Early Retiree Health Insurance – Open Enrollment (Part 2)

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I wasn’t sure how many ‘parts’ there may be to our health insurance open enrollment this year, but we got it sorted out pretty quickly.  While the cost increases are dramatic, the fact that there are actually less options to look at makes the shopping process relatively quick.  Not painless, but quick.

You’ll remember from our earlier post that our incumbent health insurance provider was proposing a +32% increase in our premium, no longer included our primary doctor network, only would ensure health care in our metro area (uncovered if traveling), and wanted to boost our prescription copay from $20 a refill to 20% a refill.  Needless to say, we were not to happy when we got that letter in the mail.

We explored several options in a week’s time and enlisted the help of our always capable and interesting insurance agent:

  • Former MegaCorp Coverage – Looked pretty good, despite a hefty premium increase (+38%) and a $10K deductible.  The only issue is that it has a rule that once you join, you are in – if you drop out, you can’t get in again.  We decided to hold onto this option for a few years from now when we get the ‘full retiree discount’ rate at age 55.  In the meanwhile, there may be some better options.
  • Obamacare Exchange – The State ACA exchange isn’t good for us because we aren’t covered by any of the subsidies.  Our income is still too high and there are no real advantages in working through the government if they are not discounting the plans. The plans they offer are almost exactly what’s available on the individual market.
  • Individual Market – Found a different plan through MN Blue Cross that has our current primary doctor network, global coverage, and $0 prescription copays after the deductible is met.  The bad news?  Still a +32% premium increase and our deductible doubles from $6.5K to $13K.  No wonder the prescription copays are free after the deductible is met.  Still, this seems to be the best option we’ve found.
  • University Student Plan – Even if we are in the individual market, our son is a freshman at a local college and can get insurance through the university.  The premium isn’t much different (5% less).  While it has a lower deductible, Any medical spending he incurs won’t help us reach our deductible.  Best to keep him with us at this point.

So, we opted for the MN Blue Cross plan on the individual market.  Here’s how the cost of the plan stacks up against the insurance we’ve had the last two years:

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Hopefully, our family of three will stay relatively healthy over the course of 2017.  In a sense, our plan really only covers catastrophic expenses since our deductible is so high.  We could have spent another $2.5K on premium (+55% instead of +33%) and kept our deductible close to equal to last year.  Since spending more than $6.5K on care seems like an unlikely possibility at this point, we opted to ‘insure ourselves’ up to the highest available $13K level.

In order to reduce the impact a little bit, we still need to organize a new Health Savings Account.  The high deductible plan we picked is designated as ‘HSA Eligible’ – I’m not sure if all plans are, but this one was called out that way by our agent.  In 2016, we were still draining the dollars that we had put into our old MegaCorp HSA.  These dollars can at least grow tax free in the account – we’ve been encouraged to max out our contributions since the money rolls over into the future.

Unlike our old MegaCorp plans, there doesn’t seem to be any premium incentive for any healthy living activities in any of these plans.  I find it funny that the ObamaCare reforms did not include some incentives for individuals who are willing to commit to activities that are correlated with lower healthcare costs.  The savings weren’t huge (about $50/month), but it was something.  Most companies offer these, but maybe they are considered unfair to people who have pre-existing conditions?

Next we need to update our dental insurance for 2017, but I am not expecting any financial drama with that expense, since the government has thankfully stayed out of the market. Now that we have Donald Trump heading to the White House, we’ll see how things develop next year.   Every year is a new and expensive game!

Image Credit: Pixabay

10 thoughts on “Early Retiree Health Insurance – Open Enrollment (Part 2)

  1. I know… Where are the incentives for a healthy lifestyle!? That’s on my wish list that I posted about today. I think the Republicans in D.C. Have an opportunity to keep a lot of the things that are working with ObamaCare and still fix a number of key issues.

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  2. Health insurance always looks expensive, until you need it. I fractured my hip three and a half months ago when I fell off a ladder. I had surgery to have three pins inserted to hold my bones together as they heal, which included a two-night stay in the hospital. Bill: zilch, zero, nada. I realize that we’ve being paying our premiums all along so it really wasn’t free, but I am grateful that we were covered. Even though my husband and I are extremely healthy, stuff happens. I fear for those who may be thrown off their insurance if the ACA is repealed. Hopefully, when Trump realizes that rhetoric does not equal a plan, and real people are involved, the problems with ACA can be fixed and what is working can be saved.

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    • Agree. I was happy to hear Trump say on 60 Minutes last night that he was for keeping pre-existing condition coverage.

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  3. Might want to consider the Health Sharing Ministries. as I’ve recently learned, Liberty Health Share doesn’t have a specific religious requirement. ClubThrifty went that route a couple years ago: http://clubthrifty.com/joining-healthcare-sharing-ministry/

    It’s a slippery slope, but you can sort of interpret their whole business model as rewarding a healthy lifestyle. I guess that’s how they can keep costs low – by keeping out folks who smoke tobacco or hard drugs excessively. 😀

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    • Interesting – I haven’t heard of that company before. I’ll check to see if they operate in our area.

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  4. Fascinating reading and numbers Mr. FS.

    I recently found out what I could get in two years from my megacorp upon retiring at age 51. Looks like a Blue Cross Blue Shield HSA plan for family of four with high deductible will cost me $895 per month in premiums and have $3,000 as annual deductible. These of course are only 2017 projections. Company also pays $1,000 into an HSA account on my behalf on an annual basis. These numbers are higher than what I can get on the exchange but then again I have no idea what the exchange numbers will look like two years from now given the political landscape changes…..to be honest hard to tell what anything will look like two years from now given the amount of back pedaling going on. We live in interesting and expensive times for sure. Still, nothing new there….

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    • Yes – things are very dynamic right now and look like they will continue to be so. Those look like similar numbers to what I would get as an age 55 retiree from my MegaCorp. Of course, I’m not 55 for another 4 years!

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  5. Holy, that’s a lot of money. Health care costs certainly are not complying to the normal inflation rates. Kind of sad to think that it’s primarily our own fault for having such crappy lifestyle and diets…. makes you think.
    We plan to retire on pretty much the amount of money you have to reserve in healthcare costs for 2017 ($28.000 per year). That shocking, especially since in that amount, we included healthcare coverage for us too. We are currently paying about €2000 per year in insurance fees and up to €885 in deductibles if where to use them. Perhaps is starts to get to the point that you better self insure (that’s taking a big risk, I realize that)?

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    • In the USA, under ObamaCare, it is now illegal to ‘self insure’ – that’s the reason the rates are so high. We are subsidizing less healthy, less wealthy citizens through our massive premiums. This is why the new government will be so focused on health insurance reform. We can pay it, so it is a high quality problem right now.

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