Sunday, November 5, 2017

That's A Big Hole: Paying for 2018 ACA Health Insurance Premiums

On a icy night in March 2005 my husband and I met, and chief among our common interests were a fondness for coupons and all things frugal (not cheap, but an efficient use of time and money).  Twelve years later we both own our own businesses (me a legal practice, him an electronics engineering design firm), where frugal living goes a long way in allowing us to follow the path of ownership and not navigating the forest of employment.

With the decision to both employ others and not be an employee comes the purchase of health insurance independently.  That, as you may guess, is down through The Exchange.  This year we have a policy through Dean SSM, where we pay $700/month as a premium, but have a $13,000 annual deductible (we pay the first $13K before insurance co-pays kick-in).  In reality it means we need to earn $1,000 a month, pay our income taxes, and then have $700 left to pay the premium.  We opted for Dean SSM because they were cheap.  And the quality of care was not great.  In fact we started going to our old providers, paying out of network fees.

With 2018 we are going to go with a plan that works with our preferred providers (Associated Physicians and the UW System).  But we will pay a price.  Our premium is increasing to $1,275/month with a $13,000 annual deductible (for reference, the 2017 plan would be $1,005/month).  We earn too much for a subsidy, so it is up to us to fund the entire bill. That is a pretty big hole to fill.  Since there is no money tree in our backyard, we have to fund the gap through increased revenue and decreased spending.

As we move into 2018 follow along as we take a pretty frugal life even deeper.  When we look at the numbers there really is very little room to cut towards the $500+ gap.  That means we need to earn more, something we can do since we both work for ourselves.  Our kids assumed this meant we were simply going to work longer hours.  Yes, in part, but it really means we need to work smarter.  Where can we increase profits by cutting expenses?  

We are grateful to be able to afford this increase, many cannot.  We are also grateful that pre-existing conditions do not deny one coverage.  But this is a hard pill to swallow for a family focused on living frugally where we can follow our passions and save for college, retirement, and the health care costs that will come with old age.  In 2018 we'll pay just over $28,000 in health care before insurance assistance would kick in.  

Taken in Iceland this past August, Kerid is an ominous crater lake, but is surrounded by empowering color and power.  This lake will be my meditation as we march into 2018 and answer the call to pay more for health insurance.

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