Sunday, April 17, 2016

Year-to-Year Comparisons.....

I realized as I was doing the financial analysis that it was in a bit of a vacuum.  Each time I do it, it feels like the numbers are big, but it's hard to tell how big, exactly.

Before Babygirl got sick I never paid attention to how much we spent on medical care, so I don't have the numbers on what it was costing us in the years before. Despite the fact that our family was much larger, my gut instinct is that unless we had a dental crisis, the overall costs were substantially lower for several reasons:

1) Hubby and I were healthier.  We had fewer medications ourselves, and fewer doctor visits, and therefore fewer co-payments.
2) Our insurance was better.  We had lower co-payments for doctor visits and medications, and I don't recall that we had much of a deductible.
3) Some of the kids had Medicaid as secondary insurance, so they had no medical costs at all to speak of.
4) My income was a LOT higher because I was able to work more hours at a better pay rate, so a surprise medical bill of a couple hundred dollars just didn't have any emotional impact.

That being said, Babygirl was diagnosed with kidney failure in 2011.  We started seeing the financial enormity of the situation as the bills for her first surgery and her dialysis began rolling in at the end of that year, but most of the 2011 bills didn't actually get paid until 2012, which is when I started keeping track for tax purposes.  I myself had become ill been starting at the end of 2010, was out of work completely for the first quarter of 2011, and part time for the next quarter of 2011, so we were already bucks-down by the beginning of 2012 because of THAT.  Each year since, my income has continued to decline and the base pretax cost of health insurance (not calculated or included in the numbers below!) has risen.

So, with that background information, here is a tabulation:

Year         Medical Miles      Total Medical    Monthly Medical   Deductible

2012              14,701                  $19,157                   $1,596                  Yes
2013                3,586                  $12,216                   $1,018                  No
2014                2,545                   $5,500                      $458                   No
2015                2,261                   $8,305                      $692                   No

In 2012 we were quite literally saved from financial disaster by the love and generosity of our church family and many other friends who pitched in and gave us well over $6000 in contributions large and small.

You can guess from the mileage that we made fewer trip to see doctors with Babygirl (one less round trip to judge by the total) last year.  And yet we paid a LOT more.  Some of the bills from both 2014 AND 2015 are still in arbitration and I am not paying on those bills yet.

The 2016 news is not encouraging.  Our insurance's annual 'out of pocket' cost (the new name for 'deductible' I guess) is $4400 for the family.  That isn't so bad, except that that total applies to "Level 1" providers.  It turns out that CHOP is a "Level 2" provider, and our 'out of pocket' costs for Level 2 providers is $8800/year.  Thankfully, this is not in addition to the $4400:  $8800 is the maximum.  This, of course, does NOT include medication and doctor visit co-payments. It appears that they won't hit us for more than 10% of a hospital charge at once.  Babygirl's blood work at CHOP in February was about $11,000 total and we have to pay $1,100 of it, but we had to pay the full $1000 for her Botox injection procedure and the $485 for the nephrologist consultation.  The co-payment for the Botox itself was $300, so the total for one visit was nearly $3000, only about 2/3 of which actually applies to the 'out of pocket' deal.  Add in Hubby's back surgery and, well, I'm writing a lot of checks.

We can save some money by having Babygirl's blood work done at our Level 1 hospital ($550 instead of $1100) instead of at CHOP, so that is the plan going forward since she will need that same blood work done three more times this year at least.

We've gotten used to this.  It is our new 'normal.'  Money that used to go for luxuries, vacations, savings, gifts,'s medical.  We will retire here at home instead of somewhere warmer. And we are still among the very, very lucky ones.  I have not once had to choose between any medical cost and any true necessity.


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