The following is a staff writer post from MikeS. He is a married father of 2. So, with the cat, he ranks number 5 in the house. He loves numbers and helping people. Please leave any questions or comments below for either Mike or Crystal.
It’s time for the annual benefit open-enrollment. This used to cause me stress because I knew costs would go up and I’d have to figure out how to fit that into my tight budget. Years ago, a $20 or $30 a month increase in my benefit costs was too much. Thankfully, it has become a non-event. My costs still went up, so I just have to shift some things around to keep the budget balanced.
There were no actual changes to what I selected last year. I kept all of the same plans and coverage limits. For the family, we are on the highest deductible health plan. The deductible for an individual is $3,500 and then $7,000 for the whole family. In the 3 or 4 years that we have been on this particular plan, we thankfully have never met the deductible. Even if we had to meet the deductible now, I have been able to save about $5,500 in my HSA.
In addition to that, we save the maximum allowable about every year. So, if a big medical bill came up, we’re more than prepared to handle it. The dental plan that I’ve selected is just the basic coverage. If any of us actually have any cavities, the plan doesn’t pay as much, but I pay less in premium as a result.
We have been fairly fortunate the last few years, as the kids teeth seem to take after my wife’s. She has had, I think, 1 cavity in her lifetime, and that’s when she was pregnant. Over the last 5 or 6 years, I have really been taking care of my teeth, so my problems of the past seem to be behind us. My dentist has informed me that most of my fillings will have to be replaced someday, as they weren’t intended to be permanent, but I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it. We have vision coverage for the wife and me, along with long-term disability for me. I also have a long-term disability policy outside of work.
In general, the changes weren’t that bad. The company held the health insurance costs steady for the first time in a long time. My costs still went up though. Since our premiums are tiered based on salary, my raise last year that pushed me into the next tier for health insurance costs, thus I have to pay more this year. Again, it wasn’t a huge increase, only about $24 a month.
The contribution limit increased for the healthcare savings account. It went from $6,750 for a family, up to $6,900. So naturally, I increased my contribution to the maximum. That meant an increase of $12 a month. The other coverages went up a combined $3 a month. In total, my costs increased about $39 a month.
Since my salary won’t change until April, where might I be able to cover the increased cost? The bulk of it will come from my allowance. I’m going to drop my allowance $25 a month. That will cover most of it, and the balance will come from the wife’s income. Over the last few months, I have been building up my own savings from excess allowance, so I shouldn’t really feel the decrease. I didn’t want to adjust any of the other monthly savings that we have going on, so a slight reduction to my allowance seemed the better option. If I receive a raise in April and I find that the decreased allowance is too much, I can always revisit it.