Jogging was my cheap workout. Then I got the $830 medical bill

Name: Carin Moonin
Age: 35
Location: Portland, OR
Profession: Writer

I chose running partly because it's affordable. You don't need any equipment. You don't have to pay to use a rink, or a pool. You don't even need a gym — just lace up and hit the streets. Super-cheap, right?

Not if you get injured. Two years ago, I developed a stress fracture — basically, I broke my own leg from the repeated pounding. It felt like someone had taken a baseball bat to my shin.

Through work, I had chosen the most comprehensive insurance coverage offered, even though it cost an extra $200 per month. When I was diagnosed, I patted myself on the back for my incredible foresight.

Then the bills rolled in. My insurance paid 90 percent and left me with the rest. And while I still think 10 percent seems plenty reasonable in the abstract, the amounts I was paying were far from tiny.

Bone scan: $200. MRI: $150. Specialist co-pay: $30. Physical therapy: 12 visits at $25 per: $300. New orthotics to slip into my sneakers: $50. And the new, supportive sneakers my therapist recommended? $135 a pair. At $830, my cheap activity didn't feel so cheap anymore.

Of course, I'm not quitting running. But I learned my lesson. I set up a flexible spending account through work, which lets me put pre-tax money aside to pay for medical expenses. The only catch is, you have to spend it all in the calendar year, or you lose it. I contributed $1,000 for the coming year, which should cover any dings and dents to come — and if, knock wood, it's December and I'm injury free, I'll get to buy some great new glasses.

A crystal ball would probably be cheaper, but I don't think it would work as well.




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