Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Facing Fears, Health Insurance, and Huge Savings

My husband and I are both self-employed, and a day I had dreaded was getting closer and closer.  The day we'd have to stop using COBRA for health insurance and buy our own on the open market.  My husband was clueless, and still is, as to why I would be afraid of switching.  He kept saying we were paying was too much under COBRA, just under $800 a month. And that was for a high-deductible plan; we paid the first $7,000 of medical costs (that's beyond the premium) out of pocket.  But, fueled by news reports and the general sentiment in America these days, I was convinced I was not insurable.

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I have never been diagnosed with cancer nor had a heart attack or stroke.  I am also not the model of health. With asthma, allergies, gestational diabetes, mitral valve prolapse, and an emotional sweet tooth waist size, I figured each of these would result in a denial.  But the end of COBRA was a few months off and we wanted to make the switch so that our new plan was in place for the new year.  We filed applications.  One with Blue Cross Blue Shield (the carrier we had under COBRA) and one with a local company, WPS.  Both accepted us.  Oddly, WPS first rejected my husband because of some heart tests he had had.  But after a letter coming from his doctor saying they were nothing, they signed him up.  With WPS we are now paying about $350 month and have a high-deductible plan, again with a $7,000 out of pocket limit to be met before the insurance kicks in a share.

One other caveat, our new policy does not have maternity coverage.  The chances of another baby being added to the family are slim.  But if we do decide to expand the family we can simply pay direct, with money we saved.  Why have maternity coverage, where you are giving an insurance company money that you'll have to beg back from them, if another child is not likely?

Lesson learned?  The media had fueled a fear in me that almost paralyzed me.  I faced that fear and am now saving close to $4,000 a year.  Of course this is not an option for everyone, but it doesn't hurt to try.  Our insurance is not linked to job changes.  We have a great deal more control.  And a back-up plan is to apply through group coverage, which is available to me through the State Bar of Wisconsin (at a much higher cost).

Are there areas in your life where you are spending a ton and think you have to because that is the story you hear on the TV?  My advice, turn off the media, do a little research, get some quotes, and you may save some money.  And in my case, I had to tell my husband, "dear, you were correct, we were paying too much in premiums.".

Tune in tomorrow for my thoughts on Health Savings Accounts!

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