Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Medical Bills & Our Life

Ten years ago, we entered the world of financial troubles. The financial troubles though were brought about because of the greatest blessings in our life - our children. Most of the financial burden came from our man - Isaiah.

In 1997, we moved from Atlanta, Georgia where we were trying to "plant a church" to New Cumberland, West Virginia. My wife was very sick, so we moved to my hometown. I was back in school and working ungodly hours for us to make ends meet. The job at insurance. However, it was a straight 90/10 insurance with no "ceiling" (no max benefit). Isaiah and Stacey had a struggle and our hospital bills soared over the $300,000 mark. Thus, we faced medical responsibilities of over $ 30,000. We, as a family, always believed in her staying at home with the kids.

Over the last 9 years, I made anywhere from $20,000 - $ 38,000. During those years, we had two more children. We had better insurance (deductables and max amount) and we did not have major complications thus our responsibility for those bills combined was about $ 5,000. Thus, by being very disciplined, we were able to pay of the $35,000 over the last 9 years. We do have some cc debt that is still out there from some charges while we were making ends meet (about $3,000).

In 2006, when we left Discovery, we had $ 0 in medical bills. We were very happy and I remeber smiling on the last day of writing that check to pay off the final bill. We were able to accomplish this through some wonderful people's help in Alabama who eased some of our "rent burden". On a small note, please lift them (Discovery) up in your prayers. They have hit a few bumps but they are a GREAT church at heart and have a wonderful vision/mission/heart and I loved being with them.

Well, as some of you know, the past 6 months have been very rough for Stacey. She had to have numerous surgeries and the medical bills piled on. They piled on a lot more than we ever expected and planned. The reason: We thought we were going to have better coverage than we did. If we knew what type of coverage we was going to have in Indiana; we would have never left Alabama.

It has been a little dreading going to the mailbox beause the hospitals have turned us into the credit agencies. I have been placing the bills / letters into a file. In a sense, hoping they would go away. I know that is not the case. Today, I started to make the contacts with the hospitals and credit agencies. It was not much good news at all.

The credit agencies are wanting us to pay WAY too much money a month. The amount they want me to pay is 2x greater than my monthly rent. They referred me to a medical loan company. The company rold me to send them all the bills. They told me to do this as a formality because they will need to decline my request so I can show it to the credit agency. They can not and will not give us a loan because our loan amount is way more than we could pay back and we so not own a house so they can not secure the loan on that. So, what is the final damage ????

Because we did not have insurance ( well, we had insurance - technically - but the hospital considers we do not - because the insurance company paid less than 10% of the bill ), we owe $29,111.89

I am now trying to coordinate with 14 different hospitals and collection agencies. This is an absolute nightmare. We finally moved out of the financial tunnel after 9 years of hard work. Now, we are back to the beginning.


On the bright side ...... we now have a position that has fantastic insurance. We are now in part of the country that has phenominal medical centers. We are in a place (a church) that loves us, cares for us, respects us and is truly partners in ministry. I am sooooooo lucky and blessed to be part of a PHENOMINAL CHURCH.

My prayer is the following: God, I know that we can do this again (get out of financial mess, that is not fair); however please help me have wisdom in my words as I talk to the doctors, hospitals and credit agencies. May they allow us to set up a reasonable timetable. We are going to have to give up "stuff" to make this work; allow us to accomplish that. I also pray that fellow individuals out there will not have to have the same burden that we have because, it is just not right.

So, what do we do ???

I have no clue. I am glad that in 30 hours, I am headed on a plane to have 5 days of training, worship and rest. I will have time to rest my soul in a labryth. I will have the op to talk to some people that can offer advice. When I return, we will develop a plan and stick to it.

If this is too raw for some, I apologize. I know that is is extremely risky for me to place out here since I am not "anonymous". But, I try to real and honest and this is me.


Dale Sheehy said...

Praying for you and your family Jeff. We've been there done that...ours didn't end so well as your first time did. We ended up declaring bankruptcy. Our case was the doctors were completely willing to work with us but not the hospital! I owed more money after 3 hospital stays (totalling 12 days) and one surgery than I did for five years of college at a private school! Go and recharge!

Jeff Greathouse said...


Thanks. I know that I (my family) is not in this boat alone. Recent reports show that about half of the bankruptcies are due to medical / health care (insurance) woes.

The thing that ticks us off is ... well, you know ...

Dale Sheehy said...

Yeah, I do...

Kent said...

Jeff, I just wish there was something I could say or do to make all this go away, becaus you and your family does not deserve to be going through all of this. Everytime I think of how you where treated here it just ticks me off that "The Church" could let this happen to one of it's own. You are in my prayers and I know god will show you they way through this.

Jeff Greathouse said...


Thanks for the words. I hate it too. But, we would have not met if I did not end there and I think that stop is what made it possible for us to land here and I have NEVER been so happy about life / ministry / town as we are here.