Dilemma over deductibles: Costs crippling middle class


“Health expenses tend to come up unexpectedly, or if you have a chronic condition, they come up relentlessly,” adds Karen Pollitz, a senior fellow at Kaiser. “People put off care or they split their pills. They do without.”

“Health insurance doesn’t cover much of anything until you cover your deductible,” says Curry, 54. “It puts a burden on you. You’ve got to have the money to be seen.”

Experts point out that the ACA requires preventive care to be covered fully and exempt from deductibles — although surveys show many workers still forgo screenings and physicals because they’re unaware of this or know they can’t afford follow-ups if illnesses are found.

I wonder if Medicare is going to cover the doctor appointment that Unum is forcing on me… is it considered “preventative care” to have a doctor fill out insurance forms? Of course, I still have to come up with the annual deductible and then 20% of the bill.  And I don’t have very long to come up with all this money…

(Yeah, just want to give a shout out to Unum on New Year’s — thanks so much for terminating my benefits while demanding I shell out money for a doctor to fill out your forms.  Just for your edification, I’m sitting here wondering if I can afford chicken this month… I’m thinking, no.)

Jennifer Ross, an arthritis sufferer in Florida insured through her husband’s job, says she recently made the wrenching decision not to take a medication that might allow her to get around without her wheelchair. The $2,400-a-month medicine would cost her $600 a month out-of-pocket even with insurance, and she simply can’t swing it. To make matters worse, Ross’ 12-year-old daughter was recently diagnosed with arthritis, too.

“It’s a no-win situation,” Ross says…

When patients do get needed care, some find themselves in massive debt. Kim Brown, an administrative assistant in Louisville who was earning about $40,000 a year, owes many thousands — the bills are still coming, so she doesn’t know exactly how much — after battling thyroid cancer. She says her annual out-of-pocket costs are $7,500, and she also has to pay 15% for things like hospital stays. No longer able to work because of her illness, she reluctantly signed up for Medicaid and will likely declare bankruptcy.

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