My Bronze Health Insurance Premiums Will Cost $6,967.20 in 2018

Photo credit: Clever Cupcakes, CC BY 2.0.

Last night, I visited and signed up for 2018 Affordable Care Act health insurance.

The application was very simple, even as a self-employed person; after filling in the expected personal data (name, DOB, SSN, dependent status, smoking habits) all I had to do was submit my current monthly income minus my monthly business expenses—and since I track all of that via Mint, I was able to quickly determine that my average pretax monthly income minus expenses is $4,573.

(I will note that the way frames the question is a little odd; the initial question asks you to enter “this month’s income” minus business expenses. Freelancing cashflow can be highly variable, as you know from my monthly income reports, so I calculated average monthly income instead, under the assumption that this was what they were really looking for. A later screen asked me to confirm that $4,573 was my average monthly income, which should have been what they asked for from the beginning.)

My income is too high for any type of subsidy eligibility, so I’m paying full price on a Bronze “plus” plan from the only insurer offering coverage in Iowa: $580.60 per month for a plan with a $2,600 deductible, 40 percent coinsurance after I pay my deductible, and a $6,650 out-of-pocket maximum.

I did have the option to pay a few bucks less every month—like, less than $10—for a Bronze plan with a $6,000 deductible, 20 percent coinsurance after I pay that deductible, and the same $6,650 out-of-pocket maximum, or a Bronze copay plan with a $6,850 deductible and a $7,350 out-of-pocket maximum.

When I was looking at these plans last night, I decided to go ahead and get the “plus” plan even though it cost a few more dollars every month. Here’s my reasoning: if I have $5,000 in health care costs under the “plus” plan, I’d pay my $2,600 deductible and then 40 percent of the remaining $2,400, or $3,360 total. Under the non-plus plan, I’d have to pay the entire $5,000 because I wouldn’t have hit my $6,000 deductible yet.

But I’ll still be paying $6,967.20 in premiums in 2018, which I am not thrilled about. When I saw that number, I seriously considered taking the tax penalty and setting aside money every month for doctor’s visits and emergencies, but then I decided that it was probably worth paying $6,987.20 to have an out-of-pocket limit on what I could be charged for healthcare.

(Except… if I were seriously ill, there would always be ways of spending more. Insurance doesn’t always cover in-home care, for example. I shouldn’t think about this too carefully.)

If you’re doing the ACA this year, have you signed up for your plan? Want to share how much it’s going to cost you?

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