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The Horror of Health Insurance for the Self-Employed

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Some pine for the good ole days of their childhood or early romances. I pine for the good ole days of health insurance.

When I first became fully self-employed, I had a decent Blue Cross Blue Shield health insurance plan for about $99 per month. The deductible was reasonable, the coverage was adequate and my doctor accepted it.

Then Obamacare came along.

My existing health insurance plan instantly went extinct, as it didn’t include all the added baggage every policy now had to have. Like breast milk pumps and pregnancy care, even if you were a woman not planning on children. Even if you were a man.

Those needless novelties skyrocketed health insurance premiums through the ozone, with any plan that offered anything near my former benefits starting around $750 per month.

For several years, I went for the chintziest insurance options just to cover major, unexpected accidents. Like the kettle-corn motorcycle crash, and the hair-dye chemical in my eye. My deductible was $10,000, my premium was hovering around $250 per month, and I was lucky my doctor accepted it since it had some weirdo name most folks have never heard of.

Then the premiums stared going up. Like every three months. By $40 a pop. Damn hair dye urgent care bills must have finally landed on the insurance company’s desk. So I told the company to go fly a kite.

Of course, I did this during open enrollment, when I could actually get a different plan. I landed on this really, really cheap option called short-term health insurance and went for it. Word of advice: Don’t.

Short-Term Health Insurance Risks

While the premium was less than $200 per month, the coverage was pretty much zilch. The deductible was still in the $10K range, and I had to get a new policy every three months. What cemented the belief that I was in a losing proposition was my prescription prices.

It was actually CHEAPER to buy prescription medication on a cash-only basis with no insurance than it was to use the prescription deal included with my plan. And that’s not the biggest horror story I heard about short-term health insurance.

A woman on a short-term plan had been diagnosed with breast cancer, and the plan merrily covered her bills – until her three-month term was up. The insurance carrier then dropped her, refusing to provide a new policy. She was now left with a pre-existing condition that pretty much ruled out any plan acceptance and a mountain of medical bills she had to pay out of her own pocket.

Unless you can get any and all possible medical expenses you’ll ever face crammed into the scant, three-month period for which you’re covered, short-term health insurance is a really bad joke.

Health Marketplace Insurance Risks

Why don’t you just shimmy on over to the health insurance marketplace, some may ask, where you can get reimbursed based on your wages? That option comes with its own headaches and risks. For starters, health marketplace is a crummy name. It sounds like a place you go to buy day-old fruit.

The plans themselves aren’t all that great. They’re also priced more in the $750 range – that’s with a deductible of $14,000.  If that’s not enough to deter you, there’s also the marketplace horror story I heard.

A guy who had low enough wages was getting reimbursed for his health insurance from the marketplace. Then his boss gave him a raise of something like 55 cents per hour. Lo and behold, that was just enough to squeak the guy over the income limit for reimbursement – and he had to pay back some $6,000 now that he was in a higher wage bracket.

So What’s Left?

Sigh. Panicky, nighttime internet searching for a health insurance plan in the middle of July. Filling out those little boxes with your phone number usually results in an avalanche of calls the next morning, but my phone rang about two seconds after hitting “enter” on one of them.

The caller’s name was Jentrey Shannon, and he was an agent with USHEALTH Group. To make a long phone call a short story, his PowerPoint presentation, comparison charts and health insurance perks nearly cemented the deal. Thinking about it for a day sealed it.

While the coverage is not cheap, it’s not $750 per month. And it actually covers things I may even need – without having to pay for pregnancy care and breast milk pumps. This is all good. Even better, of course, is if I never have to file a claim.

But that’s the thing with insurance. It follows the same concept as the umbrella theory. When you have one with you, it never rains. When you forget to take it long, it always ends up pouring.

Want to read about stuff a tad more exciting than health insurance? Get a rynski book. 

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