Saturday, August 20, 2011

Appointments, Insurance (again) etc.

I continue with my chemo-prep planning.

Next monday I have an appointment with a new chiropractor (that takes Medica). The great thing about my (hideously expensive) self-insurance plan, Minnesota Comprehensive Health Association -- with Media as my chosen provider -- is that eventually everything becomes free. I pay about $280 a month, and after I have hit my $3,000 out-of-pocket annual maximum, everything is 100% covered. Prescriptions, doctor visits, surgery, chiropractors... they all cost $0.00. This means that I end up paying a little over $6,000 a year, in the end, but last year my total bill would have been about $150,000 -- so its still a big savings.

Some have asked, so I will clarify: this is not Minnesotacare (which is our Minnesota low-income insurance plan that we've had in place for years. So there, rest-of-the-country-that doesn't-think-everyone-should-have-health-insurance.

Minnesota Comprehensive Health Association (MCHA) is not low-income insurance, it is high-risk insurance. They only way to get on MCHA is if you have a pre-existing condition that makes you ineligible for other health insurance. Cancer qualifies, FYI. I was on MinnesotaCare (that's the low-income one) but then my financial situation changed and I had also outgrown MinnesotaCare, which only covers $10,000 of surgical benefits. Those who believe that the poor should not have health insurance will still be happy to note that at least the poor are not getting very much coverage under MinnesotaCare. Also, I dropped MinnesotaCare because I wanted to go to Mayo, and last year my MinesotaCare provider (HealthPartners) didn't cover Mayo. This year, 2011, they do. It all changes year-to-year.

So, I'm on MCHA. Its pricey, but it is literally my only option. Well, I could get a job in Corporate America or move to Canada. But corporate America wouldn't like the fact that I'd need to take 2 months or more off every year for my cancer-related junk, and Canada just isn't very interesting. So, until the US nationalizes health insurance -- or I turn 62 and qualify for Medicare -- yours truly will pay $6,000 a year for health coverage. Its still a net savings over what it would cost, but its a screwey situation.

I also have an acupuncturist appointment scheduled next Tuesday. Acupuncture -- which is perhaps the most helpful single thing that I found during my chemo last time --  is not covered by Medica. So I'll spend about $50 a week for the next 2 to 4 months getting those treatments. Its worth it for me.

I also have an appointment with Dr. Gesme, my once and future Oncologist, to talk about everything and actually, hopefully, finally, perhaps get a chemo plan scheduled. I'm shooting for Monday the 29th to begin chemo.

Many have volunteered to join me for Chemo, but its an oddly personal and vulnerable time, as the patient (me) doesn't feel very presentable, isn't usually in a good mood, has tubes running out of them, is sometimes in pain and uncomfortable and has a tendency to fall asleep. Some have come along before and looked extremely uncomfortable (there are some very sick people in the infusion center, my cancer brothers and sisters that are at varying stages of their treatments). Its also most of a full day commitment, as treatments are about 5 to 6 hours. I appreciate the offers greatly -- truly -- but I'll likely just call on family.

Again, I wait -- the sooner I begin the sooner it will be done.


Nick said...

Hey Mike, who's your acupuncturist? I'd be happy to buy you a session or two a month.

nihilix said...

Take Nick up on that - stat!

Yeah, sometimes you just don't want to be around someone when you're having a bad hair day, or a no hair day, or a tubes and cranky day.

I know we need single-payer but the progressive parts of Minnesota (we still have a few, despite the Republican's attempts to gut every program ever) have you capped at 8k? Good! You should be paying nothing for this kind of coverage!

That weekend we were talking about didn't work with J, I'm given to understand. Something about a wedding she's doing?

Anyway, daily hugs!! and keep on keepin' on!

M said...

@Nick, that is very generous and very touching, thanks so much! To that, I would not say no! She is Christine Gendreau at River Island Chiropractic in St. Paul.

@John, Thanks! FYI, the level of MCHA coverage that I elected, (with the $3,000 individual out of pocket deductible), costs about $280 a month, so it tops out at about $6k out of pocket. Its better than it could be, but not as low as it should be. And yep, that weekend is out for us: her bro's wedding (she is marrying them).

Anonymous said...

My out-of-pocket comes to more than six grand, so waiting around for age 62 is a good idea, but not for this reason.


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