Baltimore recently dropped healthcare insurance for over 1,600 possible dependents. According to the city, employees failed to complete paperwork proving the validity of these dependents; the insurance change saved Baltimore more than $6 million a year.
Losing health coverage because you forget to fill out a form—or never receiving health insurance because the process seems daunting—can be a big mistake. Just ask Bill, a temporarily unemployed good Samaritan who found himself with a pile of emergency medical bills.
Bill offered to help one of the older ladies in the community hang pictures in her new home. "I’m not doing anything," he said, "And I’ve got all the tools we need."
Bill arrived at Ruth’s house and began hanging pictures. The two enjoyed banter and community gossip between the sound of the hammer striking nails and Ruth’s commands to move the frame a little to the left. They took a break, had a glass of lemonade, and went back to work.
Bill grabbed a nail and headed toward the nearest wall. Placing the nail between his lips, he scooped up the hammer and picture and looked over his shoulder for direction from Ruth. She pointed high on the wall, so he leaned back, raised his arms, and immediately dropped the picture.
As the picture crashed to the ground, Bill turned to Ruth. He still held the hammer in one hand, but his eyes had grown wide. He stumbled toward her, the hammer slightly raised. She backed up, thinking for a moment her helpful neighbor had turned serial killer.
Just as Ruth was about to succumb to panic, Bill dropped the hammer, grasped his throat, and pointed to the box of nails. She realized he’d opened his mouth and allowed the nail to slip down his throat as he looked up to set her picture.
The image of a nail making its way through Bill’s body spurred Ruth to action. She called 911 and Bill was whisked away to the hospital. The entire community heard about his accident!
Medical staff was able to remove the nail with minimal invasion, since Bill had not fully swallowed it. Both his pride and his throat were soar for some time, but that’s nothing compared to the beating his checking account took.
After emergency room expenses, anesthesia, doctor’s charges, and more, Bill owed more than $4,000. Without insurance, he didn’t get the benefit of a reduction in charges; since he didn’t have a job, he wasn’t able to pay the bill right away. After he landed a new job, Bill spent six months paying the hospital bill for his nail accident.
Bill’s story may be humorous, but the lesson is serious. Many people don’t think freak accidents like inadvertent nail ingestion will happen to them. Bill felt the same way, though, or he wouldn’t have put a nail near his mouth.
Accidents—minor and serious—can happen to anyone at any time. Health insurance coverage is a way to ensure you don’t have to worry about treatment options or financial stress during and after an accident. Make sure you fill out the right forms to ensure your own health insurance.
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