The hidden costs of being “not well” will make you broke quick

I’m waiting to find out whether my scleral lenses are going to be covered by health insurance and I stumbled across a post on one of the keratoconus blogs I read. She talked about the high expenses of her contact lenses and vision care: she had to take out a small bank loan to cover various testing and experimenting with different types of  treatment (there are multiple types of lenses and surgical treatments depending on how severe the deterioration is) .


I talk about the cost of my lenses all the time (right now I’m paying about $1500 out of pocket, it may be more soon)  because it’s not covered by my insurance and I have been a freelancer for a big chunk of the time after I’ve been diagnosed with this disorder. It’s like a feedback loop of needing to work to pay  for my care but also not working as much as I could when my eyes weren’t functioning  properly. It can be so stressful to balance my daily life in that way. On the other hand, I feel so fortunate,  to have a support network, doctors who understand how to treat what I have, and a flexible work situation through freelancing. A lot of people, too many people in the U.S,. don’t have one or all of these things so a disorder that’s rare but treatable could easily mess up your job or your life.

I mention all this not to complain but to point out that I don’t think of myself as “sick”, but I still have pretty gnarly regular bills that aren’t insurance. In addition to the daily headache of dealing with KC there’s the additional headache of dealing with paying for this daily care.

We don’t have an infrastructure, especially in this country, to make this kind of daily health care accessible for people, you’re either catastrophically sick or completely well in the eyes of insurers, and when you add the growing number of people in this country that rely on the gig economy as their main source of income, the precariousness of daily health care for so many is a reality that has been made more personally clear to me.


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One response to “The hidden costs of being “not well” will make you broke quick”

  1. Though I am in Canada and blessed with “free” healthcare (we actually pay about $70 per month for our coverage in British Columbia), I completely understand how scary it can be to manage illness as a freelancer or someone who is self employed–especially if it’s a chronic illness.

    Since I was diagnosed, I have not been able to get reasonably priced extended health/private insurance. I therefore must pay just over $700 per month for my meds, as I have too much income to qualify for pharmacare here. Beyond this expense, there is just the pain of having to work whether I feel badly or not–and also the worry that disclosing your illness publicly may impact your “hire-ability” . Will clients be concerned you won’t be reliable if you’re sick? Will prospective colleagues feel the same? I’ve found people pay a lot of lip service and express sympathy, but definitely won’t hire someone that is chronically ill.

    It’s a lot to manage and juggle, on top of the stressors just around managing your illness in general. I appreciate you writing and sharing this post. It’s not easy, but you’re right: We’re very fortunate–it could be much, much worse.

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