I have cancer. I have insurance. Thank Obama for the Affordable Care Act, otherwise, I wouldn’t be insured at all, since I’ve had to change insurance twice for employment reasons since I was diagnosed.
Mostly I worry about bankrupting my mother. My insurance premiums are about $500 a month with the health benefit from the ACA. I have co-pays and deductables and some things they don’t cover that amounts to another $5000+ a year. So it’s costing me about $11-12k a year to have cancer.
I can’t pay it. I can no longer work as a direct result of my cancer treatment. That’s right, it’s the treatment that is debilitating. The treatment I’m paying for. I’m lucky that my family can absorb the expenses, for now. But either my condition will need to improve such that I can work, or I’ll need to die so that cancer doesn’t bankrupt us all.
The next step is possibly to go on some kind of disability. There are phone calls to make, applications to fill out, questions to ask and answer. The disability route feels like a path you only go down if you don’t plan to come back. It might not be that way, but it feels that way.
I get surprise bills all the time. Most of them are for smallish amounts, but they never end. It’s hard to tell if they are legitimate. The bills usually get sent to collection before insurance has definitively paid its part. The phone rings from strange numbers all over the country. Sometimes I get calls that threaten to jail me.
The piles of opened and unopened letters, notifications, bills, and the like continue to grow. Periodically, I break down and ask a close friend to help me face them. Mostly it’s just deciding to pay things without knowing if I really owe it.
When the doctor recommends more tests, I agree because what else can I do. I’m allowed to refuse treatment, but it feels unwise to refuse a cancer treatment that is working. I’m afraid to use my insurance, even though I have it. Even though the costs are somewhat contained. I think that because I can’t actually afford it, that it’s not me who is paying for it, the insurance feels like it’s not even mine, that it doesn’t really work, that it’s all about to cost more and more and more.
This is health insurance terrorism. I’m sick of it.