I always like to go to the benefits fair even though I rarely change insurance plans. I can always count on restocking my pen supply during these events. All of the companies at the event have some sort of raffle for prizes like cookbooks, blenders, and exercise equipment. Besides, I was hoping to have the opportunity to ask somebody about the big increase in my health insurance premium.
As luck would have it, I did get the opportunity. When I arrived at the fair, there was one of the managers from our corporate benefits office at one of the tables and nobody else was occupying her time. I seized on the opportunity to ask why my share of the premium went up 30%. It was no surprise to me when she told me that the primary reason was due to the health care reform bill, or Obamacare.
Obamacare, or the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act as it is officially known, is proving to be anything but affordable. Since the law was passed, my share of the premium has nearly doubled. My salary has not kept pace. Beginning in January, I will have $800 per month withheld from my paycheck to pay for health insurance for my family.
I really started to think about that figure. It is nearly as much as my primary mortgage each month. I could have a vacation home with what I am paying for health insurance. Both my wife and I are driving cars with excess of 100,000 miles on them. Repairs are becoming more and more frequent for both vehicles. With $800 per month, I could easily afford two car payments.
Combine the increased health insurance premium with the expected end of the 2% payroll tax holiday and potential expiration of the Bush tax rates and things don't look good for 2013. It may not be all bad. I recently contacted my mortgage company to see if there was a possibility of refinancing under HARP (Home Affordable Refinance Program.)
Previously, I did not qualify, but now they say that the guidelines have been relaxed so that I do. If the loan is approved, my mortgage will drop enough to cover the increased premiums and the expiration of the payroll tax holiday. So at the very least, for one more year, I may be able to tread water for another year.