The Cost of Lupus
Living with a chronic disease can be stressful. When you’re not feeling well, it can be difficult to keep smiling and do mundane tasks around the house, let alone focus at work. But regardless of how active your disease is at any given time, the medical costs associated with it can create plenty of stress.
As I mentioned in an earlier posting, my most recent labs brought nothing but wonderful news: my medication is working, and I’m feeling great. About two months after I’d had my labs done, I received a bill from my insurer: $860. Three days later, I received a separate bill from when I had shingles: $125. My stress levels shot up a wee bit, but then I read the fine print on the back of the bill which provided info for applying for financial assistance. I went on the website, looked at a table of income levels, found mine, and felt confident that I qualified for assistance.
I applied and waited to receive a yea or nay in the form of a letter. Two months passed before I received anything, and when it arrived I felt a rush of relief to know that I would finally be tying up these loose ends and could put it behind me. Then I opened the envelope.
My application was denied. Apparently I make too much money. Did I mention my husband has been out of work for more than six months? My sense of relief vanished and was replaced by panic. Shortly after receiving the letter, I received a new set of bills–the due date unceremoniously set for NOW.
I called them to set up a payment plan only to find that they not only required that I make separate payments for both bills but that I make large monthly payments that are beyond my means. The person assisting me on the phone was immoveable. I worked my way up the chain of command and spoke with a kinder, but no less moveable, representative. I’ll be sent to collections, even if I make payments, if they’re less than what they’ve asked for. I tried to remain calm and rational–but the situation seemed irrational to me and so calmness went out the window. I burst into tears.
I got off the phone as quickly as possible, and my husband was right there to console me the best he could. Afterwards, I felt exhausted. What could I possibly do to get myself through this situation? And moving forward, what could I possibly do to avoid this? I literally can’t afford to get lab work done. And as long as I feel healthy, I suppose the labs aren’t necessary. I work, I pay for insurance, I pay a co-payment, and I give them my blood. The process is a little frustrating. My mother has come to my rescue–thank God for mothers. I’ll pay her back a little at a time, but her biggest concern is my stress levels. She kept reminding me to try to let the stress roll off of me. It’s an important life rule to remember, and I’m trying…