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 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

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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.


  • Alicia says:

    O Canada is looking good until you adjust your tax rate πŸ˜‰ don’t get me wrong, I’m Canadian, but I imagine it would be a shock to your system – we just don’t see the breakdown as openly about how the money is going to health care, but apparently 47% of Canada’s collected taxes goes to health care costs.

    My biggest confusion with ACA (from someone who doesn’t deal with it and so admittedly has likely only seen the sensationalized news) is the way it’s been rolled out. I don’t understand why it is separated from taxes for example.

    • John Schmoll says:

      I imagine it would be for many Alicia, and you know how the saying goes about the grass is always being greener. πŸ™‚ Being self-employed we pay a huge chunk in taxes, so I don’t know how much of a shock it would be.

      That is a good point and there had been hope they would offer tax credits of some sort, but alas, that’s not happening.

      • Catherine says:

        Alicia, I will GLADLY pay higher taxes to never worry about how sick my family is before I take them into the doctors for care. I would never given up my Canadian citizenship for this reason. $10,000++ deductibles just blow my mind. WHAT?!?! How is that helping ANYONE?

        And what happens if you can’t afford it? As for solutions, I will email you some info on living in Nova Scotia, I think you and your family will like it here. Seriously.

        • John Schmoll says:

          I would as well Catherine. I hate taxes, but I would gladly pay more to not have to worry about this mess. We pay a massive chunk as it is already since we’re self-employed, so we might as well get something out of it. πŸ™‚

        • Alicia says:

          Yeah, I’m “fine” with our higher tax rates, but I imagine it would be a major shock to anyone moving here.

          As an aside, I don’t understand why many Americans are against socialized medicine, even if it was rolled out properly? Can anyone give me an insight on it?

          • John Schmoll says:

            That’s a great question Alicia. I think many Americans here socialized medicine and they become irrationally afraid. I think it could go back to a number of things, but fear of the unknown and something different really.

            I think, if done right, that it would work well. I mean, aside from maybe the tax issue, our northern friends seem to be doing it right. πŸ™‚

    • Samantha says:

      Alicia, keep in mind this is 47% of collected taxes. Not even total income. Also keep in mind that this is actually based on income, while Obamacare is not based on anything. Expecting the average person to pay $4000 monthly? It’s almost a punitive against small business owners. Meanwhile, if you stop working and can’t pay, it probably cuts you a break because you’re one of the “98%”. Maybe if we didn’t tax to poverty level there won’t be any 98%’

      To give you a rough idea, I’m a healthy political moderate transgender person (I didn’t vote for obama), and I make money every two weeks, roughly $250. My parents pay much of my insurance, so I only pay $200. I’m pretty sure the deductible is higher.

      Suppose I paid 46% not of total taxes (which is even lower, making it a percent of a percent), but of income. That would cap the amount they charge at roughly $200, but not only would parents have a much easier time. Currently however, I imagine they pay thousands, plus their own. The bottom rung tax rate in Canada is roughly 15%. 46% of that is like 7%, and 7% of 200 is 17.50 per paycheck.

      I’m not buying it, supporting it, or anything else. Hope it goes bankrupt.

      I do want percentage tax healthcare. There is no excuse for this.

  • Laurie @thefrugalfarmer says:

    Thank you for sharing the truth about this horrible plan, John. They said it would help Americans, monetarily and otherwise, and now we see that indeed it has strained Americans budgets terribly!!! Have you checked out Christian MediShare? I’ve got a friend who’s been on it for years, and LOVES the coverage.

    • John Schmoll says:

      I wish I didn’t have to share it Laurie. πŸ™‚ But, yes, it has impacted many and that just makes it worse. I’ve had a few people recommend similar programs to us so it looks like I have some homework to do. πŸ™‚

  • Ben Luthi says:

    This is the biggest reason I fear taking the plunge of self-employment. It’s a freaking nightmare.

    • John Schmoll says:

      Totally understood Ben. It is a nightmare and the sad thing is that it’s only going to get worse before it gets better.

  • DC @ Young Adult Money says:

    First of all, it’s important for me to say this is solely my opinion and does not reflect my employer.

    I think it’s really tough seeing the toll that Obamacare has had on the self-employed. One issue is that employers really do pay a big chunk of employee’s health care. Once you take that out it has to come from someone.

    I think a lot of people think along these lines -> “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.” But in reality what insurance is protecting you from is the unpreventable and unexpected medical bills that can eclipse the six figure mark very quickly.

    I also am not sure how else Obamacare would work without the high premiums and deductibles. The insurance companies margins aren’t that high and are capped via the law, so the pricing is dictated by medical costs more so than insureres.

    Like most political issues, people don’t really seem to weigh in or care until it’s “too late.” Besides subsidizing everyone’s health care through a tax credit (which isn’t a bad option imo and I believe the Republicans proposed it at one point), I don’t see anything changing.

    • John Schmoll says:

      Ha ha, like your disclaimer DC. πŸ™‚

      You’re right on about the employers aspect. It has to come from somewhere and I think far too many employed by companies will be in similar cases at some point in the not too distant future.

      I get the protection aspect, and would hate to be without coverage if something were to happen, but I just wish it wasn’t at such a steep cost on our parts. We’d have to spend so much money before anything kicks in that it’s nutty.

      I don’t think a tax credit isn’t too bad of an idea. I think single payer option would be even better, though I’m not too hopeful on that.

  • Retired by 40 says:

    Thanks goodness I’m not the only one who hates what’s going on. Like you said, I love the concept of allowing more access to care, but it’s not working as well in practice as it was supposed to in theory……if we didn’t have tricare, I would seriously consider Canada as well. yes, it’s socialized medicine, but at least it’s more figured out than it is in the US! My heart goes out to all of the people who got screwed because of Obamacare

    • John Schmoll says:

      Yep, it’s impacting far too many people. I don’t want socialization either, but it’s looking awfully good right about now.

  • Brian @ Luke1428 says:

    It really is a mess John and there is no telling how it’s going to turn out. We were fortunate enough to lock into our prior plan that carries us through the end of this year. I’m hoping some positive developments come before then.

    Despite the few benefits Obamacare might offer, I can’t imagine the American people are going to let this stand. It’s becoming all too financially painful. There has to be a breaking point where the people say “No more” and let their voices really be heard. It’s a horribly written law, as evidenced by all the court challenges being raised.

    • John Schmoll says:

      I agree, there is no telling how this will all turn out. Glad you got something of value to carry you through the end of the year.

      I’d love to say I have hope that this will get fixed, or altered, but there are just too many special interests and too many politicians involved to make me believe that’ll happen.

  • Tre says:

    Employer plans have been getting the 20%+ increases for the last couple years so you probably wouldn’t benefit from making yourselves employees and trying to get a business plan. It will be interesting to see how much longer small employers can last before they start pushing their employees into the exchange.

    • John Schmoll says:

      That must’ve changed then because my last few years in an office I was still seeing somewhat “normal” changes. I think we’re going to see a lot of employees pushed to the exchanges. It’s going to be like the move from pensions to 401(k)s. It’ll be a true benefit that’s given, but definitely not one given out often.

    • Daniel Stewart says:

      I don’t know what the rates are like in your state, but in New Mexico it absolutely makes no sense to buy a business plan. Rates for individuals have tripled for health insuarance, but rates for businesses are much higher than that. After subsidies I pay twice what I paid before for much worse plans with higher deductibles. The Health Insurance companies must be making a mint. Obamacare is so bad because it is a Republican plan from beginning to end.

  • Jon @ Money Smart Guides says:

    My wife is looking at leaving her job and we use her insurance since I am self-employed. In making plans for her move away from her company, I looked into Obamacare and nearly had a heart attack! The monthly premiums are crazy high and the deductibles are close to $10K!

    I was crazy telling her that we can just go on Obamacare…we can’t! Well, we could but there is no way we are paying the price they want for insurance.

    • John Schmoll says:

      Yep, it’s definitely a cluster Jon. I actually went on Cobra for a number of months before I switched over to my wife’s plan as it was cheaper at the time.

  • Michelle says:

    ACK! I’m sorry πŸ™

    We currently pay $200 a month for health insurance. That may not sound bad, but our deductible is $12,000 so it is very unlikely that we will ever use our insurance.

    • John Schmoll says:

      That’s ok Michelle – you be VERY thankful for that $200/month. πŸ™‚

      Yea, with those crazy deductibles you don’t want to get close to using it as it likely wouldn’t be good anyway.

  • Stefanie @ The Broke and Beautiful Life says:

    I just signed up last month when my union insurance ran out and found out I qualified for the expanded medicaid coverage, so I can’t complain. There definitely seems to be a certain population of people that really gets screwed though :/

    • John Schmoll says:

      Good for you Stefanie – take it where you can get it! πŸ™‚ Yes, that is definitely the case unfortunately.

  • John Schmoll says:

    I’d love to say that voting for one party over another would solve the issue, but it won’t. As an informed voter, I can’t say with a blanket statement that voting for one given party will solve the problem. That’s especially the case when the Republicans, for the most part at least, only leg they seem to stand on is defeating Obama. They haven’t given a justifiable option – other than to defeat Obama. In the end, that’s only politics – plain and simple.

    That said, I agree our health insurance system is messed up. Unfortunately, it comes from a variety of factors and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.

  • Deb @ Saving the Crumbs says:

    We had a similar issue in that we earned just enough to not receive any Obamacare discounts. The lowest Obamacare coverage at the “Bronze” level was around $300/mo for my husband and I. We decided to go with Medi-Share, a Christian healthcare sharing program and pay $189 for both of us and get much better coverage. They even have no limit on annual or lifetime claims!

  • Shannon @ Financially Blonde says:

    You had my blood boiling this morning John when I read this on my phone. I know that people give Fox News a hard time because they only seem to show people who have been screwed by Obamacare, but truthfully in my circle of friends, I have only seen people who have been screwed. We are the people who have been working and paying for healthcare for the last 14+ years. And in the first 12 years of my career, my healthcare premiums rose a total of 15%. In the last two years, they have risen double digits PER YEAR! How can anyone keep up with medical costs when they are rising way more than inflation and our investments. My mother is unemployed and she has been paying out of pocket for her healthcare and we realized that she was better off doing that and paying the penalty on her taxes than signing up for a plan. How sad is that? It’s crazy to think that the government spent all these years enacting a healthcare plan that already seems to need reform.

    • John Schmoll says:

      Sorry to get your blood boiling Shannon. πŸ˜‰ I know, I hear you, I remember the same thing about the years I worked before and the increases were generally small. Now, it just seems like you get dumped on come time to renew. We’ve seen the same thing with our friends – it’s just nuts how something that was supposed to help is such a major cluster. Sorry to hear about your Mom – which just further shows how flipping messed up the entire plan is.

  • Lauren says:

    That stinks, John. Our health insurance plan, through my husband’s employer, is also increasing next month. It’s taking a huge chunk out of our budget, and I’m so upset about it. Health insurance costs have actually led me to tears a few times this year! Obamacare does have it’s good points, but it seems like many, many people will now be screwed over by high premiums and crappy plan options.

    • John Schmoll says:

      Sorry to hear that Lauren, I can relate. Thankfully we can afford it, but it means we have less to put towards things like investing. I agree, it does have its good points, but is far too messed up in my opinion.

  • Grayson Bell says:

    You know how I feel about this one John. While I do think there are some facets of the law which were necessary, the overall rollout has been horrible. Many people forget that both Democrats and Republicans voted for this law. That is how it became law. So, for those who think the Republicans are going to fix this, please look at how this happened.

    People need to stop looking at the talking heads and read how this law became and who voted for it. Our healthcare system is broken and we needed a fix. This is not it for sure.

    Any change to healthcare is going to hurt a lot as we go through trying to roll anything out. Unfortunately, the middle class is going to keep holding up the bag for everyone else.

    • John Schmoll says:

      Completely agreed Grayson. That’s a great point about both parties voting this in. It’s easy to only blame Obama, when it’s really both sides that are culpable.

      I agree that it is going to hurt, that’s how change works so often. As you said, it’s going to be the middle class that is likely going to feel this the most. It’s a damn shame really.

      • Grayson Bell says:

        It is a damn shame. The middle class always seems to be the brace for crappy changes.

        • John Schmoll says:

          Yep, much the reason (in my opinion at least) why many say the middle class is waning. I don’t know that I’d die on that hill, but it does give pause to thought.

      • John Schmoll says:

        Wow, just wow. Name calling? That alone shows your maturity level. What you don’t realize is your line of thought is proving my entire point!

        No political party is innocent in this matter. They’d rather point fingers, play the blame game and trade barbs.

        Last I checked, nothing gets done with that. Instead of pointing fingers why don’t they actually do something and work together? Novel idea I know, but if they did it decades ago, then it can be done now.

      • Grayson Bell says:

        Well, you got me there. Unfortunately, the ACA came from a House bill which was passed a year earlier with some republican support. Since the Democrats didn’t have a filibuster majority when the vote came around, they had to take the original house bill that was passed earlier, not the senate version.

        I am sorry you are so angry about the ACA, but your anger should be transformed into action. If you think your politicians actually work in your favor, then you really need to look at what they do. They talk to you just how you want to be talked to. This is marketing 101 and they are doing it well.

  • Grayson Bell says:

    I don’t usually comment on stuff like this, but your statement does not carry much weight. Once the Republicans stop clamoring for Obama’s head, what alternative have they offered on the table? All you hear is repeal, but they haven’t given any option on what they would do once they repeal. Until they can give a real option for healthcare reform, you can’t make blanket statements like this.

    • John Schmoll says:

      Great point Grayson and was one I was trying to make – you just did it better. πŸ™‚ The Republicans, for the large part, have not given a justifiable option. They’d rather play games and call for Obama’s head. I can expect more out of my 2 & 4 year olds than I can this lot of fools.

      • Grayson Bell says:

        I hear you there John. I blame both parties for this mess and that is why I don’t have high expectations for the next presidential race!

      • Grayson Bell says:

        Since I don’t like to get into political pandering, I will let you hold strong about your take on this. I am neither for Republican or Democrat. I see that both parties are bad for our country. If you think otherwise, I feel sorry for you. I don’t listen to the talking heads and take a lot of time to research and understand concepts and policies before I jump online and comment about things.

        Your comment shows exactly what is wrong with our country.

      • Meghan says:

        I think you also made the point quite well. There are parts of the ACA that I like: 1 that insurers must spend 80% on actual service and not overhead or profit. My mother has gotten refunds over the last year or two. 2 the pre-existing clause and 3. the coverage requirement. No one likes paying higher auto insurance for uninsured motorists and we don’t like paying it for a lack of healthcare insurance either. For my family, ACA has resulted in savings. Clearly that is not the case in many states/ markets but we all have group plans. The individual policies have always been prohibitive for me as I had a pre-existing condition and entrepreneurship was out of the question. Now at least there is an option, albeit still an expensive one.

        I’d personally much rather pay even higher takes and have a national option. We’re about to lose my brother’s partner and mother of his one year old to a typically curable cancer because she had bare bones health insurance until she qualified for Medicaid post baby. They only gave her enough chemo and radiation to keep the cancer at bay (they thought). Unfortunately by the time she got Medicaid coverage, it was too late. There are so many things wrong with the current system which go beyond tort reform and costs.

        PS The Republican Party can’t come up with anything better because the Heritage Foundation, once the backbone of conservative policy making, has been taken over by the Tea Party. There are a couple of think tanks but none have the capability that Heritage once had. Don’t take this as a sign that I’m a big Democrat. I’m actually pretty moderate. I wish that there was a counter proposal worth considering.

        Oh and I didn’t check the box for follow up comments since you have some party line trolls on here already and anyone who cannot see that repealing the ACA isn’t the answer is not worth worrying about. Selling insurance across state lines isn’t the holy grail. My group plan goes across state lines and is still $800 + a month for one person.

        • John Schmoll says:

          I agree Meghan, there are some good things that have come out of Obamacare and am thankful for that. I’ve been rejected in the past due to a pre-existing condition, so I’m more than thankful that can’t be held against me now. But, so much of the rest of it is a mess.

          Glad to hear that it has turned out to result in savings for you – you should be thankful which sounds like you are. πŸ™‚ I’d gladly pay more in taxes as well if it resulted in some sort of nation option. The fact that there are situations like what is going on in your family just further reinforces that point.

          I agree, the Republicans can’t come up with anything better. Many of them like to moan and pin the blame on Obama when they share equal, if not more of the blame. Really, they need to work together to come up with a solution as opposed to pointing fingers – but I’m not going to hold my breath on that happening. Thanks for stopping by!

  • Kim says:

    If you look at the per person cost, that’s a little less than what I pay for my 7 year old and I. Our bill is $233 a month, up from $166 last year, but still much cheaper than anything we could get on the exchange. Jim is covered cheaply through the school district, but it would be $500 a month to add us, so we have our own plan.

    Even if Obamacare was repealed, the premiums aren’t going to go down, the poorer folks will just lose their subsidy, so we’ll see more uninsured. The only way we can make sure everyone is able to get coverage is to charge the healthy people who earn a decent income more. It sucks for us healthy people who earn a decent income, but if I had diabetes and made $25,000 a year, I’d be in heaven. I guess I get to see it both ways with working in health care. It sucks for me and you and for small business health care providers, but does help many people. I don’t think it’s fair that income alone qualifies you for Medicaid, but that’s another issue.

    The one bright spot is the hope that if we do want to pull the plug on working real jobs, we can probably structure our income so that we can qualify for subsidies if the plan stays in place. Doesn’t help me in the mean time, but it does sort of put it in perspective. I think you have to look at your HSA as an investment and not a health care cost. You may have to use that money for health costs, but if you do stay healthy, it’s all yours and not going toward a premium than basically gives you nothing.

    The real thing that is going to help us is if all the parties that be come up with some sort of plan to make us more healthy as a whole. Americans are literally eating, smoking, and stressing themselves to death. When just about every adult I see on a daily basis has high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and teenagers are getting type 2 diabetes, there is no way costs are going to do anything but go up.

    • John Schmoll says:

      I agree Kim, premiums are not going to go down. It’s a shame, but it’s a reality.

      Excellent point on addressing the health issue. In my opinion, that’s a huge part of the root cause in all of this. That is the elephant in the room in all of this I think.

  • Tonya@Budget and the Beach says:

    I think I’m kind of getting screwed at the first of next year. My insurance alluded that because of the political changes, I can’t keep my current plan, bla bla bla. The thought of going through insurance shopping and filling out the endless online forms is depressing. I feel your pain (and by the way this is coming from a liberal).

    • John Schmoll says:

      It’s going to hit most, if not all of us, Tonya. Regardless of political stripes, it’s something we all have to work on in my opinion. πŸ™‚

  • Emily says:

    I have never NOT had health insurance but am going to have to drop from my husbands. His company switched to an awful plan with a $5000 deductible that we will NEVER meet. Our “negotiated rate” of doctor visits are between $5-$10 less than what the doctor is actually charging. Big deal. We will save money by dropping myself and son from his health insurance. Even if we pay full-price for our visits, we will save money because of how much he pays each month to cover us.

    • John Schmoll says:

      Sorry to hear that Emily. That is exactly what makes this whole mess a crying shame. I’m sure, at least I’d like to hope, that there good motives in this all, but it just hasn’t happened that way.

  • Brad @ How to Save Money says:

    I so understand what you are saying. It is interesting to me that the comments I see on this post are longer and more involved than I see on most other posts anywhere. You have obviously touched a nerve.

  • Natalie @ Financegirl says:

    For small business owners, Obamacare really is a tough sell. For me, at a large law firm, my quality of healthcare has increased and I have only seen an uptick of $10/per pay.

    • John Schmoll says:

      I agree Natalie, it really seems to be hitting the small business owners hard. I’m glad we only have contract employees and not ones we have to pay for coverage for.

  • Kurt @ Money Counselor says:

    My wife and I are also both self-employed. For the three years 2007-09, our pre-Obamacare private health insurance premium increased by an average of 19% per year. Our annual deductible was $6,000, and our monthly premium in 2009 was $467. This was despite the fact that we were both healthy and never made a claim in excess of $300 for annual physicals. So had we gotten ill, we would have paid about $12,000 out-of-pocket before getting any insurance benefit. At the rate our premiums were increasing, our annual premium would have exceeded $45,000 before we became eligible for Medicare. Also, our policy had a lifetime maximum benefit of $2 million.

    In August 2009 we moved to Canada. Problem solved. πŸ™‚

    • John Schmoll says:

      That’s basically the same boat we’re in Kurt. Other than well checkups for the kids and physicals we rarely, if ever, have claims. Something has to be said about it vastly improving once moving up North. πŸ™‚

  • Joshua @ CNA Finance says:

    Hey John, I’m definitely with you on this one. I was a fan of Obamacare before it became what it is now. At first, it was really designed for the consumer. As lobbyists moved in things started to change for the worse. I don’t have insurance right now. I’ve decided that even with the extra tax penalty, it will be cheaper for me…as a young, healthy, and relatively successful man to pay out of pocket for my medical needs. Thanks for bringing the issue to light.

    • John Schmoll says:

      Hey Josh, it’s a shame that it pushes people to that. But, I completely understand why you made that decision. If it wasn’t for our kids, we’d likely be seriously questioning doing that ourselves.

  • Pretired Nick says:

    Totally agree, man! Single-payer is literally the ONLY solution that works. Trying to squeeze profit out of illness is sick and corrupt.
    We’re uninsured right now (until Friday) and it’s absurd. Totally infuriating.
    Only thing is, I wouldn’t blame Obamacare for most of the issues you mentioned. Most of those were present before Obamacare, the new rules put some firmer guidelines in place but generally we’re still under the same corrupt private insurance scheme as before Ocare.

    • John Schmoll says:

      I would tend to agree Nick. I think it’s one we need to pursue, though certain it won’t see the light of day. I’m all for those in medicine to make a fair wage, but the way most things are marked up it’s just insane. Sorry to hear you’re not covered, but sounds like it’s temporary at least.

  • Alicia @ Monster Piggy Bank says:

    Health insurance should be like car insurance and should kick in when there are major problems. Can you imagine what an oil change would cost if it was covered under your auto insurance? You don’t bill your car insurance for oil changes or little scratches in your car’s paint job.

    • John Schmoll says:

      I’d love if we could simplify it Alicia, but there are far too many special interests that just wouldn’t allow it to happen that way.

  • Michelle says:

    I have noticed that the States that resisted the law and didn’t set up their exchanges prior to the law taking affect are the ones who are consistently having extreme administrative problems rolling out the coverage, etc. I worked for an insurance brokerage before and it always is the case that healthy people/families pay more for insurance coverage. Now that people aren’t being penalized for previous conditions, that also affects your rates. Also, I thought that $569 was great for a family of 5 and was surprised that you weren’t paying that in the first place.

    Colorado had the State exchange set up I think since 2011 and while we’ve had issues I very rarely hear people actively complaining about it. It leads me to believe that the Government exchange is NOT the way to go.

    Canada has a single payer option-publically funded health insurance paid for by their government. Most Americans are very resistant to this type of coverage and consider this government interference.

    I was in a car accident in Canada, I was taking by ambulance to the hospital and waited for 3 hours to be seen. I have permanent nerve damage in my lower back because of this. We took pictures of the orderly who was cleaning around me (he was cute). The doctors had a vacation day and had to be called in to check me out.

    In fact, I have lived in several countries with socialized health care and those people PAY a lot money in taxes for that type of coverage. Again, Americans would complain about being taxed in that way.

    Finally, we as Americans don’t take care of ourselves and talk a big game about “managing our health.” We have food deserts, fast food, etc. Part of managing our health is having consistent access to health care and be able to pay for the tools needed to manage our health and well-being.

    I am very sorry that you feel that you’ve had a bad experience and I do hope that there is something that can be done to help with the situation-but at least you have the money and the money skills to manage the situation.

    By the way-I do call it the Affordable Health Medical Care Act because I find calling Obamacare pejorative.

    • John Schmoll says:

      First off, sorry to hear about your nerve issue. It’s a shame that a car accident, and from what it sounds like shoddy care, turn into something like that.

      You’re likely probably right Michelle. It wouldn’t surprise me at all. Though, $569/month for fire insurance is far too much for a family of 5 in my opinion. We had MUCH better coverage under my employer for roughly $200 less per month.

      I agree that many are opposed to the government getting involved and socializing it. I understand that fear, but I think we need to be open to alternatives. As for taxes, my wife and I are already in the mid 30% range due to our income and being self-employed. I would be more than open to paying more if that meant getting rid of the mess this current system is.

      I could not agree more about the health aspect behind all of us. I think that is really part of the core issue. We can’t expect to pay next to nothing for coverage if we’re treating our bodies like trash.

      Yes, we do have the money to cover this. But, at what point does that stop? How is raising rates by 24% justifiable? Just because they can doesn’t mean they should. It also doesn’t come without sacrifice as it could possibly impact what we can put away for retirement depending on how our month is at the time and even more increasing rates.

      That said, I understand your point on Obamacare. However, he has referred to it himself that way, not to mention the fact that many more are going to understand what is being referred to when you call it Obamacare. In fact, I don’t even blame him for all of this – I blame the system. The politicians, at least the ones in power currently only care about two things – pointing fingers and lining their pockets. Nothing good can come out of that.

  • Shannon @ The Heavy Purse says:

    Sorry to hear this, John. I would have fallen out of my chair when I saw that increase. Yikes! I feel very grateful that we are covered under my husband’s employer plan. We still have seen increases, but it still seems more reasonable, I guess. Better coverage, lower deductibles, etc. I am glad that people cannot be denied coverage and there is better coverage for women too, but the rising costs have been hard are so many people. I don’t know what the answer is, but we need to find a better solution. And sadly, like you mentioned, there is more finger-pointing than actually trying to work together to find a viable solution.

    • John Schmoll says:

      I agree Shannon, there are some good things that have come out of this. That’s important to remember. I know we can manage it, though it’ll come at the sacrifice of other things. Sadly there is far too much finger pointing as opposed to plain and simple working together.

  • REL says:

    Take a look at My healthy family of five experienced the prospect of our $450/month health insurance premium doubling due to Obamacare for a high deductible plan. We flat could not afford it. So we decided to go with Medi-Share at a cost of $218/month and the same “deductible” as the $900/mo Obamacare induced plan. Medishare is not an insurance company but a faith-based medical cost sharing organization that has a very strong reputation. Not for everyone, but a very good alternative for many who are facing the ravages of Obamacare, particularly on the self-employed. Medi-Share enrollment has exploded over the past year.

    • John Schmoll says:

      Wow, nice reduction in cost! You’re the third person today to mention Medi-Share, so it looks like I have some homework to do. πŸ™‚ Thanks for the suggestion!

  • Practical Cents says:

    Wow, sounds like a real mess. It appears having at least one spouse working in corporate america is probably the best deal right now just to get the health coverage. But who knows what the future may bring and our costs are going up too though not as much as this.

    • John Schmoll says:

      It is! I think that’ll help for some, for the time being. However, I really think that many corporations are going to shift the cost to us as individuals in the long run just like the shift from the pension to the 401(k). From a purely financial aspect, I understand why they would.

  • Amy says:

    Yeeks! I would take it one step further, though, and blame the whole, messed up healthcare system in this country. Is it worse for you and others now? It sure sounds that way! But it’s also a whole lot better for some. Why can’t we find a solution that makes it at least somewhat better for everyone?

    Fortunately, we have good insurance through my husband’s employer, and we haven’t really been negatively impacted by Obamacare. We got especially lucky when our new plan year started on 7/1, and learned that we’d actually be paying $70 out of pocket LESS each month – at least for the next year.

    • John Schmoll says:

      I would definitely agree with that Amy. I was watching something a few months back that was going over the cost of replacement joints – like a hip. They said the cost to actually make one was $300. By the time it makes it to you as the patient it costs upwards of $30k to replace your hip – that’s nuts!

      Glad to hear you have a good plan – for now that is. πŸ™‚

  • K says:

    “Oh Canada, our home and native land
    True patriot love, by all thy sons command..”
    I thought I’d give you at least the first line of our anthem.
    In all seriousness, my DH and I being that we’re both self-employed were in for sticker shock when we purchased our health care plan through the exchange.
    He already had purchased health insurance but since I became a US resident this year and needed to add me, it allowed for DH to change his plan before the start of the new enrollment period.
    He couldn’t keep his existing plan! We had to scramble to choose a new provider and of course the new premium is nearly doubled.

    Coming from Canada, where every taxpayer funds the healthcare system through taxes, and most of us who are with employers pay a minimal amount for private health insurance, the NY healthcare provider premiums are insane!!! The Canadian healthcare system is far from perfect but you won’t go broke in the process.

    John, you listed the monthly premium for bronze and look at the size of the deductibles! I need to stop writing now because this topic really gets me going.

    • John Schmoll says:

      Wow, sorry to hear about all that Kassandra. I’m glad you have coverage, but so sad to hear about your experience.

      I know the Canadian plan isn’t perfect, but it’s much much closer than ours is here in the States. We have much to learn in this area from our northern neighbors. πŸ™‚

      Yep, those deductibles are just nuts. It’s fire insurance at best.

      Thanks for giving me the opening lines, I just may have our kiddos sing it tonight at dinner. πŸ˜‰

  • Alexis says:

    I feel like there have been so many more people negatively effected by Obamacare than positively. I know a lot of people that signed up for Obamacare and were incredibly confused by the site.

    • John Schmoll says:

      Yep, that sadly seems to be the case Alexis. I know there were good intentions, but it has miserably fallen short.

  • Ms. LoL says:

    Full disclosure: I am one of the millions of people who now has health insurance because of Obamacare. I am also one of the 5+ million who has it subsidized.

    I am very sorry that your bill has jumped up recently. It really sucks to suddenly find that you have to come up with another hundred plus dollars a month to pay for something you are ALREADY having to pay for. That goes for anyone, really, that has to deal with their payments being increased.

    My main question on Obamacare is “has it done more harm than good?” People have had their insurance go up, it’s true, but to the point of causing extreme financial hardship? I would say no. You mention that you max out your HSA for tax purposes (a good choice!), which leads me to believe that this increase for your family won’t cause you to have to skip meals to make up the difference. Thus, isn’t the increase to your costs worth a low-income family being able to afford coverage?

    I’d prefer a single payer system, as the costs and results are both hilariously better (our ranking in the world, ugh), but that’s a giant taboo in the U.S.

    • John Schmoll says:

      Hi Ms. Lol – thanks for stopping by! πŸ™‚ First off, I’m glad that it has allowed you to get coverage. I’ve been without coverage in the past and know the toll that can be.

      As to your question, I think it’s difficult to find the good out of this. Yes, I know there are the things we can pull out of it which are good (like in your situation), but this thing has just become a bungled mess – from the inability to keep plans to crazy increases. I know technically we can afford it, but does that make it okay? Being a small business owner, that ability to afford can easily be gone in the snap of a finger. My question in this is where does it stop?

      I too would be very intrigued by the thought of having a single payer system. Like you said, I know it’s a big taboo here in the States, but we have to think outside the box to get something better.

  • Kristin says:

    Have you looked into catastrophic coverage? There are some plans that are ACA compliant and with the deductibles you have, you are almost there. It might save you a significant amount of money.

    • John Schmoll says:

      I’ve not Kristin, though that is a good suggestion. I’ve got some homework to do as we just have to find something better.

  • Ginger says:

    I noticed this blog post through Yakezie and because I knew no one that had been screwed by ACA, I thought I would go see what problems could happen. I admit, maybe I was inclined to not see the problems because prior to the ACA I was uninsurable and therefore paid $500-$575 per month for COBRA, but there has to be issues right? Imagine my surprise when I started reading, because nothing there seemed to say “screwed by ACA”. Your rates got raised by 24%, wow that sucked but that is your insurance company not the ACA. Why were you not notified of the price before being charged? I would be furious at the insurance company. But, a little over $500 for a family of 5, that is an amazing rate even for a HSA eligible plan. Prior to the ACA being passed, my husband was about to get a HSA eligible plan for just himself (again, I was not eligible for ANY amount of money) for a $135/month. So, why did you expect to pay so little for health insurance. Btw, ACA makes the individual health care system similar to the employer, therefore a significant increase in cost maybe a qualifying event but that is only for the exchanges, not private plans outside of that. It honestly seems like your insurance broker and company want to blame ACA so you are mad at that instead of them. I would highly encourage finding another agent, and pulling out your current plan and comparing apples to apples with the plans on the exchange because many of the new plans cover more before using money from your HSA and therefore can be cheaper. Also, check that you are looking at the right exchange, not all states use the federal one. Speaking as one who now can get health insurance, someone who COBRAed at the employer rate, you did not get screwed, you are paying normal pricing.

    • John Schmoll says:

      Thanks for stopping by Ginger. Having been on COBRA myself, as well as uninsurable in the past I can relate to what you’re saying. I am thankful that Obamacare does allow for those with pre-existing conditions to get coverage.

      That said, while I do have a beef with the insurance company for raising rates by such a percentage it still goes back to Obamacare. Thanks to Obamacare we can’t change plans to another cheaper individual plan. We also can’t get our rate reduced since my wife lost her baby weight – again thanks to Obamacare.

      I realize for many our rate may seem good, but where do these increases end? If we get something through the exchange it’s an ever higher increase to deal with. Just because it can be afforded doesn’t mean that it should be something we should be ok with.

      As for your statement – “I noticed this blog post through Yakezie and because I knew no one that had been screwed by ACA…” well, you and I must know completely different people because the overwhelming majority of people we know have been significantly impacted by it.

      • Ginger says:

        I may in a younger group than you so that very much may be true. πŸ™‚ I am a grad student so I know quite a few young people who were able to stay on their parent’s insurance when they were looking for jobs. I agree with the question, where does the increases end, which is one the reasons I support the ACA. Now, plans require 80% of the premiums to be spend on actual care which meant that many people got refunds and hypothetically should keep prices reasonable. However, there may be huge difference between what I think is reasonable and what you think is reasonable. For me, because my cost started at $500/month/person (and then had a 15% increase), your expenses look reasonable. But obviously you don’t think it does.
        I still don’t understand why you are blaming the ACA for you not being able to change plans or the increased cost. ACA does allow for changing IF there is a substantial change (which can include price) and how did the ACA cause your insurance company to increase your costs? I mean, pre-ACA I had a 15% increase, and that was a major employer covered plan. My husband’s increase for private was closer to 30%. And even assuming an increase to be closer inline with employer plans, double digit increases have been common for years, but now they can’t exclude you or your children if you because unwell. Isn’t that protection worth something to you? My mom retired at 55 instead of 62 because of the ACA because she could finally get insurance outside of her employer.
        I still wonder, have you looked at what your plan covers vs ones on the exchange?

        • John Schmoll says:

          That’s just it Ginger. It is because of Omabacare that we’re unable to change. We have a grandfathered pre-Obamacare plan.

          Thanks to that we’re only able to change plans and not providers. The only other option in terms of a cheaper plan is one that’s $30 less per month. That sounds nice…but it comes with a 30% co-insurance, so even after we hit the deductible we’re still responsible for 30% of any costs and thus not a wise move.

          Thanks to being pre-Obamacare we’re also not able to get a reduction for my wife losing all her baby weight. Looking at similar things now that could easily save us around $50/month. That would be nice to have, but no cigar. That is why the blame is put on Obamacare.

          What makes this particularly bad for us, not to mention the fact that we’re small business owners, is that in my prior employers plan we had great coverage for under $400/month. Now we have fire insurance for close to $600. If we go on the exchange that goes up to near, if not over $700. When you add in HSA contributions that takes us to well over $1200 per month. That’s plain nuts, not to mention that we have wildly fluctuating income due to running our own business.

          As for the plans on the exchanges, there’s no real difference between them and what we have now. The only difference is the exchange plans offer maternity coverage, which we don’t have now as we’re done having kids.

          • Ginger says:

            “That’s plain nuts, not to mention that we have wildly fluctuating income due to running our own business. ” Those are normal prices for insurance, even prior to ACA (in fact in some states it was worse). Have you spoken to anyone about the “substantial change in insurance” because of the increase or are you just assuming your broker is correct? And so, your grandfathered plan has preventive care included with no deductible etc. Color me surprised because most did not.
            Again, this is not the ACA but the insurance industry (which includes screwing over price plan holders) which is making this so expensive so you don’t want to change to anything you can get. The closer we get to employer insurance (which can be $500-$2000/month/family), the better we all, as a society will be, unless of course you’d rather go with Canada’s ideas and do single payer (which was proposed and shut down by the GOP).

          • John Schmoll says:

            I see your back for more Ginger… πŸ˜‰ Nope, I covered the deductible in the post. Our deductible weighs in at $11,000. Seeing as we’re all relatively healthy, I doubt (fingers crossed) that we’ll ever reach that. Like I said, as of just under two years ago we had family coverage for just under $400 with my former employer with 3 kids. I don’t know where you’d come up with $2k for plans through employers. We have spoken with others, not to mention the fact that our broker is a referral so we’d have no reason not to trust them.

            While I agree that the insurance industry certainly does have their own role in this – which is an entirely different post altogether, I believe you have rose colored glasses on in regards to Obamacare. While I applaud the effort, and have covered what I like about it in depth through the post as well as the comments, it has been horribly bungled on both sides of the aisle. First, we can keep our plan…but wait no we can’t. Then you have the other side who do nothing but try and repeal it. It’s political games plain and simple. What unfortunately ends up happening is the middle class ends up taking the brunt of it. As a small business owner I’m terribly thankful we only have contract employees as if we had to provide coverage it would be back breaking.

            Honestly, I’d love to put single payer on the table. That would be better than what we have now.

  • Michelle says:

    I have been blessed that my husband and I have always been able to have health care covered (percentage wise to some extent) through our employer. I have heard similar stories as yours, and it is absolutely ridiculous.

  • J says:

    I found it interesting that paying more for health care than your mortgage seems like a big deal to you. The premium for my employer based health plan is approximately $1500 month and that does not include the copays, deductibles, etc. It is better than the bare bones policies you favor, but is generally in line with current plans from other employers for a family PPO type plan. My mortgage is only about $1200; it does seem reasonable to me to pay more for health care than a box made of wood and a little patch of dirt and grass.

    • John Schmoll says:

      My question would be what value are you getting out of your plan? If it’s something where you’re actively using and getting value out of it then I can see how it would be reasonable to pay more for it than you would your mortgage.

      In our situation we’re relatively healthy and getting little value out of it. That’s why it’s ridiculous, in my opinion, that we’re paying more for it than our mortgage. We also don’t have a PPO plan – what we have is fire insurance at best.

  • Heather says:

    Thanks for the article. I think the anger should really be pointed to the insurance companies, whose ever increasing rates and practices prompted the legislation in the first place. I saw what our company had to pay for employee’s insurance premiums, which were going up fast before the ACA was proposed. People wanted something done, but not interrupt our current relationship to insurance companies… So we get a Frankenstein legislation to try and make changes while not getting to the root of the problem. We can’t appaude the Canadian system and then demonize government run healthcare. Republicans decry anything resembling “socialized medicine”, so our country can never do as saner countries do. While the ACA may be a mess, its because we won’t get mad at the insurance companies and scrutinize their methods, or dismantle what we have now. Easier to complain about the government trying to do something about a huge problem, and not allowing them to move towards what other countries are doing.

  • Kay Wisconsin says:

    Dear John,
    I just came across this (blog? – not very internet-savvy πŸ˜‰ ) because I was looking for – you guessed it: being sc****d by Health Insurance.
    I read many of the posts with much interest, and am glad to see a constructive debate. Here’s a question, which might have been answered, if so I missed it: How much of your pre-tax income, etc. should go to health care (taking worst case, meaning paying all out of pocket, and so on) – and I don’t mean a $-number, but a percentage. If we are sick, and have to pay all our deductibles in addition to our premiums, we are looking at 25%. I just read that in Germany the current cost is something like 16.2%, just to give an example.
    Another question is the rumour that members of the government are somehow exempt – please tell me that is not true πŸ˜‰ Finally, in previous years the NYT issued a ‘top 50 earners in the US’ list (so way less than the infamous 1%) – CEOs of health insurances regularly made it onto that list. Where does that fit in with the comments regarding the cost of our health?
    I hope we all get well soon!

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