Monday, September 8, 2008

[Feature] Lessons I Learned in August

For me, last August was the most hectic months I've had in a long time. I went through a lot of pain, physically and financially. But in the end, it seems like it worked out for the better and I learned a few important lessons along the way. It all started with a job interview... [cue Wayne World-style flashback fingers]

Lesson One: Don't Wear Old Contact Lenses
I wanted to make sure I looked as presentable as possible for my interview, so I wore my contacts.

The thing is, I hadn't worn my contacts... in a long time. Like, so long I'm too embarrassed to say how long it actually was. But it was in the months range.

I had done similar things before, so I thought nothing of it. I just had clean the lenses as thoroughly as possible and slap them on. I'll be fine, right?

Wrong. WRONG.

I was fine for the interview and only had a little irritaiton. But by the end of the day, my one eye was bothering me so much, I had to take my contacts out. Normally, taking off my contacts would stop the pain, but this time it didn't. My eye became so scratchy, painful, and red that I couldn't even keep it open.

Apparently, I had developed something called a Corneal Ulcer, which in layman's terms means, ow my eye hurts a lot for a couple of days. Basically, the dirty contact lens I wore cut my cornea and filled it with dirty bacteria which started eating my eyeball. Corneal Ulcers can lead to blindness, which isn't as fun as Korean drama parodies make it out to be. Luckily, I opted to go to the emergency room pretty quickly, which made it something much easier to deal with.

So lesson #1: Don't wear dirty contacts. They rape your eyeballs. Older contacts makes you 10 times more likely to develop a corneal ulcer than new contacts.

It's cheaper to constantly buy new contacts then risk wearing old ones and paying for a hospital bill. Which leads me to my second lesson learned....

Lesson Two: Hospitals are Expensive.
Okay, I know this isn't a revolutionary discovery, but it's always worth reiterating: doctors drain your wallet. Especially if you're uninsured :(

After going to the ER, I had to make two visits to an opthamologist to make sure my eyes were healing up properly. During those two visits, I got about 10 minutes of face time with my doctor and had to pay $225 in total for it. Holy cow.

I later received my ER bill, which came out to $900 ($600 for the stay, $300 for medicines/shots).

And just when I thought it was over, the ER doctor sent me a bill for $220! What?!?! Doesn't the hospital pay him? Isn't that what the ER bill was for? Apparently not.

Needless to say, I was flabbergasted and my bank account cried itself to sleep that night.

Lesson Three: If You're Poor, the Government Can Help You.
This is the point in the article where things start looking up. Seeing as $1300 is not really affordable for me, I felt pretty screwed. Luckily, I remembered a lesson I learned while interning for my congressman: if you're poor, the government will help you out. Seriously, cynical people think the government only steals from you, but the truth is you can make it work for you.

Because I'm uninsured and make very little money, I applied for the state-run Charity Care, which is the New Jersey Hospital Care Payment Assistance Program. They are there to pay for some or all of your hospital bills if you cannot afford to pay for it yourselves. All you have to do is fill out an application that verifies your income and makes sure that you've been living in the state for three months. The process is fairly quick, as bureaucracies go, and extremely helpful for people like me. For more information about Charity Care, visit their website or call 1-866-588-5659.

I just recently gave in my application, so all I can do now is wait. Hopefully, I'll have learned all my lessons for a lot less money than expected!

Here's to more adventures, government assistance programs, and life lessons!


Julia Park said...

Your unfortunate situation made for a good read, if that makes you feel better, pirate eye! o_+

sang said...

Now I don't want contacts

Anonymous said...

Seriously, that throws me off from purchasing contacts.