On Being Sick Without Health Insurance

For one day this month (May 1), we were not covered by any insurance.  The insurance from Dad’s old job ended on April 30 (Saturday), his new insurance wouldn’t kick in until May 2 (Monday) his first day of work at the new job.  We figured that we have 45 days to sign up for COBRA, so if we needed to, we could (we hadn’t even gotten any of the papers about it yet!). Friday, April 29, Daughter Person is sent home from school with a sore throat and fever.  We decide to kind of ride it out and see if it’s just a virus or if she might have had strep.  Saturday, she’s fine other than a fever and saying her throat hurt occasionally.  We let it go.  Sunday (the day without insurance), she wakes up screaming about her throat hurting and still has a fever, but this time is having trouble breathing because her tonsils are so big. Look in her throat, and sure enough there are the typical white spots of strep. Panic!

I asked around my local mom’s group about their opinions on the two urgent care options and which would be more likely to give us a discount for paying cash up front – neither.  BUT, Walgreens/CVS have the in-house clinics that are open on Sundays, and they publish their prices!  We went to the local Walgreens, waited less than we normally do for our doctor, and get this: PAID LESS than we would have at our doctor’s office – with insurance!  We then looked up the cheapest place to get her prescription filled with the OneRX app, and were on our way.

We were charged $134 at Walgreens, and $20.44 at Rite Aid for her antibiotics (azithromycin).  When we took her in March for the same exact thing, we paid $165 for the doctor’s visit (after the insurance negotiation!) and about the same for the prescription from WalMart.  If we needed to, we still could have pulled money out of our HSA to cover it, but the charge was quite low (we thought), so that money’s still working for us.  Now, I’m wondering why exactly we bothered paying $282/mth premiums for our health insurance, it certainly wasn’t saving us anything!

5 thoughts on “On Being Sick Without Health Insurance

  1. Leigh

    LOL! You pay for the catastrophic coverage, for when you go over your deductible. But yup, for routine stuff, it seems to be cheaper to pay cash. I went somewhere recently and they bill the insurance 3x what the cash price is. Had I known that, I probably would have just paid cash.

    Reply
    1. Mom Post author

      I just wish any cash payments would count towards the deductible. We met our deductible last year (mostly thanks to tubes in Daughter Person’s ears), and chose to take care of a few elective procedures we’d been putting off. But, if we hadn’t had all of the smaller items to add up to the deductible, we probably wouldn’t have met it. The new insurance is slightly higher deductibles (and we start over mid-year *sigh*), but lower payments – $75/mth for a $1500 increase in deductible. So far, I’ve only ever been to the doctor for annual physicals under our HSA plans (and in general, I avoid doctors…), so it’s all Dad and Daughter Person…

      Reply
      1. Leigh

        You might be able to manually bill the insurance yourself, but I suppose not in the case because COBRA. My plan has travel coverage, so that’s what I did with my medical expenses after I got back from traveling.

        I might be switching insurance mid-way through this year as well and I’m not looking forward to that as I’ve basically hit my deductible! (I’m just waiting for the deductible-hitting charges to post.)

        Reply
        1. Mom Post author

          We’re not even bothering to pay for COBRA – it’s $1500/mth (we got the paperwork yesterday), and for one day, eh. If there was some kind of catastrophe on that one day, we’d have bought it, but at this point, not buying it 🙂 We’re covered on Dad’s new insurance and have gotten the cards and everything..

          Reply
          1. Leigh

            Wow, that is crazy expensive! I guess there are three of you and mine would have cost $500/month just for me. I wish insurance wasn’t tied to our employers sometimes…

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