Thursday, November 5, 2009

Health Care

It's open enrollment at my job, so here's a look at how things are changing. Below is a grid showing the premiums or contributions I paid per paycheck for the last three years (2006 excluded because I was here less than two months and from what I can tell, it was identical to 2007's numbers) and what it will cost me in 2010:

Health Insurance
 $    21.13
 $    28.05
 $    28.85
 $    31.73
 $       2.86
 $       3.06
 $       3.20
 $       3.39
 $    10.00
 $    10.00
 $  208.34
 $    25.00
Commuter Benefit
 $    76.00
 $    81.00
 $    81.00
 $    89.00
I left out my 401(k) contributions because they've been all over the map from 5-15% over the years as my economic situation changed. I have always contributed at least 5% to get the match, however, and I will continue to do so.
So what's ahead for 2010? Well, for starters, my health and dental insurance premiums both went up by a little. It's not too bad and those plans are still the ones that match my needs the best, so I'll stick with them. I didn't realize that the monthly subway pass had increased by $13 in just three years, but there you go.
My flex spending contributions are going way down--I'll get about $300 more per month (pre tax) than I did last year. I'm putting away $600, which should cover my standard copays for one doctor visit, two dental visits, a year's worth of birth control pills, and a little cushion for OTC medications and additional copays if I get sick or see a dermatologist. In 2009, excluding Lasik and therapy, I spent about $900 on medical and dental care, but I don't expect to get another root canal and crown in 2010, so I feel pretty good about the $600.
In addition to the premiums going up, a lot of other stuff changed with my health insurance though. Doctor visit copays went from $20 to $25. Therapy copays went from $15 to $20 (not that I'm paying that anymore, but I noted it). But prescriptions are where it really went out the window--my name brand birth control (for which there is no generic) cost $50 for three months in 2009. In 2010, the same prescription will cost $75 + 20% of the difference. Other forms of copays went up by $1 each (generic at retail pharmacy for one month went from $7 to $8, generic mail order for three months went from $15 to $16) but of course it's the one type that I'm on that took the biggest jump.
Clearly, it's time to switch pills. I was planning to do so anyway, actually, as I've developed some side effects I'm not crazy about, but for the economist in me, it's the price that really made the difference. I have one more refill this month, which I will get at the old price and then at my February annual exam I'll explore other options.
And lastly, in health related news, something weird is going on with my dentist. I had an appointment over a month ago, at which they said they'd bill me the final amount. I never got a bill, so I called them yesterday and they said I owe $58. Ok, fine, that seemed fair. So I logged into my dental insurance company to find the address to send the check to, and my explanation of benefits clearly says "Your dentist may bill you up to $29 for this work."
So I asked the insurer who has the final word on how much I owe, and now they're investigating with the dentist's office's billing practices. I hope it was just a mistake; I don't want to get anyone in trouble but I know the insurers set prices contractually and I don't want to pay twice as much as I should have been billed.

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