My husband works for a small company - less than 15 employees - so we sometimes get unusual insight into business decisions. Here's one that affects us in a big way: his boss is thinking about terminating the health insurance coverage that he offers to his employees, with a commensurate raise in take-home pay so that they can all buy a comparable plan on their own.
It's not really a financial decision on his part, just something that he doesn't want to deal with for all of his employees. (He outsources payroll but that's about it - everything else is something that he manages which takes time away from his actual job of bringing in clients and whatnot.) He floated the idea by Peanut, since he knows that we are interested in both money and health insurance, and we used 99% of all health services used by all the employees in the last year.
At first I kind of panicked about this, but I did a little bit of research and I think it would be a great idea. First, it would mean that our health insurance is no longer tied to Peanut's job, which would make things much less stressful in the even that he were to leave - changing policies would be totally up to us, and not to business decisions. Second, it would give us more power with the health insurance company - if WE are the customer, we have the ability to walk if we don't like what we're offered. Third, I think it's the wave of the future, so we might as well get on board with it now, and help it gain critical mass.
I did my research on our state health insurance exchange, MNsure.com*. I know there have been a lot of problems with the insurance exchanges at the state level (and definitely at the federal level) but that wasn't true of Minnesota - the site worked great. There are some bugs to be worked out in terms of the information that's offered but it was clear where things were still "coming soon". I was able to find a comparable plan with the same insurance company that would cost us around $600 per month, which seems reasonable (and is slightly cheaper than what the boss pays for us right now, actually).
The plans were so cheap because I was looking only at what's comparable to what we have right now, which is a high-deductible, low(ish) max out-of-pocket plan. If I was looking for something where I never had to pay a doctor's office bill, our monthly fees would be much, much higher. I like high deductible plans for a number of reasons - one, fees that go towards premiums are not deductible on your taxes, but fees that go towards deductibles are. Two, right now Baby M receives state aid based on her health status that covers anything that would hit our deductible, so any expenses of hers will not actually come out of our pocket until sometime next year. And three, I would MUCH rather pay a known high deductible of $6,000 and then have insurance cover 100% of everything else than to be responsible for only a $500 deductible but then 20% of Baby M's $1,200,000 hospital bill.
If it seems like Peanut's employer is definitely going to cancel the health insurance, then I'll have to investigate other plans - it might be worth it to pay $1,800 a month if we only ever have to pay a $20 co-pay for example. Ultimately I'm looking for the best coverage at the lowest combination of annual premiums plus max out-of-pocket.
Have you noticed any changes in your health insurance situation in the last few months?
* This post is NOT sponsored by MNsure or anyone else.