Impressions of Obamacare

I recently had the opportunity to work through signing up for Obamacare, though it was not for me.  A family member recently took on a new position, and since their employer does not offer health insurance, she needed to sign up for insurance using Obamacare.  She asked for my help.

I won’t walk step by step through the process, since there are already a million articles out there about that, but wanted to share some of our shared impressions.

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Do Everything By The Book And Still Get Screwed By Health Insurance

Every time we think that we have health insurance figured out, we are proven that we are and will always be wrong.

You can do it all.  Every step.  Check it off.  Verify it.  Dot every i and cross every t.

Doesn’t matter.

The insurance companies will still manage to get you.

Actually, it’s not always the insurance companies.  It’s more the laws and the medical profession as a whole.

In Network But, Oh, Just Kidding

The latest example I saw that just floored me was in a New York Times article last week where unsuspecting people need immediate medical care.  They do the right thing.  They head to their emergency room that they already know is in network and get the care that they need.

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I Have High Cholesterol. Or Do I?

For many years, I’ve had cholesterol readings around or above 200, which is the number that most will say is the threshold that crosses you into the ‘danger zone’.

It’s something that bothers me, but it’s not my top priority.

I’ve had two reports run in the last six months, one for an annual physical and the other for a life insurance qualification test.  Here are the general results.

Overall Cholesterol
November 2013: 219
January 2014: 213
Suggested Range: 70-199

Read moreI Have High Cholesterol. Or Do I?

Why I Am Considering A Gym Membership

I recently spotted a Groupon deal for a local gym and gave it some serious consideration.  The deal would have worked out to $47 for a three-month membership.  They normally charge $44 per month so this would have worked out to be a pretty good deal.

I ended up passing on the deal (more on that in a minute), but I started throwing out the idea of getting a gym membership.  It’s something I’ve been thinking about for awhile.

Nothing easier than a pros and cons list, so here goes:

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What Does Hernia Surgery Really Cost?

Way back in 1999 and 2001, I went under the knife, both times for hernia repair operations.  Going in for surgery is never fun, but looking back, I’m amazed at how little I thought of the cost of health care in terms of what was a priority and everything else.

The First One: I Didn’t Even Know What Was Wrong

When I had my first hernia, I didn’t even know what I had.  For those who aren’t sure of the exact problem, it’s essentially a tear in your inner lining that typically keeps your intestines in place.  I had a ballpark idea of what a hernia was and I knew how the doctor tested us guys (yes, we do turn our heads and cough), but I didn’t know why I had this big lump that appeared at the bottom of my stomach, and why I could push it in and have it pop out.  It didn’t really hurt, it was just…weird.

Read moreWhat Does Hernia Surgery Really Cost?

Who Paid For The Flu Shot?

A few weeks ago, I was talking to my wife while I was at work, and she mentioned that she had gone to Target, and had decided to get a flu shot.  We’d never done this before so I was a little curious about how everything went down.

Typically, we get our flu shots in one of two ways:

  • Doctors Office – As part of a checkup, they will usually offer a flu shot during the season.  Our insurance coverage provides 100% payment for routine checkups and immunizations, as long as it’s done through a participating provider, so we have never had any out of pocket costs.
  • Work – The employer I work for actually brings in a couple of nurses for a day, and you can get your flu shot for free.  I’ve done this before, though if I happen to have a checkup scheduled, I’ll usually have it done there to avoid lines and such.

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Even If Open Enrollment Hasn’t Started Yet, You Should Still Start Planning

If you will be getting insurance coverage through your employer, chances are that open enrollment for next year is right around the corner.

Our time to enroll changes from year to year as the HR department negotiates and finalizes the rates for the upcoming year.  What has tended to happen is that the bigger the increase for employees, the later they will announce open enrollment.

So, let’s hope our announcement comes soon!

Even if your employer hasn’t rolled out the details, you can still get started on your planning for next year.  Here’s how.

You can look at how you did in 2012 and get an idea as to whether you picked the right plan.  This can help lead what plan to choose for 2013.

Read moreEven If Open Enrollment Hasn’t Started Yet, You Should Still Start Planning

2013 Insurance Selections Are Right Around The Corner

It won’t be long before employers start rolling out their options for 2013 insurance selections.  This always seems to go very well with Halloween as most of the past few years have been, well, simply frightening.

Last year wasn’t bad.  In fact, my employer didn’t raise anything at all, agreeing to keep all costs the same.  Before we laud their generosity, keep in mind that they essentially doubled the out of pocket costs on premiums, co-pays, and pretty much everything the year prior.  This was met with uproar across the company where the CEO had to have town halls to try to quell the storm.  So, after increasing costs 100%, a 0% cost increase was nice, but it still stung.

We reduced our costs a little more last year by switching to a slightly less costly plan.  This did offer less coverage, but this was fine as we weren’t expecting any major medical costs, which we did have in 2011 with the birth of our daughter.

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Why I Hate Fall

Fall is beautiful.  There’s no getting around that.  The turning leaves are nice.  The crisp fall air is refreshing.

But, I still hate fall for one simple reason:

My skin.

I have eczema.  I’ve had noticeable symptoms for a few years now, and they seem to pick up in intensity in the fall.  It will last throughout the winter, but for some reason, when it first hits in fall, it is like a bullet.

I have a spot on my face and also around my eyes that flares up.  I also get it on my hands (more my right hand than my left), and along my wrists and the tops of my elbows.

It itches like crazy, and if the areas around my face get bad, it’s noticeable enough that I get self-conscious.  It also really sucks because while the fall usually kicks in all of the areas at once, what happens after that is that one or two areas will clear up but another area will flare up, so until spring I’ve always got a rash and itch going on somewhere.  *sigh*

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Learn Your Long Term Lessons

Every now and then, I get back pain.  I typically lift things with my knees and not my back, but the usual issue comes in for me when I twist it the wrong way, whether it be lifting something or doing something else.  I can usually feel a twinge and can predict that a few days later, I’ll be in some pain.

The pain has never been that debilitating for me.  It’s just more of an annoyance.  For a few days, it will hurt a bit to change positions when sleeping and I’ll be sore when I wake up but it will generally go away after I stretch out for a bit.

I went to the doctor some time ago when it was actually really bad on one occasion.  He told me that I needed to do a series of exercises when this happened, and also said that I could reduce this by strengthening my back.

Cool.

Read moreLearn Your Long Term Lessons