A few months ago, I had one of my worst nightmares come true. I ended up in the ER, very sick, without insurance. Let’s just say it wasn’t pretty and it was pretty scary. Luckily, my partner was with me and he helped me get the care I needed. I was sick and disoriented. I didn’t really know what was happening or why. It was one of those surreal times when nothing made sense and everything seemed precious. After not being sentient, with eyes closed, I would open my eyes in a panic, relieved to see my partner next to me. I would close my eyes again hoping that my affliction would somehow resolve itself. After hours of being sick, whatever was inside of me was gone. I was better, but not well. I went home after a few hours, feeling more alive than I ever felt and yet also humble and miraculous.
In time, the bug healed itself. I got better and the euphoric sensation of being alive was suddenly overridden by the fact that I had just spent the night in the ER. Without insurance. I started to panic about what the cost would be and I knew it wouldn’t be cheap. I received the bill for the ambulance: $1,006. About two weeks later, I received a hospital bill for $1,600. About $2600 total for a 5 hour ER stay. They already gave me the courtesy of getting an un-insured discount, which knocked off $500 bucks. The news wasn’t as bad as I thought, but it sucked. It would defer my debt payback and take a large chuck out of my Emergency Fund.
I ended up applying for financial assistance and sent every little bit of information about me and my finances to the hospital. They don’t make this process easy and they want to know EVERYTHING about you. I realized this was a game and that they wanted people to fail. It is easy to give up and not try. I made it my mission to win the health care battle. Just in time for the New Year, I found out that the hospital covered 100% of my $1600 bill. I was elated and thrilled about this news! My financial injury was now to pay for the ambulance, or see the most expensive car ride of my life. I paid it right away, $1k suddenly gone. I was sad for a bit, thinking how great that would have been towards my debt. I felt relieved though that I was ALIVE, HEALTHY and that the hospital had pity on me and my financial situation. It was almost too perfect, having the bill go from $2,600 to $1k. All of the personal finance bloggers say you should have at least 1k in your EF—and in perfect, irony of life, that is exactly what I paid. I’ve always had an emergency fund but never needed to use it. Now that I’ve experienced an emergency first hand, I am so glad I have one.
Considering my debt amount, I would love to be one of those people with just 1k in their EF and throw the rest of my savings and income toward my massive debt. But sometimes it’s not that simple. I have a non-permanent, unstable work situation. I still do not have health insurance (at $400 a mo. It is just too much). Given my not-so-great luck at finding permanent employment here, there might be another move in the future. I have to plan and save for all of those things, while paying off my extraordinary debt. I am trying to stay focused, stay positive and remember how thankful and alive I felt leaving the hospital. It was my own story that reminded me to live life to the fullest and be financially responsible. I know, one day when I get that permanent job, I have health insurance and can relax, just a bit, I will slaughter this thing.
For now, I know this is another chapter in my life, but it’s not the whole story. I know that sometimes things happen that are outside of your control that truly suck. With my emergency fund and health intact, I can appreciate life and keep on keeping on.
What have you used your Emergency Fund for?