:::: MENU ::::

Nothing like a Medical Emergency…


To give you perspective. Sea Cadet (and I) spent most of this week in the local hospital. He had two surgical procedures, and will have to monitor himself for the next month before a follow up appointment.

When I took him in Sunday night, I thought it was most likely his appendix. But it wasn’t. (I won’t go into detail to respect his privacy.) And he will be fine in the long run.

Sea Cadet after surgery

Sea Cadet after his second surgery

We have learned several lessons from this week:

  1. Listen to your body. As a family who tends to avoid doctors for the most part, there are times when getting things checked out is very important.
  2. Communication is key. Our local hospital is very small. The service has been fantastic. But we received lots of mixed messages. Go home, no stay. Surgery at 10, no 8:30am. Take this medicine, no this one. When working in a team or family even, being clear on your communication is very important.
  3. Health insurance. To be honest, the jury is still out on this for me. But I had multiple interesting discussions with other patients, concerned families and so on about its usefulness or lack thereof. Sea Cadet does not have any health insurance, so it will be interesting to see how the financial aspect of this plays out.
  4. Having the flexibility to work from wherever is fantastic when you have a child in crisis. Thankfully, I did not miss a beat at work. I was able to to set up shop in his hospital room, the cafeteria, the waiting room and the recovery room. I am so grateful for this (and for how wonderful my clients have been this week.)

In the end, I had to pay $40 as a copay for the hospital to treat him with no insurance. And his medications have cost less than $30 – antibiotics and pain medicine.

We are not panicking at this point. He has applied for reduced cost medical treated, a service offered by the hospital, and we will wait until the bills start coming in to figure out a game plan. Because he is an adult, I am not legally responsible for these bills, but as a parent, I will try to help as much as I can.

Have you had a medical crisis that caused such distress? Any tricks with dealing with the financial repercussions?



  • Reply angie |

    Sorry to hear this. I hope he is feeling better now. We skip doctor’s for the most part too so it’s scary to think something requiring surgery could sneak up and we’d miss it.

    As an aside, i thought kids were on your insurance until 25 or 26 now. Is it just because he’s adopted and used to be on State insurance?

    • Reply Cwaltz |

      It’s 26. My oldest left ours last year. His sister will have to have coverage through her employer next year.

  • Reply Cheryl |

    I am glad he is better but no insurance is never the right thing. I pay for my son’s who is 21 and still in school. Why didn’t you or him go to healthcare.gov they charge by how much you earn.

  • Reply Laura |

    How can you say the jury is still out on health insurance? Of course health insurance is a good idea and I’m appalled he wasn’t insured before. Even a reduced bill is going to be huge. Are the rest of you insured ?

  • Reply Jessica |

    How could you possibly be so cavalier on the “usefulness” of insurance? Medical Bill’s like this can be devastating to a person, especially at a young age like this. How are you all going without insurance?? This is just irresponsible

    • Reply Cheryl |

      Well people like me pay through the nose for healthcare due to my husband retiring. I thought there was a fine for not having it.

      • Reply drmaddog |

        Yeah, interesting point. When I do my taxes myself, the software asks if I”ve been covered. I say yes, but I never have to submit proof. Makes you wonder if people just say yes, even if they aren’t, and take the chance they never have to prove it.

        • Reply Hope |

          The younger two and I have been covered this year via Medicaid. Unfortunately, Sea Cadet did not qualify. And he chose not to get insurance through his job. (So did History Buff, but he did get the vision coverage which he is very excited about.)

          • Deb |

            I guess I don’t understand the logic behind the thinking of “the jury is still out” when you and your other two have medical coverage through Medicaid. Why would the jury still be out regarding health insurance for your other two children? What is the rationale behind the thought process?

  • Reply Walnut |

    Prayers for your family! Once the dust has settled on the medical side, this will be a great learning opportunity. Encourage him to request itemized copies of all bills so he can marvel at the $20 charge for an ibuprofen and $10 for a heated blanket.

    Then he’ll want to request financial assistance and fill out all of the necessary paperwork for that and collect supplemental documentation for income/expense verification, etc.

    Finally he should look into health insurance options, establish a primary care physician, and identify preventive care practices that will contribute to lower lifetime medical costs.

  • Reply sue |

    We were on Obamacare for 4 months and used it to refill 2 prescriptions – we had to pay the IRS $8000 that year because “they” said that is what “they” supplemented us for the 4 months. You can’t get a person to talk to, an address to go to, absolutely nothing with Covered California. If we were in the same situation again, I would NEVER, EVER, use Obamacare and would choose to go without insurance. It isn’t about being “irresponsible” or “cavalier” it is about real life and making choices that you don’t think you would ever make in your life.

    • Reply Jessica |

      You dont think this hospitalization is going to cost this young man more than $8000? You just happened to be ‘fortunate’ enough to not need to use your insurance for more than prescriptions…most people arent planning on surgeries, cancers, accidents, etc. Nobody wants to use their health insurance

      • Reply Laura |

        Yep. That is what insurance is for, the unforeseen big ticket problems. If you don’t have it you could be one medical crisis away from bankruptcy.

      • Reply Sue |

        I guess we are of 2 different thoughts – every single person I know who has had to deal with covered California (and there were a lot of them with the job losses around here) would never, ever do it again – my family being one of them.

  • Reply Jen |

    I’m sorry to hear he’s been ill, and hope he’s on the mend. That being said, not having insurance is never the right thing. Both you and he are in for a very rude awakening when that bill comes. It’s going to be the tens of thousands.

  • Reply Drmaddog |

    Good news that he is going to recover.

    If you have adequate wealth, you can self-insure agains your losses by paying cash out of pocket. If you do not, a large loss could be catastrophic. So you could argue that insurance is more important if you have less wealth. If you can’t afford to replace a totaled car and now can’t get to work, if you can’t afford to rebuild a house that burned down, if you can’t pay for expensive medical care – you should have adequate insurance.

    So, glad he’s going to be okay. But this is likely to be a problem for him in the near future and was preventable.

    I know your urge wi be to sweep in and save him from this, but I don’t think you should for no other reason than you have your own debt and minimal savings. Time is on his side to recover from this setback, but not on yours.

  • Reply scarr |

    Also – this isn’t going to be one bill that comes. It is going to be bills after bills after bills, for months to come. Not having insurance is irresponsible and reckless.

  • Reply Cwaltz |

    I cringe thinking of the medical bill. My son started stuttering at 25 out of nowhere. He needed a CT scan and MRI the bill was over 1000 with insurance. They still haven’t figured out what caused it(it’s still there) and insurance won’t cover speech therapy without a pathological cause(good news no.lesions bad news no identifiable cause). His speech therapy sessions are $160. Even with insurance some of these costs are insane.

  • Reply Louise |

    I really feel for you, being in a country without universal health care. I cannot imagine how stressful it would be. I hope you both get through this without a devastating bill. I watched a doco on the US health care system that said hospitals price their services on the basis that only a small % of the bill will get paid (eg if the bill goes to the insurance company, they get a big discount; if the bill goes to a private individual there’s a good chance not all the money will be paid). So they put huge profit margins on their services to compensate and cover costs. Apparently people who pay their bills in full are subsiding private health care companies that negotiate deals. So when your bill does come in, do your own research – there might be room for negotiation.

  • Reply Deborah Adamski |

    Hi Hope,

    Sorry to hear that you son was ill and required hospital treatment and surgery. I would not help him with the costs of the admission, the anesthesia fees, surgical fees, etc. He is an adult and can apply for a payment plan through the hospital and with the other service providers. Once he is healed and has been cleared of any restrictions he can also get a second part time job to help pay for the costs of the care he received.

    My adult children live with us. They are responsible for paying their own bills, rent, do chores around the house, and their medical expenses. We do provide shelter to them.

    If my husband and I tried to help them each time there was an emergency or other issue they would never be able to learn how important it is to be able to manage on their own.

  • Reply SusieQ |

    Yeah, making the decision to forego health insurance can certainly come back to bite you in the butt, as you’re finding out. I’m sure the hospital will let your son pay his debt off over the years. I, personally, would NEVER not buy health insurance – regardless of cost. It’s just too much of a gamble – you have one serious illness/accident, you are in debt for years/decades. Just not worth it to me. Hope he makes a full recovery.

  • Reply Rrr |

    It sounds like you are setting up your son for a lifetime of financial problems, just like you. He will have huge medical bills and probably never get on his feet, just like you. We have been privvy to your financial journey for years and you have actually regressed. Sorry but its true.

    • Reply Hope |

      His choice not to have health insurance is his own. He had the opportunity to get it through his job and chose not too.
      I am doing my best to make sure he gets out of school without school debt. But at 20 years old, some decisions are his own.

      • Reply Laura |

        Did you encourage him to do so or tell him the jury is still out on whether it is needed? Young adults are a tough age. They are adults, but can’t really comprehend some things and still need adult guidenance. This should be a lesson to both of them that if the job offers it, sign up! Yes, they are adults and the final decision is theirs, but If you haven’t been advising them to do this you need to.

      • Reply Deb |

        While it was his own decision to choose not to have health insurance, did he receive any guidance from you regarding the importance of having it? Did you discuss with him the financial damage of having medical bills and not having a way to cover the costs?

        You stated that he is still in school and you don’t want him to graduate with debt. So, for instance, he gets clearance from a doctor that he is healed from his surgeries and will have no restrictions placed on him for work. Medical expenses are so high that most young adults 18-20 somethings have no means of paying for their care unless the parents are able to help them.

        Given your financial history and mishaps it seems that you are ensuring that the children are to follow in your footsteps. Debt is still debt whether it is school, medical, household, credit, car payments, etc.

        I personally would insist that he get a second job to help pay for the costs of his care (most of it will probably be written off anyway) and he can learn the difficult way to pay off debt. By the way my daughters are in school and are working part time. My oldest has gotten more hours at my request to help pay for her tuition fees. My middle daughter has looked for a second part time job one day or night a week to help cover the tuition fees also.

        Children do as they learn and observe. Sometimes they need guidance to point them in the right direction. Are you going to pay for the costs of his medical care? I am curious to see how you are going to budget this (if you do “decide” to help him).

    • Reply dh |

      I agree. I think it is horrifying that he will be starting out with all that medical debt.

      This is why poverty is generational. Bad practices, bad advice.

      I have been rooting for you for years Hope, but this was a terrible mistake, not encouraging your young sons to get medical insurance.

      • Reply dh |

        To be honest, the jury is still out on this for me.

        Clearly, you communicated that to your young adult sons, neither of whom opted to take out medical insurance. But THEY will be paying for that mistake, not you.

    • Reply Attorney on FIRE |

      Amen to that! This blog epitomizes everything NOT to do to ensure a favorable financial future. Medical debt is the absolute number one cause of bankruptcy! The blog is both sad and amusing…

      • Reply Jessica |

        Completely agree with you, Attorney. Some days I dont know why I come back to read. I know Hope loves her kids but I see the cycle setting itself up and they too will be in a pattern of debt for life themselves.

  • Reply Katie |

    This is not something a twenty year old fully comprehends. I think I would’ve insisted he get the insurance, and paid the premiums myself, if necessary. He’s about to find out that one hospital stay is all it takes to suffer a huge financial setback. And, we’re all just one accident away from being patients. Medical bills affect the whole family, you’re not going to let him go bankrupt at 20 are you? Probably not, so you could be drawn into helping him cover these bills. Health insurance is not a want, it’s a need. I’m discouraged that you don’t see that. After everything you’ve been through, your attitude toward this shows that you haven’t quite developed a long-term perspective for your finances. Part of doing that is to protect yourself. Sorry, I’m sure you’ve been just trying to pay what’s in front of you, but this should’ve been a priority.

  • Reply Joanna |

    At 20 years old and a full time student my parents made sure I had medical coverage. I’m not sure I could have even comprehended the magnitude of what could or would have happened without it at that age.
    I understand older than 18 is an adult but living under your roof should imply some things jus have to be handled responsibly.

  • Reply Misti O |

    Do you anticipate that he will have a tax refund this year? The majority of the debt will be written off by the hospital. If he receives a refund I would encourage him to use it to pay off as much of the debt as possible. He can set up a payment plan with the hospital for as little as $25 a month so that it will NOT hit his credit; BUT I would encourage him to pay more than that minimum to get out from under it as soon as possible. Is this the son that is working towards a paramedic certifcation/degree? If so, I would ask if there are any discounts for services related to being in that field.

    • Reply drmaddog |

      Oh lord. if he gets a tax refund his first move should be buying a health insurance policy and paying it for the year, then placing the rest on this debt. anything else would be irresponsible and more poor person thinking.

      • Reply Hope |

        He actually will have full coverage come August when he starts the next chapter of his life. We will figure it out until then.
        He did receive his first bill today. Will keep you updated on how this plays out.

  • Reply Jessica |

    And days later we have.. crickets. Head in the sand when it comes to anything uncomfortable, this will just be swept under the rug.

    • Reply Hope |

      Nothing is being swept. But I am working a growing business. And can’t really do anything about this situation until we get the bills. But thanks for your concern.

  • Reply jj |

    She explained already the reasoning behind him not having any. He decided not to. When you’re young, you think you’re invincible! Obviously she could have said why he should have, but she herself doesn’t really know whether it’s good or not.

    Since I am Canadian, I am covered except for dental and any medicines I would need. Optical, I have a condition that means my exams are covered, but the glasses and prescription are not. I never used my parents’ benefits right until the end of my undergrad, for wisdom tooth removal. But I was glad, since it’d have been so costly otherwise.

    Medicare/Obamacare is only so lame because people who dislike it, ensure that it becomes frustrating for the average joe to actually access. If universal healthcare was implemented, people would be way better off altogether. Politicians have been too selfish.

  • Reply Cheryl |

    First all those with free healthcare, you pay for it from your taxes. The money has to come from somewhere. Does anyone else think that Hope likes to stir things up, I mean who says the jury is out on healthcare. We all at some point in our life will next care. Her family gets theirs for free but like most we pay for ours. Never have I heard someone say you don’t need healthcare of some type.

    • Reply Hope |

      My opinion on healthcare is not new. We only qualified for “free” healthcare last summer after the loss of my job. It’s not a long term plan for us. Prior to that I elected not to have healthcare. And when I did begin considering it, and what I will probably do this summer is join a cost sharing program versus a traditional healtchare insurance program. I recently read this article on Knew Health: https://wynneathealth.com/im-ready-for-a-knewstory-for-healthcare-are-you/ but have also look at Medishare and Samaritan Ministries. I believe I’ve written about this before.

      • Reply Jessica |

        The thing about the cost sharing plans is they will usually only accept those people who are in extremely good health. Dont you have type 2 diabetes? They may even reject you if your bw shows pre diabetes levels

  • Reply Meg |

    I am so happy to hear that he is ok! I would love to know your thought process on the importance of health insurance. My boyfriend was unexpectedly laid off from his job in November, and then turned 26 in December, thus losing the benefit of being able to remain on his parent’s health insurance plan.
    Even with cutting spending and reducing monthly bills, we are running at a deficit each month. My opinion is that it’s crazy NOT to have insurance, as I’m afraid that if a big medical emergency were to happen…his financial future would be ruined. He can’t fathom adding a roughly $180/mo bill to our plate while we are already in the midst of having to make up the income for our monthly expenditures.

So, what do you think ?