Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Benefits Fair & Open Enrollment

Open enrollment for my 2013 benefits officially opened this week.  I have two weeks to decide whether or not I will bite the bullet and commit to paying for the huge increase in my health insurance premium.  To keep my current health insurance, and thus be able to keep my current family doctor, my share of the premium will go up $200 per month.

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.

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  1. Healthcare costs were going up at an alarming rate anyway and most of Obamacare hasn't yet gone into effect, so I think your healthcare manager was being disingenuous. Were Obamacare repealed I fear costs would go up more than yours did. Single pay and eliminating the healthcare insurers is the only way to control these costs. This works well around the world for the twenty or so countries that outrank us in healthcare quality with lower costs.

    1. my premiums had been going up 5-10% per year before the law was passed. The year it passed it went up 20%. It went up another 30% this year. Single payer works so well that Canadians come here for medical service because they have such a long wait.

  2. I'm working on our health insurance renewal for our company at the moment and my question is why is our insurance going up 10% when we received refunds from the same company last year because they received more money in premiums than used for actual healthcare costs. I find THAT amazing!



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