One step at a time

Creating an enjoyable journey for myself and my family.

Friday, October 21, 2011


I cannot believe my daughters are growing up so fast. Ever had that feeling? Look at these pictures from earlier little mermaids. My oh my. My babies are growing up.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Unexpectedly Awesome Day

Today I had an unexpectedly awesome day. I was planning to get a bunch of work done; instead I got invited to go on a Harley ride with my Dad.

My Dad drives a pristine black Harley-Davidson Softtail Classic. It was his retirement present to himself. I always thought it was optimistic to buy a Harley in Seattle but today was the kind of day bikers in Seattle live for. The sky and roads were clear. The air was crisp enough to change the leaves from green to red, but not cold enough to penetrate our leathers. We had a great ride.

My Dad loves a burger joint in Issaquah called Triple X, so that's where we went. I laughed out loud as we walked up to the building and on the front door was a sign that said, "Nothing you eat or drink here will be good for you." Perfect. We had a couple of frosted mugs of Triple X brand rootbeer, fries and onion rings. It was a great snack. Great rootbeer. Great company. Great day.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Life is What Happened...

...when you had something else planned.

This is my Dad's favorite quote of all times. He shares this sentiment with me almost daily. It has never felt more relevant than now. We certainly didn't plan to be back in Seattle right now. When we left for Japan nearly four months ago we planned to be gone for at least a year. Then our visa expired. What can you do? We had to come home. We've been told that our working visas will take another 1-2 months to approve. WOW. One to two months.

So here's our plan (we'll see how it works out): 1. Take Japanese lessons 2. Get Mia the care she needs for her broken arm to heal 3. Try and plan some weekend get-aways to visit friends 4. Adam is looking for a part-time job 5. Stay busy to keep the girls and my parents from going crazy.

I have had some awesome experiences while being here. I feel satisfied that for the time being we are doing what we need to do and learning what we need to learn. Sometimes the lessons we need to learn involve our children breaking their arms.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Broken arm update

Mia is doing great. The ER visit ended up costing $5300. She will have roughly $4000 in care before the cast is removed. I'll let you know what happens with the costs. We are not "residents" of Washington state, so our options are limited. I may end up having to pay the entire cost out of pocket. If I was a resident of Mexico in Washington state illegally the cost out of pocket would be zero.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Mia's Broken Arm

I have never, ever been uninsured. I grew up on my Father's medical plan in Seattle, then was married and added to my husband's medical insurance in Utah. In Japan, when you are a citizen you are enrolled in the government healthcare program. It is a fairly socialist kind of operation as far as I can tell. So here we are in Seattle, no American job, no insurance, no idea when we will be heading back to Japan and my daughter breaks her arm. Hmm. I sense a life lesson coming on.

What is it like to be an injured American without health insurance?

Much to my surprise the ER took Mia without any hassle whatsoever. When you have insurance you spend about 20 minutes at the ER just giving them all your critical information; like social security number, employer, yearly income, insurance account numbers, etc. I got to walk right in, no hassle.

The financial advocate for the hospital came in once things had settled down and gave me a helpful piece of paper, one piece of paper, that would put me in touch with all the relevant people who could provide me with help in paying my bill without the aid of insurance. She was completely helpful.

Mia's arm is currently in a splint, she needed 4 hours of emergency room care and 4 x-rays. She will be treated by an orthopedic surgeon on Wednesday to put on her cast. When asked by the doctor's office about our insurance I explained that we didn't have insurance. She never mentioned money after that. Mia was given the next available appointment, without any insurance or hassle.

Throughout the process to this point it has struck me that these facilities and offices are used to having patients without insurance. I was always under the impression before that being uninsured was the exception, not the rule. It turns out many Americans are uninsured. According to the USAToday in September the number of uninsured Americans is more than 50 million, that's 1 person out of every 6.

In the past our medical bills have almost always been covered by insurance and we were therefore responsible for only 20% of the cost. We have had major medical issues such as; kidney failure, many pregnancy related problems, and recently a pulmonary embolism. We have done our utmost to pay these bills, which, for our family in the past 5 years I would estimate our out of pocket costs to be about $20,000. These bills have cut into our family finances significantly over the years, some we are still paying off. This amount does not include the amount of money taken out of our paychecks every month to pay for health insurance. That amount spent on insurance over that past 5 years was about $14,000!

This new broken arm will come with an estimated price tag of about $1700. I'm not sure what we will have to pay. All I can say is that I feel no concern over the bill, which generally I would be concerned about. I am scratching my head about the ease with which our care is being provided. I wonder what is the point of insurance? I wonder how the medical community is handling 20% of the population being uninsured and still needing care? I simply can't imagine why I have played the game for so long?

I don't claim to understand the healthcare system in Japan, but I know when we get back Mia's arm would be fixed for no out of pocket costs and our cost for the government healthcare system each month is about $100.

My final thought: Americans need a new healthcare system. I don't believe in robbing the rich to give to the poor. I think doctors and medical care providers should be paid what they are worth. I think care should be provided when needed. I think a better way is available. We have strong, smart, capable, creative, talented people in America...a better way needs to be implemented in this great country of ours.