by Sonia Koetting
As the wife of a self-employed family supporter, one of my roles has been to examine health insurance options and find the best value for my family. Well, the best value for the lowest cost. The task was much simpler 10 years ago, but then rates started climbing at such a fast pace that we abandoned plans or raised deductibles nearly every year. We signed on for deductibles well beyond what we could afford. I thought that, in case of a health catastrophe, our extended family could handle the $10,000 deductible — as opposed to being uninsured and burdening them with bills that could amount to $100K or more. Needless to say, when considering our health coverage, one of my objectives was not to embarrass us with medical bills that would require significant help from other family members.
Policies back then generally did not cover preventative care or any of the common afflictions that my family carries (lower back issues, allergies, ADD). The coverage was such a farce that we would have gladly gone uninsured — or “self-insured” — as is the gentler portrayal of financial risk taking. But, we prioritized never to risk draining all of our extended family’s hopes and future on trying to save us, as they would, if we were hit with something catastrophic. So, dutifully, we paid our absurdly high premiums for inadequate health support. The price of those premiums could have been used for massages, chiropractic, good foods, or other treatments we know are beneficial.
Then the recession hit. It was difficult for everyone, of course, but we reached new lows of our marriage when I was in urgent care with my teen son after a sledding accident and discovered that our insurance was invalid. “What do you mean? My husband pays that bill,” I asked the doctor. Well, apparently he had not, for over 6 months.
In order to make ends meet, he dropped our health insurance and put our family at huge risk without telling me. I now understand that he was trying to spare me the fear he felt during that time. However, it was a giant breach of trust. I may have suggested a different pastime than sledding the steepest hill, if I’d known we were uninsured!
But being angry, and even getting another job, doesn’t solve the problem of meeting an untenable expense for protection from a remote possibility.
We sought couples therapy over his personal decision to keep financial secrets from me, but he never decided he would do it differently. I struggled with his obstinacy – was it love, fear, or control that motivated his decision? Whatever it was, it definitely added more stress to an already stressful situation.
Then, Connect for Health Colorado came about. The peace of mind we’ve found through our new health insurance reduced the stress in my marriage.
Though costs for coverage rose significantly between the first and second year, we can still afford coverage through Connect for Health. Health care reform is a BIG ship that will take a while to turn. Today’s picture isn’t ideal, but we’re floating in the right direction, and would sink if we abandon the progress made.