[UPDATE 3/25/05: At this time it appears that my fears of the story below has not come to fruition. However, this story shall stay as a testament to the fact that it could happen to anyone.]
My Financial Flak Jacket Sustains Damage
When I started this blog I wanted to let you know that I would be as honest and upfront as I could. I didn’t lie. The following account is based on a true story—in fact, it’s really not a story at all. More like a recalling of a recent stupid error on my part.
Recall earlier when I wrote about getting a large tax refund and starting a high yield savings account with ING. (Emigrant Direct is also a great way to put money away). I resisted the urge to splurge—even a little, until my emergency fund was complete. I was thinking on what to write about next as I made my trip to Manhattan Total Health, a great Physical Therapy joint for my ailing back. I started back in February and was making regular trips (in fact, this was my sixth visit).
Checking my mailbox in the lobby that night, received two letters from my insurance company and opened them. Each one contained a check for 112.00 and another for 87.50. I wondered “Wow, what is this for? Last year?” Then I flipped the letter open.
Patient Responsibility: $638.00
I blinked, wondering “I owe $638.00 to whom!?” The next check said I owed $37.50. Confused, I contacted the health company the next day and found out that Manhattan Total Health was “out-of-network” and that those checks were to go to them—further more, I owed even more money for other services they hadn’t processed yet—insurance only covered at most 70% of those services. Going online, I discovered I owed over $2,000 to them that have to come out of my pocket, even after insurance.
Floored. That’s all I could think. Well there were other words, but they’re not necessary to reprint here. $2000! I’ve never paid $2000 at any time—to anyone! I entered panic mode and began digging for my credit card. Then my shoulder angel appeared:
“You have an emergency fund. This would constitute an emergency.”
“But I just started it!” I thought. I calmed down, and a cooler sense of saneness re-entered.
However, it would have to do for now. This goes to show that unexpected charges will surface. This also shows that I don’t know everything, and even smart people make mistakes. I now have a working definition of “out of network expenses.” I learned the hard way. Troubles will come my friends, so be prepared. My Financial Flak Jacket has taken some hits in a very short period of time--and I now have to get a new one. Build an emergency fund from cash, not credit, and you’ll be just fine. If you're hit, it’ll hurt a little, but at least you’ll survive without signing over your life to the Credit Card Mafia.