The real cost of extended health care benefits

It’s been over two months since J. left her real job. This job provided J. with a regular paycheque and benefits, including those for extended health care. We probably got our money’s worth from those benefits, and not only because of my expensive medications. J. appreciates the occasional massage, and we both go to the dentist regularly.

I figured once J. lost her benefits, we’d immediately purchase a private health plan. We’ve even budgeted for the cost. As it stands, my drugs are mostly covered regardless by my private drug-specific plan, which I’ve had for years. Otherwise, we remain uncovered. We’re trying to assess whether private health benefits, however affordable, are worth the cost. Feel free to weigh in.

If I go to the dentist for a cleaning every six months, the cleaning would cost less than the fees for six months of benefits. On the other hand, if I knock out a tooth during one of my klutzy falls, or I need another root canal, I’ll be paying a hefty bill out of pocket. Is this risk worth taking?

Ambulance on roadA plan would also cover the cost of an ambulance. I did call 9-1-1 once when I was doubled over in escalating pain. Within a few minutes, the paramedics were inserting an IV and I was mainlining morphine. Then we set off on the most circuitous route possible, and it wasn’t my place to redirect the driver to the hospital. Every minute felt like forever. Had J. driven me to the hospital, as she has all other times I’ve gone, and I’d waited for triage writhing in pain, I would likely have been seen faster, assuming I passed the whiner test. I’ve decided that if I were to need an ambulance in the future, I’d gladly pay the going rate of $385.

Then there’s limited coverage for the allied health professionals. If I have an ache or pain, I’m worried about cancer, not scheduling physiotherapy. By the time I rule out cancer, I trust my pain will have dissipated.

Sadly, massage is out too. J.’s massage therapist sounds like a miracle worker, but I’d be bruised all over if I let her use her deep-tissue technique on me. Even J. comes home black and blue yet oddly grateful sometimes.

Don’t forget the paltry coverage for a psychologist. The therapist I now rarely see is a skilled Ph.D.-level clinician, but because she is not a psychologist, she’s not covered. That benefit does not benefit me.

J., of course, is fit as a forty year old and is banking on not needing health coverage ever. She’ll pay for the rare drug the doctor prescribes, she’ll get her perfect teeth cleaned once a year, and, knowing her, she’ll drive herself to the ER if ever she needs emergent care. Also, her next few massages are free thanks to a thoughtful gift certificate for The Bruiser from yours truly.

I may have cornucopia of expensive drugs, but beyond that, my medical expenditures are surprisingly low. (Our generous government may beg to differ.) For now, we will monitor our health-related expenses. When I slip on an icy sidewalk and knock out my front teeth, I imagine I’ll change my tune. Or maybe not. Who needs front teeth?

boy smiling without front tooth

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8 thoughts on “The real cost of extended health care benefits

  1. J is eligible for ARTA group coverage as a municipal employee. Check out their coverage to see if it’s worth the cost. ARTA.net/retiree-benefits

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  2. So here my 2 cents: insurances like every other businesses want to earn money. So in general you pay more in fees than ever will be returned. Unless of course you can predict / assume that you need to be covered in future but that usually means higher fees. Why not instead of paying every month for private health benefits that you might not need, put money in a savings account (or any other account that might give some nice interest). That way you might have the money in case of emergencies. Or of course just don’t slip on icy side walks 😉

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  3. I hear you! I agonize every month on whether to cancel my Mother’s blue cross coverage. She has not been to the dentist in over 8 years, has not brushed her teeth in 5 years…seriously! If she actually needed emergency dental work she would most likely need general anesthetic as she is an uncooperative Alzheimer’s patient, then Alberta health care would cover it. So why am I still paying….you may have now convinced me to cancel it. Thanks as always XO KG

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    • I’m sorry you’re having to deal with your mom’s decline. That would be hard. You are a good daughter, even if you cancel her extended health care coverage. It doesn’t sound like she can use it right now. And, yes, the government will help you out if she needs it. XO

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