As I look at the current economy, I wonder what types of vital services people will start to forgo — because they get laid off, or can’t afford to continue to fund their current life style. I fear that health care, especially for younger generations (people in their 20s and 30s), will be on the “cut” list when an individual or family looks for ways to reduce their expenses.
I know a couple who live in Texas. The man is currently self employed and the woman is unemployed and looking for a job. They are thinking that this might be the right time in their lives to start a family. BUT they don’t have good health care. Currently they have catastrophic insurance only. That means having a child could cost them, if all goes well and there are no complications, between $8,000 and $15,000. Ouch! You can read more about the cost of having a baby here.
I know of another woman here in Oregon who was a very healthy 28 year old. She works for herself and believes in homeopathic and naturopathic medicine. She chose NOT to pay for traditional health insurance, and this choice worked for her for five years. BUT this year she took a trip and was exposed to meningitis. Then the worst-case scenario happened. She got viral meningitis. She needed to have brain surgery and spent three weeks of recovery in the hospital. She now owes over $500k in medical bills. She is selling her house and moving into a cheap rental, and will still owe more than $300k.
Ok – it seems like I am trying to scare you into making sure you have health insurance. And yes, I am. But I also want people to understand their options and look beyond the “traditional” plans. For my friends in Texas, I am recommending that they put the man on just catastrophic insurance and the woman on individual insurance with maternity options. This way they can pay a total of about $250 per month but still get fairly good coverage if they want to have a baby. Once the baby is born, they will have to look at options again, to make sure they continue to have affordable health insurance for their family. Hopefully by then the man’s business is doing better and they can afford to fund insurance through the business.
If being able to afford health insurance is a problem for you, think about creative ways you might be able to self insure. If a broker is telling you things that don’t seem right, talk to another broker. Sometimes it makes sense for your small business to fund the insurance, and sometimes it makes more sense to acquire the insurance individually, and maybe pay yourself or your employees just a little bit more per month to help pay for insurance. At the end of the day, also understand that if something really bad happens, the last thing you need to be worrying about is bankruptcy. You will have enough to deal with–emotionally, physically and mentally–if the worst-case scenario happens to you (health wise). Do you also really want to have to worry about exorbitant medical bills?
I hope that our new president truly looks at this problem in our country and gives us a new solution. It is crazy that there are people out there who want to have a baby but can’t afford to pay the health insurance. As a country, we need to deal with the reality that medical complications can, and are, pushing more and more people into bankruptcy. I hope, I pray, that this time around we will get an administration that can actually affect some change and make a difference for the working people of America.