It’s hard for me to pick a category for this post since I try to keep things positive as much as I can. But sometimes the stress of my finances does get to me. I’m human. So please allow me to get out my honest thoughts on a topic that frustrates me, and then I’ll try to get something positive out of it by the time I’m done. Okay….deep breath….
Last night, I sat down and went through my open enrollment benefit choices. It was something I had been dreading since I know I have no choice but to go with a high deductible plan since I know there is no way I can even come up with the deductible amount for the less-high-deductible plan. Follow that?!
My deductible is $4500. The “lower” plan is $2500. Both are still hard for someone on my income to meet. (I figured out my income after taxes is something like $17,555). So basically, I hope and pray that nothing happens to me, and I use the Walgreen’s prescription plan to pay for my medications instead of my health insurance (because I would pay more for them if I used my prescription plan, which is sad.) So basically, I feel like I have money taken out of my paycheck every two weeks for no benefit whatsoever as long as things remain the status quo. I suppose I could just say “F this, I’ll just go without medical insurance and pay the tax penalty when it rolls around.” I know and work with people who do that. But being somewhat risk averse, I am reluctant to do that.
I had my prescriptions last filled in October and again, I toy with the idea of trying to wean myself off of my antidepressants as a way to save money. I could probably do it with the wellbutrin again, as I have in the past. That is the more expensive of the two, the other being prozac. (And yes, I do get the generics of both of them to save money.) But a part of me knows that when I was diagnosed as depressed several years ago, it was a “clinical depression” which means that there was a chemical imbalance. Just as folks with other health problems need meds like blood pressure pills to help balance their bodies, I need the prozac. It’s not a happy pill. Nothing is. You still have to learn AND USE coping skills, as I have done. And I just feel better about myself as a whole when I am taking it.
So . . . I think I will enroll in the HSA this year and have money taken out, pre-tax, to help pay for whatever doctor I see to get my prozac refilled. The money spent on that visit and those meds are worth it to me to remain a functional and highly performing member of society. And if I can keep a few more hard-earned dollars from being taxable AND help me lower the cost of medications I need, why not? Right?
All I know is, there has GOT to be a better way to handle health insurance than the way the US does it. My boyfriend, as you may remember, is in Canada. They have a very different health care system. If he doesn’t use all the benefits up that he has paid for out of his paycheck every week, guess what? He gets money back come tax time!! And no, I realize their health care system isn’t perfect — nothing is — but the American way of doing it seems to help no one but the pharmaceutical and health insurance industries.
So….let’s see….how to put a positive outlook on this? I’m thinking….
I guess the good thing in all of this is that I realize if I were to get hit by a mac truck while crossing the street, I wouldn’t be on the hook for all of the bill once I hit that whopping $4,500 deductible and then all the co-insurance payments for the rest of that huge balance. If I didn’t have insurance, I probably would be on the hook for all of it. (I’m straining for the silver lining here, I admit it.)
And also, I have a job that offers insurance. Not the greatest insurance, but it is something, which I suppose is better than nothing? The dental insurance and vision coverage are somewhat decent. I had a crown put on one of my teeth this past summer and it cost about $550, which isn’t as much as it used to cost me back in Boston.
And I take care of myself – eat salads at least five days/week for lunch, and have cut down on the snacking and am continuing to work out about 4 days per week. At 45, I’m proud of myself for doing that, and working full time and going to school part time!
And if nothing else, sitting down and choosing my benefits again forced me to reevaluate my budget. This year, at least I am splitting the rent with someone, which helps. Last year, it was all paid by little old me. Let’s just say living on a lower income really does help to make decisions about wants/needs more cut and dry. I’ve become more resourceful and no longer feel tempted to spend money on things like I used to. I will write an updated post about my budget and income later on — this post has already become too long!
For those of you in the United States, do you feel the same way as me when open enrollment comes around? A bit down, but resigned to your fate?
For those of you outside the US, what do you think about the health insurance in your own country? Do you feel it’s adequate for what you pay in taxes for it? Or would you prefer to have a system like ours in America? I would love to know your thoughts on what’s good, what’s bad in your present system, so please drop me a comment if you have the time to do so!
And if you think this post might make someone feel better, for whatever reason, please feel free to share it!
As always, thanks for reading!
10 thoughts on “There’s GOT to be a better way”
You’d be happier if you joined your boyfriend in Canada. Maybe marry him, Then you’d be a Canadian citizen and not have to worry about health insurance or Donald Trump. 🙂
Ha ha ha, it’s a bit early in our relationship to be discussing marriage! But I understand the sentiment, and yes, I keep telling him how much better off he is with Justin Trudeau than the idiot we have in charge. 🙂
The healthcare system is beyond repair it seems. Well, at least when you have Congress working on it. I was happy when President Obama tackled healthcare, but I do not think it really helped. We are now being forced to purchase something that does not really work. I think he tried to make the system better, but in reality it only made things worst. I do not think the Republicans want to truly address this issue. I am honestly tired of both parties at this point.
I will say I am lucky in one regard; I am Native American and get free healthcare. I am only 1/16 Native American, but I can go through the tribes in Oklahoma for free healthcare. I think God everyday I have that option. I do not have to have insurance at work because I get an exemption because being Native American. In some ways I do not think that is fair, but that is the system. I do not like that people are fined for not having insurance. You are forced to keep something that is not working. I have several friends that are in that boat.
The sad thing about this whole situation is I know Congress is not going to fix the problem. I have been arguing for years that we need to go to a single payer system like Canada. The problem is Congress and President Trump does not have the will or political courage to make that a reality.
I do not know what will happen in the end. I guess the solution is do not get sick. It is sad.
Oh Eddie, I agree with you on so much! Congress and Trump don’t want to help. Not the ones in the majority, anyway, and like you, I’m pretty disgusted with both parties myself. I’m registered as an independent now.
I have some good friends who are Navajo, so I know what you mean about having that option for yourself. However, the IHS clinics weren’t always that great, at least not in AZ, where I was last year.
And I don’t like that we can get fined for not electing to pay for something that doesn’t help us anyway. I definitely agree – a single payer system is better. We have our supreme court to thank for that crap of us having to pay a penalty. And yeah, I do think Obama tried, but the health insurance companies had way too much of a say when Obamacare was first drafted. I mean, the bill was over 1700 pages long. Who was going to read through all of that?? No one and they knew it.
Congress can only make it worse, I fear. I don’t know what the answer is, but best take care of yourself.
I know, and that’s what I am trying to do. Everyone at work is getting sick, and they give us so little sick time (a whopping 3 days, yep, count ’em, all three) so people come in when they are sick. And then get others sick.
And yes, I know you have spent a lot of time in DC meeting with folks on road safety issues with the trucking industry. If anyone knows how little they can accomplish, it’s you.
I have to comment on this as your understanding of the Canadian system is inaccurate. I am Canadian. Our health care is paid through our taxes so nothing is upfront. To give you an example, my elderly mother broke her hip a couple of months ago. She went to emergency and had a hip repair, stayed on the ortho unit for a week and then was in a rehab centre for four weeks and now is home receiving home care twice a week ( bathing, washing hair, foot care etc. ) She lives with my brother. She had excellent care the whole way through and is now fine and happy at home. She is 93. The out of pocket expenses for all that care was 63.00 for a special toilet seat and a walker. We only had to pay 25% of those costs.
What your boyfriend is talking about is Extended Care for eyeglasses, dental work, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, hearing aids …. those extras that are needed. Most good companies have an insurance plan for employees and funnel the benefits money into your pocket if you haven’t had any claims to be used at a later date when you need them. For example, I pay $149.00 for my extended plan.
We NEVER pay up front for healthcare (ER, tests of any kind, hospital stays, prescriptions while in hospitals). We have an amazing system which we are lucky to have. But our taxes pay for it.
The US government will never put a positive spin on the Canadian system because you (the peope) actually start demanding better plans. Also all your lobbyists would be out of a job. The pharmaceutical pricing is set by the Canadian government as they are paying for the products. Pricing is controlled. I could go on and on but really what I want to say is that nothing would make me happier than to see the American people demand what they deserve. You have a very corrupt government and deserve more. I wish you well.
Lynn, thank you so much for explaining this in such a clear manner! When I read what you said your mother only had to pay 25% of those costs, my jaw literally dropped open. Seriously it did. You are very right. We do deserve better than what we have in this government. Lots of people are speaking up about the ridiculous health care bills that they have tried to ram through lately, and a lot of people are also enraged about the tax bill they are now trying to pass. What amazes me is the audacity of how clearly corrupt so much of our government is. It’s like they have no shame whatsoever.
Can I ask – do you feel like your taxes are that much higher because of your health care system? I make about 24K at my full time job. So I pay about 17% of my salary in taxes. When I worked at Harvard, I was paying more like 29-30% but I made a lot more. And then STILL had all the health care costs on top of it (although I have to be truthful and say that my health insurance at Harvard was MUCH better than what I have now.)