Fear and Loathing in Health Insurance

Today we take a look at the big daddy, Health Insurance. The necessary evil of all necessary evils. It’s a topic that may well bring down the nation. I’m serious…

Your Health + Your Health Care

Any discussion about health insurance must first begin with health care. They are not the same. Furthermore, any discussion on health care must first begin with caring for your health. They are not the same. Simply put, one key aspect of financial health is your personal health.

You should budget both time and money to maintain your health by way of exercise, diet, and preventative tactics. This is your best long term plan for staying healthy – both physically and fiscally.

Start with a complete physical and comprehensive blood test. Attack early warning signs and issues like blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, and weight with radical intensity. Consider a comprehensive DNA test as well. A DNA test put me on a path toward feeling better and body hacking some things I needed to correct. And I’m not talking an Elizabeth Warren ancestry type DNA test that is advertised on tv. Get a real one from a real medical professional that is designed from a diagnostic perspective.

Do You Need A Doctor?

Serious question. I go to a clinic run by a nurse practitioner The clinic does not accept insurance, so it’s removed from the associated costs of processing claims (though I can file them on my own). It is a medical professional dealing directly with patients without the medical industry red tape.

The health care industry needs to encourage more nurses and nurse practitioners do what they do in professional settings with their patients. This eliminates the need for expensive doctor visits when an alternative provider can do everything you need. It also eases the “shortage of doctors” by allowing them to concentrate on specific cases within their purview. It’s amazing to me the government currently discourages this concept. Keep your expenses low by tailoring your medical visits to the appropriate medical professional.

What Does It Cost?

Serious question. Do you even know? I’m betting you don’t. The medical industry needs to regulate pricing on procedures the way Amazon regulated pricing on soap and t-shirts. Prices need to be publicly posted, both online and on a menu in the waiting room.

One thing you can do is visit the Health Care Bluebook to find out what things really cost. Then you can determine your cash price or out of pocket expense via your insurance provider. You can also shop for the best deals around. Don’t just blindly go get an MRI at the first place recommended. Shop around and compare prices.

Have Tonsils, Will Travel

One cost saving measure to consider, and one I really don’t know much about, is medical travel or medical tourism. There is an extensive list of books written on the subject. Obviously there are risks to consider when traveling to a foreign country for medical care. I suppose if the savings are there and you can couple your trip with some fun & leisure then it is a viable option. It’s worth exploring (pun intended).

What Is Your Plan?

It’s no secret that insurance premiums are skyrocketing. Obama’s dream of a family saving $2,500/year under Obamacare has turned into a living nightmare for the nation. In fact, premium increases as a result of Obamacare were the last straw that ended my freelance music career where I had to pay 100% of my health insurance. This led me to a second career with a company that offers health benefits. Thank you, O…

Even with an employee-sponsored plan, I have a plan with a very high deductible (the highest available, with the lowest premiums) alongside an HSA where I contribute pre-tax dollars to use for health care costs.

Health insurance premiums have increased 55% since 2008 and look to be increasing another 5-10% in 2020. If you’re able, shop around to find the best rates and the best deductibles for your needs. There is no need to carry a low deductible plan or one that covers everything under the sun if you only go to the doctor once or twice a year. Get a high deducible (major medical) plan and leverage an HSA for your medical expenses.

Options

If you don’t have an employee-sponsored plan (ie. you’re self-employed or you’re doing contract work), some other options are:

  • Self-insuring. Good luck, but going without insurance is always an option. Doing so in the past lead you to paying a penalty to the government – a fact that is hard to even fathom in a nation of freedom and liberty. Thankfully we’ve come to our senses there
  • The Farm Bureau. This is what I did for 25+ years of being self-employed. They offer HSA-eligible high deductible plans to the self-employed at competitive rates, relatively speaking.
  • Healthcare Ministries. Consider LibertyShare or Christian Healthcare Ministries. You’ll need to read about their programs carefully as they are exempt from the ACA and can alter their coverage based on things that will violate religious taboos. Pre-existing conditions may apply, and treatments like medical marijuana or other alternative therapies could present a problem.
  • Artificial Poverty. I love this one. This is definitely the path where I am heading. Socrates writes, “Contentment is natural wealth, luxury is artificial poverty.” It is possible to reduce your income by way of your savings. When you have enough money saved & invested, your tax return will only show dividends (some of which may be tax-exempt) and long term capital gains from a few shares of stock/mutual funds/ETFs you sell here and there to fund a budget-conscious lifestyle. These are taxed at lower rates than income – something even Warren Buffett struggles to understand. You then have a way to keep your income taxes low or non-existent, and health insurance free (or close to it) on the government exchange. As we inch more and more toward socialism, it’s important (at least in my eyes) to take a look at ways you can maintain wealth, maintain lifestyle, and yet arbitrage the system. How low can you take your expenses while maintaining happiness? If you try, you just might find removing yourself from “the system” leads you to true freedom.

Conclusion

I’m going over my self-imposed 1,000 word limit here. This, however, is a huge topic that could encompass volumes. The proposed solution(s) will radically change the economic landscape of America. The issue will be leveraged to enact sweeping political initiatives as well. New health insurance legislation will advance far-left agendas. Health care reforms will echo socialism and communism that jeopardize our freedoms.

Our government looks to nations with the population of Oklahoma and attempts to mimic their systems in a nation of over 300 million people This overlooks the obvious solution of maybe letting Oklahoma run their own health care system. And then Texas and Colorado and the other states too. California? Well… we can all sit back and chuckle as they try to figure it out!

If you’re not looking five to ten years out on your health care and health insurance plans and needs, I would encourage you to do so. If you’re not as healthy as you can be I would encourage you to get that way. If you’re not looking for ways to dramatically decrease your exposure to the health care and health insurance industry, you run a high risk of being enslaved by that system and forgoing any chance of financial freedom. Don’t be enslaved by the system – any system. Find freedom!

/Rant off. Thanks for reading…

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