Last night I had to take my ‘young invincible’ son to a local emergency department to have his toe sewn back onto his body. He had heeded my advice to get back to the gym to exercise, and somehow combined ballet with karate and lost a big toe in the process. His ED physician said he’d never seen anything like it in his 33 years of practice. Oh so reassuring. Also unsettling was this physician mug shot on the vending machine in the ED waiting room. He glared at me all night as I tried in vain to figure out what he was doing there, what his message was. Don’t you dare drink these sugary drinks? You’d better have good health insurance if you want to be seen here? I have some bad news: we somehow lost your son’s toe?
Fortuitously (or so I hope), my son listened to me and signed up for student health insurance–the day before his ballet/karate accident. As a mom and a nurse it was taking years off my life to have him ‘going bare’/uninsured. I now know some of what it feels like to live in fear of an accident, injury, or illness that could ruin my son (and by extension, me) financially. Even though he officially has health insurance to cover his expensive ED visit (X-rays, sutures, IV Vancomycin, physician quips) and ortho follow-up, I do not trust it. There are pages upon pages of exclusions to his health insurance plan, including bungee-jumping and intercollegiate sports–neither of which would seem to apply to losing a toe in ballet/karate. But I know how crafty and devious health insurance companies can be in trying to deny medical claims. I would hope that the university where I am employed and teach (and where my son is now a student) would have a decent health insurance plan option for its students. I guess I’m about to find out.