I got a bit of a shock when I opened the mail yesterday: I was being charged a little over $1,000 for some tests that my doctor had ordered during my yearly physical a few weeks ago.
I didn’t panic. For one thing, I knew it had to be a mistake. I’ve never been charged for tests associated with my yearly physical before. For another, well, if it turned out that my insurance coverage really had changed that much when I the company re-negotiated this year, I could cover it.
Fortunately, that turned out to not be the case. I made a few phone calls, and it turned out that the doctor’s office had made an ever-so-tiny mistake with the billing. A box not checked, a form not filed, something like that. The insurance company got in touch, the situation got resolved, and no more thousand dollar bill.
It was an enormous relief, but in my relief, I got to thinking: what about the people who don’t know how to navigate the system, even to the rudimentary degree I did? What about people who aren’t taken seriously, or who can’t speak the language well enough to make their problem understood? Why, they’d be stuck with the thousand dollar bill. This is how the poor get poorer.
And of course, that’s leaving out the people who don’t have insurance at all. Chances are good that they wouldn’t have gone to the doctor in the first place. That’s how the poor get dead.