I Just Got Screwed by Obamacare
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We have one client that hasn’t paid us in four months.
My wife or I are regularly up working at Midnight to finish a job for a client.
We’ve not had a completely work free vacation in over five years.
While all of those may suck at varying levels, they come with the territory of running a business. The thing I hate most about being self-employed is health insurance. I know that buying health insurance isn’t something only a business owner deals with. It’s just that prior to me taking the plunge we always had coverage through my employer.
I apologize upfront as I usually try and stay away from political issues on the site, but I just have to get this off my chest.
An Early Morning Surprise
A week ago I was doing my early morning routine, part of which includes logging into our bank account to see what auto drafts had hit our account overnight. I know some don’t like to put bills on auto-pay, but it saves me time. Anyway, I was looking over the account and then I saw it – the health insurance payment.
My eyes popped open and knew something wasn’t right. I went back to my expense spreadsheet to verify what we had been paying.
Our bill, simply for kicks and giggles went up freaking 24 percent!
For those wanting the math, our previous monthly bill had been $459.19 and moved up to $569.82 per month.
When you add in maxing out our HSA account that comes out to $1,115.65 per month just for health care related costs. That is more than our mortgage!
I know we could skip the HSA and lower our cost, but I’d be a fool to overlook the tax benefits, plus you never know what’s going to happen and I would want to be prepared. It would be one thing if we were unhealthy, but we’re all generally healthy. It would also be another if we were getting some sort of awesome plan, but we’re not. We basically have fire insurance as our deductible is $11,000.
Looking for Options
After I got done with the feeling of wanting to throw my computer through the window my wife emailed our insurance broker to ask about the ridiculous increase. She was surprised as well, not to mention the fact we had been warned about getting an 8-10 percent increase. Last I checked, 24 percent is two and a half to triple of the expected increase!
The remainder of the email only infuriated me more. Thanks to Obamacare (yes I know it’s the Affordable Care Act, but who calls it that) there are very strict enrollment guidelines for moving individual plans. The only option is to move to an even higher deductible plan from United Health One to carry us through the end of the year. So, we’re pretty much screwed on that front.
It only gets better from there. My lovely wife has been absolutely busting her tail to lose all her baby weight. After having four kids within six years, you can imagine that it took serious effort to accomplish. Our broker had told us we could get her rate reclassified so we could get into an ultra preferred class and thus spend less money each month.
The response, can I get a drumroll…Obamacare strikes again! Thanks to being on a grandfathered pre-Obamacare plan we can’t make any changes now that open enrollment is closed.
We also considered reclassifying our LLC from listing us as owners to listing us as employees and getting a business insurance plan. Seeing as our combined tax return was 60 pages this year, it only means that any cost savings will be transferred from our insurance to our lawyer and tax person for the extra paperwork. So, that’s out as well.
This led me to the health care exchanges. I had not been on healthcare.gov up to this point as I have better things to do with my life. Anywho, here are the three best options, according to price, for our healthy family of five:
Select Blue $4750 HDHP Bronze
Premium – $681 per month
Deductible – $9,500 per year
Out of pocket max – $9,500 per year
Select Blue $2750 HDHP Bronze
Premium – $700 per month
Deductible – $5,500 per year
Out of pocket max – $11,000 per year
Co-Insurance – 40% after deductible
Bronze Deductible Only HMO HSA Eligible Methodist Health Partners
Premium – $718 per month
Deductible – $12,600 per year
Out of pocket max – $12,600 per year
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that there aren’t any real winners out of any of those options. They would require an additional increase between $112 to $149 per month or 48 to 56 percent per month increase based off of our previous plan. That is just lunacy.
I know the health insurance providers are providing a service and can increase rates as they deem necessary, but that doesn’t mean they should. As I look at our business, if we were to raise rates out of the blue by 8% we’d get some serious pushback from some of our clients. If we raised them by triple that, we’d be on the streets once our emergency fund dried up.
Something Needs to Be Done
Let me say this first, I love that Obamacare allows for people with pre-existing conditions to get insurance. I have one and am glad that can no longer be held against me. As a husband and the father of a daughter, I also like that it forces insurers to cover basic pediatric preventative care (like immunizations and well visits) and women’s care and doesn’t force women to pay more for pregnancy, prenatal care or other feminine health needs.
Still, I look at what it would cost us to pay entirely out of pocket with no insurance for those services and I’m certain we’d still pay less than we will in our monthly premiums for the health care version of fire insurance.
I would understand it if we had the best healthcare system in the world. I don’t know that efficient should be best, per se, but let’s pretend it is. Anyway, where do you think the U.S. ranks in term of efficiency with relation to health care?
Can I get a drumroll…46th which puts us right below our bosom buddies and comrades Iran!
I’d also understand it if we were “healthy” as citizens. But, we’re not. We rank a paltry 33rd place in terms of healthiest citizens.
I know that there are others who’re faring much worse in this transition to Obamacare. I also know that there are far too many people in this world who go without the most basic of needs and I should be thankful for what I have. With that out of the way, something must be done. There should be no reason why a healthy family of five, or any healthy family for that matter should have to be spending more on their health care coverage each month than their mortgage. That’s just plain nuts.
Call me a cynic if you will, but I only see it getting worse before it gets better. As is the case with most political things, both major parties share their own part in the guilt. Add that to the fact that health care lobbyists have their grubby hands involved in the mix as well and I don’t see a lighter load coming for my budget in terms of our health care costs any time soon.
As for my family and I it could be time to start learning the Canadian National Anthem…
How much have your health care costs been impacted by Obamacare? What solutions, if any, can you think of?
Photo courtesy of: Kevin Cortopassi
John is the founder of Frugal Rules, a dad, husband and veteran of the financial services industry whose writing has been featured in Forbes, CNBC, Yahoo Finance and more.
Passionate about helping people learn from his mistakes, John shares financial tools and tips to help you enjoy the freedom that comes from living frugally. One of his favorite tools is Personal Capital , which he used to plan for retirement and keep track of his finances in less than 15 minutes each month.
Another one of John's passions is helping people save $80 per month by axing their expensive cable subscriptions and replacing them with more affordable ones, like Hulu with Live TV.