Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Insurance and Everything After

On Monday we had an appointment to sort out one of the most joyful aspects of self-employment: individual insurance policies. There is a local insurance agent who has been highly recommended repeatedly so we asked her to come over and help us out. I expected to talk about insurance options and HSAs and dental and vision insurance options. Instead she sat at my kitchen table for two hours and filled out an online government form for me. I was annoyed. I can fill out government forms by myself. Heck, I even do my own taxes. I guess I am not the normal client. She gets rave reviews and I came away thinking most of her clients must be incurious.

By the time our appointment time was finished, we were the proud owners of a shiny new Obamacare account and not much else. We signed up for a basic medical insurance product to carry us through the rest of the year, but no other burning questions were answered because first, the stupid website was an insane maze of redundant questions--shocking, I know--and second, the agent did not even attempt to broach any other subject beyond setting up an Obamacare account. She didn't ask what our concerns were. She didn't ask if we had any questions. She just asked data questions in order to fill out a form, showed us the options that popped up, clicked a few buttons, and left. I was not impressed. The old adage still holds true. If you want something done right, you must do it yourself. I figure she got a little bit of commission from whomever pays her for driving out here and I'll figure out the rest myself.

So if anyone has any knowledge about how HSAs work, if they are even available on individual plans, and whether or not it is worth it for adults to get dental and vision insurance, let me know because I am going to spend the next few months trying to figure out the answers to those questions.

What was really stunning about our trip through Obamacare is how much money is being given out by the government. Mind blowing. The EITC is peanuts compared with this sum. Without government subsidies, the policy we bought would be over $900 a month and carry a $4000 individual deductible, but we get it for $450 a month with a $2000 individual deductible. Apparently the government thinks we are really poor. No, really. There are six levels of subsidy and we qualify for level five or the *almost* poorer than dirt level. I have a hard time wrapping my mind around that fact.

Not to belabor the point but we make around the median household income in the US. How can the median household income in a rich country be considered so poor as to need five levels of assistance among all the other assistance?  I am caught between being happy about having a reasonable monthly payment and being wary of the overarching implications of such a subsidy policy. Could we afford to pay more? Probably. Would it really suck and make it hard to afford to do anything else? Yes. I admit it pricks my pride to have the money offered to me and to actually need it, but I also worry about whether or not the country can afford such a generous policy. My gut instinct is that we cannot.


Most ridiculous series of pages in signing up for Obamacare: Dave had to affirm that he was the parent of Grace <click> the parent of Olivia <click> the parent of Sam <click> the parent of Marian<click>. I had to affirm that I was the parent of Grace <click> the parent of Olivia <click> the parent of Sam <click> the parent of Marian<click>. I had to affirm that Grace was my child <click> Dave's child <click>the sister of Olivia<click>the sister of Sam<click>the sister of Marian<click>. I had to affirm that Olivia was my child <click> Dave's child <click>the sister of Grace<click>the sister of Sam<click>the sister of Marian<click>. I had to affirm that Sam was my child <click> Dave's child <click>the brother of Grace<click>the brother of Olivia<click>the brother of Marian<click>. I had to affirm that Marian was my child <click> Dave's child <click>the sister of Grace<click>the sister of Olivia<click>the sister of Sam<click>. And after all those clicks, it all popped up on one page and had to be confirmed one more time. There is a reason it took two hours to sign up for an account. Money well spent for website contractors, I'm sure.


JoAnna Wahlund said...

oh my gosh, yes. I had to do that whole song and dance last summer when we were applying for Medicaid after my husband lost his job. So freaking ridiculous.

The Sojourner said...

My husband the computer programmer almost threw up his hands and went without health insurance (we're too poor to pay the tax penalty anyway!) because of the Obamacare website. He had to fill it out three times because it kept getting hung up on the last page for reasons that were stupid once we eventually figured them out.

I'm aging out of my parents' insurance in November so we'll have to go through that circus again soon. Or the separate circus of adding a family member to an existing Marketplace account, anyway.