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.

$31,215.

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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  • siri January 31, 2011 at 5:35 am

    Good for you. It makes me seriously sick to the stomach to listen or read any nightmarish health insurance story from the states. It’s such backwards and scary shit. There were a lot of reasons why we moved from Minneapolis to Norway 3 years ago, but in all honestly, health insurance was the #1. So what if a tank of gas is triple the price here, I didn’t pay a penny for any of my prenatal or delivery costs last year. Hope you can take that vacation at the end of the year…

  • Jess (Where My Heart Is) January 31, 2011 at 6:24 am

    Jenna, I am glad I was sitting down! I am gobsmacked. That just seems so wrong. I have top private health cover here in Australia for about $300 a month (family policy) and if I didn’t want to have private cover we could use the public system and not pay a cent. Everyone has access to health-care here and I have to say it is a wonderful system. Sure if you go public you may have a longer wait for less important health issues but in a real emergency you get priority.

    The premiums you are describing would be crippling for most or outright unaffordable altogether for some. Once I was sick when visiting New York and I had to visit a doctor. They made me pay $350 before I could see the doctor, and he was just a general practitioner not a specialist! I was really unwell and could hardly stand up and all they cared about was how I was going to pay. I thought health-care was about caring! My daughters eardrum burst on a flight from Washington to London and we went to see a doctor in London and he refused to let us pay anything (this was 2 weeks after my NY experience).

  • Emma January 31, 2011 at 7:37 am

    That’s absolutely criminal. I feel lucky to live where I do, where we have socialised health care (although I know quite a few Americans don’t agree with that health care model, it’s just what I grew up with and it’s all I know).

    I have private health insurance in Australia. We can choose – to either use the public hospital system which is pretty good but overstressed currently, or pay for private health insurance which doesn’t really pay for everything but I feel is the right thing to do as I can afford it.

    My premiums are $95/month. We still have to pay on top of that if we go into hospital but it does put things into perspective.

    I just don’t know how you guys do it. Seems like a massive rip off to me.

  • tiff January 31, 2011 at 8:22 am

    I hear ya. Sometimes i take it for granted. Australia has free public health. I walked into a semi-serious surgery a few years ago and stayed in a single bed public hospital room for 5 days and left without having to pay a cent! Even though some of us have to pay a levy on taxes for it, i think it i am well below what the actual surgery would have cost out of pocket.

  • mery January 31, 2011 at 8:44 am

    awesome! it feels so good to make that type of decission and feel totally good about it!!!!

  • Brandy January 31, 2011 at 9:04 am

    Holy crap that’s a lot. almost 3 times what I made last year! Christ i’d say go into debt “if” you get sick before paying that kind of money

  • rebeccanyc January 31, 2011 at 9:20 am

    Health Care in our country is in shambles. Good for you for making a very smart choice for your family. PUtting the savings in the bank is just brilliant, not only will you have the money you put in, but the interest you gather too.

  • jodi January 31, 2011 at 9:21 am

    the cost of health care in this country is absolutely ridiculous. i can’t believe you payed that much, except that i can. glad you made a decision that feels right for you.

  • Susan January 31, 2011 at 9:23 am

    Good choice, and thank you for sharing the cold hard facts-they are staggering and make me so angry at our system. I payed so much when I started my own company (was single back then)…it was with BCBS and the stress (financial and emotional) it caused was enough to force me to cancel it. I got lucky, and it wasn’t long before I married and had great coverage through my husband’s corporate job. There are not enough options for small business owners, in my opinion.

  • Sherry January 31, 2011 at 9:27 am

    Good for you!

  • Sid January 31, 2011 at 9:33 am

    While I certainly don’t envy anyone trying to get decent affordable health coverage in the US, a major drawback to living in a place with state-run health insurance is that people easily lose track of how much medicine really costs. Canadians have had it so good for so long we complain about things like ER wait times (for non-emergencies) or waitlists for MRIs. It drives me nuts. I like to remind people that they always have the option to go to the States and pay for it but at least they should be greatful that if their child gets cancer they won’t have to re-mortgage their house and risk bankruptcy to get them treated. Thanks for being so open about how much it costs you for insurance. Maybe it’ll help some people living in places with state coverage will think about how good they have it and complain a little less about taxes.

  • Nichole Robertson January 31, 2011 at 10:08 am

    This is really smart, Jenna.

    We read (and I am searching for now) a really great article on this about a year ago.

    The gist was that you were better off getting catastrophic insurance only and paying out of pocket for the few doctor visits a year (especially if you don’t go to the doc for every sneeze and sniffle).

    That way you’re covered for the big stuff (hospital stays, disease), and if you bank the difference in premiums, you can build yourself a nice little savings.

    We’ve been thinking about doing this for awhile, but like you guys, felt somehow like we needed to have the best (or decent, anyway), insurance.

    But we never go to the doctors outside of well visits, and we pay over $1000 a month. It’s completely insane.

    Glad to see you brought up this topic, because these personal stories really illustrate how out of hand insurance is in the US.

  • Deepa January 31, 2011 at 10:09 am

    I can never imagine being in a position where I have to worry about money before seeing a Doctor, it must be a very strange thing. We are very lucky in the UK.
    Am baffled at all the protests about health care reform, surely people only need to look at their bills every month to realise it is a good thing?

  • gail January 31, 2011 at 10:46 am

    Health insurance in the United States has become a kind of extortion. I’ve started to feel similarly about our automobile and house insurance, too.

  • Hayley January 31, 2011 at 11:28 am

    Wow wow wow! I get insurance through work- but am terrified by what would happen if I didn’t. Pre-existing condition, single + child… I don’t even think I would qualify for $31,000 insurance. And, though I don’t know if I would want to, I could never start my own business.

    I think it is terribly sad that small businesses are faced with these costs & these decisions. Cheers to you for being honest about it; “health insurance costs a lot of money” is totally different that “health insurance costs us $31,215”.

    It should be about the cookies, right?

    Cheers!

  • Liz January 31, 2011 at 12:15 pm

    Wow. What a HUGE amount. I live in the Netherlands, and I pay 1200 euros (roughly 1650 US dollars) per year per person and almost everything is covered. I am really sorry for all those who need to roll with the US system. If you have the money, wouldn’t it be better to put money in a savings account for all the medical expenses? I’m glad you took the brave decision to do this.

  • Darcy January 31, 2011 at 12:29 pm

    I am shocked by that number. I don’t even know what to say.

    As a Canadian I have no concept of the types of decisions you have to make regarding health care and think it’s obscene that you have to spend that kind of money on health insurance.

    I have four kids and we went to get flu shots at our doctor’s last week. Cost 0$

    I took three of the four kids in a month ago to have prescriptions renewed, ask some questions, etc… Cost 0$

    A friend spent 6 hours at the Children’s hospital ER last week. They saw a doctor and got treatment for their son. Cost 0$

    Thank you for sharing the figure. It makes me realize how lucky I am.

  • Dana January 31, 2011 at 12:34 pm

    Great! congratulations! beat the system girl, you can!! You´re healthy!! 6k vacation oh yea!

  • Anna @ D16 January 31, 2011 at 12:39 pm

    Amazing, isn’t it? I know I really take for granted that I have excellent coverage through my job, and I would seriously be screwed without it. I’m one of those people whose annual medical bills *would* be astronomical without insurance, and fear of unaffordability is one of the primary reasons I don’t work freelance.

    I think what you’re doing is brave, but not stupid. You’ve thought about this, and you know what’s up. Rollover dollars, indeed!

  • Shilo January 31, 2011 at 1:01 pm

    Thank you Jenna, for discussing nitty gritty numbers as you have here and in the past.

    As half of a self-employed Brooklyn couple that wants to expand into a family, I’ve wondered how we could possibly do it all: health insurance, home ownership, kid costs and y’know maybe also being able to eat on top of that.

    Your family is an inspiration that we *can* make it all happen somehow, and your honesty about the struggles involved turn a wild seemingly-impossible hope into a practical option, albeit one with serious challenges.

    Anyway, health care costs are disgusting. I dearly hope this system is repaired for real in our lifetimes.

  • elainegan January 31, 2011 at 1:04 pm

    Whoa, thks for sharing! I never knew it cost so much in the US.
    Here in Dubai, most companies you work for covers your basic medical needs (flu,fever,aches, etc). Without the insurance health card, one pays at least USD30 depending on prescribed meds and specialist.

    But once covered, you pay a maximum of USD13 for consultation at any private/public hospitals/clinics.

    Financial freedom is what we all crave… Good luck!

  • Renita January 31, 2011 at 2:25 pm

    ‘Whip it real good!

  • Lauren S. January 31, 2011 at 2:44 pm

    Hi Jenna,

    I read the same article Nichole did to find that (normally healthy) self-employed people are much better off by only insuring for the big events, and not every dentist checkup, eye exam, etc. I work for local gov’t, and have uber-insurance, but was raised in a family without insurance.

    Here is something that doctors/hospitals don’t advertise: service prices are negotiated by insurance companies and they pay less than what an individual without insurance is charged. BUT, hospitals/doctor’s offices are used to not ever receiving payments from people without insurance, so if you take the time to negotiate, you can work out payment plans and even lower the cost. In fact, you can even let the doctor know ahead of time that you aren’t insured for the smaller stuff, and s/he can do fewer of the “extra” tests/services that they normally do to beef up their charge to the insurance company.

  • Katrina January 31, 2011 at 4:32 pm

    Hi Jenna,
    thanks for sharing this. I hear about the healthcare reform on the news, but this is pretty abstract. To read what it actually means for a family like yours is an eye opener.
    In Germany we have a public health system and moan about every private insurance we have to buy as an extra, though the public healthcare system still covers a lot – almost everything. I pay 350 € per month + 75 € private insurance in case I have to go the hospital or everything concerning my dentist. I really don´t know what I´m complaining about.
    It´s great you made your decision and I hope you get your trip to Paris!
    Btw: Your blog is simply awesome!!!

  • veggietestkitchen January 31, 2011 at 5:50 pm

    There was an interesting article in this week’s Economist about medical equipment and machines being produced more cheaply abroad and how that might decrease healthcare costs in this country over time. I wouldn’t hold my breath. This country is ruined by lobbyists and majority (i.e. dim witted, mass appealing) rule. It’s really a shame. Your posts seem to share a common theme that I think has been prevalent in this country over the past few years, cutting down on household recurring costs to keep available the discretionary consumption options we became used to during the good times.

    Anyway, I applaud you. My family (immigrant parents w. no formal US education) have always been self employed, so they’ve had to pay out of pocket for hcare insurance since day 1. Now that my parents are retired and on their own (w. interest rates at zero mind you, so the income pool is now very close to zero) they pay 1k per month for basic care, and they’re both in excellent condition, in fact my mother is SCARED to go to to the doctor, for fear that something will be found that will increase the monthly premium.

    Since nothing is being done at the top, all we can do is what you are doing to take our stand. This is such a touchy subject for a lot of people, but I don’t even believe in the incremental benefits of modern medicine. Healthy diet, exercise and a catastrophe plan should keep you set (of course, this isn’t an option when you have small children). Otherwise, funneling assets into a special trust to protect them from being held in the event you have to file bankruptcy for a health related issue is a good plan, and the system is so screwed up that we should all look to smart people who can show us how to bypass it.

  • yoko January 31, 2011 at 6:45 pm

    Hi Jenna,

    I have been reading your blog for about a month and this is the first time I felt really compelled to comment. We pay about $2400 per month for our insurance plan and we don’t have the best. Our deductible is $3000 each (x 4 family members is $12,000). The irony is that my husband is a doctor and works at a hospital and does not get medical coverage, so we have to buy our own plan. When he first graduated from his residency a few years ago we couldn’t afford health care and went without it for over a year. My father is from the Czech Republic and I wish health care in the US were more like it is in Europe.

  • Willa February 1, 2011 at 12:22 am

    Thanks for this. I’m about to leave a job to move across country and will be unemployed. I’m terrified about paying for health insurance. This post and the helpful comments will help me make a more informed decision about whether to go with COBRA or find a cheaper plan.

  • benson February 1, 2011 at 1:25 am

    So, basically it has been $1300 for the 4 of you for the last 24 months? We were actually paying that for our family of five about 15 years ago, so to me I’m thinking…that ain’t too bad, is it 🙂
    That is a lot of money but lucky for you there have been no health problems with your family so you’re fortunate that you can switch to another carrier. Just think if one of you had a pre-existing condition–you’d be screwed–or like me (once it started to rise to $2000+ a month) I got a job with the school district where I make very little money and have company health insurance.

  • Jenna February 1, 2011 at 1:30 am

    @Shilo, it IS doable, but you WILL sacrifice something. We make a decent living now, but our income was very very modest for awhile. It’s really only in the last 2 yrs that it’s been decent. ironically, it was when Mark started the business and had a more flexible schedule that I had the freedom to take on more work without worrying so much about childcare.

  • Jenna February 1, 2011 at 1:34 am

    @yoko that is pretty horrid. Irony indeed.
    @Benson If your policy stayed at $1300 I probably would have kept it, mostly from inertia. Our policy the last year was about $1440. It will go up to about $1600 a month. That’s pushes it over the edge of affordable. yes, we are lucky that we are healthy and have no pre-existing condition. this is the only reason why I’m doing this. I’m still uneasy about it, tell you the truth, and the only thing that will make it feel better is if I take that savings and sock it away for medical emergencies. In a sense, we are building savings and becoming our own insurers.

  • yukot February 1, 2011 at 1:48 am

    hi jenna,
    it’s so interesting to read all the comments from around the world, thanks for starting the thread. i just wanted to give more examples of actual medical costs in the US: i recently had a baby – normal vaginal birth, no complication – and the bill was $30,000 plus before insurance. i paid more than $5,000 out of pocket just for the actual birth, and that’s with full coverage. my boyfriend had an emergency brain surgery after an accident. the craniotomy was surprisingly cheap – $2000, but the hospital stay afterwards (2 nights in intensive care, 1 night in a private room) was $120,000. luckily, insurance covered most cost. (can you believe they discharge you in 3 days after having brain surgery???? it’s so crazy) my son had an allergic reaction to food so i had to take him to the ER during vacation. it was out of state, and the insurance did not cover any of the cost and the bill was $1100 for 4 hours of sitting in the room waiting to make sure nothing worse happened.
    the other awful thing about health insurance in US is that the insurance companies can deny your coverage at any time. i heard that if you have cancer, or get aids, they could drop you when you need it the most. what is the point of paying for an unforeseen catastrophic event if they could drop you when tragedy hits?
    i also hate that your plan is often tied to your employer, so it is very hard to switch jobs if you have a pre-existing condition. you cannot risk going without coverage, but you cannot get coverage as an individual. my sister has a pace maker since her late 20’s, and she feels stuck at her job because of health insurance.
    in contrast, my son’s medical cost until he’s 15 will be absolutely free ($0) if he were living in Tokyo. They cover everything, including premiums, dental, vision, even surgery for kids up until they are 15. if he ever needs surgery, i am moving to japan!

    (p.s. i love your blog!!!!! i think my son looks a little like your Miss C so i especially enjoy reading about your kids, they are super adorable!!!)

  • Jenna February 1, 2011 at 1:56 am

    @yukot It’s just awful all around. The random drop of insurance is scary. I’m scared for my parents. My parents always said they’d just go to korea if they need some expensive medical procedure. I didn’t pay a dime on either of my pregnancies except for our premiums which were reasonable at the time since Mark was still employed at the restaurant (though not all restaurants offer insurance which is why we felt so “stuck” there). I was really scared when Mia went to the ER last summer, but our current insurance paid for everything except the $75 copay. The total was a little over 2300. I was actually surprised that it was fully covered. But I guess what I’m saying is that even if we had to pay that fully out of pocket, with the 6-8k we are theoretically saving in premiums a month (we have to get approved first!), we’d still come out ahead if we paid that 2k ourselves.

  • .amanda. February 1, 2011 at 10:16 am

    I don’t know much about this subject, but I do know that I am currently uninsured because of being laid off. The MINIMAL payment for a bare bones plan for my husband I would have been $1300 a month! [I would like to know how someone who is unemployed can pay THAT a month!?]

    So, eat well, sleep well, and be careful. You’re family will be fine!

  • Jenna February 1, 2011 at 10:30 am

    Amanda, so sorry to hear about your situation. I know, the cost is outrageous. Did you look for any catastrophic coverage at least? And in NYS, if you’re bringing no income or low income, there are some plans that can help. Maybe there is something similar in your state. any way you spin it, it sucks. When Mark got laid off 3 years ago, our cobra was about 1100 a month. We paid it though, out of our savings, scraping by, whatever. The other alternative was a little too scary.

  • Jane February 1, 2011 at 1:41 pm

    Thank you for reminding me how lucky I am to live in Canada! We complain about wait times and ER line ups, but in the end, we are so incredibly lucky – its not something to be taken for granted! Getting sick or injured is stressful enough, without worrying about having to mortgage your house to pay for your hospital bill!

  • Sid February 1, 2011 at 2:31 pm

    Very apropos of your post, I just finished reading this brilliant article: http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2011/01/24/110124fa_fact_gawande?currentPage=all

  • Bess | English Muffin Shop February 1, 2011 at 2:57 pm

    That is so totally shocking to me. Really, shocking! How are people expected to pay that? The health care system in Montreal may be a disaster w/ long wait times and over-crowded hospitals, but at least I am not expected to fork over a cent (except of course via taxes).

  • diamondkelt February 1, 2011 at 2:59 pm

    And it’s SICK that people think we should not reform health care in this country. I hear far too many stories like those in the comments from friends, there are ups and downs to having socialized medicine but this country is so afraid of change that we’re killing ourselves just trying to stay the same 🙁

  • Kim February 1, 2011 at 4:45 pm

    I just think it is disgusting, for such a huge, wealthy country to not look after its citizens and provide them with decent, free (or at least affordable) healthcare. I live in New Zealand, where general practitioner visits are free for kids under 6 years, and totally affordable for adults (about US$15). Emergency visits and inpatient hospital stays are FREE to all citizens. Wishing your family a healthy and happy year 🙂

  • Gina February 1, 2011 at 5:31 pm

    Jenna,

    Have you and Mark ever thought of incorporating the business? One of the main reasons I incorporated was to be able to get a “group” rate on our insurance. Both my husband and I are employees of the company. Also it saves a lot on self employment taxes. If you haven’t researched it already it might be worth looking into.

    The health care crises in this country is unconscionable and must be fixed. I hope that Obama Care can move forward despite the political posturing and obstruction by the Right.

  • Jenna February 1, 2011 at 5:37 pm

    Gina, thanks. W&S is an incorporated business. We’re an LLC, but Mark is the sole proprietor. I’m not an employee though we did look into that last year when our premiums went up. We decided (and were advised by both a lawyer and our accountant) to make it a 1 person LLC for various reasons, mostly tax and asset protection. It is something that we might look into again in the future, but for NYC, the group rate for a 2 person company is not that much different than the rates we have because our current insurance is already a lower group rate – I have it through a membership to Media Bistro.

  • lilcg February 1, 2011 at 6:38 pm

    one other thing to keep in mind: just because you have a regular job doesn’t mean that health insurance is cheap in this country. a lot of employers are cutting benefits in order to try to balance budgets.

    I teach at a public school and get health insurance for myself and my daughter through work–$328.50 a month for just the two of us. it isn’t a great plan, a $1000 deductible for each of us. last year it was $200 dollars a month for both of us with a $500 deductible each.

    I looked into getting private insurance for us and it would have been cost almost exactly the same. I figured I’d stick with the district’s plan because it would be harder for them to drop us if something catastrophic happened.

  • Jennifer Segalini February 2, 2011 at 11:43 am

    My COBRA just ended in December. I started freelancing after I lost my job so we needed to get our own family insurance as well. It is CRAZY what health insurance costs. What is more crazy is how they justify the premiums. They wanted to charge us extra because my daughter had 3 ear infections over the course of the school year in 2010. In total, we were going to have to pay over $800 a month. Finally, after much discussion and stress, we decided to go with a higher premium and now have a policy for $550 a month (no dental or maternity!). Don’t get me started on independent maternity plans – what a joke! I seriously don’t think we can afford to have another baby. Its heart wrenching.

    I cannot believe how much you were paying every year. It is just so sad that our country can’t get it together when it comes to healthcare. Congratulations for taking a stand and thanks for having this important conversation.

  • elizabeth antonia February 2, 2011 at 3:42 pm

    jenna, thanks so much for sharing. my COBRA ends in August and I have been having nightmares about what we are going to do for weeks. it is absolutely criminal and i have been saving money for the pretty hefty hike. glad to know that i am not alone in the whole freelancer/health insurance issue. it makes me sick!

    on a more positive note, just found your blog from oh dee doh. so looking forward to reading more. thanks again for writing this post!!

  • Theora February 2, 2011 at 5:54 pm

    I see you’re in Brooklyn. New York State has VERY VERY good options for kids–it might make sense to insure them separately and then get different coverage for you and your husband.

    1. Have you looked at Child Health Plus for the kids? The insurance is provided through private insurance companies, it’s just a specialized (and very good) plan with a big state subsidy that makes it cheaper for qualifying families. The income rules are actually quite generous. You can see them here: http://www.health.state.ny.us/nysdoh/chplus/who_is_eligible.htm

    2. For yourself and your husband, the options are less great. If you make less than $33k, you can qualify for Family Health Plus. Probably not an option, so try looking at the Freelancer’s Union; they have a lot of plans, including a high deductible health plan which is a good option for healthy people–it basically gives you a catastrophic health plan coverage, while letting you take advantage of your good health to create a tax shelter (its use is restricted, with penalties like a 401k, so investigate this option carefully!). http://www.freelancersunion.org/insurance/explore/11215/health2011/

    You might also want to look at Healthy NY. They have small business & sole proprietor plans, and it’s subsidized by the state so it has lower rates. Their website is kind of crap, though. http://ins.state.ny.us/website2/hny/english/hnyr.htm

    Finally, healthcare.gov is a website created by the federal government that can help you figure out your options for the whole family. I’ve found it a little confusing, but it’s certainly trustworthy.

    All of this will be much easier in 2014 because of the new insurance law. That year, there will be what’s called an “exchange” which is basically a clearinghouse you can go to buy insurance, and get information on ALL your options in the state, (government, private, etc), as well as have one-stop shopping for any subsidies from the federal (and state) government you might be eligible for. These subsidies are potentially quite large, you can get an idea of their size here: http://healthreform.kff.org/SubsidyCalculator.aspx

    Good luck.

  • Jenna February 2, 2011 at 6:30 pm

    @Theora, thank you for such a comprehensive comment. Yes, I have checked out all the options you’ve outlined. Although I am a bit nervous about the customer service and the HUGE out of pocket max, Freelancers Union seems to be the best option for us. we don’t qualify for healthyNY and we’d be paying full premium price for the kids through Child Health Plus. I think I really need to get educated in the new insurance law. I admit that I found some of the health reform laws confusing in terms of what it actually means for us.

  • Mariko February 2, 2011 at 9:53 pm

    Well, you won me over in one post. How’s that?
    There’s so much I want to say about this but it’s so much it gets stuck in my throat.
    All I can say is, Agree. Agree. Agree.

  • Jessa February 3, 2011 at 10:02 am

    it’s heartbreaking. My husband strongly desired to start his own business, but we are afraid of paying for our own insurance. My sone and I both have celiac disease. We pay about 900 a month for insurance as it is. . . but last year when I needed to have a colonoscopy which cost us over 2,400 the unsurance company paid $90. It really startled us and made us wonder where our money is going. Seriously makes us wonder if living in the US is worth it?

  • Colleen February 4, 2011 at 9:18 pm

    Wow… that is crazy! My family and I are in the same boat. Both my husband and I are self-employed and with our little girl and my preexisting conditions, we have to have insurance. We went for the high-deductible plan and so far so good. But who knows how much they will raise our rates once we renew.

    One thing to maybe look into is to insure your kids separately from you and your husband. In Texas, I can get a separate, much cheaper policy for just them. Might be a good option for yall.

  • catherine February 8, 2011 at 5:28 pm

    this is such an interesting topic. i just moved back to toronto after speding 6+ years in NYC.

    i think the american and canadian healthcare systems are flawed. one is too expensive and marginalizes people – if you can pay, you get what you want, when you want it. the other is free and inclusive, but you often have to wait for non-emergency procedures and specialist appointments. one note, is that only when i moved to the u.s. did i see a bill outlining the costs of medical procedures, from a routine check up blood test to my c-section (which cost about $10 000 in NYC). i found it so interesting and enlightening. in canada, i had no idea how much any of this cost. now i know and i feel better informed.

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