I incurred an unexpected medical bill the last year of my college career when my health insurance accidentally lapsed and I began having gallstone attacks. The pain is so intense that I am never able to see past the attack. During an attack I am unable to sit still, unable to breathe through, and eventually have to just succumb to pure exhaustion of the intense pain that lasts sometimes up to twelve hours. In this time I was not only battling the illness of my gallbladder (fighting Tricare and Urgentcare staff for a diagnosis), finishing up my degree (overloading on my courses), but also planning my wedding (a 50 guest courthouse wedding, with an adorable hacienda reception). When I look back at this time in my life I can’t imagine how I did it all.
Before I went to the emergency room for pain treatment I called the Tricare nurses hotline to confirm that I was going to an in network hospital emergency room but also to confirm that my health insurance was still open and active. I got confirmation from the nurse that my insurance was open and active, otherwise I would have just bore the pain and stayed home. I had an emergency room visit where the staff controlled my pain until it was bearable enough for me to go home. Pain management was the only treatment I asked for, however because they were under the impression that I was covered by Tricare insurance, the staff insisted that they get an ultrasound and MRI which was unnecessary and costly especially because I had already previously been diagnosed with gallstones.
Not long after the visit I was hit with multiple bills from the hospital ER and the imaging company. The cost of having the ER bill go to collections is not only a financial strain but is also a mental weight of worry about legal action being taken against me and my belongings, and also a strain on my marriage because we are unable to collectively borrow as much money as we would like to (like to purchase my husbands grandmothers home) because the debt to income ratio is too high to be approved for any additional loans. I did try to petition Tricare to pay the bill and went through actions to have my case reviewed again by the insurance however the lapse in payment by my father was final. I do not blame him as our family was in some major financial and personal turmoil at the time as he was struggling with active addiction at the time.