How to treat a foot for the temporarily uninsured
June 20, 2015 7:37 AM   Subscribe

I injured my foot just before moving from Canada to NYC. Now I'm in worsening pain and walking is difficult. I won't have health insurance for at least another week, possibly more. What should I do?

Here's a fluke of bad timing I was hoping AskMe might have ideas about how to handle.

About a week before moving from Canada to New York, I twisted my ankle mowing my mothers' lawn, by stepping on a loose brick. The pain was something else. But still, after icing it and elevating, the pain mostly went away. Unfortunately, this was the exact week I was packing my apartment and moving countries. So with a week of wildly, horribly mistreating my foot with all kinds of furniture moving, heavy lifting, and hauling heavy luggage, I made everything worse.

Now I'm settled in in Brooklyn, and it's getting worse and worse every day: Walking is difficult, and the edge of my foot throbs and throbs, and the ankle just plain feels funny, like something is missing. Something is wrong in there.

If I was back home in Toronto, I would be off to see my doctor for sure by now. The problem is that I'm in health insurance limbo. I can't enrol in my company's plan before getting a social security number. I just applied for one yesterday (standing on one foot in line like a flamingo), but it will be 4-10 days before it arrives in the mail, so who knows how long until I actually get an appointment. And even then, I'm told our plan has co-pays, and I could be out $300 or more for just seeing a doctor. (Is this normal??)

What should I do? I'm pinned to bed, foot up, limping around, and increasingly worried about the possibility of leaving a sprain or small fracture untreated. I'm actually looking at the possibility of limping through the week and just flying back to Canada next weekend (also $300ish) to have it looked at in the emergency room.

Does anyone have any ideas or suggestions for alternate plans? All thoughts gratefully accepted.
posted by bicyclefish to Health & Fitness (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Sorry this happened to you. If the pain is getting worse, then your body is telling you that something is wrong. Delaying treatment is usually not a good idea.
Here is a list of clinics in NYC that offer reduced/sliding scale treatment. You should start there. If you don't already have a local doctor, and none of these are convenient, then don't be afraid to call a local office and explain your predicament. Doctor's are people, too, and many of them will work out a payment plan if you ask. Make the amount you can pay up front explicit, and work from there. Good luck!
posted by Mr. Fig at 7:50 AM on June 20, 2015

My advice would be to make the trip back to Toronto, but do it now as in today, rather than next week. You are still insured in Canada (my province, Manitoba, ensures I think for 3 months post your move). Just move heaven and earth to get there and get treated.
posted by nanook at 7:51 AM on June 20, 2015

Insurance usually doesn't cover existing conditions. Contacting whomever you expect to be your next insurer could rule them out as an option for your current condition.
posted by Homer42 at 7:55 AM on June 20, 2015

Insurance usually doesn't cover existing conditions. Contacting whomever you expect to be your next insurer could rule them out as an option for your current condition.

That isn't true anymore. I wouldn't expect them to bend any rules to cover you before your coverage begins, but they have to cover you once it does.
posted by The Michael The at 8:04 AM on June 20, 2015

Yes, check if your OHIP coverage is still active and get yourself back to Ontario (or anywhere in Canada, though there will be more paperwork in Quebec). A trip back is very likely going to be cheaper than treatment in the US.
posted by ssg at 11:38 AM on June 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

Your flight would cost less than an uninsured xray would in the US... definitely go back asap. If you aren't working here and have time, stay there and try to heal too. Medical bills in the states are no joke, and don't exacerbate your injury any further if you can help it. Seek Canadian (ie covered) treatment as soon as you can, absolutely. IF you are still covered, which you should be if you just left.
posted by bquarters at 3:14 PM on June 20, 2015

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