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Ask Dave

This Surgery Isn't Elective

Dusty's wife had complications with recovering from the delivery of their twins. She needs surgery, and it will cost $10,000 out of pocket. How do they handle this?

QUESTION: Dusty in Spokane and his wife have twin daughters, and his wife has had complications with recovering from the delivery. She needs surgery, and it will cost $10,000 out of pocket. Their income is $18,000 a year. How do they handle this? Dave says they have to get the income up since this isn't a realistic scenario.

ANSWER: You've got to go through with it. You can't leave your wife with a hernia. It's not exactly elective surgery.

This isn't what you have to do; it's what you're choosing to do. She quit work and came home. Surgery aside, you guys have to get your household income up. This is not a realistic scenario. You're right at the poverty level or below it with two kids. I don't want her to go to work and drop these two kids at daycare since that's not what she wants to do. That's not my goal, and I don't think that's best. But I also don't think you guys can sit here at the poverty level and live on food stamps, which you are doing. You guys have got to do something different for your family. I don't know whether you do grad school a different way or whether you decide she's going to work X number of hours, but you guys have got to create some more income.

To answer the surgery question, it sounds like you've got to find $10,000. Basically, you're going to do the surgery, and the insurance is going to pay for part of it. You've got a large deductible; they're going to come asking you for that. When you don't have the money, you're going to have a problem immediately.

You keep acting like this surgery is elective. This is not elective. You've got to get all of this done so you can go forward, but not "if." "If" is not really on the line. Your wife doesn't walk around with a hernia. That's not a deal.

It is an income thing. If you can arrange some kind of deal with them or maybe your church can help you through this, but this is just the first thing you're going to face. I've got kids your age, and if they were asking for advice, I would tell them they're going to have to arrange their lives differently in some way to create some income. You're trying to achieve too many lofty goals, and you're going to starve to death here on earth while you're working on those lofty goals. A lofty goal is her being at home as a mom. That's a great goal. Finishing your grad work is great and lofty goal number two. Both of you are working lofty goals at the same time, and down here on earth, you're going to starve to death. We've got to have enough time out of the clouds with our feet on the ground to be able to do the cloud stuff, too. I appreciate that both of you have really long vision. You have positive attributes you can build on. In the meantime, you have to make a living.