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Uninsured Climbing

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I have a potentially uncomfortable question. If you were like me last year, how do you reconcile climbing without health insurance? I'm insured now, but last year I found myself worrying about it at the base of climbs, but forgot all about it once climbing, then thought about it all over again at the end of the day's climbing, especially leading climbs beyond my comfort zone. I had nightmares of six figure hospital bills in the event of an accident. I hoped any accident resulted in death rather than debilitating hospital debt. [Frown] Anyway, if you are or were uninsured, how do you justify lead climbing with the potential for injury and an outrageous hospital bill?

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It is something I think about. and am concerned about. Yet just having had a 10,000 dollar surgerie a year and a half ago with verry little insurance coverage at the time I realize that things happen. Just because i don't have insurance right now doesn't mean I should lock myself in the house... then something else would happen, like apependasitis or SOMETHING [Roll Eyes][Roll Eyes][Roll Eyes] live life... do the best you can [big Grin]

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It's good that you don't think about it WHILE climbing. You might be more likely to hurt yourself

 

[ 10-09-2002, 10:36 PM: Message edited by: E-rock ]

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It's a serious and smart question. I got insurance including rescue insurance.. To get rescue insurance join the american alpine club. To get rescued for free climb in canada..

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After our experience this summer (which turned out to be "free") we decided to inquire about rescues in Canada on our honeymoon. The folks at the Alpine Club of Canada told us we would need rescue insurance or run the risk of being charged for it.

 

I think many rescues in the US are "free," it just depends on the place, and rescue facilities involved. Needless to say, having to be rescued sucks and people should avoid it at all costs...

 

The American Alpine club only covers rescue costs below 20,00ft unless you pay extra,and only up to a certain $ amount. While I was in Nepal an experienced guide on our team claimed that if you don't put $ up front to a helicopter service in Katmhandu, your chances of being airlifted out were slim. He put $ down for himself and his client before our trip. He had been lifted off multiple peaks in the Hymalia...so I took his word for it.

 

[ 10-09-2002, 08:00 PM: Message edited by: Lambone ]

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aaaaahhhhhhggggg! HEALTH INSURANCE! [Mad]

One of the few things in life that TRULEY frustrate and piss me off!

 

I lost my health insurance last year around this time. After a potentially serious accident last spring (while climbing), I found myself in a canadian hospital. Although they tried to find every which way to get the money up front, they didnt deny me the necessary treatment. Had my injuries been more serious and financially costly, Im not sure what I would have done.

(btw...bless canada! The hospital never even billed me, which was implied before I left).

 

Since then, I worry about it a lot while climbing...mainly when Im further away from home. I have tried to adopt E-Rocks' philosophy of not allowing the lack of ability to afford insurance to limit my freedom. Not just in climbing, but life in general.

 

I started a post a while ago about insurance...not many responses, except to look into aac. If I remember correctly, that was mainly rescue insurance. As I begin to plan more trips, I expect I will join. Its affordable and I think my responsibility.

 

Travellers insurance seems to exclude climbing activities. If anyone knows of travellers insurance which DOESNT, please fill me in!

 

Dont let the lack of insurance keep you from doing what you love. If for some reason you were injured, whatever bills you acquire can be worked out. Hospitals often elimate costs, if they see there is no way you will be able to pay.

 

Climb on!

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sorry carolyn, I don't know much about insurance except that I don't have any. I figure I'll just tough it out or bend over and take it if I get hurt. I have been climbing alot and have seen only two accidents in which injuries occured that were not climber error. i guess I just figure as long as I do what I'm supposed to things will go well.

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I don't have employer-paid health insurance, but I have purchased a plan for myself through fortis. It's about $40/month with a couple thou deductible. To me, this is worth it considering all the so-called risky sports I'm doing. One blown knee on a ski trip could set me back far too much.

 

Carolyn, I think I responded to your question about traveller's insurance. Most DO cover climbing, as long as you get the "adventure sports" rider. It covers scuba, skiing, climbing, bungee, etc. I've had several travel policies that provided this. It didn't bump up the price prohibitively. If you still can't get it, I can hunt up the name of the companies I used, but I assure you, they weren't special travel insurance companies.

 

I also have an AAC membership for their insurance. We thought it would be good enough in Nepal, but like Lambone, I had heard nasty things, so we ended up with local insurance as well.

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I guess I'm lucky and have insurace through my work, and honestly would never go without it no matter how poor I was. I broke my arm about 5 years ago, compound. After surgery and a weeklong hospital stay and rehad the bill was around $30k, and I paid a couple hundred. Plus I got 2 3.5 inch steel plates, 14 screws, and some killers scars as a parting gift.

 

AAC insurance is good especially since it covers your chopper ride that some insurance companies don't.

 

I think at the very least one should have some cheap insurance mentioned above, something with a high deductible, basically to cover your ass for catastrophic accidents.

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One important element that has been left out of the equation thus far is the shit that happens outside of climbing, which is probably more likely. Car, wrecks, cancer, etc - pretty scary to me.

 

Right now I'm carrying over my old employers insurance for about $170 a month, although I may not be able to aford that indefinitely while going back to school. If that's the case I will get a catastrophic policy ($1500 deductible)for about $40 a month through Regence Blue Shield. If you can afford to climb, then odds are you can afford to cover that bill. If it comes down to it I'll scrimp on food, clothes, car use, whatever if I have to do to stay covered.

 

If you are a Washington resident and your income is so low that you can't afford to pay the premimums, look into Washington Basic Health. It's something the state came up with for people in just that very situation.

 

Here's a link to the Regence Blue Shield individual Coverage plans:

 

http://www.wa.regence.com/needCoverage/individual/index.html

 

Here's a link to the homepage for Washington Basic Health.

 

http://www.wa.gov/hca/basichealth.htm

 

Hopefully the information you find there will be helpful.

 

[ 10-10-2002, 10:17 AM: Message edited by: JayB ]

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In Washington State, we have a program called Basic Health (I think). This program is specifically for people who are not eligible for health insurance for whatever reason (unemployed or whatever); premiums are based on how much you make per month, so it is meant to remain affordable for those who don't make much money. Might be something to look into.

 

I am in the process of clarifying my climbing activities for my life insurance company; which is also an issue.

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someone was asking about travel insurance and whether or not it had climbing covered. i believe that you can (if you are canadian) get it for $1 a day and it does cover climbing...could be wrong though as it was word of mouth...

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Everybody should buy health insurance! (Unless you are an undocumented non-American worker who will take free service at the emergency room and then head back home, leaving the rest of us to pay for it.) Sure, the cost of health care leaves a lot of us feeling like we are being triple-teamed by Dr.s, drug companies, and insurance co.s. But it is a fact of life, and you need at least a catastrophic insurance policy to keep you from unexpectedly being financially burdened for years if you had a big health problem. Think of it like paying taxes...sux, but ya have to do it!

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Hmmmmm, this is an interesting topic for me. I was cronicly ill for 14 years and plowed threw 3 or 4 diffrent insurance companies that denied services, refused to treat me, told me that I cost too much as a patent and that I could not see a specialist any more... since then I have had surgery ( wich the insurance companies refused me based on my age) and the problem is solved. One of thease companies was Blue cross [Mad]

 

Washington sounds like they have a better program for the under employed than oregon does. Good to know [smile]

 

medical insurance is one of those necisary evil type things. When I had my last surgey JK and I were paying more than 300$ a month to cover our whole family and still payed for more of the sergery than we could aford...

 

Having the large deductible is all well and good as long as you do not require servives. Make sure you read the fine print. We paid the dedutible and something like 60% of the bill plus we were suposed to continue to pay our astrinomical monthly premium [Roll Eyes]

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I agree with RobBob. Insurance, although it sucks to pay, is needed. I hate going into debt and would not want to be in debt for the rest of my life from an error in the hills, on the road, walking down the street, etc. Plus, annual check-ups, prescriptions, etc. can cost an arm and a leg without it! JayB, check into the health plan at wherever you are going back to school. I got a comprehensive health, dental, and eye insurance from the U of O for $800/year. All visits to the doctor were free if you used the University clinic and if you used a preferred-care provider, the insurance covered 85%. I now have a plan with Pacific Source with a fairly high deductible.

 

[ 10-10-2002, 10:31 AM: Message edited by: ryland moore ]

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Not at this time. When Thing 1 was born we paid 25$ a month to have him covered. By the time thing 2 was born the cost had increased to more than 80$ per child for individual insurance threw Blue cross again [Mad] I will however point out that I just became a member of the recently employed and if all works out I will be able to provide my precious things with medical coverage hopefuly in the next 6 months [big Grin]

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GET INSURANCE

GET INSURANCE

GET INSURANCE

GET INSURANCE

GET INSURANCE

GET INSURANCE

 

If you lose your job, you can self-pay (COBRA) and keep your insurance. Sure, it costs money, but it falls just below food and shelter in the list of things that are necessary. Evil, yes, but you have to have it.

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Especially important for gals to be covered...when my wife had twins (!!), her doc told her that if they required a stay in the NICU (since many twins are preemies), we could figure automatically that the bill would exceed $100K. $100K!! Luckily all was well + we have always griped but paid for decent health ins. Nobody, especially child-bearing women, can afford that kind of financial risk.

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quote:

Originally posted by Fence Sitter:

someone was asking about travel insurance and whether or not it had climbing covered. i believe that you can (if you are canadian) get it for $1 a day and it does cover climbing...could be wrong though as it was word of mouth...

You heard right. BCAA offers travel insurance for $1/day , you can buy it over the phone by credit card and you don't have to be a member. There is another company called David Cummings that sells it for $0.90/day. I believe in both cases the policy is something like $2million, and it covers any recreational sport so long as you are not being paid to do it. Travel insurance won't help you if you aren't travelling though.

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Insurance good, medical bills expensive.

 

DFA, like Jon, is insured through his job (PacificSource -- EXCELLENT company in this Doctor's experience, and not an HMO!), and now wouldn't go without it. After many visits to the orthopedist (no referral needed), a 1200 dollar MRI, a 9000 dollar surgery, extensive physical therapy, another MRI (no bill for that one yet, but it'll be big), and a few prescriptions, there is no fuckin' way DFA would go without insurance. Even the PT and Doctor's office visits add right up at 150-200 bucks a pop. Ten dollar co-pays (or 50 for surgery) beat the hell out of thousands of dollars in bills later.

 

Just figure that at 150 bucks a month, it will take you about eight years to pay as much into the insurance as one surgery and the attendant care would cost. Pretty good deal.

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quote:

Originally posted by Greg W:

In Washington State, we have a program called Basic Health (I think). This program is specifically for people who are not eligible for health insurance for whatever reason (unemployed or whatever); premiums are based on how much you make per month, so it is meant to remain affordable for those who don't make much money. Might be something to look into.

We have a couple similar programs as well. Unfortunately I make too much for any of them...and I dont make a whole heck of a lot between my 5 jobs!

 

Pre-existing conditions will forever keep me from getting private insurance. It will need to come from an employer. Not usually possible with part time/seasonal work.

 

Like I said, this is a very frustrating topic for me in my day to day life...because I KNOW I need insurance. We all have our own set of circumstances which we have to do our best to deal with in order to take care of ourselves. Trust me, Im doing my part the best I can.

 

Thanks for the info/links to the Washington Health Care Program! Insurance is an important piece as I work on my plan of action to move out there.

 

Good discussion w/ lots of resources to look into!

Thanks!

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Figger Eight and Jay:

I said this in the Kropp thread so forgive me for repeating myself: you may argue that climbing is not as dangerous as it is made out to be, but I do not think the danger of climbing should be dismissed. My brother died in a car accident, and my mother died of cancer, but I've known more people who died climbing than who have died by car accidents and cancer combined. And I have two friends who took leader falls and hit their head, resulting in permanent brain injury. So far, I have never been involved in an accident leading to anything worse than a sprained ankle, but I believe that I would be unrealistic not to acknowledge that the sport is dangerous.

 

I'd like to know how GregW's discussion with the life insurer goes (there was a thread on this topic a year ago).

 

Also, a friend recently pointed out to me that even more important than life insurance, perhaps, is disability insurance. If we are killed, we will not cause an ongoing financial drain on our families (only a loss of income). If we are disabled, we may be unable to generate any income but the cost of providing for us may be tremendous.

 

[ 10-10-2002, 02:12 PM: Message edited by: mattp ]

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GregW

I believe Washington Basic Health has some kind of waiting list or something and there are varioius restrictions. I had a client who was terminated from the program because of a paperwork problem and they would not reinstate him. They made him go through the normal application process and I believe he had to wait over a year.

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