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What in the health is going on with our insurance?

I’ve been asking myself what the health is going on with America’s insurance the last few years, as health insurance premiums spike 50% per year for many (cough…cough…me).

American-health-insurance-rising-costs-native-gypsies
What in the Health? (Piggy Bank Image: ©PicturesOfMoney) Graphic: Native Gypsies

I needed to shop for a new health insurance carrier for 2017 since the company I’ve been insured by since I graduated is dumping me. I shouldn’t take it personally, as they’re dropping 100,000 others in Minnesota too. My options for single coverage in my age group, plus a deductible for using the plan brought the cost to over $10,000 for the year. Double that amount if adding my spouse.

In reviewing the annual increases in health insurance costs of someone I know very well (cough…cough…hint…hint), I wanted to see if costs really were going up 50% and more per year the last few years, as the media portrays.

rising-costs-of-healthcare-2012-2017-native-gypsies
2012-2017 health insurance increases year on year ©Native Gypsies (Piggy Bank Image: ©PicturesOfMoney)

 

From 2012 to 2016, there was a 294% increase in costs, with the potential increase from 2012-2017 being 550%.

I was preparing my own pity party, until I discovered what families with children are paying. Strike up the band; this pity party is going to be a BIG one.

Is it worth nearly 100% of your annual income?

Tina, a wife and mother of four from Minnesota, is set to pay just over $41,000 for her 2017 plan. You read that correctly. $41,000. Keep in mind that in the county Tina lives in (the same county I live in), the median household income is $45,601, according to the 2014 U.S. Census Bureau.

The median family in our county earns just over the cost of Tina’s family’s health insurance policy. If a “median” family of six elects not to use government assistance or tax discounts for their health insurance, that would leave them $4,601 for the entire year to pay a mortgage, vehicle, living expenses and food to feed their family. And hopefully they all stay healthy enough to not visit the doctor, as each family member carries their own deductible.

Is it worth 1/3 of your annual income?

A family of six in Minnesota earning $130,021 and up in household income receives no tax advantage or assistance; their health insurance policy (not including any medical costs throughout the year) would comprise 33% of their annual income. Considering the additional costs of car, auto, business and life insurance, a family could easily spend half their work week paying to insure themselves against risk.

pie-chart-health-care-costs-household-budget-native-gypsies
Middle-Class American Budget pie chart ©Native Gypsies (Piggy Bank Image: ©PicturesOfMoney)

This isn’t just affecting the self-employed and business owners. Not all full-time employees are offered healthcare. And if an employee does have insurance, it does not guarantee that their partner is covered. Additionally, costs have been rising for many of those paying towards their company health plans. And deductibles have been going up. This is effecting a much larger percentage of the population than I had imagined. The pity party grows!

What if you can’t afford it?

Everyone deserves to have accessible, affordable healthcare. In fact, 15 million previously un-insured Americans are now covered with Obamacare (Obamacarefacts.com). According to Obamacare Facts, 75% of the estimated 24 million Americans enrolling for 2017 health insurance through the Exchange will receive subisides for their premiums. But what about the middle class families who were paying for their health insurance and now can no longer afford it, yet are legally required to have it?

The Affordable Health Care act was passed by our government because Americans couldn’t afford health care. Yet our government fines Americans who can’t afford health care.

What are their options? What are your options?

4 (flawed) options 

  1. Make more money. A second job. Longer hours.
  2. Find a new job that pays for coverage.
  3. Lower your living expenses.
  4. Choose a high deductible plan and don’t visit the doctor.

1. Make more money

Take on a second job. Work longer hours at your current job (if that’s even an option). More time away from your family, with 100% of your additional hard-worked earnings going straight to insurance companies. Sign me up!

2. Find a new job that pays for coverage

Being a business owner is the American dream for many, yet I know successful small business owners that are closing up shop and returning to corporate America due to rising healthcare costs (and who could blame them?)

Pinterest Ronald Reagan Small Business American Dream
Pinterest : Ronald Reagan : The small business American dream

Take, for example, a business owner making $100,000 per year but spending 20-30% of their income on health insurance. A $70,000-$100,000 job offer with health insurance and benefits included (minus the risk of running a business) starts to look pretty darn appealing, don’t you think? What happens to the services they provided their community? What about the workers they employed that now need to seek new employment (and insurance)? Plus, consider that the job they acquired could have gone to the next American in line that also needed that job to feed (and insure) their family.

3. Lower your Living Expenses

Like making more money, lowering expenses for middle-income Americans is not always a feasible option. Still, creating a monthly budget is highly beneficial and recommended for anyone.

tighten the belt - piggy bank
Tighten the Belt: ©PicturesOfMoney

4. Choose a high deductible plan and don’t visit the doctor.

Elect a high deductible plan (ie. $10,000) to lower your monthly premium. In that case, how many families no longer visit the doctor for medical concerns in fear of being unable to afford the deductible? This is a scary thought, as early diagnosis is key to nearly every medical ailment. This defeats the purpose of Obama’s Affordable Care Act, if people can’t afford to go to the doctor.

The Affordable Care Act’s main focus is on providing more Americans with access to affordable health insurance, improving the quality of health care and health insurance, regulating the health insurance industry, and reducing health care spending in the US. -Obamacarefacts.com

What next?

In 2017, it’s likely that the new President-elect will make changes to Obamacare. Whether or not that will aid middle-class Americans in obtaining more affordable health insurance options is yet to be discovered.

What do we do now? Rather than hosting a national pity party, I ask what suggestions and ideas you have to move forward and move ahead.

In-person health screenings to determine our risk class? Discounts for taking advantage of preventative medicine? Bonuses for doctors who actually improve their patients health? Don’t have insurance and pay the fines? Buy alternative health co-operative plans? Raise taxes higher for all taxpayers and offer ‘free’ healthcare similar to either Canada or France’s healthcare systems. That is, Canada’s ‘free’ care without the stigma of long wait times for treatment and surgeries.

We’d love to hear from you on how health insurance has affected you, and what suggestions you have for improvements? If no changes are made to the system, is your health worth 100% of your income? 33% of it? I take that question back. When was the last time your health insurance premiums made you healthier? Health insurance is not health care.

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About Brooke

BrookeZiegler.com ↞ Farm girl with a gypsy heart. Life-long obsession for junking and all things vintage. Working on upcycled fashions, DIY beauty, colorful salads and a healthy earth. ↠ Read About BrookeRead more posts by Brooke

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