthly share to help cover our costs. We were blessed to have Samaritan members help us completely cover the cost of our daughter’s birth. It’s also a blessing each month, knowing that we aren’t paying premiums to pay somebody sitting in an office. Our monthly share goes directly to someone in need to help pay their medical bills. Thanks for mentioning the website. I encourage everyone to check out Samaritan Ministries!

    • Abbie says:

      @Erica, I know people that work there and others that use this “insurance”. Great Program!!

    • Tricia says:

      @Erica, Yes, this is a really good alternative to health insurance. We have been members for nearly 8 years and have been on both the giving and receiving ends of the spectrum. For us, as a couple, the cost is only $270/month which goes directly to the person/family that needs it plus $170/year to Samaritan to cover their monthly newsletter and administrative fees. This plan allows freedom to research and negotiate with doctors and medical people on how much they will charge and yet gives us piece of mind that we (with the help of other like-minded people) will be able to pay for any medical needs that arise up to $250,000 (for a little more a month they have a plan that will help with needs over this amount). The basic plan is especially good for young healthy adults who are no longer covered under their parents plans. It’s not very expensive ($99-$135/month) and yet if an emergency arrives, it’s there. Also, the deductible is extremely low – only $300 per incidence and if you get any kind of discount for paying in cash and/or paying up front Samaritan subtracts that off your deductible first. What a great incentive to negotiate a bit with your health care providers. We have been blessed by and through this organization and we praise the Lord that it is still legal even with all the changes our President is making to the health care system here in America. We plan to stick with Samaritan Ministries for a long, long time.

    • Teresa says:

      @Erica, We have been with them for over 10 year and can’t say enough good things. Four of our five children have been born under the plan and my husband had heart testing with it as well. Right now our youngest medical needs are being sent to us each day. After working with the companies we still had over 50,000 in medical bills due to several complication before and after the birth and 100% will be paid. We really like the fact that it does not support anything we would find to be unbiblical. No abortions, homosexuality, or drug users. Most insurance groups cover for things I don’t want my money doing.

    • Kathryn says:

      @Erica, What a coincidence–I was going to mention this kind of option for those who don’t have the money for health insurance or object to it on principal. One of my good friends belongs to a healthcare sharing ministry, and she has been very happy with it. I think she belongs to a different group, not Samaritan Ministries, but it operates the same way.

      • @Kathryn, We use a program similar to Samaritan Ministries… it is Medi-share. We are very pleased with it, and the rates are less than when we were insured by Anthem. We love it and it has been a blessing for our family.

        • Rebecca says:

          @Jaime @ Like a Bubbling Brook,
          Please be careful regarding Medi-share and other “share” plans. In the past these plans have failed due to greed at the top. If you have a huge bill or serious illness they are not technically obligated to pay as you expect they will (although I’m not sure their case would stand in court). Medi-share is not permitted in some states since they will not be open to oversight. I have had a horrible experience with them and their deplorable paperwork inattention when my MIL had a terminal illness. Although Medi-share did eventually pay I would not wish the heartache my MIL experienced on anyone else. Buy “real” insurance. My MIL found out literally days before she died that Medi-share would pay her bills and her husband wouldn’t end up losing what they had worked their lives for in order to pay for 6 months of her terminal cancer. Medi-share made a painfull life experience worse.

  • Liz says:

    That is an amazing story!! Luckily my new job offers 3–$0 paid by employee/mo plan, and I chose the lowest deductible one. I am opting to pay for dental insurance as I appear to have my dad’s problem of no matter how well you take care of your teeth–we have genetic dental problems.

  • Mey says:

    While we do have health insurance I believe Samaritans Ministry is a good option for those who do not have it due to ethical reasons or season in life

    http://www.samaritanministries.org/

    • @Mey, We actually canceled our health insurance in favor of Samaritan Ministry, and I think it’s a better option for a lot of people. The OOP expenses after our third daughter’s birth was $3,000. After our fourth daughter’s birth, we paid the bill in full with shares we received from other members. No OOP expense, no help needed from the assistance program or state insurance.

      Families with preexisting conditions might be able to find a better plan, but we’ve been 100% happy with Samaritan’s.

  • Jennifer says:

    I would love to talk (or email) with Jody! Not b/c of the insurance situation, but b/c I too have ulcerative colitis and was having extreme pain, only to find ovarian cysts. It is hard to find someone who has the same situation and I would love to be able to talk to someone who has been through it…

  • Sarah says:

    My husband and I own a business. Providing insurance for our employees is something we would like to do but are simply unable to afford at this time. Since we cannot offer it to our employees we choose not to carry it for ourselves. We have paid for the births of our 3 children, my husband’s retina reattachment surgery and all doctors visits out of our own pocket for the past 11 years. We too have found that facilities are willing to negotiate prices when we pay cash up front because they do not have to pay someone to pursue payment from other parties. With the births of our children, we simply were set up on a payment plan.

    This is one of those topics that is subject to personal opinion just like home-school vs public school or breastfeeding vs bottle feeding and the last thing I want to do is ruffle any feathers. I respect everyone’s opinions. However, I am a little confused about how others think they “end up paying” for our decision to not carry insurance. We simply pay the amount the facilities and doctors tell us to pay when we tell them we are private pay patients and will be paying cash. I don’t see how that is affecting the amount that anyone else is having to pay.

    • Joanne says:

      Just would like to answer you here is thats okay….

      We end up all paying for it when the person receiving the health care is unable to pay for a variety of reasons. This could be they do not have the money to pay the huge huge bill. This could mean they had the money and did not pay it. This could mean they are here illegally and simply get it free. This could also mean a ER visit with a minor complaint and have no intention of paying. That is very expensive and we all pay for it.

      • Joanne says:

        sheesh one more thing…. we pay about 700 a month (our portion) for a family of five and with a HUGE deductable too. My urget care is $75 and the ER is a $200 copay so I mean we have it rough too. Three teenagers and knock on wood we have had no problems. But you just never know and we like having our health insurance. I would love to have that extra $700 a month! I could pay a lot of debt with that.

        • Mey says:

          @Joanne, Joanne, you are correct. Pricing structures for medical care are designed in such a way that the hospital can take care of the uninsured and still profit. The fact is the Bible instructs us to take care of the poor, the widow and the orphan. Since most of us refuse to sacrificially obey to this mandate it appears the Lord, the government and the healthcare system have found a way to make us fulfill our Christian responsibility regardless of our willingness to do it. If it gives you any comfort, the majority of illegal aliens work with “borrowed” social security numbers of deceased individuals, this means the government is receiving their share of taxes, and social security but these individuals will never cash in. A very large contribution going to the national treasure that you and I will get to enjoy someday.

          Rest assured, even if 100% of the population was insured, the healthcare system would not decrease their pricing structure. Instead their profit margins would increase. The majority of my friends and family in the medical profession from nurses all the way to neurologists make incomes starting in the 6 figures and as high as millions. In terms of allocation very little of your $700 is going towards the care of uninsured individuals.

          Thank the Good Lord you have the ability to pay $700 monthly and graciously accept the concept of community. I know individuals who work over 60 hours per week and make less per month than what you pay in insurance. Their super low pay allows you and I to have very affordable vegetables at our local grocery store.

        • Jill says:

          @Joanne, All I have to say is, Mey, your comment is awesome. And Biblical. And compassionate.

        • Mey says:

          @Joanne, @Jill, Thank you! As I meditated upon my comment I was reminded that I too take advantage of a cooperative model in which I don’t contribute my fair share. I do it with the intent of stewardship and it is perfectly legal. Since we visit this blog we are all likely to be participants of this very crime. It is called hyper-couponing. We often pay nothing or very little for our groceries while other individuals pay for our share. I am glad I do this as it allows me to bless others but I also need to be cognizant of the fact that this is only possible because there are people willing to be brand-loyal and pay full price for their groceries and household goods in order to sustain a viable economy.
          On another note, I am glad my premiums allow for the severely ill to access treatments worth millions of dollars, I am glad it also allows for the indigent, elderly, and chronically ill to receive basic care. At the end I must recognize that it is not my money but the Lord’s and He could if He wished lead the hearts of our leaders like a stream of water in His hands toward healthcare reform that disregards the needy.

          All pride set aside most of us have very fragile finances and could find ourselves in the very position we so much critique. Most Americans are but a paycheck away from loosing their homes.

        • Rebekah says:

          @Mey,

          Thank you. I tend to get sucked into the same mindset, and I really needed to hear that today!

        • Joanne says:

          Mey?

          I do not see where I am not fulfilling my “christian” duty by denying people medical access. I am roman Catholic actually and its great for our family. I guess I dont see why you would think I can buy coverage for everyone. I simply cannot! But please do not try and make it like I am trying to deny people medical attention. My intent is to let others know you are indeed paying for your non-paying fellow man here. As far as my $700 per month not going towards much of other people healthcare. That makes no sense!!!! Sorry but that is how I and I am sure many others feel.

          As a side note if you live in a Border state you will probably have even more to say on this very subject!

        • Vanessa says:

          @Mey,

          What a wonderful response but I wanted to make a comment concerning Social Security. My husband works for SSA, so I’ve been blessed (or not so blessed) with a plethora of information. You are right that a lot of illegal immigrants use social security numbers that are not rightfully theirs, whether the social security number belonged to someone deceased or someone still living. However, now I don’t know 100% the ins and outs of this but as my husband explained to me, that an illegal immigrant, once they legally are granted citizenship can claim whatever they contributed to the social security number that they used falsely. Therefore, they can in return, still get benefits etc. I’m not 100% sure how they get away with this but it’s one of the things that my husband informed me of that we personally believe is a bit corrupt with SSA.

          He wasn’t aware of this until he dealt with a case that exposed it to him. The most recent case dealt with an illegal immigrant who used a social security number for 15 years. Once discovered, he was deported but he is allowed to apply for citizenship in 10 years. If he is granted that citizenship, he’ll beable to claim everything he put into social security, even though it was not legally his social security number.

      • Mey says:

        @Joanne, Again; you are correct. As an individual you are unable to pay for healthcare for “everyone”. That set aside you are a member of a community and as such you have an inherent social burden for collective responsibilities This includes the cooperative model of insurance which is not equally distributed but instead is distributed on a need-based model in which some people pay more than they use and others use more than they pay. The same applies to taxes in relationship to utilization of services or even as a mentioned above the culture of couponing.

        As someone who resides in a border state (Texas), I understand your frustration as it relates to illegal immigration but frustration does not diminish our moral responsibility to aid the poor, the broken, the sick, the orphan and the widow.

        I seriously question you have what it takes to personally stand in front of an ER and deny care to those in need. Furthermore you must remember that medical practitioners are subject to the hippocratic oath and must adhere to a higher standard, one which regards life as precious regardless of capacity to pay.

        If you really think about it, the fairest model would be uninsured and liable for all medical debt. This ensures you and I don’t pay for NICU bills of babies we did not birth, cancer treatments of strangers or fractures of bones we did no break ourselves. We would only and exclusively pay for our bill even if it took us the rest of our life or in forced us to liquidate all of our assets.

        The Catholic faith is guided by the same premises as most evangelical creeds. Catholic Charities understands this and for this reason their clinics across the country offer free healthcare to the needy.
        As a catholic I do hope you use the Bible as a tool to provide you with guiding principles to govern your actions.

        I use this principles as a guideline for my life not because I fully agree with them or understand fully but because I am called to obedience of the will of God.
        To this end my observations regarding healthcare are influenced by the following Biblical commands and examples:
        Regarding aliens the Bible says:

        “The alien living with you must be treated as one of your native-born. Love him as yourself, for you were aliens in Egypt. I am the LORD your God.”

        Regarding the poor the Bible says:

        “There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land.”

        Regarding the orphans and widows the Bible says:
        “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

        Regarding paying for the healthcare of others the Bible says:
        In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have. Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

        I am incredibly glad the good samaritan did not ask the man by the side of the road if he had paid his share, nor did he check his national origin. I hope and pray God shapes our hearts to always be willing to give two silver coins and commit to pay the rest of the bill on our return.
        As for your $700 note that many other commenters with insurance have listed medical bills in the millions.

        • Elizabeth says:

          @Mey,

          Well, you can preach the Bible to me anytime you want because I need it! Thank you for your thoughtful and thought-provoking post. It was a sermon-and-a-half! I am always disappointed at Christians (including myself, sometimes) who feel like the government is taking “their” money to spend on social programs. It isn’t my money (it’s God’s) and if it is being spent on Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare, on providing clean water and sewer services, on ambulances and 911 services, on education and housing and child care and disability services, I say “Huzzah!” That’s not to ignore the realities of the challenges we face (which are great, and real, as Joanne has pointed out), but to refocus our energies and attitudes as we work together towards solutions. Our challenges do not arise out of our love and generosity and compassion, they come when we react with hate, miserliness, and condemnation. (And I will keep reminding myself of that every time I feel the need to grumble, too!) Thank you for reminding me of what I WANT to think and feel. 🙂

      • Mey says:

        @Vannesa, Your husband is correct. There are ways to appeal and have credits for contributions. The vast majority of aliens are too afraid or too ignorant to make such claims.

    • Melissa says:

      @Sarah, The problem comes in when people who don’t carry insurance can’t or don’t pay the bills. If they’re at a mercy hospital, the facility is required to provide treatment regardless of a patient’s ability to pay. If the patient does not pay, that cost is passed on to other consumers – either the government pays for it with our taxes, or the hospital charges other consumers higher rates to absorb the cost. If someone gets cancer or has a serious car accident, there could be literally millions of dollars in medical costs.

      • Dani says:

        @Melissa, This is to Mey! What a great post that was! That is so true!

      • Joanne says:

        I agree 100 % Melissa

        • Leah says:

          @Joanne, I don’t claim to be an expert on this issue, because I certainly am not, but I do believe that part of the reasons the medical industry is having issues is due to the insurance companies, not simply the people who are uninsured not paying bills. Part of the reason charges are so inflated is that insurance companies “settle” claims for only a portion of what is billed. To offset this, bills are higher, so the “settled” amount (usually around 50% of the billed amount, in my experience) still covers the actual cost of the service and allows for a profit to be made. I know I’ve read articles about Medical Mutual in particular, where medical operations are struggling to make a profit off of what MM pays out on its claims. Insurance companies are making huge profits and pay very little. I do have insurance, but I struggle with the idea of paying a company to make such a large profit off of me and to short change my doctors. Anyway, my point is that you can’t strictly blame the uninsured for hospitals being shut down.
          And it is not just the uninsured who cannot always afford their bills. Even with insurance, people can struggle to pay off hospital bills. This places financial stress on the hospitals, too, but is sometimes unavoidable (not saying that people shouldn’t make payments on their bills, but sometimes it is not possible to pay the total monthly amount that the hospital would like. You also have to take into account that billing a person actually costs a hospital money because they need staff to keep track of that, they pay for paper and stamps to mail out bills, etc).
          Not to mention the fact that you have not addressed people who are uninsured but cannot get insurance.
          I’m just saying that it is very simple to say that “the uninsured” are wholly responsible for shutting down hospitals. I think there are other factors at stake.

        • Leah says:

          @Joanne, I also want to add that the blanket statement “hospitals cannot refuse medical treatment” is not true. There are some treatments that can be refused if a patient is unable to pay (varies by state and whether a hospital is public/private). Most doctors can also refuse some/all treatments based on a client’s inability to pay. Most hospitals are required to stabilize an individual and their responsibility ends there. But, like I said, it does vary.

      • Joanne says:

        Correct. That is my point also.

  • Suzy Ivy says:

    I think insurance is really, really important. Luckily Jody’s story ended there, but it could have gone on to include costly cancer treatments, and how much of that can one person really handle?

  • Melissa says:

    If you can’t afford insurance, another option would be to consider a health co-op. One of my co-workers is part of one called Samaritan Ministries (www.samaritanministries.org). Many of these co-ops are Christian organizations. It’s not health insurance, but rather a group of people who all contribute monthly toward everyone’s medical costs. My employer offers a pretty good insurance plan, but my co-worker likes her co-op so much that she has stuck with it instead (for over 20 years). I think the monthly costs are somewhere in the $200-$300 range.

    • Diana says:

      You’re very right about the health co-op. My husband and I are part of Christian Healthcare Ministries, and we love it. The “cost” (or more accurately, monthly donation) depends on your deductible (how much you’ll pay before the other members/organization starts paying). Our deductible is high- $5000, but because of that, we only need to give $90 per month. The money that we save by not having traditional insurance allows us to shop around more and get better deals than having to work within the restrictions of certain insurances. In our case, my husband and I are both young and healthy, and the most likely medical costs we will be incurring in the next few years is pregnancy related. CHM will cover those costs much easier and better than most insurance packages. I also just love the idea of paying for my own regular doctor visits, and for unexpected costs or emergencies, a group of Christians will be taking care of my needs, and I their’s in similar situations.

  • Bethany says:

    Health insurrance is very difficult for a lot of people! When my husband started his own business we decided to go ahead and purchase our own policy. It literally cost us thousands in just 1 year and we didn’t get 1 penny out of it because we didn’t have anything major that year. If it was just the 2 of us we would also go uninsured and save up money in a health savings account to pay for things. With 3 kids however we decided we must have insurance and so we are now on state health care – which we actually HATE being on but financially there isn’t any other option for us. We have looked into getting ust the 2 of us on a self pay plan but it is so expensive and covers nothing.
    In the last 2 years we have had 1 ambulance ride for my daughter and also a CT scan and x-rays for that same visit and 3 emergency room visits for my husband. 1 was “just” stiches in a very bad wound that also required strong antibiotics and pain killers, 1 was for a very badly sprained ankle that ended up being torn ligaments that will eventually require surgery, and the third ended up being appendicitis!! That required about 10 hours in the ER with a CT scan and loads of medicine, then an operation and 2 nights in the hospital for recovery. Now my daughter has Lyme disease! If it weren’t for our insurance we would be bankrupt which would likely result in us losing our business and our house. So I’m thanking the Lord for our insurance!

  • cher says:

    My son had open heart surgery at 4 months old and we got a bill for over $100,000 just for the surgery part – not the entire NICU stay. I could not imagine paying for that without insurance and at a time like that I couldn’t imagine bargain shopping for my son’s health. As much as I hate paying for health insurance, I thank it everyday for giving my son the best possible care and treatment he could.

    • Anja says:

      Your story just made me cry. God bless you and your little angel. I’m happy he got the help he needed.

      • cher says:

        @Anja, Me too! He is now a very active 3 year old who does have to see the cardiologist regularly and may need another surgery in a a few years, but for now he is doing great! Thanks!

  • Trixie says:

    As important as insurance is, I agree there are some situations where people just can’t do it. My own family was in this situation growing up — plus it was a lot less common for people to have health insurance in general at that time.

    I grew up in a rural area, and there were some local farm families that lost litterally everything but the clothes on their back because of medical bills due to farm accidents. We went to some of those farm auctions; it was heart wrenching to watch the people standing there weeping as all their belongs and livelyhood are sold off to their friends and neighbors. I vowed this would never happen to me.

    As a young person out on my own at age 16 the first thing I did was pony up $40 a month so I could have some health insurance. That was the same as one month’s rent and a LOT of money to me, but it was a very high priority for me.

  • Louise says:

    Even with insurance, medical bills can be costly. When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, my OOP bills that year were $15,000. I met the catastrophic ceiling ($5000) and thereafter, insurance covered all the bills. There is this clause in my policy – out of network – and sometimes, you don’t know until after the fact, but you have to pay these doctors different fees than the in-network doctors.

    I’ve since paid off all the OOP; however, I dread to think what would’ve happened had I not had medical insurance.

    I know a man whose wife had cancer – he had to sell off a family inheritance to pay the medical bills. Medical bills can be devastating. Even w/insurance, some people get hit really hard w/these expenses.

  • Allison says:

    We have a deductible and use a debit card attached to an HSA. When I get the bill in the mail, I call and tell the billing department I’ll be paying with cash using a debit card, and ask if there is a discount. Usually they give me 20% off.

  • We have found that most healthy families can afford health insurance. For us it’s just $400 a month plus $6,000 a year co-pays.

    Most people spend 1/2 that eating out and watching cable!

    • Daisha says:

      @Tawra@Living On A Dime, Who do you get your insurance through?

    • Allison says:

      @Tawra@Living On A Dime, I have found that most people spend the most time with people most like them…including their income bracket. =)

      We do not fall into your category of “most healthy families.” My husband made 19K last year, we have 3 small children and daycare costs would far outweigh any income I might make, we live in “low income” housing that costs more than the mortgage on our foreclosed house, we have old cars, liability-only auto insurance, the cheapest internet available, the smallest cell phone plan, and my kids’ shots and the food on our table are paid by others’ tax money (Medicaid & food stamps). And forget co-pays…I used to wonder how I would afford my next bottle of laundry soap or shampoo, until I found MoneySavingMom and the wonderful world of freebies! We do not eat out or watch cable. But we are debt free and use no credit cards (Dave Ramsey would be proud!)

      So while a lot of families *can* afford $400/month, a lot can *not*. It may just be that you don’t know the ones like me. =)

      • Crystal says:

        I am so proud of you for being debt-free as a family of five living on $19K a year. Way to go! And here’s to hoping your husband gets a great raise soon!

      • @Allison, don’t worry I not only know those people I used to be one! We paid off 20K in debt in 5 years on 22K yr. income so I totally feel your pain.
        There are some people who simply cannot afford and I totally understand that but…. a lot of families can and just choose not to buy it.
        When your income is that low the only way to afford in that case is to raise your income so please don’t think I’m talking about that kind of thing.

        • Crystal says:

          @Tawra@Living On A Dime, I would love to hear your story of how you paid off $20K in 5 years w/ only 22k income! I owe that much in student loans and would LOVE to be able to share w/ my husband a story of someone who has done that so quickly.

        • Allison says:

          @Tawra@Living On A Dime, Thanks Tawra, I really hoped I didn’t come off as rude…I was actually a little amused as I wrote it. I do feel alienated by some family members who like to gripe about the “lazy non-working people living off their tax money” blah blah blah. You’re totally right, the only way to afford it is to raise the income.

          Crystal, thanks for the encouragement. Your blog has inspired me so much this last year. We’ve actually only been debt-free since tax time 2009, when our $10K return paid off all our debt. And it looks like the raise may be mine though…hubby quit his job, and I’ll probably have better luck finding one, so he’s gonna try the Mr. Mom thing, assuming he can handle the diapers! (He is taking classes so it won’t be a permanent thing) Someday I hope to meet you and hug you for inspiring me and helping us get through this. Thanks Crystal!

    • anonymous says:

      @Tawra@Living On A Dime,
      Wow!!! $400 a month???? We barely make $2000/mo. We surely do not spend $400 on eating out and we don’t have TV!! Our children qualify for state insurance, but my husband and I don’t have anything. We own a small business. Some months we have to pick and choose which bills to pay and which to pay the next month. We checked into Samaritin/Medi-Share/Christian Brotherhood, but we simply can’t afford the monthly premium.

  • capri says:

    When my daughter was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes – out of the blue and was in a coma it cost half a million to save her – our cost was 2K. She would have died. When you are making a choice for you as an individual – thats a personal choice. But, when you bring others into the equation its no longer a choice its a duty.

    • Emily says:

      @capri, I agree. As a parent, I feel it is my responsibility to make sure my children are taken care of in every way. To me, that includes providing them with healthcare coverage. My daughter has Sturge-Weber syndrome and is on several medications daily for glaucoma. She could face eye surgery any day. I just can’t imagine that possibility without health insurance.

  • Joanne says:

    Grrrr… !!!

    Even with insurance we get zapped. I had a colonoscopy in 95 and the Dr. was in network. Of course the anesthesiologist was NOT!. It eneded up costing an extra $75. I called the number on the bill to start my campaiging er I mean Complaining LOL. It was a local number and the lady who answered I think was his wife? There was a dog barking in the backround so I assumed it was a home number or somehing. I explained what happened to her. She told me to call my ins and tell them I could not choose my dr and they should pay it. She told me to call her back and let her know what they said. I call my insurance and they said no. I just decided to pay it. Was a very annoying situation though.

  • Amanda says:

    I agree that health insurance is very important. I have one set of relatives who are both on disability and have had literally MILLIONS in health care covered by the government, while another set of relatives forgoes vacations and saving for retirement to two grand a month for state high risk insurance (wife had cancer).

    It is very difficult to see some people making responsible decisions and paying heavily, while others make irresponsible decisions and don’t pay a cent. There is certainly something wrong with the system.

    Just a note, for those of you who may have health insurance, but no dental insurance, DEFINITELY bargain with your dentist. By paying cash upfront, you can still afford to get cleanings (you will pay for it later with painful cavities if you skip them), and we got discounts on a costly crown by paying cash.

  • Lisa H says:

    I wanted to comment on the “it never hurts to ask” portion of the article…
    I had a baby in April and we have insurance and a Flexible Spending Account through my husband’s work. Our bill from the hospital was about $550, but on the bill it mentioned a discount if your portion of the bill was for co-insurance, which ours was. I called, with our Flex Spending Account debit card in hand, and the billing lady immediately halved our bill! Easiest $225 I’ve ever saved. What a nice surprise! It’s definitely worth asking.

  • JavaChick says:

    I know some people can afford Insurance and bash others who cant (by saying we are paying higher premiums bc of the UNHEALTHY or uninsured ones)
    thats not how it works – I have been in the Insurance field for __ years – and the only reason your premiums truly rise – is because doctors are charging more for your visit and Everyone has to make money. There are so many fees and taxes slapped to your premium that the Ins company does not want to pay out – so they charge the Insured instead and then the pointing of your fingers begin.
    Next time look at your bills and see how much those “tests” that the doctors order cost – call a different laboratory not affiliated with that doctor and find out how much they would cost out of pocket – you will be astonished by the difference – but you can add a “convenience” fee to that and then you get the hefty premiums, and unhappy consumers.
    Because in reality – untill we all really start realizing how corrupted the health system really is – we will all keep pointing away.

    • Crystal says:

      @JavaChick, Yep, it’s REALLY sad! I don’t have insurance and until recently there was a doctor in town who made it his ministry to provide affordable health care to patients who had no insurance. When I first got pregnant my labwork was going to cost $250. I went to this doctor and they did the EXACT SAME labwork and provided it to me at cost, plus a small $5 fee for drawing the blood and handling it. They charged me $20. Seriously.

  • Suzanne says:

    I used to be on a high horse about insurance, too. Then, due to no fault of our own, we lost it and could not afford private insurance and eat, too. $400 a month may not be much to some people, but it was to us at the time. There are situations where you literally have no other options.

    This was a hard, hard lesson for me and very humbling. While I certainly understand the comments, please understand that there really are good people who hold down jobs and pay their bills who simply cannot afford insurance. I certainly think you should take advantage of it if it’s offered and you can. But realize this is not an option for everyone. Moving or getting a “better” job isn’t an option for everyone, either. Not everyone who doesn’t have health insurance *chooses* not to have it. You really don’t know until you walk in their shoes and you only see what they choose to show you.

    I hope that the readers of this site will not be in such a position, but it does happen. Believe me, I’ve had to eat my words about health insurance and it is very humbling.

    • Melissa says:

      @Suzanne, I understand why having health insurance is a problem for some people. My dad was a self-employed farmer when I was growing up; he never made a ton of money, and group health plans were never available to him. I’ve gone most of my life without having a group plan. I know all too well how costly individual private plans are, and how people who have those plans are more likely to get screwed over by the insurance company. Plus, my husband had a spinal fusion to correct scoliosis when he was 19; even though there’s almost no chance of something going wrong with that now, he still can’t get private insurance because of it, so he’s dependent on having access to a group plan. So, I know how elusive good health coverage can be. But, at the same time, I know that going without it can be a HUGE risk, and that we could literally be wiped out financially if anything major were to happen. That was why I (and several others) mentioned the health co-op option. It’s an affordable option without many of the downsides of health insurance. The Christian ones usually require you to be a Christian, and I think they may require you to abstain from things like smoking.

      • Suzanne says:

        @Melissa, We now do actually use a Christian co-op, Melissa, and I am extremely thankful for it. I just wanted people to realize that it’s easy to sit there and say we should all have insurance when that really *isn’t* possible for some people.

  • Crystal says:

    For our family Health Insurance is a must (just ONE of my son’s daily medications would cost us over $43k per year without insurance).

    That said, you can use these same practices to save money on your out of pocket expenses. We have several Doctors/Dentists who offer us a 15% discount when you pay in cash (versus a cred it card). I didn’t know until I asked.

  • Becky says:

    When we didn’t have any dental insurance I would watch the newspaper and when a new dental office opened in town they would always have coupon specials on cleaning, exams, and x-rays. I was able to get through 5 years w/o dental insurance this way. I would go once a year and only pay about $60 for everything, using a new office each time. They were great!

  • Withheld says:

    I understand that most people that have chosen to comment on this article have health insurance. I understand that you are grateful for it, are willing to pay for it, have the opportunity, etc, etc. However, there are some things you should understand:
    1 – not all people that are without health insurance are without it because we “take advantage” of a system. I have a chronic health condition – Lupus – which automatically declines my coverage from any and all affordable insurance options at this time. We are self-employed and therefore are unable to purchase our plan from group coverage.
    2- not all people without health insurance are in the country illegally and not all people that cannot pay for medical care do so out of some type of attempt to again “take advantage” of a system.
    3 – $400 a month is A LOT of money to spend for many families who go without eating out, without cable TV and without multiple cars or many of the niceties in life already. Especially when self-employed – most of the policies we looked into will not cover well exams or pretty much anything. The $500-$800 is for catastrophic events only, and that does not cover things like cancer.

    I would encourage all of you who think that health insurance is a given that you may want to re-adjust your thinking. Health insurance is a “benefit” from your employers because it is a LUXURY. Take care of your health, treat your body right, make the best choices you can to eat and exercise and sleep. Stay away from harmful substances. Do what is right for your family and your body. You’ll be blessed in the long run. And, should your health take a turn for the worse in the long run, know that there are options available for you. Doctors understand, hospitals take payment plans. All those huge medical bills will be paid off in time, and usually at a much lower monthly payment than an overpriced insurance plan that pockets your hard earned money every month just so you can have peace of mind.

    That’s my two cents.

    • ModernMama says:

      @Withheld,
      Interesting comments. I see points 1, 2, and 3.

      But I think you’re off base on stating that employers offer insurance as a luxury benefit. Employers offer insurance benefits to stay competitive in the market with other employers. I had a job for a short time that didn’t offer health coverage. When I realized what financial peril I was putting myself in should something catastrophic happen, I found another job that had insurance. That employer lost my (very talented, might I say) contribution to their company because they offered subpar benefits. It’s about companies staying competitive for the best talent rather than splurging employees with “luxury” benefits.

      • Withheld says:

        @ModernMama,
        Companies pay for your health insurance benefits from the same wage budget that they use for your salary compensation. If you account for that, you may also account for the fact that you’re being under compensated for your “talents”

        • ModernMama says:

          @Withheld,

          This is not true. A company can purchase insurance coverage at a discounted cost based on the number of members they’ll cover. Were a single member try to buy the same coverage by themselves, they’d pay a MUCH higher cost as we see many voicing here. So the take home benefit is greater to the member than if they just took their base wages.

        • Withheld says:

          @Withheld,
          It absolutely is true. When a company is putting together a compensation package they take into account how much a person earns as opposed to how much it costs the company to keep the employee and how much they make off of the employee. For example. If your compensation is $50K per year your company also pays taxes in addition to your wages and benefits including any sick leave and insurance benefits. So, an employee that is paid out 50K per year usually costs a company more around the range of 75K per year give or take depending on the benefits offered. Now, if you are strictly administrative that is entirely overhead – in other words – you’re not earning the company money and they have to eat 100% of the costs of keeping you there. But if you are an asset to the company, if you earn them money then they take that into account when they put together your compensation package – say that they estimate you will earn the company 150K and your package is worth 75K their total profit margin would be 75K – you may want to make sure you understand how a company looks at their bottom line before you start arguing with someone that runs their own company.

    • Suzanne says:

      @Withheld, Well said, Withheld! Well said! Thank you!

  • Lori says:

    Also, if you don’t have dental insurance and you have a dental school near you, you can save a considerable amount of money by going there. It does take more time, but it’s worth the cost savings.

  • I was 27 and out on my own and diagnosed with lymphoma in the same month I had left my job and tried unsuccessfully to cancel my COBRA insurance to switch to a cheaper catastrophic plan (couldn’t cancel mid-month- Thank God!). Had I not had insurance, I would have paid more in medical bills than my husband and I paid for our first house. One medicine (of many) billed out at $10,000.00 (yes all those zeros are right) per dose. Our insurance negotiated it down and paid $3,500 per dose. I can’t imagine where we would be today had we had to manage all those bills.
    If insurance is not a viable option, look into co-ops. I know a number of self employed folks who are part of co-ops like Samaritans Ministries and have had invaluable assistance with medical situations. Today, in most cases, medicine is just another industry trying to make a profit. Unfortunately, most of their profits are made during someone else’s crisis.
    Bottom line: prepare as best you can to protect your family should crisis hit and don’t be wooed by the complacency that says that “it would never happen to us”.

  • linda says:

    I have had ulcerative colitis for over 13 years and have health insurance. I have had to go through waiting periods in order for the insurance to cover me when I had to switch companies but I was almost always covered…I would plan ahead and pay for both insurances in order to insure coverage. I am so thankful for health insurance. I have to get remicade infusions in order to maintain my disease and its extremely costly medication. Praise the Lord that we can pay for our medical bills and carry health insurance.

  • Lexy says:

    Bravo to Jody!

    I for one am apalled that one of the biggest nations in the world has a very broken medical system all the way around.

    I do not have health insurance, and became very sick last summer with both pneumonia and strep. I refused to go to the hospital, because I did not want to incur the bill. I was very lucky to find a doctor whom I was able to pay $75 for, and was given some antibiotics as samples. I am very much in between a rock and a hard place when I have to make the decision to may a high premium for health insurance, or for college out of my pocket. I choose the latter. While it is all very well and good to get health insurance if you can afford it, there is a HIGH percentage of bankruptcies here in America that relate to medical expenses. I am all for doctors making money, nurses, insurance companies, etc. I get it, they need to be paid for their services etc., I also become so enraged when I see insurance ceos making millions of dollars example: H Edward Hanway CEO of Cigna made over $12M, Angela Braly, CEO of Wellpoint, over $9M… and we are talking about individual’s salary here, not companies. It boggles my mind to think people are making hand over fist of money, and how are they making money? By making sure people feel “security” by having insurance, and being paid to deny more claims than they accept. Illegals are the least of our problem here. Being sick should never have to be a HUGE profit to anyone, never.

    I have had the experience of hearing a friend’s heartbreaking store of how when she donated a kidney to her sister (both of them were fully insured), they dropped my friend from her insurance because she was now labeled “high risk”. How do this make any sense? I’ve had to watch my father who faithfully paid his health insurance premiums for 30+ years, go without when he was unemployed (COBRA is a joke) and when he really needed it (had a bad allergic reaction one day in the yard) did not want to risk going to the doctor, because he was afraid of the bill. And thankfully, he was ok after a few days.

    Again, congrats to Jody! The fact that doctors/hospitals are willing to work with us just serves to make a point that they’d rather NOT hassle with the insurance companies, because it’s the insurance job to haggle and get away with not paying for as many claims.

  • Lindsey S says:

    Wow, that’s pretty impressive. I also don’t have health insurance so I understand how great it feels to save money. My boyfriend’s insurance company wanted to charge him $3000 for a CT scan and he had insurance. Talk about a bad deal compared to your scan cost.

  • Heather says:

    You were very blessed to find someone who would reduce your rate because of paying cash. I am sure they appreciated not having to bill you.

  • Clear Choice says:

    While I too like having health insurance to cover for large or emergency expenses, this post still has a great deal of utility (especially because my deductible is so high). It pays to pray, and apparently, pays to call around.

  • Melissa says:

    Wow….interesting to listen to all the comments.

    We are actually quite thankful for our insurance as well. My first son was born with severe meconium aspiration, sepsis, and pulmonary hypertension. He was on heart-lung bypass for 11 days (which would have cost over 500,000…) not including his 43 day NICU stay. His health bills have reached over 1 million and thankfully we have a 2 million max per person (which is amazing to me). Initilly when we had concerns, we went to talk with a financial advisor b/c we didn’t know how much insurance would cover, etc., and were getting a little nervous. 🙂 She informed us that at this hospital, they always provide whatever care the children need regardless of finances and have a multitude of opportunities for people to get grants, etc., but that she sends out over 400 letters a week with only a couple responses back. The majority of those who are uninsured just choose to let the hospitals (and Americans through taxes, etc.) eat the cost rather than just fill out paperwork for money that the hospital has from donors if they follow the appropriate venues. It was really frustrating to me b/c we worked hard to afford our deductibles. I know probably the majority of people on this website are much more responsible stewards with their money 🙂 but I think that is one of the problems we face with some others who are uninsured and don’t really care. (Obviously that excludes a lot of people on here as many of you are very wise stewards without other options of carrying insurance). It’s a complicated problem! 🙂

  • Claudia says:

    My husband and I don’t go to the dentist very often because we don’t have dental insurance, and often when we do go it ends up costing so much because we’ve waited so long. I’m going to try this with the dentist, “shop around”! Thanks for sharing your story Jody. I pray you get completely healed, in the end Jesus is the most powerful healer of all.

    • Jody says:

      @Claudia, You may want to look at oramedia.com . There are some e-books that talk about becoming dentally self-sufficient that can save you a bundle!

  • ModernMama says:

    I have a relative who has elected not to have health insurance because she trusts God to take care of her physically. Maybe this is great faith, or maybe it’s great folly. If something bad happens to her health, I wonder if she’ll connect that dots that the tax payers picking up her bill when she lands in the ER are shouldering the burden of her leap of faith.

    We have ERs closing around here because of uninsured users.

    Health care for all sounds like a great idea. But the numbers are a harsh reality check. We can’t pay for it as a country. Even taxing the rich in to oblivion won’t get us there.

    • Heather says:

      @ModernMama, Yep, where I’m from in rural VA (only 3 hours away from D.C., the hospital won’t deliver babies anymore due that problem. Women have to go 2 hours away to Richmond.

      • Melissa says:

        @Heather, Ours around here is having the same problem (some doctors are leaving the practices b/c of issues with uninsured and frustrations there) which begs my other question- aren’t hospitals required to treat those without insurance anyway? I have read a lot of comments about how those without insurance have to go without treatment for serious issues and how wrong that is (and I agree if that is the case), but I was told that they are required to treat uninsured the same as insured- we got to know a LOT of families in these type of situations when we were in the NICU with my son. Their children got the same treatment as ours and they didn’t have insurance. So it seems as though they are still treated? I agree that it’s really complicated- health care should be accessible to all people- but I also think there are a lot of people out there who make that difficult by abusing the “system” that was set up to help them. Not that I think those who aren’t abusing it and are truly trying to make ends meet should be punished for those who are abusive to the system, but it creates a problem.

        Another question….aren’t there options out there for at the very least emergency health care? When I was just out of college and couldn’t afford insurance, I chose to just pay for major medical (had I not done that I would have checked into Samaritan’s Purse or another program out there like that- there are many out there) and it was quite cheap. Of course it only covered me if something serious happened- but thankfully I had it, because I had a serious accident while on it when I was counseling at a camp and it helped pay for some emergency treatment I received that I would never have been able to afford. Just curious if that would be an option for those in a tough spot at the moment….?

    • Joanne says:

      Yes I agree.

  • James says:

    i think this is amazing- it is sad that Jody has this disease but i love how she used her resources to lower her costs and get some really good help.

  • Thanks for sharing this article. We are blessed to carry insurance since we were able to get it a very, very good rate due to my husband’s generous employer. However, it only covers major issues like hospitalization, surgery, etc. We just recently racked up $3000 in doctor bills for my husband’s sleep apnea and probably have at least that much more coming. We will be talking to the doctor’s office about lowering our bills. We did this with my OB bills for both of our children too. They have given us a nice discount when we explain that we are self-pay and offer to pay in full by a certain date.

    Also, keep in mind that hospitals and doctor’s offices can take no action against you as long as you are paying something. If all you can pay is $25 a month, pay it consistently every month. Even if your bills are thousands of dollars, they can take no action if you are paying something every month.

    • Miriam says:

      @MaryEllen @ The Deal Scoop,
      That’s actually not true unless you have made an arrangement with the facility/doctor.
      I work for a large multispecialty clinic, if you have carried a balance over their time limit (I think it’s 90 days) without making arrangements (applying for charity care, arranging a payment plan) you can be sent to collections. As far as I know, that’s the way it is everywhere. You just can’t send in $25/month (or whatever amount) and think you’re not going to get sent to collections. You’ve got to make an agreement first. And no, cashing your check does not constitute an agreement!

      • Crystal says:

        @Miriam, Yep, I was faithfully paying $50/month on a bill but they wanted it paid faster, which would have been $1,000/month. So, since my offer and their demand didn’t meet they deemed it unacceptable and I ended up in collections.

      • @Miriam, Wow, interesting. Maybe it is just our particular hospital who is lenient as far as that goes. Of course, it’s always wisest to sit down and talk through your circumstances with them first.

  • A good plan until you find your 7-week-old in a coma and have a 350k bill two weeks later… then your 8yo’s appendix ruptures and three weeks later the bill is 500k…

    We are a healthy family that had never darkened the doors of an ER for the first 15 years of parenting our 8 children. Insurance means the unexpected Enterovirus in the baby and the ruptured appendix/septic shock in the 8yo doesn’t undo years of scrupulous saving in other areas of our budget, or financially sink us altogether.

  • Jessica says:

    We carry health insurance, but we still shop around. We feel like we need to be informed consumers in everything we pay for!

  • PJ says:

    We do not have traditional insurance, but are part of a medical sharing co-op. We can afford traditional insurance premiums but chose not to participate for ethical reasons. Most insurance companies cover procedures that are unethical. We do pay our share of medical bills and payments while waiting on the co-op to pay their share (up to 6 months).

    As others have stated, economics, faith and lifestyle should also play a part in this decision, and that is why conclusions may vary for each family or individual. Unfortunately, this choice is being taken away and our best doctors will be retiring or leaving the country in the next few years.

  • Megan says:

    I think that everyone should have health insurance and not have to worry about how to pay for it. Period. People can pay in porportion to what they are able to pay. No one complains about our education system being publically funded, and some people pay more than others on that. Why should health care be any less of a right than education? Countries that have publically funded universal healthcare would riot in the street if it were taken away, yet we accept it here (some embrace it!), and we have some of the HIGHEST costs for medicine.

    • Andrea Q says:

      @Megan, Lots of people I know complain about “our” education system being publicly funded. Many of them are homeschoolers, but some have children that attend (or used to attend) public schools.

      Education isn’t a right in the US; it is a government mandate. (One that is failing miserably, but that is another topic for another day.)

  • Catherine H. says:

    I would like to go a step further than “Withheld” and point out that most people (myself included) tend to regard health care as a right. However, hospitals are businesses that offer certain services regarding the care and repair of human bodies. These services are often in specialized fields that require much education, research, and technology to provide–hence their high price tags. But health care is a good, a commodity, just like burgers from a fast food place or toys from Wal-Mart. We (that is, Americans and others living in highly industrialized countries accustomed to a certain level of comfort) have come to think of medical services as a right because it is scary to think of living without them. It offends peoples’ sensiblities that someone could have a curable condition (such as a baby born with a hole in his heart) and yet not be cured simply because his parents do not have the money to pay for it. That baby deserves to live, so someone has to pay for it! goes the cry. But in what other industry do we demand a right to services provided by a private business? Objectively speaking, it makes as much sense to legislate mandatory pedicure insurance.

    People have come to see every commodity that provides us with a certain level of physical comfort as a right, and insist that it’s the government’s job to assure us of that right. In reality, we no more have a “right” to health care than we do to deep-tissue massages, and government certainly has just as much a role in providing us with one as it does the other.

    The best (and also most difficult) solution would be to stop relying on government and turn instead to privately-funded charities, which were once the primary source of medical care, a very long time ago.

    And no, I don’t have health insurance. My husband and I are members of Samaritan Ministries, which has been mentioned several times in the comments above.

    • Caroline says:

      @Catherine H., this is easy to say when it isn’t YOUR baby dying of a disease that is fairly simple to fix nowadays because you can’t afford to pay the doctor to treat her. Whether the parents’ economic trouble came about because of the bad economy, bad luck, or poor planning, a child shouldn’t suffer. I think it is monstrous that line of thinking is even acceptable in this country. What ever happened to Christ-like compassion?

  • Sarah says:

    My husband and I also choose to have health insurance, however, our insurance recently changed to where we pay in full each visit until we meet our deductible. My mom works at our pediatrician’s office and we were amazed to see the different prices for someone who has insurance and someone who doesn’t. It was a lot cheaper to pay out of pocket without insurance than to pay with insurance. Of course we had to still pay the insurance prices because it would have been insurance fraud if we didn’t but it is worth it to check into prices if you don’t have insurance.

  • Lorie says:

    Another thought on this: Back when I didn’t have insurance and had a surgery and ER bill at our local hospital totalling about $4,000, I went in and paid it all off with some money that the Lord provided. The man in the office where i paid my bill told me when he handed me my receipt that if I had asked for a discount, he could have discounted it up to 40% but that he couldn’t tell me this BEFORE I paid but that I had to ask. He told me that they always discount insurance companies and individuals are entitled to the same discount if only they ask! This was right before Christmas and we really could have used that money – I cried on the way home. Later I forgot about it and was just thankful to the Lord for supplying the money in the first place and used it as a tax write-off.

    Later, my husband had a bill at the hospital that was his insurance deductible…the total was about $1700. He went in with the cash and asked how much of a discount would they give him to pay it all right then and he only had to pay $1200. ALWAYS ask for a discount!!!

    • Crystal says:

      @Lorie, That’s not always true. Most places (in my area anyway) will NOT discount private pay patients, only insurance companies which is really sad and unfair IMHO

      • Joanne says:

        I think the hospitals look at private pay patients as more of a risk and maybe you are having to supplement the ones that do not pay for services rendered. They know they will get the money from an insurance co though. My opinion of course.

        • Crystal says:

          @Joanne, Either way, you don’t think it’s fair for tax dollars to supplement medical care and I don’t think it’s fair that I have to pay more just because I am private pay.

  • Charlotte says:

    We have health insurance, but my huband had to have some blood tests done a while ago and we found out it was cheaper for us to pay cash than go through our insurance because of our high deductible.

    It’s a balancing game though. If you’re going to meet your deductible for the year anyway, it may be better to go through your insurance, meet your deductible sooner, and get them to pay for more down the road.

    Either way, it certainly never hurts to shop around. Great advice- I never would have thought to ask for a discount for paying cash at the time of service.

  • kriswithmany says:

    I know someone who works as a financial advisor for a hospital. They put huge discounts on many bills for people that are not able to pay. What is frustrating is when someone comes in saying they can’t afford to pay anything at all when they have obviously been spending a lot of money on clothes, jewelry, manicures, etc. Or those that try to get elective surgeries along with life-saving ones that the hospital is eating the cost for. It’s a few bad apples that makes it harder for everyone. Many that she works with are truly in need, and have no way to pay for the medical treatment they need.

    All that said, I say that if you can fit insurance in your budget at all, it is worth it. With it, I know the maximum that I will pay for medical services in a year. The whole point is that it is a shared risk. The sad part is that people with a known risk become “uninsurable.” I hate that. As other commenters have mentioned, keeping them out doesn’t really lower our premiums. I hope that eventually we can work out the laws to fix this. It’s not as easy as it seems at first glance.

  • Katie says:

    Another Perspective…
    My Husband and I have made a prayer filled decision not to carry insurance… The cost of Health Insurance when were looking to buy several years ago was so astronomical we couldn’t imagen being able to afford it.(we both own our own businesses) So we made the decision to start a health savings account. That $1600 every 6 months we would have been paying the Insurance Company (and which did not cover dental or having a baby or eye glasses) now goes into a Health Savings account. We have had 3 children since then and have paid cash for each of them ; ) I had to go to the emergency room for an emergency appendectomy about 2 yrs ago. Rather than dip into the Health Savings account. (The bill would’ve emptied it!) We asked the hospital our options. They cut the bill in half since we were not filing insurance and gave us a Interest Free Loan at the rate of $50 a month. With no deadline on when it was paid off! We managed without killing ourselves to pay it off in about 6 months.
    My Point is that I would rather save money in a Health Savings Account for times we actually need it. Than give it to the Insurance company for if we “might” need it.

    • Chris says:

      @Katie, is that an informal Health Savings Account (that’s what you call it), or a special type of account with your bank/credit union? It was my understanding that you could only get an HSA if you also had a High Deductible Health Plan (which is still health insurance).

  • Susan J says:

    Hey – That’s “MY” Jody! So fun to see her article here…she has come so far health-wise, and gives God the glory. Yay!

    Hey, Jody – if you read this – I know I’m “it” in phone tag. =)

  • Thankful to have insurance through our employers – the kids and I are covered by a high deductible plan with my company and my husband gets free coverage as a state employee. And I was very thankful last year when DH lost his job and I was able to move the family to my company’s group coverage without any issues. Which was a good thing because a few months later, DH was having surgery to have some questionable glands removed (cancer free thank God!).

    Mary Ellen

  • Mary says:

    My husband and I married young and before we found our financial footing we were blessed to learn we were expecting. We did have health insurance through my employer. Our baby boy was born 3 months early due to complications of Trisomy 21 (Down’s Syndrome). He lived in the NICU for 19 days before passing away from multiple system failure related to his heart defect and extreme prematurity. Total cost was over $250,000 for his 19 days of life. Health insurance paid for all of it except about $40,000 which was excluded for being “experimental” or was out of network. $40K in medical debt with emotional trauma on top of it is not the way to start a marriage, but it could have been so much worse without the health insurance. We thought we would have normal, healthy children just like everyone else… indeed we did have two more children (we’ve had three in three years!) 🙂 but I am just so grateful that we are working to pay off $40K instead of $250,000!!! Insurance is just that —- protection for life’s little (or giant) curveballs!

  • Heidi says:

    Medi-Share is another Christian insurance alternative. You pay your bills upfront for the first $X amount (depending on your income and family size) and then the rest of your bills for your entire family are covered for the rest of the year, even if it’s a catastrophic amount.

    http://mychristiancare.org/medi-share/

  • Christine says:

    I appreciate this post. As a physician, I would personally never recommend going without health insurance if possible. But I also know that getting health insurance isn’t always possible and that there are a lot of programs out their to help people with their bills. Even with health insurance a serious illness can bankrupt nearly anyone. It’s an honest reality of our health care system.

    That being said, for routine problems, surgeries etc, costs do climb quickly. Many people now have high deductable health plans, as do we. I’d encourage those who do to look into HSAs. The government allows people with high-deductible plans (yes, there’s a specific monetary definition. You’ll need to double check your insurance and the rules to see if you qualify) to set aside a limited amount of money annually from pre-tax dollars and this sum rolls over from year to year. If you get health insurance in the future with a lower deductible, you can no longer add money to your account, but you may continue to use the money already in your account until it is gone. The money can be used on any qualifying medical expenses. It’s a great way to save money while paying for medical expenses out of pocket. Additionally, your employer does not need to offer an HSA account or be involved in any way. There are a couple other accounts (FSA, MSA) that involve employers that people might consider and you can’t have more than one account, but others are offered by employers and HSAs are open to anyone with qualifying health insurance.

  • Marion says:

    We agree 100% with Crystal and have insurance. We also offer insurance to all our employees for free and a reduced rate for their families as well. It cost us a ton off the bottom line but for us it’s truly worth it!

    I’m sure someone might have said this already. Even if you do have insurance always asked for a discount for paying cash up front. With our first 2 children we had a very high deductible and had to pay 20% after that. I was able to save $100s of dollars just calling who we owed and asking for a discount. Many times it was only 20% but that adds up!

    • megscole64 says:

      @Marion, That is really awesome that you offer your employees health care. So many companies are struggling with that. Have you also looked into offering them (at no cost to your business) a supplemental insurance plan? So many employees really do find it valuable and consider it a benefit to their job. I know I did when I was an employee (yes, I’m now with Aflac, but I had a policy for 8 years at my former employer and was happy to pay for it out of my paycheck pretax).

      And you’re right – cash rates can sometimes even be cheaper than deductibles that have to be met! 🙂

  • Jessica says:

    I am a member of Christian Healthcare Ministries and recently gave birth to our third child. After all of the bills were taken care of, I was very interested to discover that we saved money by NOT having me covered under my husband’s insurance. Our OOP cost was about $1900.00 after the bills that could be shared by CHM. If I had my husband’s BCBS (which he gets as a part of his job package), my OOP cost would have been more like $2500.00!! And that’s not even counting the $547 a month it would cost to pay the premiums. I give only $85 a month to CHM. So, I would highly recommend considering a health cost sharing ministry to anyone who pays for their own insurance!

  • Sara says:

    It NEVER hurts to ask! My husband and I had a $1950 hospital bill (after insurance) from our son’s surgery. They set us up on a payment plan of $120 per month. However, when we had the cash (thank the Lord) to pay it off, I called I asked them if they would give me a discount if I could send them the money right away. She immediately got an approval to lower our bill to $1500! Bam! Saved $450 just by asking…and we are now $450 closer to filling our 6 month emergency fund!

  • Angel says:

    I read a book by Dr. Jordan Rubin. He cured himself of ulcerative colitis. I can’t remember the name of the book, but I’m sure you could Google him.

  • I have no health insurance and get terrified sometimes about a major catastrophe befalling us and large hospital bills, but since the cost of basic health insurance would cast way more than I can afford, even the Christian ones….I pray and ask God for His protection and trust that He can care for me and that if that happens, He will either help me find health insurance I can afford or help me pay for it. I grew up among people who were Amish or raised Amish and did not have health insurance and large medical bills were paid by the church people from all over the USA helping raise money for the bills and paying them off. I think that is more the right way to go about it. My husband has a condition where he is not insurable as well, but does have coverage that covers medication, just no medical bills.
    I think about 50% of our state is uninsured though because of low wages, but we also have great community health care clinics and dentists as well as hospitals that charge less.
    It is not just major medical things, I know a family who is still paying for their 8th child’s birth. Paying off 10k when they have a child every year is a feat and when you know they do not believe in BC, you know they really don’t…..

  • shelly says:

    In our family we consider medical insurance to be one of our number one necessities. Even when my husband and I first got married, were completely broke and only making approx. $1,200 a month-we used a chunk of that to pay for medical coverage for ourselves. You just never know….

  • Amelia says:

    Our family does not have health insurance. We’ve been married for 30 years. My husband is self employed and a business owner working straight commission as a Real Estate Broker. We have found that most doctors will work with you if you will get in touch with them. Also, it has opened up an entire new world of natural home remedies and preventative medicine and nutrition education. My dd2 (now 25) and myself have our Level I Herbology certificate from Dr. Christopher’s School of Natural Healing. God will make a way, be encouraged, and don’t forget to pray! He is the ultimate Great Physician. Blessings!

    P.S. I have also heard very good things about the Christian groups such as Good Samaritan etc.

  • Shannon says:

    I have always placed a high priority on health care. When I left an abusive marriage with my daughter four years ago, I purchased individual health care for us even though it takes up more than 1/3 of the income I received from two jobs I do from home. But I was just laid off from one of the jobs and am no longer able to afford my insurance (I signed my daughter up for an Oregon Healthy Kids plan). It is a naked feeling and I don’t like being without health care, but it is not an option any longer. I could try to get a full time job that provides insurance, but it is not only unlikely in this job market but would sacrifice being home with my daughter, which is more important to me. By the way… in the last four years I paid nearly $18,000 in premiums for my own insurance and never used it once. Who gets that money?? Not doctors! I also do not have cable, live on next to nothing, and am NOT in debt.

    • megscole64 says:

      @Shannon, $18,000!?!?!?!?! Wow. That is incredible and so sad. I find health insurance very convenient for my fa mily but of course it is very expensive. There is a Christian group out there (and I can’t remember the name) that is set up for catastrophic or major health events that helps families. And there is also supplemental insurance like Aflac, which will pay you cash if something catastrophic happens (like Cancer, Heart Attack/Stroke, or a major accident) that would not cost anywhere NEAR $18k in 4 years. Since it pays you cash you can negotiate cash prices with your doctors a little easier. (and yes, I am an Aflac agent, but I probably couldn’t enroll you) So there are options out there, as well as charitable organizations who can help as well.

      Better that you left an abusive marriage as well! That takes more strength than so many people realize.

  • Tracey H. says:

    Thanks Jody! You’ve inspired me to not give-up on getting medical care. My husband injured his foot months ago and we didn’t think we could afford the x-ray. I’m going to encourage him to call around and find a reasonable rate. I’m a SAHM and my dh has been unemployed for 1 1/2 years. His unemployment compensation has expired and we don’t even have state insurance. Thanks for the suggestions!

    • Jody says:

      @Tracey H., You may want to read a book called “Fasting and Eating for Health” by Joel Furhman. He was an Olympian who had an injury that would not heal until he fasted. I don’t agree with everything he writes, but the book was helpful and much cheaper than surgery! 🙂

  • Lora says:

    Clinics that charge on a sliding scale according to the patient’s financial circumstances can be searched for at http://findahealthcenter.hrsa.gov.

    Facilities that provide charity care as part of participation in the Hill-Burton program can be searched for at http://www.hrsa.gov/gethealthcare/affordable/hillburton/index.html.

    Programs that help with the cost of medicines can be searched for at http://www.needymeds.org.

  • Vanessa says:

    That is amazing that you were able to negotiate and pay completely with cash. Sadly, that isn’t an option for our family.

    When my husband and I married, he was military so we had excellent health insurance. And it was too simple. Sign the dotted line, here’s your military wife (dependent) ID card, and viola, covered. I never paid a single dime out of pocket unless I decided to use a pharmacy outside of the one the military provided at the hospital.

    However, we haven’t been in the military for two years now. And I found health insurance to be extremely daunting and one of my top priorities. If it was just my husband and I, it likely would not have been on my top 3 of things to take care of now that we are ‘civilians’. But given that we had two children when we left the military, it was extremely important to find health coverage and we had 90 days to do so after being medically discharged.

    We went from paying for health coverage for just our two children, to state covered insurance when we found out that we qualified. Paying for insurance just for our children was costing a pretty penny and putting anything toward saving or debt pretty much went out the window for awhile there. Now he has a fantastic job through Social Security. We do pay $180 a month for our health coverage but the fact that my children are 100% covered through this program plus my maternity is 100% covered is a huge blessing. $180 may not seem like a lot but my husband’s paycheck isn’t ‘a lot’ either.

    Right now we don’t have dental insurance, which seems to be our biggest battle. We plan on adding that coverage in August, costing us an additional $160.00 a month, as my teeth have suffered poorly for not having it and not seeing a dentist regularly. The dental coverage we chose is the best plan SSA offers right now and we still will have quite hefty out of pocket expenses considering the condition for my teeth.

  • jan says:

    I wish we could buy health insurance. My husband is only able to get a plan that pays $600 a year of coverage- do you know how fast you go through $600 a year? He has type 1 diabetes and his meds are $400 a month. He gets very discouraged that people assume his diabetes is diet related but he has the kind you get as a child- it is an auto-immune disease. My daughter has Cerebral Palsy. We cannot get life insurance or regular health insurance. Fortunately we get some state funded assistance for our daughter- not sChip but similiar.

  • Jennifer says:

    Even when you do have health insurance, it never hurts to go through your bills and check what you have been charged for. We have to pay a percent of every charge, and that can add up after a while. If you do not understand a charge, be sure to ask what it was for. During my first pregnancy, I had to have weekly tests at the hospital. They would charge me different rates sometimes for no reason–charging me for a room when I spent half an hour in a triage bed! My husband sat down with someone to pay our bill after my son was born, and he got them to take off plenty of charges–like charging for a hospital room twice (once for me, once for my son–even though we were in the same room). So that is another way to reduce costs, to be sure you know what you are paying for at all times.

  • Nancy says:

    I am very grateful for health insurance. After completing 6 months of normal pregnancy, the doctors had to perform an emergency c-section because of my preeclampsia. She was 13 1/2 weeks early and was in the NICU for 122 days. Her hospital bill alone was 1.3 million. The insurance I had, through my employer, covered all of the costs outside of the $1000 deductible and increased the lifetime max so we would not have any problems. We did not have any knowledge that this “normal” pregnancy would end in complications for the baby and I. We are grateful for the hospital and the insurance that paid the bills of the many specialists. We are both doing ok now but one never knows when the years of paying insurance premiums pay off.

  • Kathryn says:

    We have conventional health insurance through DH’s job (I’m a SAHM), but it’s maddeningly expensive. We shop around for better options on a regular basis but have had no success thus far. Meanwhile, we’ve found a tool that helps somewhat with costs: DH’s employer-sponsored FSA (Flexible Spending Account). For those not familiar with these accounts, they allow the employee to set aside pre-tax dollars for medical expenses not covered by insurance. Some FSAs require you to pay your uncovered expenses yourself, then submit a request for reimbursement; others provide a debit card so you’re never out-of-pocket. Since FSA contributions reduce your taxable income, it’s like getting a tax deduction for your healthcare expenses. If you’re eligible for one but haven’t signed up, I highly recommend it. They are a “use it or lose it”-type account, so you might want to start small if you’ve never done it before. But, since they can be used to pay for things like eyeglasses or OTC meds or first-aid supplies as well as deductibles and copays, it’s pretty easy to find ways to spend the money.

  • Lauren says:

    I had a premature baby unexpectedly after months of complication free pregnancy (seriously, no warning. I went to bed one night proud of myself for being a healthy pregnant person, then I woke up at 5 am knowing something wasn’t right and at 11 am had an emergency c-section) and basically moved into the NICU for a couple of weeks. One day I was sitting there holding my 3 lb baby and worrying about 50 million things and it hit me that there was one thing I wasn’t worried about – money. Just for her to have a bed in the hospital was $1500/day plus care/tests/procedures etc. I shrugged and went back to snuggling my little bitty baby.

    No, that’s not exactly true. There was an Amish family with a baby there too and because I have to worry about SOMETHING at all times I began to wonder how they were affording it since they probably wouldn’t have the same cushy job provided health insurance I have. So I asked a nurse and she told me they have had several Amish families and that they have a coop through their church similar to what others are discussing. I felt relieved and went back to toe/finger counting and watching my little one’s heart monitor.

    I guess the point is to have a back up plan. If my husband & I had to pay for my daughter’s birth/care we would have lost everything we own and still been in debt. If the Amish families did not have each other they may have lost what they have.

    I understand what a previous commenter said about healthcare being a commodity, but I have to say that I don’t want to live in a country where babies die due to fixable things if it is in my power to chip in.

  • Louise says:

    Medical bills for an accident we were in – something we could have never planned for – topped $400,000. I am grateful everyday that we had insurance.

  • Kim says:

    Reading all of these stories has actually made me really glad to live in Massachusetts. We have a healthy children program for uninsured children, we have Mass Health ( I think the income limit for free care is $45,000), and we have State sponsored insurance you can buy into on a sliding scale above $45,000. Even making $120,000 a year you can purchase a reasonable plan. Health insurance is a requirement in MA and I think everyone should be entitled to health insurance. I may pay more in taxes to pay for this in taxes but it seems with it to me bacsuse I make really good money and I help others and if the time ever arises that I need help it feels good that it will be there for my family.

  • When my husband and I were dating we moved to Georgia (from Massachusetts) and I had no health insurance because I was no longer eligible to be on my parent’s insurance. I found a part time job in retail and worked my butt off to get promoted to full time so that I could have health insurance. Now we are married and have two children (so far!) and are on my husband’s employers’ insurance. Whenever he complains about what is taken out of his check each week I remind him that we are lucky to have it.
    I know that some people can’t afford insurance or don’t have access to jobs that offer it but I really do think that if you have the option to get it you should have it. I know that the people who visit this site are responsible and when they say they don’t have the money they really don’t have it. Us MSM readers are different thatn most people in the country (in a good way!) When people are commenting about their frustrations I think they are talking about those who are not financially responsible, those who don’t take responsibility for their actions and those who do not mind being under the burden of debt.
    I like helping those in need but those who do not want to help themselves really bother me when they expect a hand out. Those truely in need get “help” because they use it as a step to get back on their feet, those who do not want to help themselves get “hand outs” because they are fine with where they are.

  • Mey says:

    Jody,
    Thank you for making your purpose clear. I admire your willingness to be obedient and trust God.

  • Before making the big leap to no insurance, please be sure that it is legal in your state to reduce bills for cash paying customers! I know for a fact that in the state of WI it is against the law for a doctor to have one price for cash customers and another for insurance. There was a big crack-down here a few years ago on all the chiropractors, and many got fined for this practice (although, basically insurance companies and medicare are allowed this practice by stating what they will pay for each service and the hospitals have to accomomdate.) You would not want to be stuck in the middle of this battle as an individual.

    Also, we have a Health Savings Plan, in which we are allowed to “shop” around so to speak, but getting prices out of the two major hospitals in the area has been an mountain of a problem. It took both facilities in our area over 5 days (one took 2 weeks) to give me the price of an ultrasound. This would not be something that I would want to be doing even in a non-emergancy situation, if I wanted to know what the next step would be. Even in the clinic, they won’t disclose the cost of anything before we get treatment or are seen. I tried to pay for my costs one day at the clinic, and found that they would accept my check until it went through the billing in the mail!

    There are many loopholes to consider, before going without insurance. I do think it is commendable of the author to pay for these things up front and would love to be in a situation to be able to pay for all of our medical expenses each year under our $6000 deductable, but we can’t save that much on one income, try as we might. (and other than our mortgage and medical bills, we are debt-free.) This is one area, I give up on, although I do check to see if things are necessary and if I am getting charged extra for things, if they will tell me.

  • Nikki says:

    While I completely respect Jodie’s decision, I will agree that health insurance is very important.
    My husband and I had a six month transition period between undergrad and graduate school. We decided to move-in with my parents and save for our graduate school expenses. At that time we had achieved our goal of no debt for undergrad and wanted to continue working toward our no debt graduate school goal. My dad, a very wise money steward, only placed one condition on our arrangement. We must have health insurance.
    Two months into our arrangement, I was diagnosed with an ovarian cyst. The cyst, the size of a football, would have to be removed ASAP. While we chose to have a moderately high deductible, the $750 we paid out-of-pocket was small in comparison to the $12,673 the surgery would have cost without health insurance. That decision alone allowed us to stay out of date during graduate school. I am thankful for my dad and his wise counsel as well as the Lord’s encouraging guidance.

  • Ann says:

    We too do not have health insurance. I have been out of work for over 2 years. My husband has been laid off twice. We have three children and we thought me needed health insurance and for a while we panicked about not having it. God has taken taken care of us these past two years. We do not have any health problems and we remain healthy, Praise God. God will supply all of His peoples needs if we trust Him and obey Him.

  • Michelle says:

    I think it’s true across the board that hospitals will allow you to set up a monthly interest-free payment plan on outstanding balances.

    Paying same day or before hand almost always gets you a discount. We pre-paid for our 3 deliveries with a local hospital and saved thousands. Shopping around for labwork also saved a bunch.

    We were frustrated by how many times we were told in the hospital that we could have our delivery paid for by public funds. Why should we expect our tax-paying neighbors, like those of you who read this post, to foot the bill for our decision to have children? Some people just don’t understand that ‘free’ healthcare isn’t free at all.

    • Joanne says:

      I tried to say just that and was attacked.

    • brookeb says:

      @Michelle, Just know that all your neighbors don’t see it as a burden. Personally I think that’s part of what it means to be a society — to accept a share of costs for all those within the society, not just those who are similar to you or have the same beliefs.

  • JRA in CO says:

    Jody, I’m glad that the Lord has clearly lead you is this way and that He seems to be healing you. I personally HATE dealing with insurance companies – all the unknowns and unanswered questions — not to mention the premiums that seem really high each month.
    However, my experence happened 6 years ago this month. I was pregnant. My 3rd pregnancy in less than a year and a half. The first 2 pregnancies ended in miscarriage. I trusted the Lord completely with the outcome of this pregnancy too. Then tragedy hit! I had a very rare complication that nearly killed me, and landed me in ICU for several days! I had no strength to do anything BUT trust God! When I started recieving bills, the hospital bill alone was around $75,000! Add to that the ambulance bill, and bills to several different Dr’s. Without insurance, we would have been totally wiped out! With insurance we paid a couple thousand dollars and live life – glad to be alive, by the way! Yes, insurance can be a hastle, but I’m glad we have it.

  • Nichole says:

    I know I am late commenting on this but another way to get the dental cheap is though the group sites popping up. I have insurance but have been able to get GREAT cleaning, x-ray, and whitening deals for $49 once and $68 another time. I am signed up with groupon.com and seizethedeal.com and this is where I was able to purchase these great dental deals.

  • Andrea says:

    I think the health care share options – like Samaritan’s are the most Biblical way to go. We’re planning on switching over in the next couple months. Right now we use an HSA and, while I like it better than health insurance, it makes less sense to me than the health care share programs.

    • Rebecca says:

      @Andrea,
      The HSA is probably a wiser financial choice than a share plan. I am very sensitive to the reasons people choose share plans. Share plans do market themselves as “Biblical” choices, but I encourage you to consider giving “with simplicity” (Romans 12:8) as a better alternative use for your money than giving to a share plan. Share plans which do not open themselves up to oversight conceal where all the money really goes. In the past certain share plans have failed due to mismanagement and greed at the top levels.

      • Andrea says:

        @Rebecca, Actually, the share plan is a much wiser financial decision when it comes to looking at the numbers. We will end up paying less a month for our family than we would with an HSA and it would go to people who would use it directly toward their medical bills, or that is what I trust will happen for the people receiving it. If they are abusing it than they have a big God to answer to but the one we’re looking in to has come recommended by sources we trust. My husband and I have spent a lot of time researching this option and feel it makes the most sense. Right now we pay monthly toward the HSA organization as well as paying all our medical appointments and prescriptions out-of-pocket. We never reach the deductible because we’re healthy people and, when God worked outside the contraceptive method last year and surprised us with our son, the HSA covered none of it and we now have thousands of dollars in medical bills. Had we been in the health care share program already, it would have been covered.
        Also, and please don’t take this in a mean tone because I know how things can come across wrong in writing, but I have a different version of the Bible than what you use. I use the ESV and Romans 12:8 in mine says “the one who contributes, in generosity.”

        • Rebecca says:

          @Andrea,
          I really like the ESV also, so no I don’t take that as a mean tone. =) I also don’t want to imply that there is anything necessarily un-biblical about joining a share plan. My comments are born out of my negative experience with a share plan my in-laws were part of when my MIL was diagnosed with a catastrophic illness. Their share plan came recommended by trusted Christian friends, also. It was a blessing for my in-laws to receive the letters telling them of others who were helped by their “shares.” However, today I have an increased skepticism over how these plans operate and are marketed. For a healthy family they might be a good option, but for a catastrophic illness it might be better to have a separate catastrophic plan or cancer insurance. It is certainly possible to give to share plans “in generosity” and I don’t want to diminish the blessing received by those who do. However, if someone is giving to a share plan with an expectation of receiving something in return in the event of a catastrophic illness, there is perhaps cause for further investigation.

  • Jenny says:

    I know Samaritan’s health share plan has been mentioned several times in the course of this discussion and I understand why people like it.
    I feel compelled to make some observations about it, for people who might be thinking about signing up for it. Just keep these things in mind as you make your decision. It is not insurance. It is under absolutely no regulation or oversight whatsoever, although I suppose the personnel would be subject to state and federal laws regarding fraud after the fact. Regular insurance companies have to comply with state and federal regulations which are designed to protect consumers. Further, it seems to me that for catastropic illnesses, it could not began to cover the expenses associated with such an event.

    • Rebecca says:

      @Jenny,
      I agree with Jenny’s observations regarding share plans. It is worth considering why these plans are not permitted in some states, keeping in mind that those states have good reasons for protecting consumers. It is also worth considering the reasons behind why certain share plans have gone under in the past. In the end, if you have a catastrophic illness you may be no better off than if you had no insurance. The emotional pain at such a point in your life (learning you have no insurance to protect your family members when you are near the point of death) may not be worth the benefit of slightly lower premiums. A catastrophic insurance plan might be a better option. I, too, understand why people like these plans and are well-meaning when they recommend share plans to others. However, I have had a very difficult experience when one of my family members had a catastrophic illness and was part of a share plan. For this reason I would encourage others to take a closer, harder look at share plans in general before signing up for one.

    • Rebecca says:

      @Jenny,
      One more comment. Jenny is right to suspect that personnel from share plans would be subject to state and federal laws concerning fraud. Although share plans tell their members the plan is not “insurance,” they DO operate as insurance–you give them money with an expectation of something in return. [BTW if you want to share with others, the best way might be to do so with simplicity–giving to those around and those you know who have a need.]

      When my MIL had a catastrophic illness her claim was grossly mishandled for months by the share plan she was part of. I got the impression the plan administrators wanted us to give up and go away. I wish to encourage anyone in such a situation to not give up. Share plan administrators should recognize they have a obligation to pay or face legal repercussions. Perhaps a close friend or family member (one living outside your home–the grief inside your home might be too bewildering at this point) could be a persistent advocate for you. Don’t give up!

  • Inkling says:

    I am an American living in Canada. After a traumatic birth injury, three emergency surgeries, and almost 18 months of waiting later, I decided to go back to my hometown in St. Louis to see a colorectal surgeon to finally get the surgery I needed. Obviously, our Canadian government health insurance didn’t travel with us, and our travel insurance doesn’t cover things like this. So we knew we’d be paying cash.

    I too discovered that it is amazing what you can do when you just ask. My surgeon gave us a pitifully small bill, and though he never admitted it when I thanked him, I am certain he wrote off more than 90% of the bill. The anesthesiologist bills separately, and I’m told many insurance companies don’t cover their bills entirely. Anyway, I asked if they gave discounts for paying cash, and they dropped the price by 50%, which I then paid over the phone with my visa checking card. With the hospital bill, we submitted tax forms, paycheck stubs, bank account statements, and a written form explaining why we were requesting financial aid. The hospital determined that our income level qualified for an 80% reduction in expenses, and then they further blessed us by capping the amount we could pay at an amount that was less than the 20%. Originally, we were afraid coming to the States would ruin us financially. But now, we know that all you have to do is ask.

    And now, I’m just trying to figure out a way to obtain a medical insurance policy for the State nearest me so that I can cross the border when it’s necessary. We’ve just been told we have a two month wait for a pediatrician for our son, and the issue he is facing will most likely end up with us just going to the Emergency Room when it’s severe enough while we wait. While I’m grateful for Canada’s policy that everyone can access medical care, I am most decidedly grateful that health care in the States is actually accessible when it’s needed. Canada just doesn’t have the money to support the number of specialists needed, and I find that it functions like the absolute worse of HMO’s. Americans living in the States really are blessed. All one has to do is ask. (However, I do know that hospitals aren’t always as good about reducing the bill if one does have insurance. So I know that my situation is unique.)

  • Marion says:

    WOW Crystal you opened a very controversial topic!! I loved reading all the comments!

    We own a small business with less than 15 employees. We pay for 100% of our employees insurance and a portion of their dependents as well. We see our employees as family and treat them how we would want to be treated. Our employees are very loyal and I believe work harder b/c they know we care.

    One thing I read on several peoples comments is they couldn’t get get insurance b/c they were self employed. Another option and how our company buys better insurance for a cheaper rate is a staffing company. We use Administaff but I know there are others good ones out there.

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