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!