As I’ve mentioned before, many of the systems we take for granted are not set up for what Jason and I are about to do. Insurance is the epitome of this – not only health insurance, but that is what I was working on tonight.
We have an appointment with an agent in a couple weeks, but last week, I thought I’d look into Covered California, our state ACA exchange. If you have a normal American life, you will have no problem applying. However, it did not want to accept that I simply do not know how much money Jason and I will make next year. Eventually I just put Jason’s salary in for a month since he will be working in January and I won’t.
Well, that was clearly the wrong choice. The system told me I needed to use Medi-Cal. This doesn’t really work for Jason and I as we love our doctors and also really shouldn’t be using the state’s resources like that – we know we should be paying for our healthcare. It was impossible to “upgrade” to the exchange and of course this happened to be the night before Veteran’s Day (on which they are closed) and then I went to Phoenix for the weekend. Yesterday was busy so I finally was able to call them during business hours today.
It took about an hour on the phone and several long holds, but the lovely woman on the phone adjusted our anticipated income up to reach eligibility for the exchange. At the end of the year you pay back any subsidies owed if you make over the expected income, so this is not use trying to get away with anything. But anyway, tonight was the first time I really got a look at our options.
Let me just tell you, if you’re on a tight budget, your options suck. Our doctors’ office only takes Blue Shield of CA, so I immediately filtered down to those options. Maybe the other plans are better (Kaiser, HealthNet, ect) but how you can ask anyone to pay $400 a month (it can go down to $90 a month based on your subsidy) for a plan that requires you to pay 100% of most costs up to $6,800? I feel like we all complain about the health insurance offered through employers – but I have never seen anything like this before! It gets better if you can afford their silver plan for $500 a month (lower with a subsidy) where you pay 15% of most costs up to $2350.
Obviously both of these are better than nothing and on a personal note, I do believe healthcare is a basic human right. I am not confident things will get better in this regard for the next 4 years, but as Obama said himself, I’d like to see them try.
If anyone is interested in this, let me know and we can talk more about how this all works out in the end. Our priority is to have some coverage in addition to our travel medical in case we get something serious while we’re away (cancer, ect) and of course avoiding the tax penalty. While I thought we’d just go for the least expensive option, the value seems to be at the silver level for Blue Shield. Not sure what we’ll do, or if we’ll buy off the exchange at all.