Wednesday, September 2, 2009

A New Month

September ushered in, seeing several new medical bills come in, as well as the slide into over $12,000 again in credit card debt.  I am determined not to let the credit card debt pass the car debt we have, which means that I’ll need to make at least $340 worth of payments against credit cards over and above the interest charges to stay ahead.  Is it doable?  Possibly.  The medical debt is now made up of 7 bills, and so far, only one of those bills has a monthly obligation.

I am really hoping to send a few dollars in on the medical debt, but put the bulk of my debt reduction against the credit cards.  Once the credit cards are dealt with, then we can begin the process of paying off the medical debts.

It is a very long road we have begun to travel on, and we started our journey at a time when, for many people, drastic measures are required just to keep afloat.

I have begun the process of rebuilding our emergency fund, and am very slowly but surely making progress there.  We are within just a few dollars of getting to 25% of our $1,000 goal.

Hopefully, this month will see us better off than the past two have, at least in regard to everything except medical debt.

We’ll see, I guess.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Another Bill… and My Thoughts on Public Health Care

Well, we got another bill today – this time from the ambulance service.  It was less than I thought it would be (under $1700), but I found out that for $55/year, one can have unlimited emergency services (and, if uninsured, a 60% discount on services.  That means it would take me about 8 years to make that up, if it ever happens again.  So, that’s worth considering.

I don’t expect that there will be a discount available on the bill, but I’ve asked for any that might be available, and also asked if there was a month-to-month plan that i could get on.  I have also done this on the radiology bill we got for the CAT scan and X-ray.

Our medical bills are now over $5,000, and that’s after pre-paying the labor and delivery and putting $2,000 on the credit card for the emergency visit.

We also got a call from the hospital we went to for the birth, and they informed me that I still had a balance of over $9,000 for the birth.  So we still have to get that resolved.  The big question is whether the pre-pay covered mom and baby, because the $14,000 bill for my wife was reduced, but the $9,000 bill for the baby was not.  It was my understanding that the bill from the hospital was taken care of, but the business office doesn’t currently see it that way.

Scary as having all that medical debt is, even with all the facts lined out as they are, I still cannot get behind a public plan for health insurance.  I don’t believe that the hospitals and doctors are as much to blame for the high cost of medical as pharmaceutical companies and insurance companies.

Some of my problems with the public plan as it is being proposed right now are due to the speed at which a 1,000+ page document is getting pushed through.  Last time we did that, we sent money to banks without much accountability at all, and are surprised that the 800 billion dollars seemed to have little to no measurable effect.  For another, any plan on the table does not include the people making the decisions.  I would be far more agreeable to a plan that the ones with the power to produce such a plan were under it as well.  If they are not willing to go under such a plan, why should we have to?

Also, I look at a bankrupt Social Security, a nearly bankrupt Medicaid/Medicare program, the huge amounts of fraud and wasteful spending, and it does not inspire confidence in me that a new program along those same lines (but expanded) will be any more efficient or any less wrought with fraud.

The combination of those three factors cause me to pause on the current plan being proposed.  Even in my position, in which a government plan could potentially make a lot of this medical debt go away, I can’t put my support behind it.  Do I have an answer for the solution?  No, I don’t.  If the pharmaceuticals and health insurance companies are behind the plan, then I will have to be against it.  I don’t believe that either of those occupations work with the average American’s success in mind.

Friday, August 7, 2009

A Guest Post

Living Almost Large gave me an opportunity to blog about my recent medical experience.  Be sure to check it out!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

August Update

Well, we are 5 days into the new month, and the medical bills have started trickling in.  I’ve added a new field to our debt reduction, but, like the Mortgage, I’m not updating our Overall Consumer Debt field with it.  As I negotiate with the medical community on our debts there, I’ll adjust.  Also, whenever we make payments against that debt, I’ll update the bar.

I was tempted to move our medical debts that I put on the credit cards recently over to that bar, but since they are already on the credit cards, they pretty much qualify as credit card debt.  Any additions to the credit cards from the medical debt will be reflected in the credit cards and subtracted from the medical debt.

I hope that makes sense.

Friday, July 24, 2009

I gambled, and I lost. Big time.

I was 100% focused on getting out of debt.  I admit it.  Several times, I was given the opportunity to change some things, but I didn’t want to spend the money, and detract from the pace at which I was eliminating my debt.

But a house and a baby are big detractors, anyway.  And I failed to make those connections.

We have no insurance on my wife, and no insurance on the baby.  So we are paying all of these expenses out of pocket.  To make matters worse, my wife had an eclamptic seizure on Monday afternoon, something that happens in only rare cases after the birth.  An ambulance ride, 3 additional nights in the hospital, and thousands of dollars later, I arrive at the end of this week not really knowing where to go from here.

The baby had already run up costs significantly, so our return to the hospital put an already drastic situation into dire straits.  We will, of course, be negotiating with the doctors, the hospital, and everybody else that comes running to us for money, but, at the same time, it appears that we will also be making drastic lifestyle changes in the coming weeks.

First thing on the list, though, is to get through the current crisis.  Wife and baby are fine, but this process can take 6 weeks to work through.  Thankfully, they are both at home, and most of what needs to be done is simply rest & recover.

I don’t know the damages yet, and it could be months before all of this gets figured out, but there will be a major revamping of the family finances, for sure.

I am not complaining.  There is no question in my mind that whatever sacrifices I must make are worth it, because I have my wife and baby.  And, in the big scheme of things, that’s really what matters.