Demon of the Underground

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Fellow Freelancers: Don't Go Without Health Insurance

Wow, it's been awhile since I posted a Demonblog entry!  I've been making most of my comments alongside each page update, so I haven't had much else to say.  But I just wanted to take a quick moment to talk about something boring and practical.

If you're self-employed, paying for health insurance can suck big time, especially if you have preexisting conditions.  Since leaving my job, I've been paying over $400 a month for individual insurance through COBRA, and my preexisting conditions make it impossible to find an alternative, much less a cheaper alternative.

However, because I was no longer at my previous stressful job, a lot of problems I often had with my recurring illness no longer bothered me.  I began to get frustrated with how much I was paying for insurance I wasn't even using, and likely wouldn't need since I was feeling much better.  I almost considered stopping my insurance while I looked for something new, but thankfully I decided to be reasonable and not go without a safety net.  After all, I wasn't struggling with my finances.  I was just being a brat about having to hand over my money.

Last night, I had a pizza delivered for dinner because I was working an urgent freelance project and didn't have time to get groceries.  Doesn't sound particularly risky, right?  I didn't even leave my house.

Well, about an hour after eating, the left half of my upper lip swelled up to about double its previous size, my throat was kind of tight and made it difficult to talk, and I was feeling dizzy and lightheaded.  I looked it up, and as I suspected, I was having an allergic reaction to something I'd eaten.

I called my dad, who's a doctor, and he told me I had to go to the ER.  I wasn't thrilled, but I listened, and my sister was kind enough to get up at 1 in the morning and drive me.  It was a mild allergic reaction, but the ER doctor did confirm that anything involving swelling of the mouth or throat really did require a trip to the ER.  They took care of the problem, and by five in the morning, I was back home and no longer looked like I'd been punched in the mouth.  (Yes, it was a loooong trip.)

Thanks to my insurance, I only had to pay $150 out of pocket for the ER visit and prescriptions combined.  Now I have to follow up with my doctor and see an allergist to find out what caused the reaction.

The moral to this long-winded story: no matter how healthy or careful you are, you have no idea when you'll find yourself in need of insurance.  I cringe to think about how much money I would have had to drop if I had let my insurance lapse.  It's better to have a recurring expense you know is coming than a huge sudden unexpected expense.  There was nothing I could have done to foresee this ER trip, as is usually the case with young, relatively healthy people and emergencies.  I'm in my late twenties and have never had a food allergy before, and none of the ingredients on the pizza were new to me.

Colleen Doran made an excellent post on health insurance resources for freelance artists. I highly recommend checking it out!