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Medicine The Almighty Buck

Health Insurance When Leaving the Corporate World? 1197

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the hey-that-could-be-useful dept.
An anonymous reader writes "I've been working at a large company since I got out of college, so I didn't have to give much thought to getting my own healthcare plan. Now I'm thinking about leaving the corporate world and starting out on my own. I have a family now, so I need to make sure we're going to be covered should anything happen. Researching online turns up horror stories of people trying to get individual healthcare plans, or getting denied coverage on plans they thought they had. Does anyone else have experience going through this and what you've had to deal with, or am I making too big a deal of it?"
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Health Insurance When Leaving the Corporate World?

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  • Easy (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 22, 2010 @12:45PM (#31230566)

    Move to the UK or another country that cares

    • Re:Easy (Score:5, Interesting)

      by OldEarthResident (1724062) on Monday February 22, 2010 @01:53PM (#31232116)

      Personal experience here.

      The NHS tends to be good when you have routine or easy to diagnose problems and personally I am happy with how routine procedures have been handled.

      When you have more difficult to diagnose problems which have not yet become debilitating it's pot luck if you encounter a doctor interested to getting to the bottom of things or if you encounter a doctor more worried about meeting their government imposed targets.

      While I think the NHS overall is more fairer than the US system (even with the major problems I currently have with it) just remember the grass always seems greener on the other side.

      • Re:Easy (Score:4, Insightful)

        by daem0n1x (748565) on Monday February 22, 2010 @02:20PM (#31232648)
        I live in Europe, in a country with socialised medicine. The grass on the other side of the Atlantic doesn't seem green at all. Looks more like rotten.
        • The grass on the other side of the Atlantic doesn't seem green at all. Looks more like rotten.

          The grass was denied individual insurance due to pre-existing conditions, and the employer had to drop coverage because the costs of premiums increased from $5000 in year 2000 to over $16000 this year.

          Meanwhile, Congress sat on it's hands and did almost nothing to help deal with the costs which were spiraling out of control.

          • by daem0n1x (748565) on Monday February 22, 2010 @03:06PM (#31233398)

            Please, please, tell the Europeans about this. Our media try all the time to convince us that private is the best and socialised healthcare is crap.

            People complain about our healthcare system all the time, they don't realise how worse it can be. The private corporations are taking over. We still have a solid healthcare system, but stuff like public-private contracts are rising, with disastrous financial consequences for the State, and loss of service quality. Now they're talking about giving the freedom to opt out of the public system, or choosing your private provider at the expenses of the State. If we don't stop this madness we'll be like the USA in a few years.

        • Re:Easy (Score:5, Interesting)

          by joeyblades (785896) on Monday February 22, 2010 @03:51PM (#31234230)

          I have experienced both the US health care system and the UK health care system. While I am sure the US system is given to excess and abuse, there is a huge difference in the quality of health care.

          When they diagnosed an eye infection in my kid's eye, they opted to "wait and see" if the infection cleared up on it's own. I don't know about you, but when it comes to my kid's eyesight, "wait and see" is not good enough.

          When I seriously cut my hand, I waited in the emergency room for three hours bleeding all over their floor. It was not that busy, but several doctors were out on holiday. They let several obviously non emergencies go in front of me, so I guess it's first-come-first-served. Then when I finally saw the doctor, they were so short handed that I actually had to assist in the operation by sponging the blood away from my cut while the doctor sewed me up. Good thing I'm not squeamish.

          The other kid had a broken arm set in one of those fiberglass casts before we left the US. After we arrived in the UK and it was time to remove the cast, they didn't know how to deal with it. They started to get out a rotary saw and I told them that it could be removed safely with scissors. They sent us to several different hospitals and then made us come back after they consulted with some doctors in the US. Of course, they removed the cast with scissors...

          I had a friend who had his wisdom teeth removed in the UK. It was done with only local anesthetic and there was quite a bit of collateral damage. He was in excruciating pain and couldn't come to work for about a week and had a liquid-only diet. He complained of soreness in his jaw for several weeks. When I had the same procedure done in the US, I never even had to take pain pills, I was eating solid food the next day and returned to work right after the operation.

          It's not apples-to-apples.

          • Re:Easy (Score:4, Informative)

            by arthurpaliden (939626) on Monday February 22, 2010 @05:22PM (#31236068)
            And earlier this month Rep. John Murtha of Pa., while in the care of the best health care system in the world, died after a simple gallbladder operation was botched.
          • Re:Easy (Score:5, Informative)

            by Life2Short (593815) on Monday February 22, 2010 @05:26PM (#31236168)
            Interesting experiences. I too have had experience with both the U.S. and U.K. and I came away with a much higher opinion of the U.K. I lived in the U.K. for about a year and towards the end of my stay my parents came for a visit. My mother hurt her back getting out of the bath on the weekend. By Monday (a bank holiday Monday) she was bedridden and my landlord suggested we call the hospital. I was very skeptical, having grown up with the U.S. system. I called the local hospital (South London - Herne Hill) and the first thing they asked was whether she was well enough to travel to the hospital. If not, they offered to come to the house. I couldn't believe it. I told them we would get her in a cab and bring her over. Once there, there was no paperwork to fill out, and they saw her right away. After just a few minutes she was given a prescription for a muscle relaxer and a pain-killer. Got another cab to take my folks back to my place, and then I asked the cab driver to take me to the nearest chemist to fill the prescription. Got both prescriptions filled for about $16. I tipped the cabbie handsomely when he dropped me at my place. He asked me, "Do you know how much you are giving me here?" I told him I did, and that it was because I was having a great day. In the U.S. I would have had to have taken her to an emergency room. That would have taken 4 to 12 hours of my day and cost her about $500 copayment. Then the drugs would have cost another $65 copayment. In the U.K the whole thing took less than an hour portal to portal, and the cost was $20. As others have commented, maybe the U.K. is better for the little things than the big things, but I've got plenty of U.S. horror stories for big things too. I just find it interesting that the U.K. spends significantly less in terms of GDP and they don't have reduced life expectancy than the U.S.
  • Step 1. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by 0100010001010011 (652467) on Monday February 22, 2010 @12:46PM (#31230592)

    Move to any 1st world country not the USA.
    There is no step 2.

    • Re:Step 1. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by TheSpoom (715771) <slashdot@@@uberm00...net> on Monday February 22, 2010 @12:50PM (#31230676) Homepage Journal

      Truth. If you have a family, stay in your job, unless you're already rich.

      One could argue that the US health insurance system is set up to avoid having people do what you're trying to do.

      • Re:Step 1. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Malc (1751) on Monday February 22, 2010 @01:00PM (#31230880)

        I quit my job in Denver in 1999 and move to Toronto. I felt a huge weight lift from my shoulders: no longer was I trapped in my job, and no longer did I have to fear illness ruining my and my family's lives.

      • Re:Step 1. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Publikwerks (885730) on Monday February 22, 2010 @01:11PM (#31231128)
        Nahh, your screwed either way.

        I worked for a large corporation. Not huge, but large enough to find shortcuts to covering employees. Instead of having insurance, they acted as the insurer and had Aetna act as a "manager" of the plan. Not only was this cheaper for them, they got out of all the regulations governing insurance. I had a kid, and they denied coverage because he wasn't a member at the time of his receiving care. But, I couldn't make him a member without a birthdate, so I fought with them for months. They I got canned, and lost access to mechanism to continuing fighting.

        Long story short: State bureau of insurance couldn't do anything. Hospital hit me with $5,000 in bills, and the corporation probably got a tax write off.

        I used to be capitalist until I saw capitalism in action.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by drooling-dog (189103)

        One could argue that the US health insurance system is set up to avoid having people do what you're trying to do.

        I'm willing will be that one. Feudal lords can't own their serfs outright anymore, but they can find ways to make it difficult to leave the manor. You would think that modern corporations in the US would be falling over themselves in favor of a national single-payer system to get out from under their healthcare liabilities, but that doesn't seem to be the case.

      • Re:Step 1. (Score:5, Informative)

        by dbialac (320955) on Monday February 22, 2010 @01:31PM (#31231644)

        What you want to do is actually very simple and you will not have to enter into the individual health care market. You likely have these options:

        1) No matter what, when you leave you'll be given the option to sign up for COBRA. COBRA lets you keep the health insurance you have now and it is mandated by federal law. So long as you pay the premiums, they have to keep you on at the exact coverage you have today. After 2 or 3 years, the insurance company will take you off of COBRA but will be required to offer you a guaranteed issue policy. This option can be pricey.

        2) Most states offer some form of socialized medicine. For example, Maine has a state program that anyone can qualify for provided their employer doesn't provide insurance. Massachusetts requires insurance companies offer you a policy (and requires that everyone carry it). If your wife doesn't work or doesn't make a lot, until you can cover your new company's expenses and pay yourself you are low income and will therefore qualify for many of the programs out there.

        3) Some states such as Florida require that health insurance companies offer guaranteed issue policies to companies under a certain size (50 employees in the case of Florida). Since your company has only 1 employee, you qualify. Insurance salesmen don't often like to take these policies because the commissions are intentionally set low to encourage the salesmen to put you in an individual policy instead.

         

    • Re:Step 1. (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymusing (1450747) on Monday February 22, 2010 @12:59PM (#31230828)

      FYI, in the U.S., you can buy health insurance at a discount by joining either a freelancer's union [freelancersunion.org] or your local Chamber of Commerce. I did the latter when I was freelance. Most CoC's offer health insurance packages to their members at group rates, e.g. lower than what you'd pay directly. Still expensive, though. You definitely need to factor that into your budget.

      • by jeffmeden (135043) on Monday February 22, 2010 @01:24PM (#31231450) Homepage Journal

        Individual health insurance is an absolute joke in the US, especially for family care. If you do 'go it alone' and you don't make a ton of money (well into six figures) then you might as well just skip to the end, flush your cash down the toilet and file for Medicaid. You will end up there eventually.

        Considering you have a family to look out for, you need need NEED to find a cooperative or small business owners group to buy into that provides benefits. It will still be very expensive, but you *will* be ruined if you go it alone or go without it.

    • Re:Step 1. (Score:4, Interesting)

      by wisnoskij (1206448) on Monday February 22, 2010 @01:00PM (#31230876) Homepage
      Since you are probably in the US the easiest place to move to would probability be Canada.
      And from what I understand you could still even work in the US, and getting heath care insurance for the US from Canada is very cheap.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by peragrin (659227)

      .5. Call up your local congressman and say youhave to leave the country to get health care as he doesnt care about the people he represents.

      Seriously the reason one in six americans don't have coverage is based on the lasttime congress tried to straighten up healthcare. I fully expect the republicans to screw it up thistime too.

    • Re:Step 1. (Score:4, Informative)

      by jonpublic (676412) on Monday February 22, 2010 @01:18PM (#31231308)

      On the off chance you find something decent, budget that rates will explode over the next couple years. In Michigan people who buy their insurance individually were hit by a 56% increase this year. Other states have similar problems.

    • Re:Step 1. (Score:4, Informative)

      by tirerim (1108567) on Monday February 22, 2010 @01:59PM (#31232252)
      Alternatively, just move to Massachusetts. Since MA started requiring all state residents to have health insurance, they've made it easy for anyone to buy individual insurance, with no restrictions, through the Commonwealth Choice program (and there's extra assistance through Commonwealth Care if your income is low enough). I have a mess of pre-existing conditions (diabetes, asthma), and all I had to do was pick a plan and start paying. Depending on the size of deductible and copays, premiums vary widely: I'm paying about $380/month as an under-30 individual with no family, but that's for no deductible and pretty low copays, which are helpful given how much regular care and prescriptions I need; you can pay several times less per month if you think you're likely to need less in an average year. And, of course, you get to deduct the premiums from your taxes if you're self-employed.
  • You're fucked (Score:4, Informative)

    by Jeffrey Baker (6191) on Monday February 22, 2010 @12:47PM (#31230606)

    Good luck. Depending on what state you live in, you are either well and truly fucked, or deeply, seriously fucked.

    The best thing you can do is start a trivial corporation, hire on some fake employees, and then get a group plan.

  • Move to Canada (Score:5, Informative)

    by puppetman (131489) on Monday February 22, 2010 @12:47PM (#31230608) Homepage

    and enjoy universal health care for about $100 per month for a family of 4, unless you can show economic hardship, and then it's free.

    • Re:Move to Canada (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Interoperable (1651953) on Monday February 22, 2010 @12:56PM (#31230772)

      Depends on the province; it's often free no matter what your situation is. Contrary to Republican scare ads, it's also of excellent quality provided that you don't go to the emergency room for a cold or a stubbed toe.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by afabbro (33948)

        Depends on the province; it's often free no matter what your situation is. Contrary to Republican scare ads, it's also of excellent quality provided that you don't go to the emergency room for a cold or a stubbed toe.

        The opposite is true. Canada has excellent acute care, and appalling chronic care. Emergencies are handled quickly and efficiently. Getting to see a specialist or starting a long-term regimen of treatment can take months or years.

        That is by design.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by puppetman (131489)

          Not always. I've watched my wife's grandparents get excellent care from the family doctor, including specialists, to manage diabetes, heart disease, etc.

    • Re:Move to Canada (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Wrath0fb0b (302444) on Monday February 22, 2010 @01:06PM (#31231008)

      [Move to Canada] and enjoy universal health care for about $100 per month for a family of 4, unless you can show economic hardship, and then it's free.

      With all due respect, and I really don't mean this as a troll, but you aren't just paying $100 a month -- you simply cannot afford any medical system for that sum (even if you weren't screwed like the States into paying stupid large administrative costs) . In reality, a large fraction of the money for the health care system comes from taxes which you are ultimately going to pay.

      I am a big proponent of some form of public healthcare but I dislike the fact that many of the people here in the US that are arguing for it will not acknowledge that it's simply going to expensive. They point to the naive out-of-pocket expense in Canada or The Netherlands without acknowledging the true cost of the system in the form of higher taxes. My position is that we can and should afford such expense but one does not do any favors to the debate by dissembling about the cost. If anything, it's ammunition to opponents that can point to your dishonesty in selling the plan.

      There is no free lunch and there is definitely no first-world healthcare for $100/family/month. The closer figure it probably $650/family/month. Again, I believe it's a fine way to spend that money (and we are affluent enough to afford it) so I'm not approaching this from a position of ideological opposition, only one of demanding honesty from everyone.

      Cite: http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/hea_spe_per_per-health-spending-per-person [nationmaster.com]. The exact numbers are highly debatable, especially since we don't know how much various plans will change the cost structure here in the US but $100/f/m is simply unreasonable.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by TheLink (130905)
        > I dislike the fact that many of the people here in the US that are arguing for it will not acknowledge that it's simply going to expensive.

        If the US people are finally even though ignorantly stumbling into improving their screwed up healthcare system, that's still a good thing.

        Your link itself shows that the USA was spending 2x what the Canadians do.

        So it might actually be easier to improve the US healthcare system than to reduce ignorance.
  • You got 2 choices (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Saishuuheiki (1657565) on Monday February 22, 2010 @12:49PM (#31230650)

    1) Don't get sick
    2) Die quickly

  • by rapturizer (733607) on Monday February 22, 2010 @12:50PM (#31230652)
    I found that the local grocery stores were union and part time workers could get full benefits. After looking at the cost of insurance for my family, I worked as a grocery cashier 15 hours a week (a fun job actually), received full benefits (taking up most of that paycheck) until my wife went back to work where she has the benefits. Otherwise, I would have never left corporate life because of that single issue.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by truthsearch (249536)

      received full benefits (taking up most of that paycheck)

      So your insurance cost you 15 hours per week. That seems potentially expensive, depending on how much you could earn spending that time doing something else.

    • if you're rich, you have no problem

      if you're poor, you have medicaid, and you have no problem

      only if you are a middle class citizen in the united states do you have no healthcare options, and have to do ridiculous gymnastics like the poster above

      how the hell did we arrive at this retarded status quo and why the hell do teabaggers and republicans oppose simple common sense reform of a horrible stituation?

      i can hear all of their criticism of socialized medicine. republicans, teabaggers: i accept and acknowledge all of your criticism of socialized medicine. BUT ITS BETTER THAN WHAT WE CURRENTLY HAVE. do you not see that?

      when you oppose socialized medicine in the usa, because of all the evils of that you see, you merely support a MUCH WORSE STATUS QUO

      are you resisting because you have a better solution? (crickets)

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by barzok (26681)

        are you resisting because you have a better solution? (crickets)

        No, they're resisting because they'll lose money.

        • except "they" (Score:4, Insightful)

          by circletimessquare (444983) <circletimessquare&gmail,com> on Monday February 22, 2010 @01:17PM (#31231292) Homepage Journal

          are often exactly the sort of lower middle class folk who would benefit immensely from socialized medicine

          its like in the town hall meetings last summer, the old man who stands up and yells "keep your socialism away from my medicare"

          it would be hilarious if it weren't so horribly tragic

          i think it just boils down to incredible, horrible levels of high propaganda: the government is out to get you! the government is YOURS. it serves YOU. really

    • by TheSpoom (715771) <slashdot@@@uberm00...net> on Monday February 22, 2010 @01:02PM (#31230926) Homepage Journal

      If this doesn't highlight the problems with the US health insurance system, nothing will. You had to trade 15 hours a week of your life simply to be able to live a healthy life. That sounds an awful lot like indentured servitude to me.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by fahrbot-bot (874524)

        You had to trade 15 hours a week of your life simply to be able to live a healthy life. That sounds an awful lot like indentured servitude to me.

        To be fair, though, most people spend more time than that each week in front of the TV...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 22, 2010 @12:50PM (#31230668)

    When I was self-employed, I was able to get cheaper insurance through my local Chamber of Commerce. I had to join (and pay the membership fee), and it was still expensive, but nowhere near as bad as if I'd done it all by myself. And don't just limit it to your own town - a lot of them don't care where you live/work as long as you're close enough to be in the same general area :)

    • Other groups... (Score:4, Informative)

      by johndiii (229824) * on Monday February 22, 2010 @01:12PM (#31231164) Journal

      There are other professional groups that have insurance programs.

      For instance, the ACM [acm.org] has insurance programs [acm.org], though I don't know much about the cost or coverage. The IEEE [ieee.org] has a similar set of programs [ieee.org], though it does not look like they have a straight health insurance offering. If you are going on your own, it might help to start a formal business - you might be able to get a small employer program.

      You will spend a fair amount on medical care for kids, even if you just do the normal preventive care. The cost of a whole-family plan will reflect that. If I had a young family now, I would seriously consider a high-deductible plan. You pay for most of your own care, but the insurance is there in the event that you have major expenses.

  • Be methodical (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TheMeuge (645043) on Monday February 22, 2010 @12:51PM (#31230704)

    Just like when planning for a very large purchase, be thorough and methodical in researching your options. Firstly, dismiss the plans that do not offer sufficient coverage. Secondly, dismiss plans that have yearly or total lifetime limits that are too low. Thirdly, read reviews, opinions, and small print on whatever plans are left. Finally, pick whichever fits your budget, preferably from a company whose last quarterly statement is not deep in the red, since the latter is sure to raise rates or compromise coverage.

    Finally, remember that long-term disability is an absolute necessity in addition to life insurance (and possibly even more important). Make sure it's a policy with a completely different company.

    If you go about it in a cool, organized manner, you will find the coverage you need... but don't be alarmed when you have to pay at least $15'000/year for it.

    • Re:Be methodical (Score:5, Informative)

      by cabjf (710106) on Monday February 22, 2010 @01:12PM (#31231162)
      He could join his local Chamber of Commerce as well. Most offer group plans to members to help address this exact situation.
    • by mpapet (761907)

      $15000/year is the bare minimum. By 'bare minimum' I mean a plan with topline 'coverage' numbers that actually translates into additional money you don't have to spend on medical care AFTER the insurance company covers some care AND the time and effort required to not get a meaningful percentage of medical care costs shifted onto you anyway.

      A year ago, I got into a freak accident where I stood the likely possibility of bleeding to death. 8 hours of emergency surgery, other terrible stuff. I blew through

  • vote for democrats (Score:3, Insightful)

    by danlip (737336) on Monday February 22, 2010 @12:53PM (#31230726)

    they'll give us universal healthcare ... oh, wait, nevermind.

  • Kaiser Permanente (Score:4, Informative)

    by HotNeedleOfInquiry (598897) on Monday February 22, 2010 @12:55PM (#31230760)
    If you live where they serve. I've had them for 35 years, my daughter was born in their hospital, wife had multiple surgeries. Get the plan with the highest co-pay and then self-fund an HSA account to cover the copay and other things like eyeglasses. About half the price of the mainline insurance companies and no worries about how much the 80/20 costs will bankrupt you. And yes, small business and self-employed plans are available.
  • by DoofusOfDeath (636671) on Monday February 22, 2010 @12:59PM (#31230838)

    Supposedly one of the strengths of the U.S. economy is its ability to rapidly adapt to changes. This has been used to justify the lack of job protections for workers. But as the poster has shown, having health insurance tied to your employer obstructs the kind of entrepreneurism that's part of our rapid adaptation.

    I don't understand why this argument hasn't come up during the health-care debates. It would have let Democrats position themselves as pro-economy.

  • HSA (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 22, 2010 @01:01PM (#31230888)

    I bought an HSA when a few years ago my company raised insurance premiums. They had a plan and were self insured so basically we just paid for what the cost was divided by number of employees. We had some employees that enjoyed the outdoors and got into a lot of accidents that raised the costs for everyone. My family plan was $700/mo.

    So I went out on my own and got an high deductible HSA from Humana. It was about $200 a month for a family of 4. It had a $10k deductible so basically you are paying for your own health care unless you have something major happen. Then it paid 100% above the $10k. The good part is you can put up to $10k pre-tax into the HSA savings account. You can then pay your health bills using pre-tax money. They had a PPO which means they have a network of doctors you can use that they have a negotiated prices. But you can use any doctor you want.

    What I found is that we shopped around. You would be amazed at the difference in prices if you say you will pay at the time of service. Some doctors wouldn't quote us a price for the visit so we didn't go there. Also we shopped around for drug prices and found that most of the big pharmacies will match prices.

  • by mj01nir (153067) on Monday February 22, 2010 @01:01PM (#31230904)
    I got an individual plan from the same provider that my company had been with. It was really pretty simple. Not cheap, but simple.

    I'm damned glad that I did, too. My wife was diagnosed with breast cancer a couple of years later (she's fine now). We would have been wiped out if not for insurance.
  • by astrashe (7452) on Monday February 22, 2010 @01:05PM (#31230970) Journal

    I don't know if you're able to move or not, but the situation isn't the same in every state. Maybe you could move to Hawaii, for example.

    It might be overkill, but if you really want to go out on your own, that could be a path forward.

  • Facts. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by headkase (533448) on Monday February 22, 2010 @01:06PM (#31231000)
    I'll tell you a fact from a Canadian perspective of a middle class person. For all the complaining about the "death panels" we actually don't have here (vs. your for-profit insurance companies you guys do have) and saying that we have to wait forever (which we don't, prioritized: if you need it you get it *now*), when the average Canadian looks at the situation the average US'ian is in: we feel HORROR. God people, how can you choose to do nothing about it?
  • by k10quaint (1344115) on Monday February 22, 2010 @01:14PM (#31231194)
    If you must stay in the USA try the following: kill and eat the hearts of republicans (if you can find any that have one). Then you will gain their powers and be able to ignore your health problems until they go away. Do not move to Canada, their hockey team is bad. I recommend Switzerland or Sweden. If you don't like white people, try Singapore, Morocco, or Columbia. They all have better health care than the US. If you are picky about a country, check the WHO website. They have a list of countries with good health care.
    If you have reached this point and are frothing at the mouth or hurling your mouse, lighten up and ebay yourself a sense of humor.
  • by jettoblack (683831) on Monday February 22, 2010 @01:22PM (#31231412)

    I have a individual (not group, not employer offered) HSA plan with a very low premium and a high deductible. Every month I put some money (about the difference between this plan's premium and a average premium plan) into my HSA account. Although the deductible is high, I save enough on the premium to basically put away twice the yearly deductible every year. The plan gives 100% coverage after deductible on everything covered (no coinsurance), and many things (annual checkups) are totally free even before the deductible.

    In other words, in years when I have high medical expenses, my total costs work out about the same as a high premium, low deductible plan. However, in years when my medical expenses are low, I get to KEEP the money that I would have spent on premiums. The insurance company loves it because any expenses I incur come partially out of my savings, so there is a definite motivation for me to keep my costs as low as possible (which keeps their costs low as well, unlike other plans where there is no incentive for the insured to keep costs low).

    And the best part is that everything I deposit in the HSA account is TAX DEDUCTIBLE and earns interest TAX FREE. When I retire I can withdraw from it TAX FREE as well. It is like the best parts of a Traditional IRA plus a Roth IRA, but I can use it to cover any health expenses I have at any time and with no penalties.

    Bottom line is that I'm paying about 1/2 of what the equivalent coverage would cost from a regular plan, and in the best case I get to save a lot of money that would have been wasted on premiums and earn interest on it tax free, and in the worst case if I use up the whole deductible, I still get good coverage, lower my taxes, and earn some interest on the money. The only time I wouldn't recommend the HSA is if you get really sick a lot and have high expenses all the time, especially prescription drugs which aren't discounted as much in this plan.

  • by whitroth (9367) <whitroth AT 5-cent DOT us> on Monday February 22, 2010 @01:22PM (#31231428) Homepage

    As someone who's spent too much of the last decade out of work, everything you hear is true - like in Florida, over 13 mos between the end of '03 and the end of '04, when I ran out COBRA and got rolled into an "individual" plan, and the Republicans in charge of the state allowed, in two jumps, a ->ONE HUNDRED PERCENT- increase in premiums.

    Consider finding a group to join that offers it - anyone know if either the IEEE or ACM offer plans?

                          mark "until we techno-peasants finally wake up, pull out the torches and
                                        pitchforks, and ride the Republicans out of town on a rail, tarred and
                                        feathered, and tell the remaining folks in Congress to pass single payer"

  • by jdanilso (128963) on Monday February 22, 2010 @01:42PM (#31231882)

    I had a stint of several years without corporate insurance. The situation is grim and I can only tell you what I ended up doing.

    I too had a family (3 kids and a wife). I found a private plan with Blue Cross that cost around $1200/month and considered it a steal. (Although I was not affected, I heard horror stories about individuals who were unable to get private insurance at any cost.) The coverage was similar to my prior corporate plan but with higher deductibles and more gate-keeping by our primary care physician.

    After a year of this I looked around for an alternative and moved to a high-deductible plan with Aetna (deductibles were $5k/person; $15K/family) and opened an HSA. I contributed the maximum allowed to the HSA each year (note, this is not a FSA!). For the remaining years this was the approach I took and it worked well but no one got seriously ill, we didn't need any hospitalization, and only used a hospital once for my daughter's broken foot. For the duration I was with Aetna's high-deductible plan, they paid nothing, but my cost was only $612/month and I got the tax benefits of the HSA.

    Absent a health plan you are paying retail for all medical services vs. the negotiated cost your insurer has obtained. You still end up paying a lot (all?) out-of-pocket but at a reduced rate. The same applies to prescription drugs. This negotiated cost business is the secret sauce of the industry. You go to your doctor and he charges you $100 for the office visit and $300 for an x-ray. But Aetna has negotiated these fees to be $65 and $125 respectively which is what you end up paying unless you've reached your $5K deductible. If you've got the money in your HSA you pay it from there using pre-tax dollars. If you don't have any insurance (or the doctor doesn't take your plan) then you pay the whole retail price ($400 in this example).

    We had no dental nor eye care coverage for the duration but both can be paid using the HSA account.

    In both policies a pregnancy was specifically excluded but we had finished our family by then so it was not an issue for us.

    I hope this helps.

Murphy's Law, that brash proletarian restatement of Godel's Theorem. -- Thomas Pynchon, "Gravity's Rainbow"

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