Day 261. Touching the Ceiling

Sunrise at Pollution Pond

Just got back from art class tonight.  My painting looked so much better in class–but don’t blame me for the colors:  she only let us use two!  Think of it as sunrise at pollution pond.

Blame it on my mood.  I’m pure nerves about the costs of my healthcare today.  When will I touch the ceiling….and crash to the floor?

One reason I love about writing creative non-fiction, such as the work in my book and the writing in this blog, is that it involves a certain amount of research.

So a research question is embedded in the topic I pose myself today: What is the ceiling on your health insurance, Heidi?

                 I find myself stuck on this one.

Yet, it isn’t as though my poor little hypermobile fingers won’t type the question at Google‘s receptive, blinking cursor, or that I can’t compose the precise search term.  Rather, it is that I can do it spot on, and Google will respond in 0.040126678 seconds.

 I don’t want to know the answer.

While I talk a good game at being poor at mathematics, I could in seconds have a running ticker in the lower left-hand corner of my “screen,” that is to say my personal visual field.  Then, every minute, waking and non-, for the rest of my existence, a dwindling balance would be ticking away there, like the doomsday clock does in Times Square.

Oh, I have a days-left clock going already (thanks to Dr. Dimwit of the “You have 261 days left to live fame”), which I try to grey out for my own sanity.  But the fact is that I write a $512 monthly health insurance premium check, and, again, math disability be damned, the figure turns red as I write it.

How can this possibly be, it wants to know, that you can be paying this amount, exorbitant to be sure, and it’s not enough, until we realize that you’ve had three MRIs and two cat scans in the past four months. Let us devise a broad estimate that each of those studies costs $1500 (without taking into account the cost of the radiologists’ time to read the exam and report on it).  So that’s $7500.  Add to that a $12,000 hospital bill for December (again, without any of the doctors’ bills). Not to mention that is one of only four hospitalizations in 2011.

The good news is that while I am not a cheap date, 2011 was not a bad year as they have gone for hospitals. Compared with 2008, for example, when I spent some six weeks in the hospital, 2011 was a banner year. In 2008, my hospital bills totaled more than $50K.  Are you keeping track?

I’m not. I have already purged these numbers from my poor, diseased mind.  Good Lord!  There is only so much a chick can tolerate, and when you supposedly have 261 days left on the planet that type of data is disease.

This reminds me, actually, of the era when I first had a credit card, back in the early 1990s.  If you don’t know me, then let me apprise you that I just paid the last one off last year.  That’s twenty years of paying off balances. It took that long to rebound from my original accounting method, which involved my putting a figurative hand over one eye daily or so whilst making large purposes and shouting loudly “Oh, ah just can’t possibly have reached mah $25,000 limit yet!”  My goodness, I was expert at that shout (and loud could be so relative, particularly when I was unaware they raised the credit limit a few times).  But I perfected it at a time when my therapy was conducted via the retail channel.

It wasn’t my fault.

So I can see myself with these medical bills too–oh, the fault is on the insurance company.  So what if it’s $50K? Or $100K?  Who cares?  I don’t care what the limit is because I have an expiration date–so I can leverage my limit against the insurance limit, see?

I realize how dumb I sound here. Irony. Measured Irony.

My only hope, actually, may be the threatened “death committees,” which reportedly will vote (supposedly frequently against) benefits to those who have situations like aneurysms and genetic diseases.  They will make the decision for me.  I won’t have to worry about whether I can pay for the insurance.  I simply won’t be able to afford for my treatment out of pocket, and out-of-pocket may become my only option.

I guess that it’s sort of like pollution, though.  I sort of have to look at it like the repulsive person my age that I’ve become:  What does it matter if I’ll be dead by the time it  becomes unavoidable?

Life is a picnic, at least for now.  I think I’m going to eat desert first from now on.

14 thoughts on “Day 261. Touching the Ceiling

  1. Love the painting. Love it. Just, love it. And someone who makes such fabulous desserts should always eat dessert first.

    As for the mess that is paying for healthcare in this country, “abandon math, all ye who enter here.”

    But for the record, I did Google, and Virginia is one of many states that allows Medicaid to pay for genetic testing. “Death panels” = mythical. So trubba not over what hasn’t happened.

    Back to painting!

    • I love the “abandon math” quote. I should post it over MY door!

      Thanks for the genetic testing part (now I hope MY insurance pays genetic testing, but if Medicaid does, my insurance probably will, right?).


  2. perhaps we can hope for a continuation on reforming the health care system. how about one where people get treated, regardless of their potential income?

    • As I’m from Canada I clearly support Carlos’ idea. We have universal health care, pay a little more taxes, but no one loses their shirt, or god forbid their house!!!
      Hi from a Sri Lanka internet cafe.

      • Laurissa, HI!!! Sorry I missed this post. How is your trip!? Great to see your name here. I hope Sri Lanka is magical and that you’re having a fantastic time!



    • Hi Stacy, Welcome! Thank you so much for subscribing. Do you have Chiari Malformation? I am going to get MRIs next Friday, but my doctor is convinced I have it. Can you tell me anything about wearing the cervical collar? It would be nice just to talk with someone else who has the syndrome! Also, your blog is sensational. Amazing. I aspire in my dreams to something like that. I feel like I’d like to take a whole day just reading your last several posts. Was glad to subscribe!

  3. My husband was diagnosed by accident almost five years ago. With recent changes, I was looking up more information. I’m not familiar with the collar situation. I just finished reading a book Conquer Chiari – I believe there is a website for this too. I can be reached by email stacysjensen (at) gmail (dot) com, if you want to chat. Thanks for stopping by my blog.

  4. Your artwork is gorgeous! America’s healthcare costs are atrocious. Insurance companies have contracts and settle for less than the total bills. Bills are inflated because they know the insurance company will not settle for full payment. Those without insurance have to pay the bill in full. How unfair is that? I fortunately have insurance, but it doesn’t guarantee satisfactory or good care.

    • There certainly is a discrepancy between what the insurance companies pay and what the uninsured pay. I am completely horrified by that in almost every instance. Have you ever gone in and spent about an hour with a specialist and seen that s/he billed about $250 for it, and gotten paid about $12. I’m not for gouging the patient, but sometimes I think, wow, that doctor trained for 7 years for this, spent an hour with me and got $12? That didn’t even pay for the receptionist, much less the medical billing clerk, the nurse practitioner, or his/her time. I’m not defending anyone, but I am saying that the insurance companies are extremely unbalanced in how they handle things. I think they gouge us and they gouge the docs.

      • I agree. I’ve been to many worthless healthcare professionals…but the insurance companies are dictating the care we receive as well. Healthcare belongs to those who went to college for many years versus the insurance companies who put a price on life. I’ve also had some amazing physicians who were so underpaid, it’s ridiculous! They can’t be in it for the money!

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