It's income tax time folks. I'm patiently checking the mailbox every day waiting for one more piece of mail before I can sit down at the table with my Big Red pencil, my calculator and my 2011 tax package.
Normally, my returns are pretty straightforward. I have one T4 and I have my RRSP contributions. I spend 45 minutes plugging in the numbers and get pretty much the same amount back that I got the year before. Easy peasy. I then spend ten more minutes on the phone using Telefile. It's faster than mailing in my return and it's free. All I have to do is punch numbers into my phone as requested by the familiar, soothing, male voice who always helps me work my way through the system.
This year, I decided to add up all of my medical receipts to see if I spent enough out of pocket to claim medical expenses. I had toyed with the idea for the past few years but never felt it would make much of a difference so I didn't bother. Since I was home sick on Monday I figured I could handle sitting at the table for a while working out the numbers.
I opened my diabetes cupboard and grabbed my bag full of receipts. For the past three years, every time I get prescriptions filled, I toss the receipts in there. First step was to sort the receipts by year. Then staple them to their corresponding credit card statements. Then create a spreadsheet that allowed me to enter three amounts for each visit to the pharmacy: the amount I spent on insulin pump supplies, the amount I spent on other prescriptions and the total amount paid.
The reason I separated them out was that I, like other Ontarians on the pump, receive a quarterly cheque for pump supplies (the reservoir and the infusion set). So even though I pay out of pocket for the supplies, I am reimbursed later so I can't claim those costs (unless I spent more than I am reimbursed). I can only claim costs for other prescriptions (insulin, test strips, etc).
As I entered the numbers, a picture began to form. It's pretty incredible when you see it laid out in front of you.
In 2011, I spent almost $900 in prescriptions. That's how much I spent AFTER my benefits took care of 80% of things. I did some quick math to figure out the total cost of all the prescriptions (what I paid plus what my benefits covered). The total cost was $4500. That does not include my insulin pump supplies which cost an additional $2000.00.
So a total of $6500 was spent last year (by myself, my benefit provider and the Ontario government) to keep me alive and healthy.
I can only guess at the cost of all the visits to medical professionals (multiple visits to the Diabetes Centre, ophthalmologist, family doctor, and clinics for blood work).
I exercise six days a week. I eat well and take care of myself. I work hard to stay healthy because I believe strongly in the old adage that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Imagine what I would cost if I didn't?