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Reverse gambling

After quitting my job to stay at home with my daughter, we lost our medical benefits. The insurance plan we had through work was OK, I guess, but it still cost hundreds a month just for having the plan, and there were still plenty of small and large payments we had to make after doctors visits and the few ER/hospital trips we had to make over the years. So it was never great, and now that I don't have the company's group rate helping out, it's much worse.

We have "a certain amount of money" available to us, and we'd like that to go as far as possible, of course. So our health insurance could be critical.

Our choices in insurance plans ranged from a high monthly payment that covered more things (but never all things) and had an outrageously high deductible, to a lower monthly payment that covered fewer things and had an even more outrageously high deductible.

We examined the various plans and finally decided that a low monthly payment was the key in our situation. This would mean a high deductible and few things covered, of course, but looking at the numbers, we concluded that the chances of us ever reaching the deductibles was not great, so all our thousands and thousands of dollars in high monthly payments would just basically be burned. We were wanting health insurance in the classic sense: if disaster struck, it would be our safety net.

We picked the cheapest premium for a plan that vaguely fit our family. On the comparison page it quoted $205 a month for the premium. It barely covered anything and the deductible was $10,000. But hey, it was our safety net only: The ones that actually covered something and/or had low deductibles were far more expensive per month. So we filled out the forms with our existing medical conditions and waited… waited… waited… and finally got our cards and a letter explaining that our premium would be $360 a month.

Our "safety net" turned out to be just too expensive. I was barely going along with it at $205, and now it was nearly doubled? OK, "only" ~75% more, but wow. Our few minor, well-treated conditions caused it to go up that much? The drugs for those conditions do cost money, but they're mostly cheap drugs, and the plan did not even cover them!


Even picking the cheapest plan we could find, with a $10,000 deductible, it was still going to cost us $360 a month in premiums. The only way it'd ever save us money would be if one of us came down with cancer or required a multiple-day hospital visit. I know those things can happen at any point, and if they do we'll owe a whole lot of money, but statistically we'd most likely be throwing our insurance money out the window.

So, another crazy decision: we canceled the plan before making any payments. We are insuranceless. I can't stand gambling, but health insurance seems somehow like reverse-gambling: you have to pay huge amounts of money all the time to have a remote chance of breaking even, and you can never win. Actually, that sounds a lot like regular gambling.

Granted, now that we've made this decision, I'll probably have a heart attack tomorrow, and then I'll feel very silly, but for the immediate future we're playing the odds.


Maybe we started at the wrong place. Maybe there's a better plan out there that would make health insurance worth-while. I'm all ears if someone can fill me in on a way to be cheaply self-insured. Our back-up plan is "move to another country that is not as insane in regards to health care". So, Canada?

2012-07-24

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