Sunday, April 14, 2013

How medical insurance spared me from disaster.

This is a story from my own life, about how having medical insurance saved my financial situation during my time of need. I must admit that before this came up, I balked a little at having to pay monthly premiums for something that I at the time was apparently getting no benefit from. Now I know better, and I hope my story can help convince you to get protected too to spare you from the financial hardship that almost befell me.

I am a 27 year old male, living on the North Shore of Auckland. During my years at university, studying for my Honours degree in 2009, I was diagnosed with Crohn's disease. Before this, the only real experience I had with ill health was a moderately severe case asthma during my formative years, and so the shock of dealing with a severe incurable auto immune disorder all of a sudden was intensely disheartening and almost impossible for my young self to have predicted. Within the span of two months, I lost 20 kg due to malabsorption, had severe iron deficiency due to blood loss and I spiralled down to around 55kg at my worst (I am 6 foot 1, so this was scarily thin). I was forced to put my degree on hold whilst I underwent several tests, procedures and eventually surgeries.

Only working a part time job while I studied, through which I was attempting to save to repay my student loan, if I had been forced to pay for my procedures, tests and specialist visits myself, I would have found myself broke very quickly and unable to afford the treatment. In total, in the four years since I have been diagnosed, the medical insurance my mother insisted on me having (Yes, Mums always do know best) has covered the medical bills, MRi costs and surgical procedures, paying out more than $20,000 to help maintain my treatment. Just think about taking that on yourself, and the meagre monthly premiums I complained about will immediately pale into insignificance.

Since then I have regained the weight, remedied the iron deficiency and even though symptoms remain which continually make life challenging, I am considerably better than my darkest days. I don't think this would have been possible without the insurance cover which meant I could get every treatment and exhaust every avenue my specialist reccomended. Thanks to my health improvement, I got my degree and was able to use my savings to repay my student loan, starting off my post university life debt free - a tremendous blessing and relief in today's environment. Before all this happened, I had the regrettable mindset I see a lot. The mindset that I'm healthy and fine and nothing serious medically was on my horizon. Looking back now, my disease was extremely rapid in its onset and I literally went from a normal life to bed ridden, energy sapped, underweight and unable to go about my life within weeks.

When I think about where I might have been without it, I'm passionate about making sure that people know what sort of risk they could be taking by not being covered. I am a single male with no dependants or family, but having one, or people who depend on you financially makes this even more necessary. I hope you don't take the gamble, it's definitely not worth it.

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