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    My six-digit mistake with a new health insurer

    Henry Rosevear, MDI considered titling this blog, “How a conservative physician learned the appeal of Bernie Sander’s health care plan.” But I am getting ahead of myself; more on Sen. Sanders’ plan later.  

    My story begins last fall when I went through the process of signing up for health insurance through my practice. As I trust insurance companies about as much as I trust the government, I took what I thought were reasonable precautions. I called every doctor my family sees and ensured they were in-network physicians. I verified that both of the hospitals in the town that I live in were in-network. I even went so far as to see if I myself was in-network, thinking that I should probably sign up for a plan that my own business does business with.

    Also read: Winning at EHRs and meaningful use is ‘Mission: Impossible’

    I also made the conscious decision to have a high-deductible plan. I looked at the tax advantages of health savings accounts (HSAs) and was impressed. If you aren’t aware of these accounts, for people with high-deductible plans, you can put away pre-tax money, let it grow tax-free, and then use the money tax-free on health care-related investment costs. This page on the U.S. Treasury’s website describes these accounts.

    Having done my due diligence, I signed up for an HSA-eligible plan with a company I’ll name “Banana.” A month after making that decision, I learned that my wife was pregnant—with twins. And no, they don’t run in the family, and there was no medical assistance with the conception. These are identical twins and, as such, are simply good luck.

    The pregnancy went well but not perfectly, and my wife ended up spending the last 3 weeks admitted with pre-term labor. After some heroic efforts to stay pregnant, she delivered two (reasonably) healthy baby girls at 32 weeks gestation. The girls each spent just over a month in the NICU before being discharged. I’ll concede that I did think about the cost of the hospital stay, but I assumed that my exposure was limited by the in-network out-of-pocket maximum listed in my plan, given that all of the care was at an in-network facility.

    Related: Maintenance of certification: Working to understand why

    I was wrong. I was wrong for an amount that will take me a significant amount of time to pay off and which would very likely have bankrupted most families.

    NEXT: What did I do wrong?

    Henry Rosevear, MD
    Dr. Rosevear, a member of the Urology Times Clinical Practice Board, is in private practice at Pikes Peak Urology, Colorado Springs, CO.


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