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Old 11-11-2007, 07:20   #31
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plenty of choices

Surf this site...
Health Insurance, Medical Insurance, Individual Health Insurance Quotes

They provide lots of options from lots of different insurers. I and my wife are over 50 & can get insurance well under $5000 per year, total.

I had a chat with my auto/home insurance agent. He has had ongoing serious health issues. His self insurance cost dropped by 2/3 recently. He claims that the number of individuals seeking individual insurance has risen dramaticly and that is causing the rates to fall.

I also personally think the insurance companies are reading the writing on the wall. They see the push for a national health care system that would put them out of business so they've stopped gouging. We will generally accept private insurance if it's reasonably priced. So they are getting closer to 'reasonable' to keep the alternative at bay. A strange sort of competition.

If we can get rid of the John Edwards of the world, aka ambulance chasers, we can knock the costs down quite a bit more. A US doctor can easily spend several hundred thousand dollars on malpractice insurance per year.
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Old 11-11-2007, 12:57   #32
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" He claims that the number of individuals seeking individual insurance has risen dramaticly and that is causing the rates to fall."
I see that as the sadly normal Western mistake of seeing coincedence and mistaking it for causality.
I would guess that as more people seek individual insurance, more people are getting into the business of marketing and selling more "individual" insurance plans. Many of which are poor quality products, which may now be cheap and common--but that's about all.
As opposed to rates dropping because more people were in the "group" called "individuals" as opposed to any other group (i.e. union members).

I hear too many tales from doctors (firsthand) about insurance company practices, and I've read published interviews to the same extent. The insurance companies are in the business (oh right, COMPANIES are BUSINESSES!) of making money, and most or all of them in the medical insurance business have formal policies which consist of plainly illegla actions in order to delay or deny payments to "providers" aka doctors, among other ways of making sure the "insured party" gets denied coverage that they are legally entitled to.

The only question is how long it will take before the RICO statutes are used to prosecute several of these companies, because they are in flagrant violation.

I'm sure some of them provide an honest deal--it's just that no one seems to be able to figure out a short list of honest and reasonable medical insurers.
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Old 12-11-2007, 04:40   #33
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Originally Posted by hellosailor View Post
" He claims that the number of individuals seeking individual insurance has risen dramaticly and that is causing the rates to fall."
I see that as the sadly normal Western mistake of seeing coincedence and mistaking it for causality.
I would guess that as more people seek individual insurance, more people are getting into the business of marketing and selling more "individual" insurance plans. Many of which are poor quality products, which may now be cheap and common--but that's about all.
As opposed to rates dropping because more people were in the "group" called "individuals" as opposed to any other group (i.e. union members).

The only question is how long it will take before the RICO statutes are used to prosecute several of these companies, because they are in flagrant violation.
HS
I quote an insurance agent; a guy with knowledge of the business and personal experience and you then GUESS at what you think is happening.

This agent does not sell health insurance; only life, car & home. He has a serious, ongoing health issue; and his policy cost dropped significantly. He gets good comprehensive coverage, in fact he told me his coverages expanded and the deductables went down as he got the lower rates. Those are facts, not guesses.
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Old 12-11-2007, 05:30   #34
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Originally Posted by gettinthere
”I quote an insurance agent; a guy with knowledge of the business and personal experience and you then GUESS at what you think is happening.
This agent does not sell health insurance ...
... he told me his coverages expanded and the deductibles went down as he got the lower rates. Those are facts ...
Having been a technical salesman, then a sales manager, I would hardly classify salesmen as the highest authority on the products and/or services they sell.
I assume even less competence about “allied” services, that they don’t actually sell.

Your agent friend offers interesting anecdotal process information, to which you interpret cause & effect.
I suspect it’s your interpretation that HS questions, offering his own alternate speculation.

All of these unsupported opinions might be characterized as “guesses”.

Process describes how something happens; whereas Cause and Effect analyzes why something happens.
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Old 12-11-2007, 08:43   #35
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We're planning on leaving on a big trip in four years (one year into the five year plan). I opted for an HSA plan at my work. I take $5K a year out of my paycheck, tax free. It goes into an account that I can control the asset class, and every year I can put another $5K into it.

If you have high medical bills, or are planning on it (child birth, knee surgery, etc), it's not the plan for you. But if you don't use much insurance, it's a great plan.

When we leave for our trip, we'll have about $10K - $15K in the HSA account, which we can use for healthcare with no tax implications. That cash, coupled with a high deductible emergency plan, should work out nicely.

*** I work for an insurance company, by the way.
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Old 12-11-2007, 10:34   #36
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*** I work for an insurance company, by the way.
Well then, thanks for the confession. We'll consider your info to be biased & prejudiced. And you should be prosecuted under the RICO act as a criminal. We know all insurance companies & their employees are evil. Thank you
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Old 12-11-2007, 17:38   #37
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Well then, thanks for the confession. We'll consider your info to be biased & prejudiced. And you should be prosecuted under the RICO act as a criminal. We know all insurance companies & their employees are evil. Thank you


An HSA is a great option for people who would like to save up some money for future healthcare costs. I would really advise it for anyone that doesn't normally have a really high health care bill. If you spent less than $1K a year for the last few years, and don't see an increase coming up any time soon, check with your emplower about it.

Also, after age 65, you can use your HSA balance for *anything*, no penalty. It's also a great way to slice another $5K off of your taxible income every year.
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Old 12-11-2007, 19:27   #38
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There is no cheap health insurance in the United States that I have found. On the other hand, my son obtained offshore health insurance for about seven hundred dollars when we were cruising around the world. But, he was not allowed to use health care facilities inside the USA.
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Old 12-11-2007, 19:58   #39
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An HSA is a great option for people who would like to save up some money for future healthcare costs. I would really advise it for anyone that doesn't normally have a really high health care bill. If you spent less than $1K a year for the last few years, and don't see an increase coming up any time soon, check with your emplower about it.

Also, after age 65, you can use your HSA balance for *anything*, no penalty. It's also a great way to slice another $5K off of your taxible income every year.

Can I put 5k a year away and let it carry over year to year? Building up what I don't spend.
What about the wife? Can I add 5k for her too = 10k?
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Old 12-11-2007, 20:31   #40
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Can I put 5k a year away and let it carry over year to year? Building up what I don't spend.
What about the wife? Can I add 5k for her too = 10k?
Yes and no.

You can add up $5K per year ($5,450, exactly) if you're married and carrying a dependent, but essentially you now have a $5K deductible, so you can get hit pretty hard in that regard. Like I said, if you think you'll be paying a lot of medical bills, I wouldn't advise it. Health savings account - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Here's some scenarios:

A) You get hit by a car, and have $4,000 worth of contributions so far. The total bill is $40,000, so you'll burn that entire $4,000, plus you'll owe an additional $1,000, and your insurance company will pick up the $35,000.

B) You save $5,000 in a year, and have $1,500 worth of expenses. You'll end the year with a balance of $3,500, which will carry over for the next year. It is *not* a use-it-or-lose-it thing, like an FSA is. The only thing HSAs have in common with FSAs is the last two letters of the acronym; totally different plans for totally different uses.

So you can carry over the balance, but if you're married, only one of you can do it. There's a lot of options in where you keep your money however; the medical insurance company (in my case, PacificCare) is totally different than the fund holder (Fidelity, in my case). I can call up Fidelity and put my money in one (or several) of their funds.

It's really great, if you can answer yes to a few of these questions:

A) Do you not, or are you not planning on having, high medical bills?
B) Would reducing your taxible income by $5,450 be a good thing?
C) Would you like to save up cash for a high deductible account later on?

Another thing to consider is that when you first start on your HSA, you will end up with a $5K deductible, but you'll be adding into it slowly paycheck to paycheck. If you then get hit by the car your first week into the plan, you'll be liable for the entire deductible amount right then.

HSAs are a bit complicated, but so are jet airplanes; just because it's complicated doesn't mean it's a bad thing. I realized I did the right thing with my HSA when I saw my account going higher and higher, and figured out that all the money-smart people in my company, including my CFO and CEO, are on the HSA.

One other caveat. Some plans, like mine, don't hit your deductible for "routine checkups", pre-natal, and some other options. For some other things, they split it with you 80/20 (the 80 being their share). But for catostrophic stuff, or surgery, your deductible is first to go.

In the real world, with myself and my fiancee (my "domestic partner", on my plan), we've saved up $4,600 this year, so far, and she's been to the doctor a few times for things that hit the deductible hard. So I figure we'll have $4K at the end of the year, growing interest, and usable for the big trip.

When we're getting ready to have kids, we'll switch back the HMO.
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Old 12-11-2007, 20:55   #41
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Thanks.
I did not think it was linked to an insurance plan and used as a deductible.
Greek Jet Airplane to me....
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Old 13-11-2007, 05:00   #42
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Another risk with HSAs is the very one that hit me. In principal, the HSA looked right for us. We didn't have many medical expenses and the drop in income looked sustainable. Then I got laid off in the early part of the year while being double whamied with medical expenses for my wife and myself. The company where I next found employment didn't have an HSA plan so I couldn't carry over. I therefore had to take the high deductable on the nose, mostly post tax without having had the benefit of a full years low premiums.

So I would add the further question : Do you feel secure with your current employer.
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Old 13-11-2007, 05:24   #43
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Also, with HSA's...you cannot pay insurance policy premiums, only actual medical costs.
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Old 13-11-2007, 11:44   #44
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"Your agent friend offers interesting anecdotal process information, to which you interpret cause & effect.
I suspect it’s your interpretation that HS questions, offering his own alternate speculation."
Dead on target, Gord.

I don't know about HSA's this year, but in the past I've found that most "financial institutions" (banks, funds, etc.) give you a big blank "HUH?" when you use terms like that. Before they were called HSAs, they were called MSAs, and the big blank stares were just as prevalent. A couple of companies sometimes advertise that they will open them for you--but AFAIK the vast majority of the places that the IRS says can and should be able to open them, have no idea what they are.

Or, as Gord comments, it could just be the "salesmen" answering the phones have no idea what products they're supposed to offer. Bank tellers and CSRs being notoriously underpaid, overworked, and undertrained by most "thrift institutions" and only slightly better by real banks, in the US. (And that's not speculation, that's according to them and the folks who pay them, both.)
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Old 13-11-2007, 17:35   #45
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Are you setting up your own HSA/insurance plan? Ask the insurance company if they have any guidance.

My wife's employer provided the choice of HSA. When we chose that option, they fixed us up automatically with a Chase account including credit card. We can have a money fund or invest in various brokerage products.
We're going to fund the HSA for now and hopefuly not need to hit it for any big expenses. Then nibble on it for medical expenses after leaving with a high deductable insurance policy for catastrophy coverage.
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