On September 14th we found out that Spencer, my husband, was having mini strokes called Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA). It occurs when part of the brain experiences a temporary lack of blood flow. The symptoms he was experiencing were numbness in his left arm and tongue and tunnel vision. As a result of the TIAs, he was diagnosed with a disease called Moyamoya Disease. Fast forward to December 4th when Spencer underwent an 8 hour brain surgery to bypass the blocked artery. I am now, as of December 7th, at home with Spencer on day 3 of recovery, Payton on day who knows of distant learning and Elliot on day 1 million of having more energy than I know what to do with. I, myself, I am on repeat. Each day I am working to balance it all. To be honest, it is a moment-by-moment circus in our home. One minute I am patting myself on the back and looking for someone to high-five, and the next minute, I am about to pull my hair out and want to yell. Why? Because this is all hard. It is hard to continue to be a Mortgage Advisor with excellence, keep the fridge stocked with food, meals cooked for all, house picked up, laundry cleaned and put away, dog fed, school work and Zoom calls completed, made up football plays and soccer games executed, get the advent calendar and Elfie setup for the night, and be a 24-hour nurse and caretaker for the wounded (in addition to all the other things I do on a day to day basis). It is simply a lot. I can see why, if I did not love finances, I would push them off as the one thing I did not have to focus on right now.
However, I am here to remind you that no matter what you do day in and day out, your finances are always a factor in your daily rhythm and they can never be pushed aside and focused on at a later time. What do I mean by that statement, “Your finances are always a factor in your daily rhythm!” I mean that even though you and I might feel more comfortable pushing them aside to a later date, your spending habits are not pushing pause, so you can not either.
I have always lived by the statement money never sleeps. I have to personally inform you that this statement got real really fast for me/us when Spencer’s medical bills started rolling in. We were in such a state of survival. The doctors admitted him on the 14th of September and just started running ALL the tests. We honestly didn’t think about what it would cost. All I cared about was why he was having TIAs and what we had to do to fix it. He was discharged 72 hours later with minimal answers and the advice to go to Mayo for a specialist to review his condition. 3 days later, we arrive at Mayo and the tests start repeating themselves. $100,000 dollars later we are left with the findings that brain surgery was the only solution. Wow, was that a whirlwind… in under 7 days we had incurred $100,000 in medical expenses. What is always so shocking is not how fast we can spend money, but how LONG it takes to save money. This was a perfect example of the speed of how fast money was spent.
After a day or two of having minor and major meltdowns, we started to explore our options. We have a high deductible HSA insurance plan through Health Partners so we knew the first round of tests would go toward our deductible. However, after those fees were tallied it was brought to our attention that Mayo was not in-network. Oh boy I thought to myself. This is going to destroy us. All the financial growth we have achieved over the last 10 years is going to vanish in a few short weeks. I was so discouraged. Out of one side of my mouth I was so grateful we have saved so well for such a time as this, but out of the other side of my mouth I was devastated. It took me a few days to calm down, but after much research, Spencer and I were able to identify that we could petition for Mayo to be in-network. We jumped through all the necessary hoops and found out by a miracle that Spencer’s care would now be considered in-network through our health insurance with Health Partners. Additionally, this means that we will be lifelong consumers of their Health Insurance. On a positive note, it means I can ignore open enrollment every year because we will never be open enrolling again.
I get the question often about what to do for health insurance. I hear people complain that their premiums are so expensive and that they are healthy, so why do they need a big box insurance company? I hear the complaint that they don’t want to be forced to pay for health insurance, or they would rather do a non-traditional health share program. I am neither saying you should or you should not do one or the other. I am rather here to share our story. Not only was Health Partners unbelievably gracious while we went through the appeal process, but they were also very sympathetic and willing to do their best to work with us, if we were willing to work with them.
A few of the factors that aided in the appeal going through were, that Moyamoya Disease and the specific surgery could only be done at Mayo Clinic, we have never missed a payment since being their customers, they read through our consumer notes about the positive feedback we have given based on our customer experience and we have been with them for 5 years. These actions and decisions by us may seem like little choices on the everyday, but on this day, the day that changed our life financially forever, it made a HUGE difference.
Lastly, I would like to encourage you. Do not get discouraged with the health insurance process. Each family needs to find what works best for them, but it is the heavy lifting you have to do to find the right coverage. Spencer’s appeal and Elliot’s heart surgery were financial miracles AND I worked my butt off to make sure I had exhausted every option possible to be sure we were not strapped with millions in medical debt. We consider ourselves incredibly blessed to be a family that has had 2 MAJOR surgeries and we are walking into this recovery with zero medical debt. The reason for this, we did not put off our finances. As soon as we had a second to breath, it was the first item we focused on. Please hear me, your finances matter and so does the health insurance you pick. Invest time into your overall financial portfolio or before you know it you could be turned upside down financially with zero warning. Spencer and Elliot were rare cases. Prior to their surgeries, by all tests they were both healthy.