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When Medical Bills Hurt

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When Medical Bills Hurt

Remember my cancer scare back in March? Turns out all those tests were expensive. I’m grateful for the peace of mind, but YIKES. (I can only imagine the medical bills if I’d actually been sick!)

Our health insurance is terrible as a small business, so we have high deductibles. That means that those screenings and ultrasounds and MRIs were pricey. I was so caught up in finding out what was going on, that I didn’t even think about how much it would cost.

And the timing of the bills was bad.

I don’t know when anyone wants to get medical bills like these, but I can say with certainty that during a pandemic is not it. We were already stuck with no income, a broken fridge, a dead car battery, and a slew of other worries, and a $701 bill was the last thing I wanted to see.

I was overwhelmed and just too depressed. So I did the mature thing and I just set the bills aside. I mean, I stacked them on the desk… it’s not like I shredded them, so that’s something, right?

I just couldn’t process them. And I waited so long that I was getting second notices, and in one case even a third. I usually handle paying the medical bills, but I should have confessed to my husband that I was too off my game.

So this week I finally paid them.

I picked up the dreaded stack and got on the phone. Some were small and less painful. $37 is okay. $81, ugh, but doable. But then there was that $701 one.

Gratefully, there was one silver lining:

I have a trick for reducing big medical bills.

Okay, maybe less of a trick and more of a common technique. When I started having regular sinus surgeries several years ago, I read online that doctors and hospitals will often give you a discount if you’re paying in full! It was a revelation to me, but I just couldn’t do it at first. It felt tacky and embarrassing.

But then I thought who am I to feel cheap? We’re broke!

So I tried it. The first time it was over the phone, and it seemed less mortifying. I reached my surgeon’s billing office, and red-faced and apologetic I said, “Is there a discount if I’m paying in full?” Without skipping a beat she said yes, and BOOM—I saved 10%.

Now I ask every time. Sometimes they have to check with a supervisor, and usually it has to be over $100 or more. But I’ve saved between 10-15% again and again. And every little bit helps.

So this week I got 10% off: $701 became $631. Still high, but hey, it’s something.

I keep getting calls, wanting me to schedule another appointment to get another MRI to double check everything on my liver. However, I don’t want to skip into a hospital right now without a really good reason. And let’s be honest, I don’t know if I can handle the cost again!

Do you ever negotiate your medical bills?

The Supply and Demand of Exercise Equipment…

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It seems like there are two camps during this pandemic. The ‘curl up in a comfy blanket and binge watch Netflix while eating a giant bag of Cheetos until everything passes’ crowd and the ‘workout, workout, workout, eat a kale salad, workout until you feel normal again’ crowd.

I certainly enjoyed those Cheetos.

My husband and I had gym memberships so I am used to working out but I worked out less since I had to do it at home and I loved those Cheetos a little more. Like I mentioned a few weeks back, I had to change my diet when my yoga pants started feeling a bit snug.

I started running and it turns out, I love it. Really. Truly. Love it. I know it’s terrible for every single bone and joint in my body (my mother, my neighbor, and anyone with sense loves to tell me how bad it is for me) but at this particular moment, I don’t care. I’ve been running 60 – 70 miles a week…until now. I don’t know what on earth I did, but I messed up my knee. My running days are taking a hiatus.

Unwilling to hang up my running shoes, I decided I’d buy an elliptical machine. Those aren’t expensive right???

Yes. I’ll wait until you stop laughing.

Done?

Holy cow those things are outrageously expensive! Naturally I head over to looking at ads for used ones in my area. There’s got to be plenty right?!? Maybe I can find a free one?

Yes, again, I’ll wait until you stop laughing.

I called my brother, a notorious lover of garage sales, and shared my desire to find a piece of exercise equipment. When he stopped laughing (and he laughed a LONG time), he shared that the pandemic has made everyone exercise at home and equipment is being picked up for way more than it’s actually worth. He recommended I wait until this all blows over. Apparently, if you want exercise equipment, DON’T BUY NOW! If you are looking to sell equipment, SELL NOW!

In the meantime, I switched over to free workouts from Youtube and *sigh* walking. This week, I found myself thinking more on my walks. Taking in the slower pace. It gave me a moment to consider that I was trying to create normalcy in this mess and I wasn’t going about it the right way. Our house is too tiny for an exercise machine and I have no business spending money right now. I was looking for an easy button.

I’m guessing there are lots of you out there in the same boat. Maybe it’s not exercise equipment. Maybe it’s something else. Take a breath. Take a moment. Pause. Are you spending money because you think it will make you feel better?

It won’t.

This will pass. Let’s wait for the storm to be over.

We will run again.

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