For years we paid a little each month for secondary health insurance. My primary plan has a high deductible, so I hoped the secondary, supplemental policy would give me great help to pay my bills. While hospitalized I'd sensed those dollar amounts mounting with each blood draw and electrocardiogram.

The supplemental plan didn't offer me a cent. The evening I read the company's denial I groaned. I tried not to resent the people I'd talked to on the phone and worked so hard to please with all my gathered statements and doctor's notes. "Just send everything," they'd told me. "That's the only way we can determine your eligibility."

I did resent them, though they were only doing their job. All I could do was send a cancellation letter and try the next option, the messier one: dealing with every billing office, while applying for the hospital's financial assistance program.

We had received many promises of prayer from people far and wide, especially from our church friends, and this gave me real comfort. As church treasurer, I've observed generous, sacrificial amounts given by parishioners after they dedicated time to prayer for the needy.

For this reason, I wasn't super worried. I think, though, that I shrank from the reality of being needy; I preferred figuring a way out of trouble myself. And so I applied for jobs, being interviewed by the post office for holiday work. I wasn't hired. (Now, as rain pours and parts of Eugene flood, I wonder how long it would have taken me, had I been hired, to end up back in the hospital.)

Surprisingly, I enjoyed almost every conversation with medical office bookkeepers. Their work's not so different from mine, and I could commiserate when their computers did strange things. I managed to complete the hospital application, and then we simply had to wait to learn whether or not they'd reduce my bill. In the meantime, one church friend offered to organize a bake sale. I baked gluten-free brownies and brought them that Sunday, expecting a few other goodies would arrive and we might receive a few dollars. Every bit would help, so I was grateful.

People actually made a big deal of the sale, even auctioning off two pies. Money came in. More came from people just giving us checks. Just because. It added up fast. I was (still am) overwhelmed.

At Tim's parents' for our usual Sunday evening shared dinner, Mom H. told an involved story about how they'd been planning to help Tim's sister with a substantial bill. It turned out the bill was cancelled, and since they'd already subtracted the amount from their checkbook...She handed me a check. More overwhelm.

As you may have guessed, the hospital helped, too, reducing my bills by 40%. Most recently we learned that an Orthodox group's benevolent fund is granting me $2000.

My bills are pretty much covered. My heart, squeezed a few months ago by excessive fluid, now sings a merry, dark day tune. Slipping through puddles to the church bookstore for my volunteer shift, I anticipate strange things my computer may do as I enter numbers. I listen to volunteers working hard on the nave's messy renovation, and I compliment them on how great the church is really starting to look. They glance at the floor and shrug and tell me, "Well, it's all a process."


Frex said…
Sounds like the spirit of the magi is abroad in the land! :)

What a lot of work you had to do--I'm relieved the hospital responded with a substantial decrease---and how nice that you enjoyed talking with the bookkeepers!

I love stories like this.

Once when I was unemployed, Habitat for Humanity called, raising money for some extra project, and I explained to the nice young man that I couldn't donate anything extra at this time because I was out of work.

He cautiously asked if I was a person of faith (can't remember how he phrased it, but I could tell he didn't want to offend---maybe phone workers for HH are not supposed to do this at all?)--and when I said I was [I didn't add, "in my way"], he told me he had been in that position too, and he would pray for me and that he was confident some good work would come to me...
This kindness still brings tears to my eyes.
--Frex = Fresca (as you know)
deanna said…
You *are* a person of faith, Frex/Fresca! Thanks for reading; I'm glad you like the story. My eyes are teary a lot lately. :o)