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Learning, Sharing, and Teaching => Ask a Mustachian => Topic started by: FrustratedinFlorence on December 16, 2014, 09:38:17 PM

Title: Reader Case Study--where to go from here/why am I not content?
Post by: FrustratedinFlorence on December 16, 2014, 09:38:17 PM
My wife and I have been reading MMM for months now, since about the time he received some legal threats.  We've been on a journey of personal improvement, and we feel like we've come a long way.  My wife is very content with where we are, and with what we're doing to move towards our dreams.  I struggle.  While it started as my dream, it has become our dream to buy some acreage, build our own house (and I mean physically ourselves, not hire out contractors), and quit working.  We'll garden a little, play music a little (we're both musicians), and raise our 16 month old son into a great adult, and maybe have one or two more kids.

I am not generally a patient man, so hence the struggle.

Before the numbers, I feel I should add this information:
-We have two paid for cars ('01 Ford Escape purchased for $3500 cash 2 years ago, '04 Mitsubishi Outlander purchased for $6000 in cash 2 years ago)
-I commute approximately 15 miles one way--5 of that I just started riding the bike...there's a ferry, and a river, and some ridiculous hills I'm a wuss
-My wife commutes 17 miles one way, mostly interstate, again with the rivers...they are not directly opposite directions--I'm North, she's East
-We regularly use both vehicles to transport instruments and equipment that wouldn't fit in many other in 60" by 24"-36" items, and regularly refers to about once a week (think large percussion/drum instruments, and you get the picture)
-Our house is currently on the market--we owe $80K, and have it listed for $117K
-There is some potential that one or both of our "main" jobs will turn full time (my wife is a part time school music teacher, and I am a part time university band director), resulting in a different income situation, which would lead us to our goals faster
-My wife commutes five days a week, I commute 3, and generally have random gigs all over the place, averaging once a week, though actually sometimes none in a week, and sometimes 4-5 in a week.  Some times of year I get booked easier
-The country part of the acreage is important--I hunt and fish regularly, and we provide a significant amount of our meat through those activities, besides being something I enjoy
-We are debt free except for our house, and are constantly trying to purge the piles of useless crap that we seem to have accumulated...I really can't believe we own as much crap as we do.
-We're both 29, and have a 16 month old son, who is the light of our life!
-Our son is watched 3 days a week during the day by my retired father-in-law (who refuses any compensation...and gets nice dinners and gifts for it), and by me 2 days a week, by my wife and I on the weekends
-There are no diaper expenses--we cloth diaper

Income: Averaging $3300 a month, ~$39000 a year (this is after taxes and business expenses)

Current expenses:

$644 Mortgage
$165 Duke - Gas and Elec.   
$45 Water   
$47 Sanitation - SD1
$4 Trash    
$50 CinBell - Internet   
$95 AT&T - Unl + 2 Gb Data   
$320 Groceries   
$8 Life Insurance   
$311 Health Insurance
$320 Gas   
$145 Auto Insurance   
$2154 Subtotal

Extras (spendypants) Outflow   
$8 Netflix   
$80 Eating Out   
$200 Personal Spending (we think...I know...we should know)
$288 Subtotal

$2442 TOTAL a month, $29304 a year


Emergency Savings: just over $10K
House/Fuck You Money Savings: $3K
IRA: $3K
Fund for Son: $750
Car Repair Fund: ~$1K


House: Just over $80K owed

I feel like we're on the right track, but I'm almost constantly pissed over our current situation.  My University doesn't do anything fast...and they've been dropping hints that I might be full time in the fall of 2015, but can't/won't/haven't made a decision, even though faculty schedule assignments are due at the end of January.  Our house has been on the market for just over three months, and while we have had 20+ showings, we haven't had an offer, and no showing since before Thanksgiving.  I guess what I'm asking is:

Where do we go from here?  If the house doesn't sell (we agreed to list it with the realtor for 6 months, I believe), do we stay here and pile up cash, with the intent to try and buy property outright?  We're looking at properties in the Sub $70K range.  If neither I nor my wife have a full time job at our preferred employers in the fall (we both like our jobs quite a bit, including our independent side jobs, and the amount of time off we have), does one of us go and get something outside of our field?  This is relevant, as I am one of those weird people who have bought their own health insurance for years (I haven't been on an employer plan since 2006, when we got married and I was removed from my parents' plan--my wife has her insurance paid through the end of July by her school, though that is going away at that point).  In Florence, KY, where I'm from, for a healthy, middle income family, this is the most expensive, hardest to get health insurance environment that I have experienced in the entire time we've been buying insurance, though of course that is only 8 years.  My health plan, luckily, is one of those that doesn't cover maternity, and a few other things not needed for a healthy male, and so is conveniently illegal come December 2015...Yes, I'm bitter, but also grateful that there have been extensions to the canceling of my plan.  Similar health plans run at 3-4 times the cost.  I don't know if I'm just risk adverse, or what, but I have trouble with the new high deductible plans...we're not financially rich by any stretch of the word, and currently have $500 deductibles, and 0% co-insurance...which we can't seem to get anymore.  The closest at last check was ~$450 a month for a ~$6000 individual, ~$12000 family deductible, or something for about $1000 a month, with $1500 deductible.  Of course, I don't know if the "deductible" matters, as they seem able to tack on "fees" whenever they feel like it.  As an example, when my son was born, my wife had the same plan, with $500 deductible...and we still paid an additional $3600.  I still don't understand why.  Also, please don't tell me we're eligible for a subsidy--I have become ethically and personally opposed from taking money from the government...the single biggest source of regret/shame in my life is the student loans my wife and I took out for college.  It is also my greatest source of victory--we paid them off, plus their interest, and those people can go fuck themselves.  I never should have listened to our "advisers" in school.  "Good debt" and "bad debt" they said...Right.


Do I have a bad case of the "what if's?"  Do I need to quit whining, be patient, and follow the plan we have?  Do we need to get health coverage through a health sharing ministry?  Does one of us need to quit working, and the other find some high paying job(s) in whatever we can? 

Any advice and any questions for clarity are equally welcome, and thanks for reading this book of a post.
Title: Re: Reader Case Study--where to go from here/why am I not content?
Post by: MDM on December 16, 2014, 11:47:16 PM
FrustratedinFlorence, welcome to the forums.

At first glance it appears you're doing ok for your age.  Car insurance and cell phones seem high - have you looked closely at these?

Main thing under "questions for clarity" is what is your gross income and some details on the various taxes and other expenses to get down to $3300/mo?

Other questions whose answers may prompt other comments: what is your mortgage interest rate?  If your house sold tomorrow, what would you do?  What budgeting/tracking system(s) do you use?

Good luck!
Title: Re: Reader Case Study--where to go from here/why am I not content?
Post by: FrustratedinFlorence on December 17, 2014, 06:28:54 AM
Honestly, we haven't looked at car insurance for along time. We're looking at cell phone options, but it seems like if we want new phones at any point, that the math is against us. I have read MMM's cell phone stuff, and I haven't been able to match it. My wife has done most of the research on that--she's more of a numbers person than I.

Gross income is as follows:
Wife teaching job: $21600 (remember it's part time, .6, actually)
Wife lessons and performances: ~$200-300 a month
My teaching job: between $6000 and $8000 a semester--this varies based on course offerings, and what they assign me as an adjunct
My lessons and performance income: set to come in at just over $12000 gross this year, with expenses of about $2000. Before my son, I could regularly hit a gross of $20000 to $25000 a year, but I had much higher expenses.

When my son was born, my wife was actually full time for her school--she still has insurance from them because they cut her job down to .6 a week and a half to two weeks before starting date.

Mortgage interest is 4.375%

If our house sold today, we would live with the inlaws until we finished building our house--they love the idea, and we stayed with them this summer for three weeks while we had our hard wood floors refinished, and painted our house.

About the house we want to build--we're planning on a 2 bed, two bath, sub 1000 square foot house.

As far as budget, we use excel and our online banking interface. We haven't honestly tracked our expenses, other than bills, and how much we put in savings accounts.
Title: Re: Reader Case Study--where to go from here/why am I not content?
Post by: sandandsun on December 17, 2014, 06:43:54 AM
You may find it difficult to get financing for unimproved land.  You will most likely be forced to consider a house with land for financing or pay cash for a land purchase.  You might be able to get a land+building loan- but if you have not checked with a  lender about options, I would do that before you make any decisions.  Down payment and terms are affected by the details of a land purchase.  There are also "farm" credit organizations in our region who might finance this sort of purchase but, again, it would be worth checking with them before settling on a plan...
Title: Re: Reader Case Study--where to go from here/why am I not content?
Post by: Peony on December 17, 2014, 06:57:33 AM
Congrats on making a decent living as musicians/music instructors. That is not easy to do and you seem to be doing it.

I don't get refusing to accept the health insurance subsidy. Would it be more palatable if you call it a "tax credit" (which is what it's called on the insurance exchange in my state)? Are you also planning to reject the $1,000 child tax credit for your son on your federal taxes? If not, why would the health care tax credit be any different?

Have you looked into how much your tax credit (aka subsidy) would actually be? I found that I had to talk to an actual person ("navigator") to get that sorted but the credit offsets about half the premium for my 19-y-o son and myself. We have income and family size that is not too far off from yours.

Title: Re: Reader Case Study--where to go from here/why am I not content?
Post by: dandeliongirl75 on December 17, 2014, 07:41:19 AM
I don't have any advice as I am pretty new to this too....but one thing that struck me is that you are having similar feelings about a lot of this to what I is frustrating to decide to do this and then not to be able to make super fast progress.....

The thing I keep reminding myself is that, like you, I have a career that is more of a vocation (horticulture) yes, it will take us longer because we will likely never earn what others do, but similarly we are doing something we really enjoy every day instead of feeling trapped in an office....

So, we already are living the life many are aiming towards....

Not sure if I expressed that very clearly but it is something I think about a lot....
Title: Re: Reader Case Study--where to go from here/why am I not content?
Post by: FrustratedinFlorence on December 17, 2014, 08:00:24 AM

I completely get what you're saying.  I do love what I do, and I get that I'm not currently making a ton of money.  The frustrating part is that it seems like much of what I'm waiting on is out of my control.  Ie, the sale of my house, whether my University or my wife's school takes our positions full time (which I do feel like we give them that value.  I try to keep their veiwpoints in mind, as well), whether or not we can afford health insurance. 

On the other hand, we are already living a pretty good life, which is why my original post has the caveat of "why am I not content?"  No patience--it's something I've always struggled with.


Is it actually a tax credit?  I'm not exactly objective about this...there were some issues with my health plan, as in, we were told it would be canceled, and then had to scramble to find options, only to be told a few weeks later that it wouldn't be canceled...this has happened 4-5 times now.  The representatives at the actual companies are next to useless, as they are in the same boat as me--nobody knows what will happen next, whether that's in the next week, or in the next year.

Frankly, I haven't considered speaking with a "navigator" (how do you even find one of those?) or a health insurance agent, as I generally fly off the handle, and throw possessions, while banging my fist into pillows and mattresses (I'm tired of fixing drywall...) at the very mention of health insurance...this is probably my biggest issue with our plan--I have trouble being rational about the subject.


There is a local organization called Farm Credit, where we were pre-approved for a mortgage on land alone.  I've been told that when the house sells, it shouldn't be much of an issue to get approved again.  The approval expired, as it took longer than we expected to get our house on the market, and it is taking some time to sell.  They require 10% down, a 15 year mortgage, and closing costs of about $2-3K.  They are the only bank/lender in our area that has responded positively to financing on over 5 acres.
Title: Re: Reader Case Study--where to go from here/why am I not content?
Post by: neo von retorch on December 17, 2014, 08:15:39 AM
As far as cell phone goes, just switching to Cricket would drop you down to $60-65/month for two lines, which saves you $360/year, which is enough to buy two brand new Motorola Moto G phones every year, which is excessive :) But there are less expensive options than Cricket, too. (Cricket works on the exact same AT&T network so you can use your current phones, transport your number. You get "1 GB" of data per line, which is more than enough, and it's actually 1 GB of high speed data, but unlimited data at slower speeds. I use about 300MB per month... use your WiFi!)

I don't like Republic Wireless for at least two reasons. 1) You need a Republic specific phone. Costs up front and harder to resell, impossible to use on other carriers. 2) Uses Sprint towers, which, for me, are far and few between. So I spoil myself with a fancy-pants luxury Cricket plan.

If that $95 is for just one line (??) you can save $60/month or $960/year, which I dare say, is enough for you to buy new phones and still come out ahead.
Title: Re: Reader Case Study--where to go from here/why am I not content?
Post by: FrustratedinFlorence on December 17, 2014, 08:25:18 AM

The $95 is for two lines.

I didn't realize Cricket was an AT&T reseller.

So you know, I'm sharing this with my wife, and she is looking into that now.
Title: Re: Reader Case Study--where to go from here/why am I not content?
Post by: Thegoblinchief on December 17, 2014, 08:42:11 AM
Music is hard. My mom has been semi-pro for years and years and all of the FT musicians she knows cobble together their income from AT LEAST 3 sources. I'd say y'all are doing great, all things considered.

I'll +1 what's been said already.

On the cars, I get the need for 1 big vehicle, but do you frequently need a big vehicle at the same time? Keep an eye on that. Maybe you could get 1 efficient smaller hatchback because your gas expenses right now are huge. Factor in mileage and gas when taking gigs to calculate a true hourly wage. There might be some that aren't worth it, or you might need to adjust your rates higher to compensate.

For the phones, I'm very happy with AirVoice, which is another ATT reseller.

Food expenses are solid. Could be lower, but they aren't face punch worthy either. Consider dropping the personal $ to $100 total. My wife and I have been quite happy with this amount long term, which includes fun purchases and necessary ones like clothes, etc.
Title: Re: Reader Case Study--where to go from here/why am I not content?
Post by: Peony on December 17, 2014, 09:07:30 AM
Of course we are all new to this health insurance arrangement and the states that are hostile to the ACA are not doing anything to make it more clear for their residents, but my understanding is that the premium IS a tax credit. I live in New York State, and here much help is available here for getting signed up, renewed, picking a plan. (Not that it's not still a confusing process.) All the correspondence I've received from the NYS insurance exchange refers to the subsidy as a tax credit. When I renewed our policy, I was even offered the option to reject the credit on a monthly basis (it goes directly to the insurance company) and receive it as a refund at year-end. I opted to pay the lower monthly premium. The thing is you just don't want to underestimate how much you'll earn in the coming year, because you could wind up having to pay back the credit.

I found my navigator via the NYS insurance exchange website; she is on staff as a navigator at a local medical practice that serves lower-income people (I'm guessing through a federal grant that your state may have rejected) so I met with her at their office to sign up. If your state has not set up a website, perhaps the federal site has a link to local navigators? Otherwise, I'd contact a social service organization in your area -- a group that would have a stake in its clients actually getting coverage rather than obstructing that process. Or do a google search?

BTW, I doublechecked the amount that our tax credit/subsidy covers -- it is not 1/2, but actually 2/3 of the premium. With no subsidy we'd be paying $600+/mo; with subsidy we pay $215. I dislike the high deductible but at least the annual out-of-pocket costs are capped and hey, it's a shit ton better than what we had before, which was nothing. I don't fear bankruptcy in a bad situation quite as much as I used to. And I have been able to see a doc for my sprained ankle and my plan happens to have absurdly good mental health services.
Title: Re: Reader Case Study--where to go from here/why am I not content?
Post by: epipenguin on December 17, 2014, 09:30:27 AM
On health insurance, I have an unsubsidized high deductible plan which is going to be $275 per month for 2015, and I'm 46. So if the $311 price of the current plan, and the $450 alternative plan, are just for you, then I think you should be able to find other plans, as age and location are the biggest factors for plan prices, and I'm in a pretty high cost location. [If the prices are combined for both of you, then I don't have much to offer.] And I would absolutely take the subsidy/tax credit if you qualify. You pay your taxes, so get back what you qualify for. Having said that, given that I don't qualify for the subsidy anyway, I found the best plan for me by going OFF the marketplace. I buy my plan direct from Humana.

Of course, it's easier said than done to find a plan. I do get the concern over the high deductibles - I didn't feel easy until I had the $6300 deductible safe in my HSA. Now I'm working on getting that savings account up to the out of network deductible. If you DO find a cheaper high deductible plan, get one that is HSA compatible, and commit to putting the difference in premiums into the HSA and it should build up.
Title: Re: Reader Case Study--where to go from here/why am I not content?
Post by: Peony on December 17, 2014, 10:07:39 AM
Weirdly, in NYS for 2014 the HSA-compatible plans were actually MORE expensive than the mid-priced plans (at least if I was reading the plan specs right). I need to go on the website and see if that has changed for 2015. I'd love to put some $$ into an HSA since I'm not eligible for most other tax-deferred savings plans. But I think my kid may have some big medical expenses next year, so maybe not.

FrustratedinFlorence, I just want to say that I agree that it IS frustrating and stressful to deal with this health-insurance stuff, even for me in a place where it's relatively easy to do, but with persistence and resourcefulness you may get a better result than you expect. I think it's worth a try.
Title: Re: Reader Case Study--where to go from here/why am I not content?
Post by: FrustratedinFlorence on December 17, 2014, 06:05:12 PM
Alright, so going forward from here, my wife and I need to:

-Re-evaluate our car insurance costs
-Re-evaluate whether we need two large vehicles (initially it seems we do...perhaps if we kept a log?)
-Re-evaluate our cell phones (just ordered a freedompop device for free wifi--I'm going to test that out, and if it works well, possibly switch to an AT&T reseller with just talk and text, such as Cricket, Airvoice, etc)
-Re-evaluate our health insurance situation, in regards to what is available as a tax credit...and as our employer situations change.

So it's all on the table, the $311 cost is for myself and my son.

Thegoblinchief:  YES!  THAT!  My wife and I both work various side jobs/gigs/teach lessons, plus our "regular" jobs to make what we make...of course, we're both getting to the point that we're sub 30 hours a I am a little bit of a complainy pants.
Title: Re: Reader Case Study--where to go from here/why am I not content?
Post by: mozar on December 17, 2014, 06:23:05 PM
Can you live with your in-laws for a few years while you save?
Title: Re: Reader Case Study--where to go from here/why am I not content?
Post by: FrustratedinFlorence on December 17, 2014, 09:13:47 PM

While hopefully it won't take that long, living with the inlaws is currently part of the plan.


I have never built a house.  However, I have almost completely remodeled our current house (read: electric--everything but the panel, lots of plumbing, kitchen, bathrooms, and too much damn drywall)  I have also built a number of structures from wood--bridges, decks, and sheds.  Definitely not the full package, but I have a pretty good idea of what will be entailed.  I have also done an insane amount of research, and spent several hours with the county building inspectors, finding out what is needed.  For instance, the county we're looking at, you can't get a permit on a lot that doesn't have sewer service without an approved septic plan, which is required to be put together by a qualified septic engineer. (read, the company that installs it...some things will need to be done by contractors...for instance, I'm not dropping electric service from the electric pole...definitely not qualified to do that.)
Title: Re: Reader Case Study--where to go from here/why am I not content?
Post by: BCBiker on December 18, 2014, 06:46:02 AM
I'm glad to see that you have turned around on you initial statement regarding accepting the tax credit related to Obamacare; I have become the forum defender of Obamacare. 

Here is a thread where this discussion has been had to some extent but along different lines:

I guess that many people don't go along with this line of thinking but the subsidies related to Obamacare benefit society. It is far better for everyone if most people are insured.  If people are uninsured the cost of their care becomes more expensive and the cost gets passed on to others in various ways. Just like Federal student loans; these subsidies are important to society in that they encourage education which at least traditionally has contributed to the expanding economy. We all may find the government inefficient and perhaps corrupt but most policies which offer subsidies are meant to encourage behavior that will improve life for everyone.

(stepping of my soapbox now)

My understanding is that Kentucky is one of the few Red states that have implemented all of the provisions of Obamacare, including setting up an exchange.
Title: Re: Reader Case Study--where to go from here/why am I not content?
Post by: NICE! on December 18, 2014, 10:32:14 AM

I generally agree (particularly with everyone being insured and helping foot the bill) but let's not pretend like that bill was a work of art or anything. I don't feel that up to half of society needs some type of subsidy, and I strongly disagree with some of the minimum standards. A single male has no use for birth control or maternity coverage. Not every plan needs to cover everything, catastrophic health insurance has a place. I also think that single-payer is much better than Medicare, but I don't know that single payer would work for 300 million people. We probably need a system closer to the Germans or Swiss. It looks like we're headed in the German direction, though I think I prefer the Swiss model. I believe pay should pay part of the way since often people make lifestyle decisions that require more medical care (more kids, not eating well, not exercising, etc). Obviously this isn't always the case.

At any rate, the system was broken and this is, at the very least, a marginal improvement.

/end thread derailing

OP - great job making a living as a musician. That is truly impressive. I don't have anything further to add, your spending levels are great by my standards.
Title: Re: Reader Case Study--where to go from here/why am I not content?
Post by: Mesmoiselle on December 18, 2014, 10:56:42 AM
I live in Kentucky. I can't comment on health insurance because as a Native American Indian, I have a situation most don't.

I have  matrix hatchback. I have gotten a ridiculous amount of stuff in there. And I spend $70-$120/month (gas keeps falling in price and so does usage). You could consider attaching a trailer when needed if the vast amount of space inside the matrix doesn't quite do it.  I get 420 miles a tank with highway only driving and 320 with mixed city/highway driving. Take off the trailer when not needed.

You should include eating out in personal spending money. They are the same thing, because restaurants are frivolous luxury experiences. I love eating out, I should know. My husband and I spend $150/month and aim for less as we become better with our habits.
Title: Re: Reader Case Study--where to go from here/why am I not content?
Post by: FrustratedinFlorence on December 18, 2014, 02:29:12 PM

I'm mostly with you on the health care stuff--I agreed that something needed to be done for people that couldn't get coverage (cancer survivor, diabetes, etc), but why I need a plan that covers maternity and birth control, when that plan doesn't have anyone on it that needs it, is unfathomable to me.  I won't pretend that I have all the answers, but silly regulations that cost people extra money seems to me the status quo of government...regardless.

We are proud to make it as a musician, but wish that we could...make it better.  It always seems as if that next income level is just out of reach...Maybe I'll have a hit record someday :-)


I used to have a Ford Taurus station wagon, which I could load an incredible amount of stuff into.  I was looking into getting a hitch for it...when another driver t-boned me hard enough on a city street to total the car...  I needed a vehicle that fit my requirements, and before the insurance quit paying for a rental car.  That being said, I love my Escape, and also find it nice when I'm hunting to have that extra bit of 4-wheel drive...sometimes the fields are not exactly paved.  or graveled... :-)  When my wife was in the market for a vehicle, we seriously considered a wagon/hatchback.  We didn't find any, at the time, that really beat the price that we got her Outlander for.  At least, not that beat the price and mileage.  She seems to average around 25mpg with it.  I know that's not great, but it also doesn't have a payment associated with it.

Title: Re: Reader Case Study--where to go from here/why am I not content?
Post by: BCBiker on December 18, 2014, 04:24:57 PM

I agree that Obamacare is not perfect or even ideal.  I was (and still am) a single-payer advocate.  I spoke to congresspeople's staff at both the state and national levels when all of these things were being considered back in 2008-2009 in favor of single-payer*. Let's just say it was not thought to be a prudent way of going about healthcare reform at the time. And they were probably right...

My main defense of Obamacare is related to those that have been manipulated to believe that Obamacare is some kind of disaster.  The fact of the matter is that pre-Obamacare US Healthcare System was a cataclysmic disaster that ruined lives on the order of hundreds of thousands per year by causing frequent medical-related bankruptsy. Also, people avoided avoid the care they needed and suffered high morbidity and mortality as a result.  From a Mustachian perspective, pre-Obamacare bound people to their jobs because the individual insurance market was basically a sham.  If you really needed insurance, it often was not there for people.

To the question you ask about a single male not using birth control, my answer is a blunt MMM BULLSHIT. If a male has relations with women, then he needs birth control. A gay man or lesbian may be able to argue otherwise but lesbians have always had to pay the same healthcare coverage as straight women so why not pool men in as well. To me the new system is more fair but maybe I'm missing something.

In terms of where we are heading, I don't really think we are on the road to German or a Swiss system. To me the situations appears pretty unique.  Whatever the case we have moved on from something that was atrocious to an imperfect system that hopefully will get better with time.

*A note for accuracy and clarity: Medicare is actually single-payer for all those over 65.

-You are right; we are off topic but it is somewhat relevant to FrustratedinFlorence's situation
Title: Re: Reader Case Study--where to go from here/why am I not content?
Post by: FrustratedinFlorence on December 18, 2014, 09:46:23 PM

I have to disagree with you on the individual healthcare market pre Obama care, and on birth control.  I started buying health insurance in 2006, and from then until now, have never had employer sponsored health insurance.  My insurance then had MUCH lower premiums, and after I realized that I didn't have $5000 for my high deductible plan (which cost me $50 a month, had an HSA option, 0% coinsurance, a "free" doctors visit a year), I switched to a plan that cost me $90 a month, for all of the same benefits, plus some prescription drug coverage, and a $1000 deductible. 

Of course, I also didn't have that $1000, but I did have a credit card...and student loans...and let's just say I was an ignorant, spendy, wasteful person when I was 21...

We would regularly switch (once a year, at whatever time during the year we chose, usually within a day of our call) to plans that had better cost options.  Of course, yes, these plans all had lifetime did everything else then, and yes, they would have denied pre-existing conditions.

Just before my son was born (Aug 2013), I was paying $150 a month (rising health costs!) with a $1500 deductible, and all the same benefits.  When my son was born, we put him on my plan, which moved to $311 a month, and a $500 deductible, which was almost $150 a month cheaper than putting him on my wife's employer sponsored health insurance.   

When Obamacare rolled out with the marketplaces, I assumed that I would still be able to simply call insurance companies, speak with someone on the phone, and get the best plan for me.  Nope.  I had to learn phrases like "open-enrollment" and "qualifying life event" and "give me all of your private information on a poorly run government server before getting a price quote."  I also learned, direct from the companies, that at least in KY, there are NO PLANS that are not Marketplace plans.  Unsurprisingly, Anthem and Humana won't market two different sets of plans.  Just one set of plans that works for everything.  Similar to how car makers build almost everything to the California standards, rather than marketing different cars for different states.  The accuracy of whether there are no non-marketplace plans may be questionable...once the ACA hit, I got conflicting information every time I called Anthem (my health insurance company), and every time I received a written letter from them conflicted with you can imagine, I felt the need to clarify often.

Whether they had a script, I don't know, but there was never a problem with conflicting information before the ACA rollout.

As to the birth control a man, the only birth control options that I'm aware of are:
1.) Abstinence
2.) "Pulling out"
3.) Condoms
4.) Vasectomy

I don't think 1 and 2 apply to insurance...and do you really need insurance to buy condoms?  A vasectomy, as a surgical procedure, would be covered under surgical procedures, right?

As to a male's insurance plan buying birth control for a woman?  Only if they're on the same family plan?  Why would a plan that is for a single man ever need to cover a woman's birth control, if they are buying the plans and birth control as individuals?  I don't think that my insurance would pay for birth control for my wife, as she is covered on a different plan.  You can't get prescription medication for someone else.  If you could, we wouldn't have pill mill doctors.
Title: Re: Reader Case Study--where to go from here/why am I not content?
Post by: NICE! on December 18, 2014, 11:34:17 PM
And to add to BCBiker's points with which I mostly agree, why are catastrophic health care plans a bad idea? They existed before but now they can't exist. Many people on this board would absolutely love to have such a plan. Why is Washington there essentially outlawing this? I believe there needs to be more flexibility in minimum standards, particularly for young singles. Essentially we're telling young people they have to opt-in, which is great, but they're opting in for a bunch of stuff they don't need and thus funding another wealth transfer from a poorer age group (young) to a richer one (old). Will they eventually benefit from it? Probably, but the future is not a given and we already have many transfer programs from young to old.

Again, what we have is now better than what we had before from a utilitarian perspective, and probably from other philosophical standpoints, too (not tied to job, slower rate of growth of health care spending, which may or may not be causally-linked, better access to Medicare/caid). Health care is one of the areas where I've had to admit limitations in my overriding life/political philosophies regarding federalism, self-reliance, and distrust of powerful central government (economically, socially, militarily, you name it). Quite simply, health care doesn't work in the modern age without government involvement.

Not sure whether you needed that last part describing where I'm coming from, but sometimes it helps so I don't come across as a cartoon character.