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I need MONEY!

August 2nd, 2006

This is about the reality of being unemployed.  Read on…

Last night I cut my hand open.  It was dumb, really.  I had a table knife (ok, I’ve used it on steak before) and I was trying to separate 2 hamburger patties.  I usually use the smaller butter knives but last night I just picked this knife.  And um, ya, my hand was wet.  So, it slipped down and I cut my hand really nice.  Luckily the knife is super sharp so it didn’t tear any skin – it was just a clean, deep cut. 

7 months ago I would have gone to the clinic to get stitches.  Last night I looked up “Superglue & cuts” on the Internet.  I don’t feel really good about the superglue thing (I’m sure it beats duct tape in a case like this) but here’s the thing.  I don’t have health insurance.

My kids do – Utah is pretty good about getting kids on health insurance right away.  My wife does, after we paid thousands of dollars for Medicaid (more on that below).  But I don’t – I didn’t qualify.

So I’m standing over the sink washing out this deep wound and I get a little nauseous.  But the wound isn’t gross – so I think I’m nauseous because I’m thinking about how much money I have in the bank, and I’m thinking about how much this is going to cost.  I’m actually ready to puke.

So here’s the deal.  Right now you have a job with benefits.  You probably think they suck, but at least you have them.  What are you going to do about health insurance if you are unemployed?  I didn’t really care – because I wouldn’t be unemployed this long.

When we first got state insurance for the kids I was relieved.  I figured they would be the first to have an accident (pretty active kids!).  But because my wife and I had been putting 10% into a 401k we could not qualify.  Well, she was pregnant.  Even though we’ve had good births with our first 3 kids, I didn’t want to have a birth without insurance!

Our case worker explained to us that since we had over $5,000 in assets (anyone that works for 12 months at a good job will quickly surpass this small limit) the ONLY way she could get coverage was if we did an “asset paydown”.  This means you write a check for over $2,000 to the state, and they put you on the insurance for 12 months.  That would be good enough to cover the baby.  So cool, she is insured, and we don’t have to worry about possible medical bankruptcy if there are complications.

Who has $2,000 sitting around that they can plunk down on this expense?  When you have no income, $2,000 is a ton.  Even when you have an income $2,000 is a ton (at least at my income level back then).  I don’t know too many Americans that don’t live paycheck-to-paycheck.

The thing that killed me about the $5,000 limit is that it quickly eliminates the middle class.  This is pretty funny because you hear all of the politicians and cops whining about welfare fraud (hey, I’m not for it either) – but someone like me, who is hard-working, pays taxes, contributes to society and all of that, I’m the first to get eliminated.  At least we could do the asset paydown.

I wasn’t worried about insurance for myself because I’ve been out of doctor’s offices for the last 10 years.  Low risk lifestyle, no injuries, etc.

Until last night.

Just realize that if you have no savings, or small savings, some small accident could wipe you out right away.  You may be prepared to continue paying the bills for a few months, but don’t neglect planning for financial crisis.  Like the Saturday after we got laid off we had our two cars in the shop which cost about $900.  That was $900 that was going to go towards the bills.  You just can’t be too prepared.

Finally, don’t send me any money :)  I’m going to Home Depot today to get some Superglue.

8 Comments »

8 responses to “I need MONEY!”

  1. […] I didn’t expect to get any e-mail asking about my hand – but I’ve gotten more e-mail on that post than any other blog post I’ve put up! […]

  2. […] experience reminds me of the time I cut my hand open two years ago. I had been unemployed for a while, had no health insurance, and was long-past the time when the […]

  3. […] his despondence turned into business opportunity and he made a conscious effort to risk money, health and career on the opportunity in front of […]

  4. Karen Swim says:

    Jason, I pray that your hand heals quickly! Peanut butter stops the bleeding and yep superglue does work. Your story was eerily familiar. I had an accident with a slicer and there was so much blood and in the old days I would’ve headed out to get stitches but like you I had no health insurance and definitely could not afford a $1000 bill for a cut. I worked in healthcare my entire life & I knew the problems but there is nothing like facing them as a patient. When I really needed help there was no where to turn. My husband and I lived off of our savings for 3 years while I paid for his insurance and mounting medical bills out of pocket. We could not afford to keep me covered. He had cancer, became paralyzed from the waist down, we had no income and we could not even get disability. The case worker came and in spite of my husband’s obvious paralysis, inability to see the paper to sign it, they didn’t seem to get it. After he died, I was left with a mountain of medical bills, no insurance and still no help. It is sad that you work hard, pay taxes but there is nowhere to turn when life takes an unexpected turn.

  5. This shows how different medical care is in various countries. In Australia we have a govt medicare system so that even those on unemployment, pensions, etc have some form of care. And we have many surgeries that bulk bill to the govt medicare agency so that patients don’t have to pay out any money. However, if you want choice of doctor, etc then private insurance is so important.

    I am thankful that I’m kept in work and am mindful of how so easily situations can change – for the worse, or the better. Thanks for sharing this story.

  6. Nancy B says:

    I added it up today… I have had poor / no insurance most of my adult life. I have several friends that have had to make terrible decisions about housing and chemo… even with my most recent job… one of the best packages in the country… dental insurance was horrible and my husband still faces 2 root canals we can’t afford.

    My father had a union job for 35 years… it never occured to me when I graduated college that health insurance didn’t come with every job and that an HMO with full vision, dental, and drugs wasn’t included… oh how far we have come to fall back so far!

  7. Jimmy says:

    Okay, I’ll be the bad guy…

    I don’t have any children, because I can’t yet afford the should-haves.

    If you don’t have savings large enough to cover emergency situations such as a short hospital stint, being unemployed, temporary relocation, etc… should you continue to have kids??? You could say that when you were both working you didn’t have any financial woes, but did you have a savings that could cover all of the forementioned items? If not, then you should, or you shouldn’t have several children, if you did have an appropriate savings, and you have used all of it and are still not is a comfortable financial position, then something else is wrong.

  8. […] really blew me away. I’ve blogged about health care here a few times – starting from when I cut my hand open to my thoughts about Obama saving the healthcare system… but this one is really heartening.  […]