Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Supersaverman vrs Murphy

Last week and weekend I had not one but two medical emergencies in the house. They had the change to really ruin my efforts to get rid of debt but supersaver-man gave Mr. Murphy (the evil behind these emergencies) a run for his , or well my, money.
First, last week my wife felt ill with blood pressure problems. Her BP had risen over normal levels and she had a strong headache.
Fortunately in our office we have private medical insurance on top of the government-provided medical service. The added benefit of the private medical insurance is that we have an emergency clinic and ambulance service that we can use for free.
So I took my wife to the clinic and after a short wait they treated her and lowered her BP. They gave mer some medication to buy. The next day I bought the meds and now i'm filing a claim to recover 80% of the money I spent on the meds (my copay is 20%).
Friday night I did something stupid. I was scratching my ear with the tip of my eyeglasses and the plastic part broke. It ended up jammed inside my ear. I did not feel any pain but I had a foreign object in my ear.
So I went again to the clinic and this time they told me that the object was there but they couldn't get it out. I had to go to a consult with an ear specialist. I felt sooo stupid for getting me in this situation. They did gave me a shot for pain (which I didn't need) and antibiotics to fight off a potential infection. They said it was not something dangerous at the moment so I could look for help next day.
The next day I went to military hospital (it is military but does service civilians too and is much cheaper than other private hospitals). I went to the ER and in no time I had a doctor basically telling me the same thing as the clinic. They didn't have an ear specialist there and they could call one but it would probably cost me over thousands of lempiras for the doctor comming over there. So I told them no thanks and since they didn't do anything to me they didn't charge me a cent, although I did have to ask for that and had to remind that to the hospital cashier. I only spent 11 lempiras on a coffee cup that my daughters were nagging me to get.
By then I was frustated and worried. I had a bit of blood around the object in my ear and even though I had no pain I had been to a clinic and a hospital and they couldn't help me.
So finally I used the FREE goverment medical service for the first time in my working life (in my whole life actually). It took about an hour to get attention but the place was ordered although very busy. The surgeon took one minute to get the thing out of my ear with forceps. The surgeon prescribed some ear drops and ibuprofen. I was hoping to get those there for free at the hospital's pharmacy. I sat in line for about 2 hours but could only get the ibuprofen. I had to buy the ear drops myself. I would try to claim that from my medical insurance but since the drops cost 150 lempiras, they are not covered by the insurance (it kicks in when expenses go over 300 lempiras).
So, after two medical emergencies and 4 visits to ER rooms, I spent zero money for medical assistance and immediate medications. I did spent 350 lempiras on my wife's meds (hopefully I will get some 80% of that back in a couple of weeks) and 150 on my ear drops. Total was about 500 lempiras
It was much better than I expected in terms of money spent. It took some patience and evaluating if the conditions allowed me to search for cheaper options. Since my wife's situation was treated right at the ER clinic I was relieved since all her meds given to her there were free. In my case my situation was not as urgent so I was able to "shop" around.
Supersaverman saved the week and my wallet got a few hits but survived.
Well at least this blog is free

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