Welp, we did it. Starting October 1st, we got on our very own health insurance plans for the very first time ever. Before this point, we’ve always had an employer offering us plans and subsidizing the costs. But now that we’re 100% self-employed, we’re 100% in charge of our own health, too. We discussed it in this post recently, but just to recap, we’d been looking at a few health insurance options, traditional ones and one called Christian Healthcare Ministries, which was very untraditional.
Finally, one night in a moment of utter nerdiness and desperation, Johnny busted out a spreadsheet of our options and all the different scenarios we were considering. Here’s how it went down:
How We Calculated
Johnny did all the legwork for this, so first let me give him an Internet pat on the back. Well done, good fellow. With spreadsheet at hand, he started hypothesizing how many times we’d each need to see a doctor this year. Odd, yes. Necessary? Debatable. Fun? Kind of. It was like guessing which of us would survive our Oregon Trail trek and which of us would perish from cholera or snake bite. Johnny and I are fairly healthy, so we guessed we would only need to see a doctor twice each. We took a stab and said Sally and Wynn would need five doctor’s visits, not including well-visits. Add in the five well-visits between the two of them and that’s a whole lotta office visit costs.
After projecting how many visits we’d each need, he then got on the phone and started getting quotes. With monthly premium costs, copay costs, and deductible numbers in hand, he then plugged those numbers into his spreadsheet and compared the costs of the different plans. He calculated the costs of our whole family on a traditional healthcare plan, all of us on the healthcare ministry plan, as well as a cost analysis of combo plans (some of us on traditional and some on the healthcare ministry).
What We Decided
After doing more math than is humanly enjoyable, we opted to put the girls on a traditional health insurance plan and ourselves on the Christian Healthcare Ministries plan. We chose the highest eligible plan for ourselves with unlimited “coverage,” and it will cost around $320/month. We have a $500 deductible of sorts that we need to reach, and then any and all bills that exceed the $500 price point are covered 100%. Not too shabby. Sally and Wynn’s traditional plan will cost us about $290/month. Their plan has a low $250 deductible and a $5,000 max out-of-pocket cost. The kicker, though, was that well-visits are covered 100%, and all other visits have a $25 copay with a deductible waiver. If you made it through all that gobbledygook (check out our Health Insurance terms for normal folks if you need a refresher), Internet high-five from me to you. So our monthly premium for both plans will be about $600.
We feel pretty confident about the choices we made. We (okay, mostly me) were most concerned about our girls having great coverage and never feeling hesitant to take them into the doctor because of costs. When Sally had to be hospitalized in April, I’d like to think we’d have still taken her into the ER in the middle of the night no matter the cost, but I don’t want that to ever be a choice we have to debate. So we feel really good about the low deductible, low copay plan our girls will have.
We’re also excited to try the healthcare ministry plan for ourselves. It’s basically the same price as a catastrophic plan, but it offers an extremely low “deductible.” If anything major ever arises, the most we’d ever be out is $500 for the entire year. And while we’ll be paying more upfront at doctor’s visits, those tend to be fewer (read: almost zero) for us than our girls. And in the meantime, we’ll save thousands over the course of the year by having such a low monthly premium. So it feels like a win-win in theory. We’re looking forward to doing a more in-depth review and explainer on Christian Healthcare Ministries once we’ve had a chance to try the unique process firsthand.
This whole experience has been extremely eye opening as we venture into the unchartered territories of self employment. Seeing that $600 price tag is a pretty tough pill to swallow, but it’s essential and we’ll make room for it in our budget. Wading this deep in healthcare numbers and information makes us feel like much more informed consumers. It has been a good reminder that healthcare costs are like any other commercial activity: you should be able to ask your doctor’s front desk or insurance what any visit, procedure, treatment, lab work, etc. will cost you. Up until the last few months, we’ve always just chalked it up as a total crapshoot. But not anymore! Now that we’re 100% responsible for our costs, you better believe we’ll be planning and watching those costs like a hawk.