Covered California – Holy crap, some of these plans suck…

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.

A 3-months-out update…

We’ve been making some progress over the last couple of months. Let’s revisit that list from August…

1. Selling, giving away, donating, or tossing out most of our stuff.
— This is in progress. I think we are going to keep more of our furniture than we had initially expected to, but does anyone want 2 black glass Ikea tables or 2 bookcases? I’m also a little terrified to sort through my clothes, but it has to be done.

2. Forwarding our mail to one of our parents’ homes or a mail service.
— I think we have a decision on this – waiting on Jason to confirm with a friend that we can use his address.

3. We still need to find a temporary home for our cat. Boba will be staying at Jason’s parents’ house.
— That same (very generous) friend has offered to take our cat while we are away! This is done!

4. Health insurance – both for travel and also a US policy, since we won’t have our employer-sponsored plans after we quit our jobs.
— I kind of had a fail at trying to sign up for Covered California. Who knew that if you didn’t know how much money you were going to make in a year, they’d force you into MediCal. We have an appointment with an insurance agent to discuss in a couple weeks. We need health and travel insurance, plus I want to see if we can’t consolidate renter’s and car insurance under one company/agent.

5. Packing – what to bring and what not to bring. Jason and I are planning to travel with carry-on size suitcases and backpacks.
— We’re still several weeks out from dealing with this. Maybe the first week in January.

6. Deciding where we are going first, buying our one-way plane tickets, choosing where to stay when when we get to our first destination. As of August 7th, it looks like this will be Taipei, Taiwan, but it is totally subject to change. (Done 8/27!)
— This is done! We leave for Taiwan on February 4th! (This is still technically subject to change, since we used airline miles to book the flight and it’s changeable/refundable until 60 days before.)

7. Break the lease (30 days notice) and give notice to both of our employers.
— If we wind up keeping February 4th as our date, I’d give notice when I get back from the BVIs. It’s absolutely terrifying, both giving up a stable job and the fact that in my role, I manage a lot of chaos that will wind up on someone else’s plate.