Bye-Bye $485: Day 29

health costs

Reality set in today as I received my monthly health insurance bill: a painful $485. That will be nearly $6,000 a year out of the $17,000 budget or about one-third of all the money I have. This makes it very easy to understand why most people on a minimum wage simply choose to go without medical insurance, and it’s certainly going to make my minimum wage challenge more challenging.

When I started this challenge, I looked at the different health insurance policies. I knew I was paying more than I had to and I wanted to see what else was available out there that might be at a more reasonable price point. Looking at high deductible plans, I could get insurance at about $150 a month. Still quite a bit for someone on a minimum wage, but two-thirds less than what I’m currently paying. Since I am relatively healthy, I could probably get away with a high deductible policy and have some extra money to spend on other things. The reality is that if I have any type of major health issue, I am going to end up losing this challenge no matter what type of health insurance I have.

Even though the savings would likely be much more, I simply wasn’t willing to change my current health insurance for this challenge. I also wasn’t willing to go without any insurance which is what a lot of people on minimum wage do. I personally view basic health insurance as something that is far more important to me than anything I could ever buy. I would give up my car without a thought before I would give this up (which may be something that I have to do depending on how things progress with this challenge).

Even though the health insurance is quite expensive, I feel that I can make the budget work. This choice means I’m going to have to give up a lot of other things I could have used that money for, but I weighed the options and decided that for me, this was the best action to take. What would have been your choice on health insurance in this situation?

To make matters worse, on my way home from Point Reyes yesterday, the clicking clutch came back, and this time louder than before. While I really would like to do some more traveling while I am house sitting, I’m wary that if the clutch goes out while I’m exploring, that could be a very expensive situation to try to resolve since I would be forced to get back to the house no matter what to take care of the dogs, not to mention having to get the clutch repaired in the middle of nowhere. For that reason, I’ve decided to cancel any more travel on this trip (it’s very disappointing that I couldn’t have it taken care of when I went in before travelling here). I’m not real happy about it, but it’s the financially smart thing to do. I will take it in and have it checked out as soon as this house sitting job is over. The good news is that I should be able to get a lot done on my writing over the next few days.

Today’s Spending

Food: $0.00
Car: $0.00
Housing: $0.00
Travel: $0.00
Health: $485.00
Misc: $0.00

Total: $485.00

Total Spending

Food: $21.76
Car: $0.00
Housing: $0.00
Travel: $0.00
Health: $485.00
Misc: $19.00

Total: $525.76

(Photo courtesy of Bill David Brooks)

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7 Responses to Bye-Bye $485: Day 29

  1. creditcardfree says:

    If I had money to cover a high deductible insurance, I would likely go that route, however, coming up with that money on minimum wage is much harder. I think you made the right choice for your situation.

  2. Debbie M says:

    Is there a bus or train available that could take you anywhere cool? Is there a bicycle you could use in the garage? At the very least, you could take long walks in the neighborhood, starting out in different directions each time.

  3. CB in the City says:

    I think you made two good decisions! Re: the health care, I feel the same way — willing to sacrifice in other areas to get good insurance. A few days in the hospital really shows how valuable it is!

  4. Alexandria says:

    I’d do the same, but obviously good health insurance is of priority to me. I know way too many perfectly healthy people getting absurd medical bills these days. But I have always said, “Well, I don’t need a car; I’d rather pay more for health insurance.” Most people in this culture think I am totally crazy, but is definitely what I would do. 😉

  5. jay says:

    Health insurance has dominated many choices made by working folks in this country.
    DH chose a boring, tedious job to get health insurance for us, including a chronically ill child and one born with a congenital defect. Had he not made that decision, we would be bankrupt, and our children in dire straits. After 25 years he continues to work at the same boring job, to cover a now “adult child” who is unable to find employment because of disabilities.
    Sad state of affairs. I can only hope “Obama Care” will soon make these hard decisions unnecessary.

  6. Allysgrandma says:

    I took a job mostly for the health insurance. I have a chronic pain issue and it is difficult, but it was the best choice for my husband and I. He picks up the slack at home because working takes it out of me. Obamacare in California is expensive. The exchange is all set up and it would have been over $900.00 for DH and I. I don’t think it is going to solve anything. I think the reality of it will be a surprise for many.

  7. Gailete says:

    When it comes to living on minimum wage, yes many forgo health insurance. I know currently we do for my husband but it really is more than just giving up something else. There literally isn’t any money for it. It becomes a question of do you keep a roof over your head? Do you get groceries? Do you give up your car when you live in a cheaper COL area that doesn’t have any mass transit or taxis? Do I give up my Medicare and supplements that currently keep us from going bankrupt? The thing is, Jeff is doing this experiment for one year with the ability to move around, etc. and when the year is over, he will be older and wiser and can maybe go back to a higher income lifestyle, but those on minimum don’t have that to look forward to. It is the year after year grind of never having quite enough and year after year of giving up many things to the point that many don’t have anything else to give up, especially not to make up a health insurance premium. The last 6 months or so have been some of the best we have had financially since we got married (and I got sick and went on SSI and my income was slashed to less than a third of what it was). I am so grateful every Wednesday when I pay our bills and there is enough to cover them and just in the last few weeks enough to set aside some towards bills that haven’t arrived yet. If the higher income continues then yes, we will probably be able to get him insurance, but until I can see that we have about $300 ‘extra’ monthly, which is what his insurance would run, I’m not about to commit to it and then scramble each month to pay it and everything else.

    I think this is one area where it is easy to say what you would do, but until you are living the lifestyle, you can’t really understand the reality of it all.

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