So It Comes to This…Posted: February 10, 2010
It’s a great country we have when you live in a household that sports 2.25 doctorate degrees, two master’s degrees, three bachelor’s degrees, and one associate’s degree and you are forced to decide between having a medically necessary procedure or paying the mortgage.
We don’t party, we rarely go out. We eat out with friends at a local sushi place about once every two months, and our bill is never greater than $40. We “own” two cars (okay, so the bank owns them), and both are more than five years old (in my case, we’re talking 10 years). One of us (not me) works essentially three jobs (two at the U and one at the local hospital) while the other of us (that would be me) teaches at one U and juggles three independent consulting gigs that pay in the irregular way that those things go.
We eat leftovers more nights than not, and trust me, I do count us lucky in the “we have food when some don’t” department.
You wouldn’t believe it, but we do actually have health insurance. Now, mind you, it’s Blue Cross. So during a recent visit (for the aforementioned medical issue – a ruptured lumbar disc), Blue Cross assured us that they pay 80% at that site. Since our deductible for the year was paid we rejoiced and pressured the doctor into getting us in before year-end in order to take advantage of the essentially “free” treatment.
We got socked with a $4,000+ bill. Why? Because Blue Cross pays “80% of all expenses except for those the patient is responsible for above $350.” So…in effect, they’ll pay 80% as long as that 80% is not greater than $350. What the fuck is that about!
And now, with that procedure under my belt (literally and figuratively), I am faced with the next step prior to full-on spinal fusion. The doctor wants to do an intermediary step in the hopes that it will help and not debilitate me for the 6-8 weeks I will be out of commission for the full spinal fusion. Except…see paragraph #1 above.
So, we’re down to juggling what to pay and when, and then figuring out how to manage pain (take Percocet, but not too much. But take it to manage the pain – but don’t drive. But keep teaching and keep focused on your doctorate.) and how to manage bills. And…in the long run, no intermediate step (mentioned in the paragraph above) to stop the constant, almost debilitating back pain that includes having my left leg numb from toe to hip.
I know. I’m bitching. I have a roof over my head and an income (unbelievably low though it may be) to try to decide to split. We are not where many people in this country are. I know that. I also know that we are where we are. Holding 2.25 doctorates, two master’s degrees, three bachelor’s degrees, one associate’s degree, no further ahead than we were 10 years ago, and indeed, far deeper in dept.
And on prescription narcotics for the foreseeable future.
God bless America.
Tonight: I got nuthin.’