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    Other People’s Money

    April 5, 2006 by Brandy Vencel

    One of the benefits of Si’s new job at the hospital is the health insurance. We don’t pay a dime for it! We have a true appreciation for this after three years of self-employment {where the biggest obstacles are health insurance and Social Security taxes}.

    Our old plan cost hundreds of dollars every month, plus $45 copays to see a doctor, plus a percentage of tests and scans, etc. It cost almost $4000 to have our last baby when I include all the prenatal visits, ultrasounds, blood tests, other tests, and then a Cesarean delivery.

    Our new plan costs us nothing beyond Si’s labor {for which they also pay him, of course}. The copays are $15, and if I were to deliver our next baby at his hospital, I would pay nothing to the hospital–no operating room, no delivery room, no board, nothing. Nada. Zip. Zero.

    Our new plan also gives us vision coverage…and dental for an insignificant monthly fee.

    Here is where it gets interesting. I haven’t been to the dentist in years. We didn’t have dental insurance. Nothing hurt. So I didn’t go. But now I’m thinking about going.

    I haven’t been to the eye doctor in years. But I do need new contacts. And I’ve done what anyone in my shoes would do: I waited to see if Si got the job. He did, and that optometrist appointment will be set for after I receive my new proof-of-insurance.

    Before, when I went to the doctor, I was spending a considerable amount of my money. In the future, I will spend considerably less of mine…and more of someone else’s.

    …no free government, nor the blessings of liberty, can be preserved to any people, but by a firm adherence to justice, moderation, temperance, frugality, and virtue…–Virgina Constitution {Art. 1,
    Sec. 15}

    I am reminded of early in my marriage when I was still working at Biola. I had caught something, and I was pretty miserable. But I didn’t feel like staying home, so I went to work. One of the girls in the office encouraged me to go to the doctor. I told her it cost $35 for the visit, and I just didn’t feel $35 sick. Her reply was that she and her children were always able to go to the doctor whenever they wanted to because they had Kaiser coverage and their copays were only $5.

    I probably felt $5 sick. And therein lies the point of this endless rambling. A medical appointment tends to cost a certain amount. What differs is who pays for it. When I last took A. to her pediatrician, the people checking in in front of me paid a range of $10-$20. I paid $45. Did I get better service? Did I get more service? Did the doctor make more money? The answer is “no.”

    The appointment “costs” a certain amount. Depending on the insurance coverage and company, sometimes the patient pays more, sometimes the insurance pays more, and sometimes the doctor eats the difference out of his own profits.

    Some people don’t mind seeing the doctor take a cut in pay. After all, he is “rich,” right? Well, maybe a bit…if he has his student loans paid off. And take my OB, for instance. That cut in pay could mean the difference between an outdated ultrasound and a top-of-the-line ultrasound. A high-risk pregnancy can give a person a new appreciation for a top-of-the-line ultrasound.

    But I digress…

    My real point is this: I am already seeing within my own family the tendency to spend more than we would have because it is on someone else’s dime. Everyone does it, right?

    This is especially common in the realm of optometry. Some eye insurance plans offer a new pair of glasses every year, and so people go right out and get them. But their old ones work fine and their prescription hasn’t changed. They simply do it because they can.

    Man has a tendency to be much more careful with his own money than with someone else’s. I think of the government that frivolously spends money the taxpayers worked hard for. I think of the college boys in the apartment with “free electricity,” keeping their apartment frigid in the summers, even when they aren’t at home. I think of the at-home wife who blows her husband’s paycheck on clothes and shoes. And then there is my family, dreaming of our dental work and eyecare {some of which is necessary, but some of which is not}.

    It’s not wrong to spend money, but I have a deep desire to err on the side of frugality and moderation. A frugal heart would care equally for all resources {remember, waste is a sign of disrespect}, and would respect another person’s money as much as her own.


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