Thursday, November 3, 2016

This Has Been A Hard Week!


Can I just say that again … this has been a hard week!

The dreaded letter came Saturday telling us how much our health insurance was going to increase in price beginning in 2017.  For the past two years it has gone up $400/month each year, that’s an $800 increase per month in our household expenses from just this one area, and we were anticipating another increase for 2017 (hoping it would not be another $400/month increase).   Well, not only did we get the $400/month increase but our benefits also decreased.  Beginning in January we will be paying almost $2000/month for health insurance … with fewer benefits.  We have been trying to wrap our heads around this all week (hence, my lack of blogging).  Someone took the affordable out of the Affordable Health Care Act Plan!

So, we have two choices … pay it or take the penalty and suffer the consequences of not having health insurance.  It is what it is, whether we like it or not, this is where we are and a choice has to be made.  We have prayed and sought advice from people who we respect, some in the medical profession and others who have a lifetime of wisdom to draw from.  When all is said and done, we’ve come to realize that for us there really is no choice, with the health issues that my husband and I have and at our ages we have to have health insurance. 

So, that means some things for us …

It means we are going to have to dig in and fight for our survival!

It means we are going to have to shop harder using sale cycles, loss leader sales and couponing to help keep our pantry well-stocked.

It means we are going to have to learn a whole new level of contentment.

It means we will have to garden, glean and preserve the harvest even more.

It means we will have to barter more.

It means we will have to be more diligent in looking for ways to earn that little extra bit of income.

It means I will be intensifying my efforts to earn gift cards through Swagbucks, Bing and MyCokePoints.

It means we will have to intensify our efforts to get our outstanding debt paid off.

It means that we will be looking for more ways to cut our expenses.

It means I will be reading more books set during the depression era in the hopes of learning some things that will be applicable to our situation.  I’ll also be reading more Amish/Mennonite books with the purpose of learning and gleaning information on how they keep their families feed and pantries stocked. 

It means we will have to do without or put off purchasing things we need.

It means we will be having to make some hard decisions about what we can and cannot do.

On the other hand …

It is imperative that we remember that we are not the only ones getting these dreaded letters.

It is imperative that we remember that most every financial decision we’ve made over the past few years has been made with our futures in mind and that while we will suffer financially, the choices we’ve made up to this point will help tremendously.

It is imperative that we remember that we are a team and that by working together and not against each other that we will, with God’s help, survive this.

This is our plan …. our fight song, if you will.  We will pray as if it all depends on God (and it does) and we’ll work as if it all depends on us (it does as well).  We will be careful to seize every opportunity God sends our way to help us through this season whether it be financial, through gained wisdom and knowledge or any other avenue He chooses to use to help us.

This is our fight song …


Patsi
She looketh well to the ways of her household … Proverbs 31:27

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45 comments:

  1. Thank you for this post! I am only insuring my self (DH has Medicare) and my monthly cost went from 550 to 1008...it is just crazy. And also going from a PPO to a HMO-Phoenix only had one insurer now-so now if I leave Phoenix and need a doctor or emergency room on a trip, I will have zero coverage out of the Phoenix area. It is insane.

    You made a great point about the changes we need to make to adapt. At least we have some practice at this ;). Your blog is really well done, I am a long time reader, first time poster. I have learned a lot and appreciate the time you take to share information on pantries and other topics.

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    1. Thank you Hilogene! You had a huge increase as well. I am hearing from so many people both online and in person that are being notified of large increases as well. You're right, it is insane!

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    2. Patsy, personally, I think this is all part of a plan to get everyone so upset with Obamacare that they cry out for a new single-payer system. This is the Progressives' vision for our future health care. But we can see how inept the govt. is just by looking at how they run the VA! I don't want them to take over health care. They already control too much of it.

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    3. Kimberly, well said and I agree!

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  2. I don't know if this will be of any help, but I thought I would mention it. Have you tried an insurance broker? We did this year for our medicare supplement (we had been covered through my husband's former job) and he was able to find us a comparable plan that saved us $300 a month.

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    1. Susan, we are in the marketplace because without it the cost of insurance for us is over $3200 per month.

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  3. Hi! I'm a reader that doesn't usually comment. A friend of mine uses one of those Christian health sharing ministries with happy results, and she is not well off by any means. It might be worth looking into. Here is a post reviewing the top 3.

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    1. Kimberly, our health insurance needs are such that Christian health sharing ministries won't work for us. I wish they could!

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    2. My husband and I looked into that - it's called "Medishare" and they said they would not accept me because of my Lupus although I have a very mild case. Not very Christian, is it?

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  4. You might look into this for healthcare as an option: http://samaritanministries.org/

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  5. Patsi, how long before you can take Social Security and Medicare? I feel so sorry for you. I was scared ours would increase. Our pharmicist is a member of our cong. He had said earlier when it was time that we could change he wanted to talk to us.. I went and talked to him. We could get cheaper insurance in some ways and not so in others. We know our insurance and so we opted to probably pay a little more to stay with a company we know. I asked him if these increases effected us. He said since we were on Medicare it did not. I was thankful for that. I don't know what you can do except go on the marketplace and see if you can get something less expensive. Barbara G

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    1. Quilting Grannie, we are a few years away from Social Security and Medicare. We are in the marketplace, if we go outside the marketplace the cost for the same insurance is over $3200/month. Your pharmacist was right, when thinking about switching insurance polices be sure to read the fine print ... what you're giving up and what you're getting in return. Depending on individual circumstances, changing policies could be a good thing or a really bad thing.

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    2. We have had BCBS for years. Had it back when we first met your father in law and that was a lloonnngg time ago. I don't like what we have, but I know it will pay and our premiuns are not that much really. And I hate change!
      Barbara G

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  6. Pasty, I'm praying for you and your husband, as well as the leadership of our country. Something must be done soon to improve healthcare expenses as it becomes more and more out of reach for the average American. Have you looked into the Christian healthcare insurance that some are using? I don't know anything about it or the name of it, but I've heard it advertised. How far away from Medicare are the two of you? You hate to wish your life away, but it will certainly be a big boost for your budget when you can qualify. You certainly don't have to answer my questions. I'm just in shock and very upset for you. I had no idea anyone had premiums that high. We're paying about $720 with Medicare and all the supplemental policies. Again, you are in my thoughts and prayers as you work towards a solution....Glenda

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    1. Glenda, thank you! I've answered the questions you asked in some of the comments above.

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  7. Check with all the health share ministries. You will probably have a limited period where your coverage is restricted but you can qualify. They offer great benefits and the cost is a 1/4 of what you are paying now. Liberty healthsahre, Samaritans purse are just a few.

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    1. Exactly what I came here to suggest.

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  8. Patsy, My husband said that, regarding the US health insurance system, we in Australia think it all stinks! It does!

    It's not much consolation, I know, but I hope we can encourage each other along with experience and tips. We're really all in this together. I know that the bachelor economical mindset is to buy the food that gives the most energy value for money. Fruit and vegetables are the extra gleanings. (For us, butter - and I do well on unsalted - is 'diesel'!)

    With very warm regards,
    Rachel Holt

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    1. Rachel, I have to say your husband is right about our health insurance system! I had decided not to write about this subject, in fact I asked Annabel over at The Blue Birds are Nesting not to use my name when she included our situation in her blog post about big bills. But the more I thought about it, the more I knew I needed the encouragement and experience and the tips from everyone ... I knew I needed to share! Thank you for your encouragement!

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  9. You have been hit right between the eyes again and yet you stand strong. That is a Testament to how awesome our God really is. I will have you in my prayers but please just let me say. I was having this issue with my dad and his wife every year and finally I got Dad to agree to look at some other companies and what they had to offer. And we were able to find them more coverage for a lot less money. No Guarantee, but just saying. My husband sold insurance for years and he helped me by explaining it to them this way.

    If you purchase a policy in say 1995 when it is a new policy. Only so many policies can be sold. You pay your fees and the money accumulates and when you need to go to the dr. The money comes out to pay for it. Well over the years the dr visits cost more and we get older and sicker so they either have to decrease the coverage or increases the premium (or both).

    We checked through an agent that sold for several companies and he helped them in a huge way. They have extra money each month now to actually put back. Just an idea. Love in Christ.

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    1. Kim, Thank you for your encouragement! Please see my comments to previous asked questions.

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  10. Patsy, I am just so sorry! We have our medical insurance from my husband's military service and I am more thankful for it than ever.

    In Oklahoma, others I know have been hit hard by the marketplace increases. I don't understand it and I sure don't like it.

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    1. Rhonda, we don't understand it either and we surely do not like it!!!!

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  11. Dear Patsy,
    This is a different Glenda, the one that comments on The bluebirds are Nesting. I rarely see anyone else named Glenda, so was surprised.
    I just wanted you to know I will keep you in my prayers. $2,000 a month is ALOT for anyone. I have a widowed friend who runs her own business and her premiums are outrageous, also. I haven't spoken to her yet about any increase this year, but she was paying $1400 per month last year.
    There are some excellent Depression Era books that have wonderful recipes in them.
    Blessings to you,
    Glenda

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    1. Hi Glenda! This year we are paying a little over $1500/month so I'm sure your friend is going to see a big increase as well. I surely hope not! Do you have any Depression Era books to recommend?

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  12. This just stinks! We have insurance through hubbies employer and the options for this year are the pits! Higher premiums and deductibles plus less coverage. We are going to have to make cuts to our already tight budget as we are still making payments to cover our deductible and out of pocket cost from a heart surgery I had December of 2015. Through it all I have seen how faithful God is as our needs are meet when we don't see how it is possible. I know it is hard, but keep your chin up!

    Thank you for sharing something so private with all of us.

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    1. Wendi, we too are paying on medical expenses from procedures not paid for due to deductibles and out of pocket expenses for this year. So, like you, we are not only facing higher premium costs and less coverage but it means we will also incur more medical expenses that we have to pay out of our pockets before the insurance will kick in. It almost seems that it is a no win situation if you have chronic medical issues. God is faithful ... I totally agree! I hope you are doing well from your heart surgery.

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    2. My surgery was unexpected. One day my heart got "stuck" in a fast beating pattern. I had to go to the ER for help in lowering it. Thankfully surgery fixed the issue and now I am fine. For that I am grateful!

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  13. Dear Patsy,
    I am dumfounded by these insurance payments and my heart and prayers go out to you and everyone else that is facing these exhorbitant fees. I know that if we had to pay those sorts of fees here in Australia we not be able to do it - that's $24,000 a year! Throw in a pre-existing illness and I'm guessing it costs more???
    Some things I remember my grandmother doing (as a result of maintaining her home during the Depression) were turning collars on shirts when they became worn, turning sheets (plus she would never buy fitted sheets when they became available as then the bottom and top sheet would wear at different rates), made pillowcases from worn sheets that could not longer be turned and then when the pillow cases were worn they were turned into hankies before becoming rags. She always preserved fruits in season to tide her over and a leg of lamb became at least 3/4 meals - roast, cold sliced. shepherds pie and 'meat in cardboard boxes' (the latter being pieces cut from the bone then dipped in batter and fried). There are some you tube videos called 'Depression Era cooking with Clara" that are interesting to watch.
    All the best,
    Janine

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    1. Janine, Thank you for your prayers and concerns ... I truly have never seen anything like what's happened to our health insurance system. If so many of us weren't living it, it would be hard to believe that such a thing existed! I love the things your grandmother did during the Great Depression! That's the mindset I'm trying to learn. Thank you for sharing!

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  14. Patsy, I am so sorry to hear this! My heart breaks for you and the others going through this! It is very upsetting to say the least... But I must add that your spirit of perseverance, endurance and faith in the Almighty is inspiring to read. May God give you the wisdom (James 1:5) to make the necessary changes and decisions... Love, JES

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    1. Thank you Jes, my husband and I have been praying for wisdom and guidance for quite some time now. These are definitely some troubled times we live in.

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  15. Hi Patsy, I am so sorry yours is going up so much. I definitely feel your pain as my insurance is going up also. I pay for myself as my husband has medicare and VA coverage. Mine isn't going up like some I have seen here but it is jumping up $106 a month. I looked at the Marketplace but have decided to continue with what I have and just suck up the difference, peace of mind is more precious to me. I will be eligible for medicare in July. But I will be cutting back on things myself and it's a good thing I did a lot of canning this year.

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    1. laurieS, if we had any other options, we wouldn't be in the market place either! Well-stocked pantries are indeed a blessing aren't they???

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  16. I am retired now but I worked for a Catholic hospital system for many years. The sisters gave charity assistance to anyone who was low income and applied. Everyone who came to the hospital got the same treatment whether they had insurance or not. Many people were hardworking like yourself, but with very low incomes. I can't help but think you would be better off without the insurance and using the 24K a year to pay for your medicines and care. I don't know if you have any such hospital systems in your area.

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    1. Gloria, I'm not aware of any such programs in the hospitals closest to us. It's been my experience that the ones here go after you with a vengeance when it's time to pay the bill ... whether you have insurance or not. Our concern in not having insurance is if something major happens and one of us should need a hospital stay or surgery. We would be in big trouble financially.

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  17. I'm sorry to hear your news. I just got a similar letter also. I'm meeting with my insurance broker next week to look at my options. Some drug companies have programs to get the medication cheaper if you meet certain income guidelines. Some pharmacies have prescription programs to get some medications cheaper or ask your usual pharmacy if they have something. Have you thought about a health savings account/insurance? I'm going to look into that and see if it will be less out of pocket then what I have now. Unfortunately, with diabetes my insulin alone is approx $1500/month.

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    1. This is the situation that we are in, some of our medications are very costly and we would not be able to afford them without insurance. Good luck with your insurance broker.

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  18. Patsy, you do not have to publish this comment if you chose. I was thinking when you had your blog before that you were making a living space for your son and daughter in law before he found a job. Have you thought about continuing to make your shed/shelter a room/home to be rented out? This would be extra income. Just a thought - praying for you and family. Cindy in Alabama

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  19. Dear Patsy, I have read this and every comment. It all makes me wonder what the governemnt means to happen to ordinary people? Something really really not right about the whole thing. I am praying and hoping for a new system or new leaders who will fix it and fast. Of course in the meantime you have to deal with this. Ill go to the next post to try and make suggestions on that extra $400. The whole thing is terrible and I am so sorry you are caught up in this. Thinking of you with love Annabel.xxx

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  20. I am floored at the jump in health care prices! It was hard enough for you and others to come up with the first payment. Then the each increase. And now it is up even more! When will it end? There are so many disturbing things happening all over. This is a time like no other. Yet we have come through many others too. I pray that people will come together in peace to find answers. Quickly.
    This is a time when those who can should silently help any they can in any way they can. I have a friend that for years helped a single mother. Finding things they knew she needed and making sure she got them etc. Small things like things on her children's school needs lists to a pair of new bed room slippers for her. They had a friend who was very close to her and knew what she liked etc. Years back they too had had a 'secret friend'. She did not want to interfere but to know someone cared and to help in small ways to comfort her. Those who can can find ways to help others. At least give others a kind word and a smile.
    This is a big off subject but if you would can you print a list of the best books you have read Amish, Mennonite or not that you thought the most helpful? Many of us I am sure, have also been trying to gleam as much information as possible. Maybe you could ask for more good titles and what was in them from your readers. Sarah

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  21. Is catastrophic medical insurance still available? If so, would that be a less expensive option for you?

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  22. I hate to be a conspiracy theorist but I think this whole system was set up to crash in order to force us into a single payer system like Canada or Britain. I am old enough to remember when Hillary Clinton was First Lady she pushed for it very hard then!
    My husband and I are in our late 50s and on the exchanges and we hate to see what is going to happen to us as we live in NC and we have insurers pulling out and premiums about to go sky high on what is left.

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  23. I am Canadian and have to say - the one thing that really puzzles us about Americans is your aversion to our type of Healthcare system. I know politicians come up with all sorts of stories to scare you off but it's simply not true. I have my own choice in doctor - I have no problem getting an appointment - and when I've needed a specialist (as in a Cardiologist) I had an appointment within days - all tests were completed and had my results right away. There was no cost to me. When I had shoulder surgery a couple of years back it was all done quite quickly - with great follow up care - no cost. I do have extra coverage through my work for things like physio-therapy, prescriptions and dental - plus time off with pay to recover. My office pays a basic coverage for all staff and then we can choose to add extras (at different levels) - we are given additional funds each year to put towards our choices and then we pay any extra through payroll deductions - I have the best coverage possible and it costs me an extra $38/pay (i.e. twice a month). Once I retire my company will continue to cover certain upgrades and I can choose to continue paying a bit extra for items that would apply to me individually. Even without the work coverage I never have to worry about not going for treatment because I couldn't afford it. Your system and the stress and financial hardship it brings just truly horrifies us. We had a poll done a couple of years back to choose the "Greatest Canadian of All Time" - the winner was Tommy Douglas - the father of our medical system. I am so sorry to hear how much of a strain and a worry this news is causing you.

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  24. Patsy I know your situation has been blessedly relieved since you posted this, but I am still thinking about your situation. Given how frugal you are, I don't know that you can cut another $400 a month from the one of the leanest budgets around. I am thinking more in terms of what your skills could bring in. And I thought, "Patsy is good at sewing!" Perhaps you could do simple tailoring work for cash? Hemming a simple pair of pants goes for $20 here. Mending seams, replacing zippers--all things that most people have no clue how to do or don't own a sewing machine. And you seem to be very good at learning things from online sources--anything you didn't know you could probably research and learn. You also sew cute things for your grandchildren--maybe quiet books and special pillowcases would be something your community would love to be able to buy?
    Just some thoughts...
    Sue

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