It’s difficult to explain how important it is to lower my monthly expenses by paying off my student loans- as well as other debt- without explaining where a huge chunk of my annual income goes without any real choices… my medical expenses.
For someone like me who has chronic illnesses, maintaining health insurance coverage can literally be the difference between a fairly normal life and absolute destruction. I make the joke that I work for health insurance but to be honest it’s not much of a joke. According to BCBSTX the billed amount for my medical expenses in 2018, a really good year for me with only one chronic illness really causing problems rather than all three, was $46,823. That’s a full time salary for many in the US and it doesn’t even take into account costs that I incur outside of the insurance plan for uncovered medications and services. In order for me to ever be fully financially independent I need to eliminate as many of my monthly debt payments as possible while also building a large emergency savings so that in the event of a job loss I could afford to maintain my healthcare costs without going bankrupt.
For this reason, I thought taking you through a summary of my anticipated costs for 2019 would be helpful. So here we go. First, some important terms then a summary of this year’s insurance plan and then a quick run through of additional costs.
This post is part of a series that will look at ways to save money on medication, questions to ask your HR representative during Open Enrollment season so that you can make an informed decision and more. Insurance and healthcare are, understandably, a huge passion of mine which I have only dug deeper into since beginning to work in Human Resources four years ago. I hope that this series can be beneficial to you.
My Insurance Plan
I currently have a fairly good plan but it is a High Deductible Health Plan which can get very costly if not budgeted for and fully understood. Being an informed consumer is of utmost importance with this kind of plan as 100% of the cost for services is on you from day 1 until you meet the deductible. Here are the details for my exact plan:
My insurance plan does not cover two of my currently prescribed medications (up from one in 2017) or any of the over-the-counter medications that my doctor utilizes as part of my treatment plan. This part is standard though, no prescription drug plan will cover OTC medications as a rule and have exclusions for covered prescription medications. Since this particular medication is purchased at a compounding pharmacy is was pretty much known up front to be an uncovered expense.
It also doesn’t cover some of the testing I have to do at my allergist/immunologist’s office when I am in a flare, vitamins and minerals that I supplement with when symptomatic, or any of the alternative treatments that I have found helpful to maintaining my health. While it is true that most of these costs boil down to personal choices that I have made to seek these treatments the quality of my life has increased drastically since introducing them so keeping them in my treatment plan if possible is ideal.
Not Covered Costs Breakdown
Without any of the ‘not covered treatments’ category we’re looking at:
One thing that isn’t accounted for in any of these numbers is the fact that I have to be careful about the foods that I eat and products that I use. I am allergic to a lot of things- most artificial scents, gluten, celery (random I know), bananas, and a slew of other things. This translates to needing to use more expensive personal hygiene and cleaning products in many cases as well as having a more heavily padded food budget than your average single person. I wish I could discount this but its part of my life and relates directly to my health issues so it likely should be mentioned. In my house you will find no scented candles, plug-ins, or etc. as they trigger migraines for instance and just this past Christmas I borrowed some basic laundry detergent while on vacation and was covered in hives for three days… so you can imagine a lot of shampoos, detergents and etc. can ruin my week pretty easily.
Ways I Lower My Costs
I write all this out not to convince you to feel sorry for me or what have you, because I think that I am extremely lucky to be able to work at all as I have many friends who are not able to do so. And not only that but I have a job I love, that pays me enough to afford the life I have- including insurance and salary that can encompass these expenses, a life that’s amazing with hobbies that bring me joy and friends that bring light and happiness to it, and a family that is just without words wonderful. It’s more than I deserve and I will always be grateful for it all. I write this to show you a window into my life for better understanding of one of my largest “why’s” when it comes to becoming financially independent and debt free. Having a “why” for your goals is important as without one you will be more likely to convince yourself out of the hard but necessary tasks along the way towards reaching your goal.
Until next time,