by Nicollette Violante
I never gave much thought to health insurance. All I knew was that I got sick, went to a doctor, my parents paid for it, and I got better. Even with all the discussions and drama about the Affordable Care Act, I felt that health insurance wouldn’t be a concern for me until a few years after graduating college. I was wrong. At the ripe age of 20, I fell off of a bouldering wall at a rock climbing gym and fractured my right elbow and right foot, with my foot needing surgery.
I was wheelchair bound for the rest of the summer. I started to worry about the cost of the surgery I would need, but my parents reassured me and told me not to worry, that their insurance would cover the majority of it. I remember the day of the surgery, there was this ordeal because the hospital where my surgeon works from was out of network. The hospital and the staff that would be helping me took pity and honored the insurance…except for the anesthesiologist (he was a real piece of work). My parents were devastated, because he alone would cost them $1500. With shame, they told me that all of my savings would have to go to him. I felt guilty, livid, and ashamed…I was the one who had broken my foot, and there were my parents, who felt guilty that they couldn’t afford to pay some greedy anesthesiologist. I drained my savings and the surgery went well.
I was hoping to be done with all this health insurance nonsense, but then there was the physical therapy. My dad was happy about something called a deductible and told me not to worry about my physical therapy costs. But when I went back to college I had to find a physical therapist that was in network. I have never been so confused in my life. No matter how kind and gentle people were at trying to explain healthcare to me, I didn’t get it. My dad would call me livid about the physical therapy fee and tried to explain to me what I should say to them, but I just found myself overwhelmed whenever I tried relaying it. Reverting back to childhood, I gave the physical therapist my phone and asked them to call my dad so that they could settle it. After that, I thought that I’d be on my death bed and still be health illiterate.
CoveredU.org has really helped sooth over my fears and has made health insurance much less daunting. My learned helplessness made me feel that absolutely nothing, no matter how simple and easy, could make me more knowledgeable on healthcare. However, CoveredU is incredibly easy to navigate with a pop-out list of terms on the left hand side of the screen (which means now I know what a deductible is and why my dad was super excited), and it gives you two interactive options on health insurance: how to use it and how to shop for it. It even helps you figure out what kind of health insurance plan is right for you!
I was on that website for almost an hour, just comparing the different levels of insurance (bronze, silver, and gold), the cost of them (monthly payments plus a deductible), and the different types of plan networks (HMO, EPO, PPO). The graphics on all of these are simple and easy to read, especially the one of the plan networks. It helped me finally understand that my surgeon was in network but the hospital wasn’t and why I had to foot the anesthesiology bill: we have a PPO plan network. That means for services that are out of network, our deductible doubles and the insurance won’t pay until we’ve reached that new maximum.
CoveredU is a great resource for understanding past and current experiences, and preparing for future ones as well. I feel confident in myself in terms of choosing the health insurance that’s right for me and will have CoveredU by my side when that day comes. I recommend that everyone checks out CoveredU because the information is simple and understandable, and will help me evade an out-of-network greedy anesthesiologist in the future.