The Penalty of Not Being Able to Afford Care Is Too Expensive

Diabetes is insanely expensive. I often wonder how much it has cost me over the 18 years I’ve been funding it. Sometimes I had enough money to purchase all my supplies, sometimes I didn’t.  I felt like a loser every time I had to leave supplies at the pharmacy. You’d think I’d have gotten used to it at some point, but no, I cried every single time.  

I can’t help but wonder what my bank account would look like if I had all that money back.  We’re talking all the hospital emergency bills from when I was uninsured, all the doctor bills, prescriptions, co-pays, everything.  Even though there were times I grossly limited my use of test strips, I am certain if I had all that money back I could afford a lengthy tropical vacation that would make the Kardashians jealous.   

I’m lucky to have a great job and decent insurance, though it never seems to be enough with rising medical costs. Recently I was shocked to find out my doctor’s office was threatening me with collection due to a $690 bill. It had been much higher but I’d been forwarding payments each month and when I brought up that fact, I was told, “It’s not enough.” I was sending payments of $50 to $100 most months, and occasionally $25 when money was tight. Needless to say it felt like a punch to the gut, like adding insult to injury.  

I used to say my biggest fear was losing my insurance. These days it might just be the bill that’s coming that isn’t covered by my insurance. That $690 bill wasn’t the only bill I have with my doctor.  There is a newer one that also promises to be staggering. I puzzle over how many of my current bills are appearing to be higher than those from the years when I was without insurance.    

I know I’m not alone. Lately I’m hearing people say that more than ever they can’t afford their medical supplies. A Facebook friend recently posted that there were months where she was so tight on money she couldn’t afford to buy her beloved avocados, and then those months where she couldn’t afford her test strips. Unfortunately, this month for her was one where she couldn’t afford test strips.  

That’s the scariest thing in the world to me. We need test strips, we need insulin, we need our supplies and medical care or the penalty could very possibly be death. My heart broke for her and all of us that could spare a bottle offered it up to her. We should not be penalized by a threat of death simply because of our financial standing, but it seems we often are.

I hope not to have medical emergencies, or simple medical necessities push me over the edge. I was very lucky I had enough saved to cover paying the $690 bill in full, but what if I hadn’t?  How would I have afforded the supplies I needed from the pharmacy that month? I imagine how much better life would be if we could get our medical needs met without having to sacrifice our health or our bank accounts.  

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