Sunday, February 08, 2015

Tax Reality

My son broke his ankle last January. This was followed by a series of economic hurdles that included having to pay $5000 out of pocket just to get admitted to the hospital. After the surgery-two plates and sixteen screws-my son missed nearly two months of full time work. It was simply impossible for him to do his job as a high end bike sales rep. He couldn't drive. He couldn't stand up all day. But his company held his job and created opportunities for him to contribute. The end bill was around $45K for surgery and two and a half days of hospitalization.

This is where the trouble began. The nurses and doctors didn't wean him from the IV pain meds until he was being wheeled out the door. Because I teach school and had already missed several days to care for him, his older brother picked him up. My son suffered outrageous withdrawals, for which nobody seemed to have answers. He endured the agony for four days. Then we began getting bills. Although the hospital that the surgeon used had the brand name of a hospital on my son's insurance, because it was 51% owned by the doctors working there, we had to haggle to get the amount covered. We had no choice really. He broke the ankle on New Year's Day and the longer we waited, the worse the recovery would be. There were only two doctors from a list of 20 given by his insurance who could see him. Likewise, we had to either choose the facility offered or risk waiting two to three weeks. Now I ask you, does that sound like prudent and immediate care? But I digress.

Fast forward to this week. All my son's papers were in order (sounds menacing doesn't it) for filing taxes. He did get compensation from his company's accident insurance policy to cover his out of pocket expenses. He still ended up missing two months of work and had to make up for lost income. But when he went to file taxes, he was told that the compensation he used to pay off the hospital and doctor would be TAXED. So even though he ended up spending 12% of his annual gross income on medical bills, my son, who work retail, who has only recently made enough to afford to move out and live on his own, will owe money. When he told the person doing the taxes effectively that he would not be filing, she replied "but you make more than lots of people."

This is how conservatives are made.

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