Back In The Hole. Back In Debt.

by jen stark

It’s hard to believe that I have to write this post right now. I didn’t want to say this, but I’m back in debt.

It’s a medical bill so that makes me feel a little better about it, but debt is debt is debt. It still hangs over my head taunting me.

It says, “You thought you beat me. You thought you said goodbye. But, I’m here, and we’re hanging out.”

Like an ex that won’t get the hint, like an itch that no amount of scratching will remedy, like a demon from Paranormal Activity. It’s back.

I’ve got allergies. Really really bad allergies. They’re the kind of allergies that make everyone I see think I’m sick with something contagious. People step back. They wash their hands. They pump that hand sanitizer an extra time. You know, those kind of allergies.

Red, watery eyes, runny nose; the whole deal. For years they have gone on and for years I’ve taken prescription medication for them. At one point my voice sounded so nasally that it even annoyed me.

Here are some things I learned while visiting the allergist:

  • If you’re around something and then you have symptoms, you’re probably allergic. Profound, right?
  • Allergies can change every 7 years.
  • The waiting room at an allergy clinic is full of Epi-pens and people with Epi-pen stories. There is never a shortage of these stories.

I found out a while back that I’m allergic to everything outside. Everything except for pine trees. If it wasn’t for the pine trees I’d just get myself one of those hamster bubbles (human-sized) and just live in there. Because there’s just no point if you’re allergic to everything. But, the pine trees, they give me hope.

One day I was at the doctor talking (again) about my allergies and he mentioned this thing called Rush Immunotherapy. He told me “It’s two days in a row and we inject you with everything you’re allergic to.” To which I replied, “That sounds completely terrible. Sign me up!”

I had never really entertained the idea of allergy shots because of the time commitment, but this two day intensive thing, I could get behind that.

I called my insurance, and made sure they would cover it, and went forward with the allergy shots. Two days of getting shot up with every single thing you’re allergic to is exactly as fun as it sounds.

Fast-forward to today. My allergies are better. The maintenance shots seem to be working, and I no longer scare people away with the length and frequency of the amount snot leaving my nose.

After many calls to the hospital and many calls to the insurance company to make sure all the claims had been submitted and to make sure it was all correct so that I didn’t pay for anything that was actually covered, I’m left with a bill for $2,556.96.

The medical world is elusive. I asked how much it would be. I wanted to add it up, weigh it all, and make sure it was going to be worth it. I had learned my lesson with getting into trouble with debt in the past, and I was not going to be making the same kind of mistakes again. I was determined to be responsible now. I thought I had it all sorted out. The hospital couldn’t (or wouldn’t) give me an exact price for the allergy shots, and I was instructed to call my insurance company. The insurance company told me it was a covered thing so I went forward with that knowledge.

I guess it’s good to know that even though “life stuff” like this happens that there is a way out. That I can start the Spending Fast on an as needed basis to get out of debt fairly quickly. It’s good to know that it works. That it is an option today.

Since I got my debt paid off I’ve been able to put a little bit of money into a savings account for emergencies. I don’t see this as an emergency so I’m going to leave that stash stashed away. I’ve got a payment plan set up with the hospital and I told them I’d pay them $150 every month. The payment plan starts in November so I will finish out October with the Spending Diet and start the Spending Fast up again November. That’s a tricky time of year to start it up again with the holidays coming but it’s got to be done.

P.S. Ready to get out of debt ASAP? Check out the Spending Fast Bootcamp!


18 thoughts on “Back In The Hole. Back In Debt.

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  1. Sarah

    Oh Anna, I'm so sorry. The insurance industry just sickens me, the middle class can't afford healthcare WITH the insurance they pay out the nose for. I'm glad you found some relief and also know that you can get out from under this bill. Best of luck.

  2. Kim

    Honestly, as someone who also has extremely horrible allergies that cause asthma attacks and chronic sinusitis, I'd consider this to be definitely worth going into debt for. I mean, I completely understand that it wasn't what you intended and that it's very frustrating to have new debt after working so hard to get out of debt, but as reasons for debt go, this is a pretty damn good one. Don't beat yourself up! You did it once, and you can do it again, and this is a pretty small amount compared to what you've already accomplished. I hope you continue to feel good, allergy wise!

  3. Mara

    I too have allergies and get major sinus headaches and congestion. I went to an allergist for a while ($45 co-pay) and got some nasal sprays and other meds which worked…sometimes. But they often left me with side effects. I did some research and found out that my health insurance provider covers acupuncture visits for a $20 co-pay. They only provide 20 visits a year which is annoying but it has made a world of a difference….I realize that not everyone has insurance or a provider that covers acupuncture but it may help patients with lots of different afflictions save money in the long run b/c you don't have to pay for expensive meds.

  4. Meg

    What a headache!

    Have you checked to see if:
    a) they can give you the insurance rates (maybe that is what they gave you?)
    b) if they do any discounts

  5. clm

    so sorry to hear about the debt~crap…but i do hope that you get some relief from your allergies…i suffer, too, though not as bad as you! insurance is a frightening thing and hospitals all seem to be so big~business! i know that you will do well getting back to your fast…hang in there and best of luck to you! :o) clm

  6. Rich

    Sorry to hear of your allergies and new debt. I am sure you will get rid of the debt quickly. NIce that they are letting you pay over time. One hospital I tried that with said no and sent us to collections.

    As for your allergies, glad to hear they are getting under control. This freeze should help. I know my allergy-related issues are much better today. Ask your allergist about sub-lingual treatment. No needle and in some cases, works better than injection.

    BTW, not sure where you went but if you ever find you are not happy with your doc, National Jewish is the best. I fired two docs who just wanted to do surgery, before I went to NJ. It has taken time but they have me almost back to normal. They said surgery would have been a quick fix, but a terrible mistake. I highly reccomend them.

  7. namelesswonder

    I really hope that the insurance stuff gets sorted out. I really sympathize when it comes to those kinds of miscommunications, having had to put up with them so many times myself! The good thing is, you've done this before, you know you can do it again, and this time it's for a much smaller amount!

  8. MaryAnne

    I feel your pain. I just got stuck for a bill of $350 for physical therapy, AFTER I called to confirm w/ my insurance that they covered it. But they failed to tell me they dropped my coverage because our debit card on file expired – which caused our insurance payment to go unpaid. Ugh.
    Good think my physical therapist's office is being uber nice.

  9. Leslie

    Hi Anna,

    Sorry to hear about the allergies and hospital bills; there is nothing like a nasty medical procedure topped with an equally nasty bill (like the evil cherry on the top of a sucky-sundae). I was curious, though, after you mentioned that you didn't consider the whole situation and bill worth digging into your emergency fund (you financially iron-willed lady, you!); what type of emergencies ARE on your "emergency fund approval" list?

    I really enjoy your site; don't give up! Rah!

  10. AJ

    Similar thing happened to me — I was told my maternity costs would be covered 100%, then they left about 1000$ uncovered. They guy on the phone wasn't able to explain it to me, either. I've got an appeal in progress, but meanwhile had to pay the bill. You'd figure there would be something to protect you if they say something is going to be covered! Makes me so mad. For both of us.

  11. suem1223

    Most medical facilities will let you "'settle" the bill for betweem 40 and 60 % if you pay that amount in full by a certain date. I would skip a payment or two, then call and ask what your options for settling are. You may be able to save more than $1000 dollars, and most medical bills aren't reported to the credit bill if your settle.

  12. RumRunner

    I don't have allergies and I work for an HMO which is my medical insurance and provider all rolled into one. So far I have been lucky not be caught in one of these situations health wise, but I have with the dentist. Yes, I have great dental insurance but it doesn't pay all. The dentist I went to, well his billing lady never told you the full story. I don't know everything about dentistry so when she said "it is $550 and you have to pay half now and half the next time you come in". So I did. They made a 3rd appointment for me and when I got there they wanted more money. Like $300 more! Apparently the $550 is for steps 1 and 2. Now we are at step 3 and that is yet a different amount. I could afford to pay this but most people cannot. They need to be fully honest up front about it. And that goes for healthcare too. Hospitals and providers know what the cost is, and they are usually way too much. Sorry this happened to you but I do really enjoy reading your blog. (no debt for me so I am blessed).

  13. Chloe

    I would like to encourage you and anyone dealing with allergies to google how our diets irritate our allergies as well. I have found a lot of relief in alternative methods. It's not for everyone but imjusayin.

  14. Anna Newell Jones

    Hey healthgirl, thanks for those links. I haven't looked into those options. Very good to know about those!

  15. Ashley Chason

    I am new to your blog, and am really inspired by it! I appreciate you sharing your story with us. I am really sorry to hear this happened to you. I am planning on completing this same treatment myself, and I want to make sure that the same thing doesn’t happen. Do you mind me asking who your insurance company is? I’m shopping for a new plan right now and want to make sure that I don’t choose them. Thank you in advance for your help, Anna!


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