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!


  1. I can't agree with this more. The one time in my life I did not have health insurance was just after college when I was searching for work. And then just before moving to start my new job (which provided insurance) I screwed up, and an innocent adventure ended with me being jetted out into a river (long story) and leaving me unable to walk and bleeding all over. For the unemployed, that was not a cheap hospital visit, and that was without having xrays done (something I regret to this day).

    So yes, if you care about yourself or your future at all, HAVE SOME DAMN HEALTH INSURANCE. Even if you rarely ever go to the doctor for checkups or anything, at some point you're going to wish you had it.

    Also, sorry to hear about your unfortunate reaction to pizza. Hopefully it doesn't stop you from ever getting to eat pizza again, because that would suck.

    1. Yikes! Your "innocent adventure" sounds pretty terrifying, not to mention expensive. My sister went without health insurance for a while, and she ended up passing out at work due to a condition she knew about and knew wasn't a big deal, but her coworkers panicked and called an ambulance, and she ended up with a huge bill. I think that actually happened to her twice.

      Yeah, I'd like to be able to eat pizza again. There must have been some sort of cross contamination or something. I'll have to see how things turn out with the allergist...

  2. I dallied a bit, but my Blue Cross plan kicks at the end of the month. After my husband broke his foot by tripping over himself, it seemed... prudent.

    1. Ooh, I hope your husband is okay! A lot of people seem to think that they don't need insurance because they don't do anything "dangerous," but yeah, you can trip over yourself just walking across your bedroom. And for me, I ended up in the ER because I decided to eat dinner. There's really no way to prevent all accidents and emergencies. I'm glad your insurance kicks in soon!

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  5. 2/4 worst case scenario eh? ;)

  6. Are you ok? You vanished from the information world, and it's been ages and am worried about you. Even a quick "I'm alive post would be nice. Take care!