A few weeks ago I shared with you what I'm doing with my money. I'm sure you didn't care, but now you can not care more because I'm sharing more of my personal finance issues with you. Last week I got a letter from my health insurance provider announcing my family's plan is being canceled. Our current plan is in the $400 a month range, and my provider informed me I could move to another plan in the $900 range. Gee, thanks. Needless to say, I was pissed.
After I cooled off, I did a little digging but I figured my best resource would be Paul Ashley from First Person. He's my go-to guy for benefits questions. I could have just called him on my own, but I figured working through my own situation on air with Paul would not only help me, but help any of you who are navigating the new healthcare laws. Listen to my sad tale on The Pete the Planner Radio Show on WIBC below.
Paul was really helpful, but man, he did not give me good news. The new healthcare laws are meant to even the playing field by using a community rating. Meaning if you are healthy, like me and my family, you will now be paying a higher rate to cover those who aren't as healthy. Because my provider can no longer underwrite my plan by my age and health information, they have to change their plan and pricing structure.
According to Paul my options are:
1) Accept the new plan option from my provider, which is an almost $500 increase per month.
2) Research other plans my provider may have available. There is probably a plan with a more narrow list of providers for a reduction in rate.
3) Go with another provider altogether. I may be able to get a broader network for the same price if I shop other providers.
4) Go to healthcare.gov and choose a plan from the marketplace. I did try this immediately after I got the letter announcing my plan cancelation, but I was told I couldn't apply until open enrollment in November. Thankfully, Paul told me my plan being canceled is a qualifying event, meaning I have access to the marketplace even when it isn't open enrollment.
5) The last option Paul gave me is pretty specific to my situation as a small business owner. I could start an employer sponsored healthcare plan for myself and my employees. We'd still be subject to community rating, but it may be slightly less expensive, though it would depend on a lot of factors like number of participating employees, etc.
Basically the bottom line is my rate is going to go way up no matter what I do. So that's it. I wish there was some moral of the story, but the reality is sometimes you have surprise new expenses which are unavoidable. The financial stress these expenses cause sucks, but the stress is definitely mitigated by budgeting and an emergency fund.
Peter Dunn a.k.a. Pete the Planner® is an award-winning financial mind and a former comedian. He’s a USA TODAY columnist, author of ten books, and is the host of the popular radio show and podcast, The Pete the Planner Show. Pete is considered one of the foremost experts on financial wellness in the world, but he’s just as likely to talk your ear off about bass fishing.