How To Pay $82/month For Health Insurance (For The Self-Employed or Uninsured)

Health care is a huge social and political issue, and one thing is certain: nobody agrees on anything when it comes to reform. But the politics doesn’t matter to me because I’ve taken health care into my own hands.

The most pressing problem with health insurance here in the States is that a lot of people think they can’t afford it when they most certainly can.

Being that I’m self-employed I’ve been purchasing my own health insurance for my whole post-Collegiate adult life.

I’ve never paid more than $82/month for health insurance and you shouldn’t have to either.

There are some caveats, of course.

If you’re a smoker, for example, should you really expect cheap health care?

When you play the lottery and lose do you expect to get paid anyway?

Smoking is to cheap health care as playing the lottery is to winning. The odds aren’t in your favor.

If I smoked I would expect health problems. Therefore, I wouldn’t expect a for-profit (the key word) company to play the lottery on my health.

They should, can, and do charge almost whatever they please.

I’m not trying to sit on a cloud of judgment handing out life lessons to all the sinners, but the truth is, if you want low cost health care, you should strive to be in generally good health.

It’s a give and take.

You show you’re willing to work on your health and health insurance companies will take risks on your health.

That’s fair, don’t you agree?

Your Health Insurance Needs

Another benefit of striving to be in generally good health is that you won’t need the “everything plan” insurance.

What I mean is, you won’t need the $0 copay, $0 prescription, $0 hospital, full coverage dental and vision, insurance plan.

Why?

Because if you’re in generally good health you won’t need to visit the doctor very often, take regular prescriptions, or get treatment for preventable issues.

If you’re in generally good health, all you need is what I call catastrophe insurance.

If something unexpected or tragic happens the medical costs won’t bankrupt you.

What is unexpected or tragic?

Any type of accident, be it car, motorcycle, bicycle, sports, the list goes on.

We can’t control everything that happens in our lives, so it’s good to be covered in case something does happen.

What else?

Cancer and/or other terminal illnesses.

While your diet does have a profound effect on your health sometimes you’ll get gravely ill no matter what you do.

Sometimes the non-smoker gets lung cancer and dies.

Sometimes the constant smoker lives to the wonderful age of 100. (George Burns anyone?)

But would you rather take your chances with cancer as a smoker or a non-smoker?

Your health insurance company feels the same.

When you boil something down to its essence like that doesn’t everything become clear?

So if you’re ready to pay less than $100/month for your health insurance here’s how:

1. Strive to be in generally good heath. That means regular exercise and lots of living foods (fruit, vegetables, greens) in your diet.

2. Research high deductible insurance plans available in your area. (A Google search for “high deductible insurance” will get you a ton of results.)

My insurance plan has a $5,000 deductible. That means the first $5,000 in medical bills per year I have to pay out of pocket. If it wasn’t for catching on fire my 2008 medical bills would have totaled $0. (Yes, that story is coming. :) )

You will be able to find a high deductible health insurance plan for less than $100/month. Mine is $82/month through Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida, the top rated health insurance in Florida according to J.D. Power.You also want to make sure the insurance plan you’re choosing is HSA compatible because you’re going to…

3. Open a Health Savings Account (HSA). This allows you to save your money TAX FREE up to a certain amount every year.  I believe it increases every year, but it’s currently capped at $3,000 for individuals.

When you happen to have a medical bill you can easily pay it from your HSA with a debit card.  My HSA is with Fifth Third Bank and costs $3/month.  The interest rate is terrible, but the tax savings make it worthwhile.  Fund your HSA regularly, up to the limit if you can.  You can also use your HSA to pay for dental and vision care. I don’t have dental problems since I brush and floss daily, so my biannual cleanings cost less than $200/year. (Side note: I absolutely love getting dental cleanings.)

Beware: if you use your HSA funds for anything not health related you will have to pay taxes + penalties.

It really is that easy to get cheap health insurance right now in the United States.  No need to wait for the government to bail you out.

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{ 6 comments }

jason

Just make sure you have adequate benefits. I recently had a patient had who had a massive head injury. He had catastrophic insurance like you described and had absolutely no rehab benefits. He was not able to get any care after leaving the hospital. No nursing center for rehab. NOTHING.

Karol

Thanks for making light of that Jason! I didn’t even think about aftercare. Just checked and my insurance does, indeed, have rehab coverage.

Scott

Karol, have you checked to see how that coverage works out of the U.S.? I believe that most plans do not cover you outside of the states…

Glenda

The key issue here really is being in generally good health, young, and never have been ill, smoked, or used a controlled substance. Also, as a woman, it is fundamental not to plan getting pregnant, because that will easily add a couple hundred to your monthly payments, plus you have to wait a year before those benefits kick in. Lastly, insurance premiums pretty much automatically double when you have had a gap in coverage. So, say, you had trouble finding a job right out of college, and couldn’t afford even $80, then when you do start making some money, they rake you over the coals.

So, you are right, good choices are very important, and they start at a very young age. Having continuous coverage from the get-go is fundamental. However, would you “choose” to get a chronic illness at any time, well… That changes the ballgame altogether. As soon as your policy is up for review, they will raise your rates or cancel it altogether.

Cynthia

I just found out this week when I went to the VA Med Ctr for an evaluation (my first time ever going to a center) that if your annual salary is low enough, you get free medical care for the rest of your life if your a vet as I am. Hmmm… something to think about. I heard $35,000 is the salary cap. What in the world am I doing working for a state unemployment office that’s had mandatory overtime for 10 years! And my children under Obamacare are covered under their father until 24 years old so they don’t really need my medical insurance. Intellectually, it’s all there to quit. Emotionally I can’t seem to make the jump because I’m security oriented and scared. What to do, what to do…

Karol

Honestly, for me, I haven’t gotten over the fear of an accident or terminal illness. When a broken arm costs $10k+ I just feel more comfortable with insurance.

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