My health insurance premium unexpectedly increased – without warning – at the start of 2019. This means I’ll be paying more out of pocket than expected. I’ve not yet figured out how to pay for the dental work that I need done, and that my dental health insurance won’t cover.

I am writing this blog post while sick, and knowing that I will not have access to a primary care doctor for three months.

Last September, I went for my regular dental checkup. Overall, things went well, with one expensive exception. In short, I need a metal filling removed. It will be replaced with a temporary cap, and then a permanent, non-metallic, filling.

My total cost for that procedure (which may or may not include a root canal – I don’t know) is about $900. I’m expected to pay for that out of pocket because my dental health insurance won’t cover it. I suppose it is possible that the insurer is covering some of the cost – but that still leaves me to try and come up with about $900.

My husband and I recently finished paying off a loan we took so I could get a broken cap replaced. We are considering getting a credit card that starts with a 0% interest rate putting the dental bill on that, and racing against the clock. Will we be able to pay off the credit card before the 0% interest rate rises? I’ve no idea.

Very recently, my health insurer sent me cards that prove that I have health insurance coverage through them. It is an Obamacare Bronze plan, the same one I had last year. Based on everything my husband and I could find, it appeared that nothing would change from the 2018 plan to the 2019 plan.

I was pretty confidant about that because I’ve done a ton of research about the changes in health insurance. I knew that the cost of premiums for the Silver plans – not the Bronze plans – had gone up. California, the state I live in, increased the premiums for the Silver plan in an effort to keep the Bronze plans low cost.

Other than the insurance cards, I have not received any details about what the 2019 Bronze plan actually covers. Typically, insurers send a booklet that provides those very important details. The card itself doesn’t have any indication of how much my co-pay will be.

The health insurance company automatically charged me for my health insurance premium on January 1, 2019. That might have been fine, except for the fact that the cost of my premium had unexpectedly tripled. That’s right TRIPLED in cost. Everything I’d read made it sound like insurers weren’t allowed to do that with Bronze plans.

So, here’s where I’m at: I’ve got to come up with almost $900 to pay for a filling replacement; I’ve got to pay three times as much per month for my health insurance premium; I’ve got no idea how much I will need to spend on the co-pay when I see a doctor.

For context, my husband and I are poor. But, apparently, not poor enough for me to qualify for Medi-Cal (California’s Medicaid program). He is disabled and getting Social Security Disability and Medicare.  I am disabled and working on my second attempt through the approval process for disability.

Oh, and because we are both disabled, neither one of us can hold a “regular job” anymore. We’re both freelancers who work from home. Yes, this means that our sources of income aren’t stable or consistent – but that’s true of any hourly job as well.

I’ve been fighting a sinus infection, and a sore throat, for about two or three weeks. All I know for sure is that the symptoms are not likely to be due to allergies. Yesterday, (January 2), I called what I refer to as “the clinic for the poor people” in an effort to schedule a doctor appointment.

In September of last year, I was informed by “the clinic for the poor people” that my doctor had left the clinic. This is problematic for many reasons, the most immediate one being that I was technically without a primary care doctor.  So, I made an effort and planned ahead.

In October of last year, I called “the clinic for the poor people” and got them to assign me to another doctor. The very kind woman who I spoke with was helpful, but wasn’t sure what the new doctor’s speciality was. I’m going to have to train him about all my chronic illnesses, and just thinking about that is so very draining.

With that in mind, I assumed that when I called “the clinic for the poor people” yesterday, I would be all set. I’ve already arranged for the clinic to know that I have become a patient of a specific new doctor.

Of course, my effort to plan ahead didn’t work out. The very patient man on the phone who answered my call said that the soonest this doctor would be able to see me was April. No other doctor would have any appointments open before then. I’m looking at a three month wait.

The patient man on the phone tried to offer alternatives. He suggested I could go to a “clinic for the poor people” in two other towns. That wasn’t going to work for me because:

  • I wouldn’t be able to see my newly assigned doctor at the other clinics because he is at the one in town. I need a primary care doctor to fill out a form so I can apply for disability benefits (for the second time).
  • I don’t drive anymore because, long story short, my chronic illnesses have gotten bad enough where I cannot be certain I can reliably hit the brake or grip the steering wheel. We donated my car to Habitat For Humanity a while back.
  • Traveling to another town by bus, sitting in a waiting room indefinitely, and then traveling back home would quite literally drain most of my energy. I’d need a few recovery days after that – which means I probably wouldn’t be able to work.

End result – I will see my new doctor in April (unless he leaves the clinic before then). Hopefully, I can convince the doctor to fill out the form I need. Spring pollen season will likely be going on in April, so going outside to see my doctor will make me sick.

I will call a local Med-Stop and see if they accept my health insurance. You know – the one that TRIPLED its premiums for 2019 without a warning. With luck, the Med-Stop will be able to tell me what they will charge for a co-pay. Will I be able to afford that?  I’ve no idea. There really isn’t any other option, though.

Three Month Wait is a post written by Jen Thorpe on Book of Jen and is not allowed to be copied to other sites.

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