Wednesday, March 10, 2010

$185,000 for health insurance?!?! (well, for 10 years)

I currently do not have any health insurance. That actually works out fairly well since I happen to be healthy. But just out of curiosity, I decided to check to see how much health insurance costs. After all, if so-called "health insurance reform" passes, people such as me will supposedly be "required" to purchase health insurance (or pay a "fine.")

So, I go to Google, enter in the keywords "health insurance", and the first result is for eHealthInsurance.com. I click to that site, enter a little info and it shows me some results, ranging from $176 (junk insurance?) to $1,228 (Cadillac plan?).

Actually that $176 is for a hospital-only plan that does not include doctor visits or treatments or prescriptions outside of the hospital. Interesting. That is actually a very interesting data point about where health care costs go or don't go.

Both plans are from Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield. The hospital-only plan is called "Tradition Plus Hospital Program." The expensive plan is called "Empire Direct Pay HMO." Hmmm... "HMO"... that's considered evil, right? ("Empire... evil", "Evil... Empire", oh, I get it!).

I had to enter some personal contact info somewhere along the line here and a rep called me to ask if I had any questions. I just said I was doing research for health reform and she left me alone. But she also emailed me some info and links. One link takes me to a table showing three plans, those two, and a third plan, even more expensive, called "Direct Pay HMO/POS" for $1,549 per month that has lower copays, limited out-of-network coverage, and some other extras.

Now, in truth, I have no clue as to how to evaluate and compare all of these plans. My goal here was to focus on the price of the Cadillac plan. After all, if I were to get health insurance, I would want it to cover, well, everything.

So, $1,549.30 per month works out to $18,591.60 per year. Gulp. Ummmm... last year I earned only $19,000 from work. Hmmm... the math doesn't seem to "work" for me.

And, $18,591.60 per year works out to $185,916 over ten years. YIKES!! And that is assuming premiums don't go up -- right!

I am sorry guys, but there is no way that I am going to pay $185,000 over the next ten years, for services that I probably won't need.

Actually, I probably only need nine years of insurance since I'll turn 65 in just over nine years and get admitted to the promised land of Medicare, but that does not change the overall picture here.

$185,000

That is a very big number, to me.

I do not even have that much money put aside for retirement.

Granted, insurance may be lower under health reform, but even half or a third or even a quarter of this amount is still way too much.

So, how much will the "fine" be if I don't buy health insurance under "health insurance reform." Actually, that is still up in the air, and depends on how the House and Senate Bills are "reconciled." Given the president's latest proposal, if my income was low, it would be a fixed dollar amount (increasing each year), in the range of $325 to $695, but for a reasonable income level it would be a percentage, currently 1% in 2014, 2% in 2015, and 2.5% in 2016 and after. So, if I had $100,000 of income in 2014 and beyond, I would pay an "assessment" (technically, not a "fine") of $1,000 in 2014, $2,000 in 2015, and $2,500 in 2016 and beyond. And, key point, I would pay this money to the U.S. government for whatever purpose it deems fit, not to some insurance company.

At least to me, right now, paying $2,500 to Uncle Sam is infinitely preferable to paying even $0.01 to any insurance company. The insurance companies of America need to radically rethink their approach to customers before they can get my attention, even under health insurance reform with "mandatory" insurance.

-- Jack Krupansky

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