a gamble, then freedom

January 31, 2011 |  Category:   life

I’ve had enough. I’ve decided that this is the year I’m ditching my health insurance plan. When I wrote my check a few days ago for the month of February, I decided that this was the month that I was going to make the change. If you’ve read this blog long enough, then you know that health insurance is the bane of my freelancing existence. It’s bad enough for anyone in this country, but if you live in NY and are self employed, the premiums are downright criminal. When I think back and calculate the absolute total of what we spent over the last 2 years in health insurance after we got off of Mark’s COBRA (which wasn’t a walk in the park either, but at least the plan covered 100% of everything), it makes me angry. I know it’s supposedly in bad form to talk about the specifics of money (unless you’re Asian. Then everyone in your family is all up in everyone else’s business), but I’m going to tell you what we spent, if only to demonstrate everything that’s wrong with the American health care system. You might want to sit down for this.


No, that’s not an extra digit there. There isn’t a typo here. The kicker is that it’s not even the best health insurance you can buy. We still have deductibles, co-insurance and co-pays (edit for clarification: annual checkups and such are 100% covered, no co-pays. We haven’t had to pay outside of our monthly premiums for any medical services ). Of that $31,215, approximately $4,000 went towards paying for actual medical expenses in the last 2 years, half of which went to Mia’s ER visit in Seattle last summer.

I’m beginning to realize that health insurance in this country is like gambling. I know we need it. You can’t just coast by without it and hope that you don’t get hit by a car like when you were young, unmarried and without kids. That’s a gamble and I know many families do it, but paying $16,000 a year is a gamble too. No matter how you spin things and say that it’s the responsible thing to do, I feel like the big loser. It’s $31,000 that I’ll never get back (why can’t premiums be like rollover minutes? You know, you don’t use it one month, you roll it over to the next?). I don’t even really know how we paid for it, but we did, every penny and I think I guilted myself into thinking that if we didn’t have the best insurance plan on the market that we could (not really) afford, that I’d be gambling away our health and finances. But with our premiums expected to go up another $200 a month when it’s time to renew our policy in the spring, I’m left with no choice but to make a big change. I’ve decided to switch carriers and go with a plan that has higher deductibles, co-insurance and co-pays, but is $500 less a month (well, actually $700 less with the annual increase in our premium). When I realized that I was finally ok with taking on the gamble of a higher deductible plan, I suddenly felt much lighter. I whipped out the calculator and did the math. I made comparison charts. I mapped out various medical disaster scenarios and wireframed it on paper. I’ve concluded that even if we were to have some medical issues and emergencies and had to pay out of pocket with our own money, we still come out ahead in most cases. This realization is like freedom, it’s unexplainable, it feels like I’m taking matters into my own hands and making a decision that’s right for us based on our healthy medical history instead of blindly paying a bill we can’t afford because I think it’s the right thing to do. I’m taking that extra money and putting in in the bank every month just in case, god forbid, something does happen. And if another year goes by and we don’t need that money for medical bills? 7k pays for a pretty nice vacation.

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  • Megan Champion February 9, 2011 at 9:59 am

    We did that this year. We took the high deductible plan. Your right, its liberating (and scary) like you, we cant see pouring our money out any more.

    One thing we did get, cancer insurance. Its cheap and so many people get it (cancer) on some level.

    Here’s to Health in 2011!

  • Jennifer March 11, 2011 at 7:58 am

    We switched to a high deductible HSA (Health Savings Account) nearly 1 1/2 years ago. I understand how liberating it can feel. As our savings in the HSA grows, we’ll raise our deductible hoping to be rewarded with a lower premium. I really wish that more people could be involved in this type of plan as it holds one accountable for their own health.

    Thank you for blogging about this!

  • Alicia March 16, 2011 at 2:30 pm

    I was taught how to budget money for food and other living expenses, clothes, etc, but since my family was covered by a corporate health care plan, I feel like that’s the one expense I was never alerted to growing up, and it’s the scariest expense of all! It’s scary how much you have to spend! Ahh!

  • Perfect Wedding July 28, 2011 at 7:33 pm

    I must admit this post is very wonderful . Thanks once again for the push!

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