Thursday, July 17, 2008

Insurance of the Fittest

One of the cruelest things you can do to your children is raise them outside of the private insurance system -- not because this leaves them uninsured, but rather because when they DO want insurance, they will have absolutely no idea what they are doing. None. Medical insurance turns out to be an experiment in social Darwinism, and they will find themselves picked off the tree like a proverbial pepper moth.

It doesn't help when your child is naturally a bit lazy and predisposed to assume she understands things when she does not.

Insurance manages to engage all the things I dislike: bureaucracy... logistics... forms... I can just about gauge at what point in an insurance negotiation I'll begin to break down. It's somewhere around the $2000 mark. As in when the pharmacist pulls a deceptively small box out of the refrigerator and says "That'll be $2089.88." You stand at the counter with your wallet in your hand and think of everything $24,000 a year could buy. A car. An education. A down payment on a house. Half of your salary in twelve of those little boxes. Half of it.

Then you think of how nice it is to feel the wallet. Really think about it. Run your index finger over the ridges and the seams, over the zipper. How nice is it to walk without a cane? Is it $2000 a month nice? $3000? What would you pay? How could you decide?

"This must be a mistake. It was never this much before."

"You'll have to work it out with your insurance."

I've worked it out, thank God, but it took almost a month. And I still don't know if I would have paid.


Anonymous said...

i want to join the foreign service, and i was wondering if you could answer a couple questions i had about applying. could you email me so i could contact you?

Katie said...


As they've changed the FS application process since I joined, the website is a much better resource than I am:

Good luck!


Sara said...

Such a simple but powerful post. I'm glad you got everything worked out with the insurance. I'm still burying my head in the sand when it comes to figuring out the whole "get two years' worth of your prescription medication before you go to post" business.

Katie said...

Depending on the medication (and perhaps on the post) you can usually have it mailed to the post directly; to my knowledge, it's only "specialty medications" that pose a problem.

Chris said...


Do you know if having MS makes you pretty much unhirable if you're looking to join the Foreign Service?

I'm on Rebif myself-- I think that's what you're on too.

Enjoy your blog very much,

Katie said...


Theoretically they do medical clearances on a case by case basis... but, yes: you'd likely be unhirable.


Chris said...


Really sucks--I was diagnosed when I was 16-- but I suspected that. Still going to try though.

Thanks for the response. I'll continue to adventure vicariously through your blog.

Good luck,