The View From Your Sickbed

A reader writes:

When my son was born in 2006 we could not afford to put him on my employer-sponsored health insurance.  It was $236.00 per month (just for him!!!) with $40.00 co-pays, $2,300 deductibles, etc.  The insurance was terrible and did not include prescriptions.  So, we kept him uninsured. 

When he was around 8 months old he woke up with a fever.

 We kept him home from daycare and gave him children’s Tylenol.  Over two days the fever continued to rise.  When the fever hit 102.5 we called his doctor to find out how much a visit costs and if the fever was high enough to warrant the money we’d have to spend.  We were broke, barely covering formula, daycare, diapers, etc.  The doctor said that it was not considered an emergency and to call back if it went over 103.  We were freaking out and scared.  I remember crying to my son’s father that our baby was sick but we were too scared of the costs to get treatment. 

My son’s fever ended up spiking so high that he had a seizure.  We called 911 as he was convulsing and an ambulance rushed us to the hospital.  He had an ear infection.  The seizure was a febrile seizure brought on by the high fever.  Had we brought him to the doctor that first day, this would easily have been discovered and treated prior to the ER trip.  However, the doctor demands payment upfront and would have charged us over $100.00 to see him.  We did not have the money.  Not even close.  That emergency trip ended up costing us nearly $3,000.00.  We are still paying for it today with $20.00/month payments when we can manage. 

He’s nearly 3 now and perfectly healthy.  Although he wound up with chronic ear infections and spent his first two years almost constantly on antibiotics.  We ended up getting him insured through Florida’s Health Kids/Medicare program. IT IS FANTASTIC.  We pay $160.50 per month with absolutely no out-of-pocket expenses.  No co-pays.  No deductibles.  Everything is covered at 100%, even prescriptions.  We also get $25.00/month in over the counter medicines, delivered right to our door.

I hope to never again experience the absolute terror you feel when your child is sick and you know that any trip to the doctor or hospital will bankrupt you.  I cannot express to you how awful it was.