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Meet the Meyers: Moolah
Good. Something I’ve wanted to gripe about for a while: Money. The whole cost of this fertility fiasco is astronomical. I can’t believe what a blood test costs these days, not to mention some of the drugs involved. We are talking numbers that a single income family just can’t cover.
I’m the guy who has a high deductible health insurance plan because I never use it. I keep it around for catastrophes only. Oh yeah, I need it right now. I’d say this is a catastrophe.
And yet under all of this griping is my awareness that Joy and I are lucky to be healthy and not paying for some medical treatment to keep one of us alive. In a way, it feels frivolous, making it even more difficult. Everyone knows that this is elective, so the insurance companies stay away. Yeah, this is elective, alright. I chose this, and I want this as much as having my teeth drilled.
I work really hard and so far I have been able to cover this nut. We also were lucky enough to be able to refinance our house in the midst of all this economic woe and borrow against our dwindling equity. Without that equity, the bills would not get paid.
It’s a full time job to keep track of the steady stream of medical bills funneling through our door. Because our cause for infertility is unknown, the doctors simply order tests to see if maybe they can get something concrete. I have no idea what I am paying for, or if it really was something we needed.
What I can’t believe is that they never seem to consider the economic blow that this test might have on our household. Do they assume we can afford it if we are in their office? Maybe we can or maybe we can’t, but I’d like to see a price list, please. We once had a $5,000 lab bill sneak under our door that we had no idea was coming. For me, that’s a knock-out punch. I’m down for the count. That $5,000 is in pursuit of a “hunch.”
Where’s my bailout plan?
Here’s the twist of irony: This fertility expense is the money we’d spend if we had a baby. It would be nice to set aside something for our child’s college education. I’m not saving a dime, so Baby Doe, you’re on your own. Ok, rant over, back to work.
Jim said I could leave my job. I was totally unable to keep a business going while simultaneously dealing with the stress of infertility. Nothing seemed as important as making that next doctor’s appointment. And when I did finally conceive, I was worried about exerting myself at work. So we agreed that I should take some time off to regroup and concentrate on both my physical and mental health.
This meant Jim was responsible for all expenses. At first, I didn’t really care. I was so caught up in my own body and my despair. But once I became “functional” again and didn’t have any work prospects, I started to feel guilty. Here Jim was, climbing trees every single day (not for fun, mind you). He’d come home covered in dirt and sap, and I’d be on my computer, wrapping up a Scrabble game. He was so tired and downtrodden. And I’m sure he was sick of seeing me lying around, totally unproductive.
To make matters worse, the bills kept coming and coming. There was no way we would refuse the appropriate tests recommended by our doctors. And yet, we never really dealt with the money part until the invoices showed up. And we were always mad. It’s not like we didn’t know we’d have to pay. I guess we were hoping that insurance would cover more than it did. And because we were so worn out, neither of us had the energy to do the research up front.
We refinanced our house to start my business, and that money was sitting in a bank account. It sickened us to dip into those funds. It felt like we were spending our savings on an expense we didn’t ask for. If someone handed me a menu with an entrée reading “Unexplained Infertility with a side of Five Miscarriages: $30,000,” I would definitely not place an order.
While I appreciated our doctor’s eagerness to troubleshoot, it was this zeal that was breaking our bank. We could always say “no, thank you,” but at what expense? No answers? No baby?
I do feel fortunate that we have been able to pay our bills. When you add it all up, the numbers are huge. But for a couple who doesn’t consider themselves to be wealthy, we are pulling it off. And it’s not keeping us from shopping at Whole Foods when we’re in the mood. And I’ve kind of gotten into a groove with all the billing. I LOVE it when I find an error (which, unfortunately, is often). It feels like I’m making some money back.
I’m going to end this piece with a huge thank you to my best friend in the world: Jim Meyers. His generosity and bravery keep me going. It’s his faith in me and his willingness to sacrifice for this pursuit that makes me love him more every day.
Can’t put a price on that!