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Ask Slashdot: IT Contractors, How's Your Health Insurance?

timothy posted about 2 years ago | from the health-care-vs-health-care-finance dept.

The Almighty Buck 468

An anonymous reader writes "In the tech industry, as the economy continues its downturn, IT folks in my circles who were either laid off or let go are turning to contract work to pay their bills. Layoffs and a decline in tech jobs has affected older IT workers the most. Many of us find it more lucrative and enjoyable in the long run and leave the world of cubicles forever. However, there is much to be said for working for a large company or corporation, and health insurance is one of the benefits we value most. But what happens to those who find themselves in this position at mid-career or later in life? Hopefully they have accumulated enough savings or have enough money in an HSA to survive a major medical emergency. Unfortunately, many do not and some find themselves in dire straits with their lives depending on others for help. I have been working IT contracts mostly now for the past 11 years and I've done very well. I belong to a group insurance plan and the coverage is decent, but as I get older, premiums and copays go up and coverage goes down. If you work contracts exclusively, what do you think is the best plan for insurance? Any preferences?"

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there are only two correct answers... (3, Insightful)

Razgorov Prikazka (1699498) | about 2 years ago | (#41099569)

1 or 0

Re:there are only two correct answers... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41099893)

with their lives depending on others for help.

Just where the Democrats want them. In the name of compassion of course. Or Fairness. Can't forget that.

Re:there are only two correct answers... (1)

Sponge Bath (413667) | about 2 years ago | (#41100227)

1 or 0

There can be only one.

Best Preference (5, Funny)

maroberts (15852) | about 2 years ago | (#41099589)

Have UK Citizenship

Re:Best Preference (5, Informative)

girlintraining (1395911) | about 2 years ago | (#41099837)

Have UK Citizenship

Or Canada, Spain, Mexico... a lot of countries offer varying degrees and types of nationalized healthcare. The United States stands alone in being the only G8 country that lacks it.

Re:Best Preference (3, Informative)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 2 years ago | (#41100361)

Or Canada, Spain, Mexico...

or Italy, Belgium, Israel, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland, Netherlands, Japan... ...Kuwait, Austria, Finland, Slovenia, Ireland, Portugal, Iceland, Cyprus, Hong Kong, Singapore, Spain, France, Bahrain...

Re:Best Preference (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41100085)

IR35, lose 54% of your income, and you are not allowed state income for things like sick days. There's a reason why more people leave the UK than enter, other than the billion Poles and dodgy Eastern Bloc escapees looking for free housing.

Re:Best Preference (1, Interesting)

jedidiah (1196) | about 2 years ago | (#41100177)

Of all of the UK expats I know living the in US, I have never once heard any of them belly-ache about the US healthcare system.

Re:Best Preference (3, Interesting)

Urza9814 (883915) | about 2 years ago | (#41100329)

Most Europeans I have met, particularly those who were only staying for a year or so, never STOPPED complaining if they had any cause to visit a hospital while here. Months later they'd still be complaining about the costs to anyone who would listen. Of course, as a recent college grad, most of those were students here on visas...and I can't imagine how you'd get health insurance in such a situation...no work, no family, not gonna be here long term...

Re:Best Preference (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41100405)

Because they got good healthcare as part of their expat packages?

Seconded (1)

Tim Ward (514198) | about 2 years ago | (#41100171)

This IT contractor would have a "major medical emergency" dealt with for free.

(OK so I am actually covered by some private insurance that goes with my wife's job and I do use it from time to time, but in the UK this mostly only covers elective stuff as the private sector isn't set up to cope with emergencies.)

Re:Best Preference (4, Insightful)

kramulous (977841) | about 2 years ago | (#41100271)

Yup. I dropped by to say pretty much the same thing: Move to a country that gives a fuck about the health of its citizens.

Wealthiest nation on earth, my arse.

The only choice is to vote DEM / obama (0, Offtopic)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 2 years ago | (#41099593)

The only choice is to vote DEM / obama.

As the mitt romney plan is crap.

obamacare is not the best but better then today's plans.

Re:The only choice is to vote DEM / obama (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41099631)

"Require you to buy some" is hardly an insurance plan.

the no pre existing condition/ no drop rule + exch (4, Informative)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 2 years ago | (#41099717)

the no pre existing condition/ no drop rule and exchanges (not tied to jobs) is a big boost.

Re:the no pre existing condition/ no drop rule + e (1)

CubicleZombie (2590497) | about 2 years ago | (#41099907)

It sure is a boost. I'm going to drop my policy completely, pay out-of-pocket for general care, and then call up Aetna when I get really sick. Even with the fine (tax?) I'll save lots of money.

If only they'd fix car insurance, too. Then I'll buy my insurance after I've already crashed my car.

Re:the no pre existing condition/ no drop rule + e (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41099909)

It's a pile of half-assedness; a roll of duct tape to fix a collapsing bridge. Mind you, it's better than what we used to have, and the "repeal and replace" crowd hasn't really answered the question "replace with what?".

Re:the no pre existing condition/ no drop rule + e (1)

jedidiah (1196) | about 2 years ago | (#41100219)

It's a big fat mess of corporate welfare is what it is.

The 5% or so of people that would actually be punished and encouraged to buy health insurance under the plan are simply not that significant. They certainly aren't enough to completely trash our long established rules about the limits on the federal government.

It's like popping zits with a riot gun.

Re:The only choice is to vote DEM / obama (4, Insightful)

Cute Fuzzy Bunny (2234232) | about 2 years ago | (#41099945)

"Require you to buy some" is hardly an insurance plan.

I think every state requires you to buy auto insurance and all mortgage companies require homeowners insurance. This is to prevent dumbasses from not doing something they really have to do.

But I'm perfectly okay with people who want to make their own choices, as long as they accept the consequences of their choices. Which means if you waaah about not buying health insurance, then when you're sick or injured...you stay home and help yourself unless you can bring cash or a valid credit card with $50,000 available on it to the emergency room. After all, you're the one in charge making the decisions, and the one you made is basically to die or fall on the charity of others WHEN something happens to you. And by the way, I ain't in the mood to be your freaking charity.

The problem we have with the world today is everyone wants choices, but when the consequences show up its someone elses fault and they need a bailout.

If people hate the 'socialism' of medicine, then I hope they're not driving on the interstates, sending their kids to public school, and won't be accepting social security and medicare, neither of which you 'paid for', but which are paid to you by others as your tax dollars paid for your elders as you worked.

I'm 51 and have a couple of minor pre-existing conditions that I've resolved by losing a lot of weight gained after suffering a back injury. Even though I'm pretty healthy now, if I lost my current group health absolutely nobody would insure me at any price. Even a high deductible plan and HSA combined with a serious injury or illness would destroy my family finances pretty much for good.

So shall we all stop weinering about coming to the same damn conclusion that just about everyone else on the planet has? People are too stupid and shortsighted to buy health insurance, but you have to have it, since almost nobody can pay out of pocket for a major car accident, cancer or a heart attack.

You can still have your choice. Pack up and go live in the new mexico desert or the deep plains of wyoming, far from a hospital. I'm quite sure nobody will come to your camp and make you pay.

If you cant afford it, you get it for free or cheap. Same general idea as what Romney did in MA. So lets stop the stupid bickering and random shenanigans and get on with what we grown ups need to do, shall we?

Ehhh...and so we stay on the right side of the fence, voted republican until GW's second term, have voted for Mickey Mouse since.

Re:The only choice is to vote DEM / obama (2, Informative)

whoever57 (658626) | about 2 years ago | (#41100117)

You fail at logic. You think that it is OK for people to have a "choice" to not buy insurance and must live with the consequences, but note that you would not be able to buy insurance if you lost your current coverage.

Yes, perfectly healthy people below age 50 may have a choice. Many others, who don't have a perfect history of health don't actually have a choice if they lost their current insurance. You admit that you are in this position.

So, yes, many people have a choice to not buy insurance. Unfortunately, many others do not have a choice to buy insurance.

Re:The only choice is to vote DEM / obama (1)

0racle (667029) | about 2 years ago | (#41100249)

AHA drops denying for pre-existing conditions for this reason.

Re:The only choice is to vote DEM / obama (0)

Cute Fuzzy Bunny (2234232) | about 2 years ago | (#41100327)

You fail at logic. You think that it is OK for people to have a "choice" to not buy insurance and must live with the consequences, but note that you would not be able to buy insurance if you lost your current coverage.

Yes, perfectly healthy people below age 50 may have a choice. Many others, who don't have a perfect history of health don't actually have a choice if they lost their current insurance. You admit that you are in this position.

So, yes, many people have a choice to not buy insurance. Unfortunately, many others do not have a choice to buy insurance.

Lots of people get cancer, have heart attacks and suffer serious accidental injuries under 50 years old, so I'm afraid you're the one that fails at logic.

As long as you're going to stay home when that happens, I'm good with you having a choice.

Since as I mentioned, most people are idiots who wouldn't buy car or home insurance if they weren't compelled to do so, sounds like I'll have to lump you in with that group.

Re:The only choice is to vote DEM / obama (1)

Githaron (2462596) | about 2 years ago | (#41100207)

If people hate the 'socialism' of medicine, then I hope they're not driving on the interstates, sending their kids to public school, and won't be accepting social security and medicare, neither of which you 'paid for', but which are paid to you by others as your tax dollars paid for your elders as you worked.

If they are going to be forced to pay taxes anyway, why not? The government isn't going to give you back what you did pay in (through taxes) if you don't use it. Also, I doubt any private business is going to build a fee-based, nation-wide interstate when everyone is just going to use the interstate their taxes are already paying for.

Re:The only choice is to vote DEM / obama (1)

Cute Fuzzy Bunny (2234232) | about 2 years ago | (#41100399)

If people hate the 'socialism' of medicine, then I hope they're not driving on the interstates, sending their kids to public school, and won't be accepting social security and medicare, neither of which you 'paid for', but which are paid to you by others as your tax dollars paid for your elders as you worked.

If they are going to be forced to pay taxes anyway, why not? The government isn't going to give you back what you did pay in (through taxes) if you don't use it. Also, I doubt any private business is going to build a fee-based, nation-wide interstate when everyone is just going to use the interstate their taxes are already paying for.

Thanks much for proving my point. Some things are too stupid to do privately or all by ourselves. We have to do it together, for all of us. Even the dummies that are willing to take a chance without it, but will not hesitate to show up at the emergency room, get treated, and not pay the huge bill because they can't. Then I have to pay it for them when I pay my insurance payments, because its a zero sum game.

The thing is...years ago if you got sick or hurt and didn't have insurance, you stayed home with your family. The emergency rooms weren't lined with people with no insurance and no ability to pay. But people figured out that a hospital will treat you even if you cant afford to pay, so now they want the choice to stick me with their bill.

Eh...my choice is to say no.

Re:The only choice is to vote DEM / obama (1, Informative)

jedidiah (1196) | about 2 years ago | (#41100269)

Car and house insurance are there to cover your liabilities to OTHER people. The latter is the result of you entering into a contract with a bank. The former is a miserable stupid failure and is really no great argument in favor of the state forcing you to buy insurance.

Plus IT IS THE STATE. That little detail really does matter. There are some things that states get to do that the feds don't. That's how the rules were set up.

Ignoring the rules is just stupid and the Congress should no more be above the law than you should be.

Re:The only choice is to vote DEM / obama (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | about 2 years ago | (#41100143)

No, it isn't even that. It is a "tax you a little extra if you don't buy it" plan. That way those who do plan ahead get to pay for those who wait until they get sick to buy health insurance. Of course, it's not like anybody wants to go with a rational plan whereby people have an economic incentive to manage their healthcare costs, and providers have an economic incentive to keep costs down so that people can actually afford what they charge.

Re:The only choice is to vote DEM / obama (1)

Rob the Bold (788862) | about 2 years ago | (#41100287)

"Require you to buy some" is hardly an insurance plan.

It amazes me that the Repubs somehow convinced the Dems that a few of them might cross over and vote for the ACA if the insurance mandate were included in the plan, when in reality it was apprently intended as a poison pill to try to make the whole deal unpalatable to voters and/or be tossed out by the SCOTUS. I guess I'm also amazed that the SCOTUS didn't toss it out, but maybe that's just to keep "Obamacare" as an issue for 2012 elections.

Re:The only choice is to vote DEM / obama (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41099763)

Obamacare is a great plan as long as you are exempt from it. Buy healthcare stock now, it's going to be booming with profits from the poor.

Re:The only choice is to vote DEM / obama (1)

skids (119237) | about 2 years ago | (#41099877)

Actually not, considering the alternative "plan" presented by the opposition is to "restore" 760 billion of waste and overpayment to the system, one might buy such stock if Romney wins, because then those companies will be looking for somewhere to put all that waste and overpayment, being on the receiving end of it, which could mean dividends.

Re:The only choice is to vote DEM / obama (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41099959)

I work in the industry. I've seen the plans being made. You have no idea what you're in for.

Re:The only choice is to vote DEM / obama (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | about 2 years ago | (#41100191)

You do know that the healthcare industry almost unanimously backed Obamacare, don't you? I have not seen the numbers recently, but early numbers suggested that they were also betting heavily on Obama's re-election by donating to his campaign (so it is possible that their donations have balanced out or even swung the other way).

Re:The only choice is to vote DEM / obama (2, Insightful)

medcalf (68293) | about 2 years ago | (#41099987)

Except that's crap. I've been a contractor for more than a decade and am in my forties. Love the independence, and buy my own insurance. When Obamacare kicks all the way in, it's going to raise my insurance costs a lot, possibly to the point that I will have to go to work as an employee to afford it. So actually, for the situation the poster describes, which is mine, repealing Obamacare, which requires voting Obama out, is actually the better option.

Re:The only choice is to vote DEM / obama (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41100285)

But it does not, in principal it puts the cost down, as emergency care always gets paid for by someone anyway and that comes out of the pocket of the insured. Tis wont happen if your insurance uses it as an excuse and lies to you of coerce, and most do!

Re:The only choice is to vote DEM / obama (1)

jedidiah (1196) | about 2 years ago | (#41100343)

You may find that the grass is not really greener. We have had our own independent policy for a long time and have never had a desire to switch to an employer's plan even when that was an option. Those plans aren't any better. Plus if you are really unlucky, your employer will switch plans on you and screw you out of your deductible.

The only real answer here is to be free of Big Business and Big Government. Those of us that can fend for ourselves should not be made dependents of either.

Re:The only choice is to vote DEM / obama (1)

StayFrosty (1521445) | about 2 years ago | (#41100235)

You do realize that Obamacare was modeled on Romneycare, right?

What politicians say they will do and what they do are completely different things.

Vote 3rd party. Maybe there will be a choice that people are actually happy with next time (or maybe 2 elections from now.)

Spouse (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41099609)

Get married to someone who has a job that extends health benefits to their spouse.

Re:Spouse (4, Interesting)

Cute Fuzzy Bunny (2234232) | about 2 years ago | (#41099965)

Funny you mention that because I did marry someone with health benefits, and I didn't really like her that much at the time. But to avoid paying $12,000 a year for health insurance...eh...I'm puckering up.

Re:Spouse (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41100135)

Get married to someone who has a job that extends health benefits to their spouse.

Until Obamacare kicks in the the penalties for the corporation are one fourth the cost of having the health plan... At which point,
the corporation simply drops their health plan leaving you to go buy personal insurance anyway ..

Just wait it will happen .. AT&T and IBM have already publically stated they will do it .. which mean all the other companies
will do it .. the only question who will pull the trigger first.

Best plan? (1)

emj (15659) | about 2 years ago | (#41099619)

Move to Scandinavia, I meet lots of people from the US who have a great time over here. Sure the pay after taxes is going to be less, and you will have to learn a new language, but in the end (of your life) you will have gotten the better deal over here.

Re:Best plan? (1)

Roogna (9643) | about 2 years ago | (#41099779)

What are the immigration rules like for self employed workers in Scandinavia? A lot of us wouldn't mind relocating if anything just for the enjoyment of experiencing more of the world. But as someone who's been looking into this option for myself and my family I find the rules regarding people who are bringing their own employment entirely with them to be vague at best in most countries.

Re:Best plan? (1)

kroyd (29866) | about 2 years ago | (#41099991)

If you're self-employed, and plan to stay so, it is nearly impossible, as far as I know there are no "bring so-so-and so much money / create this many jobs" exemptions in any Scandinavian country.

What you can do is to get hired by a company, in which case it is just a couple of forms to fill out for the company in question [*], or get married.

*: This assumes that you've got some "valuable skills", and that you'll be able to make a livelihood here.

Re:Best plan? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41099785)

I was just going to say something like this.

I moved to central/Northern Europe 6 months ago, and let me tell you: I hadn't realized how bad the U.S. had gotten in terms of pay/lifestyle. I was a boiling frog, but now I've hopped across the pond.

I realize there is still a lot of "unsure about the future" stuff to consider for the E.U. countries, but so far, so good.

Feels good to live in a civilized country again.

Re:Best plan? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41100185)

You'll be missed, possibly, except that for every American that moves to Europe there's a couple coming back the other way.

Critical illness (4, Informative)

roman_mir (125474) | about 2 years ago | (#41099643)

Treat insurance as insurance, not as a health care account, buy critical illness with a high deductible (maybe 10-20K), but make sure it covers 5-10 years of your expenses for sure. For the normal every day stuff just pay out of pocket.

Re:Critical illness (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41099715)

Wrong. You'll pay several times more out of pocket than an insurance company would pay, because of their quantity discounts. It is NOT a competitive free market or anything of the sort. It's monopolies all the way down, and they have the literal power of life and death over you, and they use it.

Re:Critical illness (4, Informative)

Ichijo (607641) | about 2 years ago | (#41099915)

Wrong. You'll pay several times more out of pocket than an insurance company would pay...

Wrong [kevinmd.com] :

A recent article in the Los Angeles Times reported a CT scan of the abdomen costs about $2,400 for patients insured by Blue Shield of California, while the Los Alamitos (Calif.) Medical Center cash price is only $250... Another local California hospital charges insured patients $415 for blood tests that cost only $95 in cash.

Re:Critical illness (1, Insightful)

Anon-Admin (443764) | about 2 years ago | (#41099927)

I think you are wrong there.

Insurance to cover me, wife, and kid @ work $685 a month

Paying out of pocket

$65 a visit + tests and prescriptions.
Averaged $150 for a visit.

We would maybe see a doctor 2x a year each.

12 visits == $1800 a year
12 month of insurance == $8220.00

Saving us $6420 a year.

Re:Critical illness (3, Insightful)

TXG1112 (456055) | about 2 years ago | (#41100113)

You are assuming you will never have a significant medical need. This is a very poor assumption and it is obvious that you are not capable of doing the necessary risk/cost calculations. Bear in mind that one hospitalization will run you $10k, if you need to have a major procedure done that will likely cost you $25k or more. These are just for one time events. If you get a chronic condition, these numbers can go way up.

The reason insurance is required under the new plan is that people are stupid and short sighted.

Re:Critical illness (2)

Cute Fuzzy Bunny (2234232) | about 2 years ago | (#41100013)

Wrong. You'll pay several times more out of pocket than an insurance company would pay, because of their quantity discounts. It is NOT a competitive free market or anything of the sort. It's monopolies all the way down, and they have the literal power of life and death over you, and they use it.

Yup. You'll be buying $800 band aids to pay for the 50 people who got sick without health care, because they wanted a choice. That's socialism. It's just 'feel good' socialism where you feel like a free wheeling loner that doesn't want to be told what to do.

He's also the guy who hits your car without auto insurance, even though the state mandates it. Ha ha, not his problem. The free wheeling individual decision making loner strikes again.

Re:Critical illness (1)

timeOday (582209) | about 2 years ago | (#41100265)

Maybe it's quantity discounts (the efficiencies of working with 1 payer for thousands of people instead of thousands of payers).

But I think at least equally likely is the fact that insurance company has laywers and even doctors whose only job is to push back on costs.

Re:Critical illness (1)

sjames (1099) | about 2 years ago | (#41099813)

They will charge you double or more what they will charge an insurance company. Sad but true, they seem to be the one business that hates cash.

Re:Critical illness (4, Informative)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 2 years ago | (#41099947)

Unless you ask for cash discounts before receiving services. Then you will pay about what the insurance companies do.

They love cash, they also love to not have to bill insurance companies.

Re:Critical illness (1)

hrvatska (790627) | about 2 years ago | (#41100237)

This might vary by area. I know two people in my area (central NY state) who didn't have insurance and tried negotiating prices with doctors and hospitals. No one they contacted would go along with it. They eventually paid full price, almost certainly more than the price insurance companies negotiate. Both of them had to take out large loans to finance their operations. While not offering discounts, the doctors and hospitals were quite willing to steer them to companies that specialized in medical loans.

Re:Critical illness (1)

CubicleZombie (2590497) | about 2 years ago | (#41099967)

No they won't. Go to your doctor and tell them ahead of time you will be paying cash. You'll get the discount or better.

The inflated rate is charged when they know you won't pay so they can write off the inflated "loss" and then moan about how much the uninsured cost their business.

Doctors, Dentists and Hospitals *love* cash (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41100027)

They will charge you double or more what they will charge an insurance company. Sad but true, they seem to be the one business that hates cash.

You are misinformed, they love actual cash http://www.ncpa.org/sub/dpd/index.php?Article_ID=21973 [ncpa.org] . If you offer them real cash in hand (folding money, up front) and ask for a price based on that payment method you can even get a price that is lower than your portion of an insurer's negotiated price (depends on the procedure, individual doctor, etc)

What they hate is non-cash payments that aren't backed by an insurance company because of the uncertainty of collecting and the costs that are statistically associated with collecting post-paid. They're not even that enthusiastic about payments that are backed by an insurance company because of the same is it covered is it not covered headaches that consumers hate which is why so many docts, dentists and hospitals are willing to offer a lower price for when pre-paying for services in actual cash.

we need health care, not health insurance! (1)

Presto Vivace (882157) | about 2 years ago | (#41099647)

If you work contracts exclusively, what do you think is the best plan for insurance? Any preferences?" Canada, failing that, France. Seriously, we need to pass HR676 [healthcare-now.org] , it would be the greatest economic stimulus ever.

Re:we need health care, not health insurance! (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | about 2 years ago | (#41100243)

So, the government is going to start conscripting medical professionals under your plan?

It's shitty (1)

gozu (541069) | about 2 years ago | (#41099657)

I pay $90/month for a really sub-par insurance that caps payments to 2000. If I get hired full-time at the end of my contract, I will have a proper insurance plan.

I wish I had a public option, or better yet, medicare.

Time to emigrate. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41099675)

If your young, fit and trying make it the US might be the place for you. When you insurance is telling you that you are (actuarially speaking) no longer young or fit and your bank is telling you you haven't made it, it's time to get the hell out of Dodge. Emigrate while you still can to a more civilized part of the world.

Re:Time to emigrate. (2)

Cute Fuzzy Bunny (2234232) | about 2 years ago | (#41100043)

If your young, fit and trying make it the US might be the place for you. When you insurance is telling you that you are (actuarially speaking) no longer young or fit and your bank is telling you you haven't made it, it's time to get the hell out of Dodge. Emigrate while you still can to a more civilized part of the world.

When Rome fell it wasn't a particularly swell place to be. Unless you had a look at anywhere else. You ought to have a look at Greece right now. Everything is covered with grafiti. Everything.

HSAs to soften the blow. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41099679)

If your in the position to plan your transition, start building up your HSA. IF you don't have an HSA now, taking a few years to contribute to one is exceptionally useful. Cover out of pockets and copays, converts to usable for non medical use after retirement age. Having this, while utilizing a group plan w/ higher costs, softens the blow.

padding pop and pizza (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41099687)

My mother's basement is fully padded, she makes her own natural soda pop and the pizza is organic. I have nothing to worry about. I was born with excellent carpals.

Re:padding pop and pizza (1)

Cute Fuzzy Bunny (2234232) | about 2 years ago | (#41100069)

I wish I had mod points. I had a chat a little while ago with some folks very excited about their natural soda pop. They really don't get it, do they?

Vitamins (1)

Just Some Guy (3352) | about 2 years ago | (#41099719)

My health plan is to avoid getting sick.

I wouldn't do that long-term, though. I'm only temporarily contracting and start a full time job with insurance benefits in two weeks.

Re:Vitamins (0)

dkleinsc (563838) | about 2 years ago | (#41099835)

Ah, yes, this is the plan laid out by Alan Grayson [youtube.com] as what it appears the GOP is aiming for.

Re:Vitamins (0)

Rob the Bold (788862) | about 2 years ago | (#41099917)

My health plan is to avoid getting sick.

I wouldn't do that long-term, though. I'm only temporarily contracting and start a full time job with insurance benefits in two weeks.

That's sort of the "rhythm method" of health care: hope and pray you don't get sick when you're not covered.

Re:Vitamins (2)

Just Some Guy (3352) | about 2 years ago | (#41100083)

There's no "sort of". It was an educated gamble, though. My wife and I have some money saved back and can afford to pay for the little stuff outright. At our ages and health conditions, it was exceedingly unlikely that we'd experience a catastrophic illness in that small time window. I'm still exceedingly happy to be back on a health plan in the very near future.

Re:Vitamins (1)

Cute Fuzzy Bunny (2234232) | about 2 years ago | (#41100093)

My health plan is to avoid getting sick.

I wouldn't do that long-term, though. I'm only temporarily contracting and start a full time job with insurance benefits in two weeks.

That'll work pretty well until a guy in a cement truck falls asleep behind the wheel and rear ends you. Hope you didn't think you'd get much out of your car insurance company. Well, they might look for your missing leg for a few minutes.

After 20+ years of contracting... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41099723)

I found that there isn't any other good options other than to get a few quotes and write a big check. If you're in Washington state, you can join the Washington Technology Industry Association(WTIA), and get a price that's a little nicer. Unfortunately for me, I'm buying insurance for just myself so the yearly WITA fee doesn't justify the discount. If you have a group of three or more people, then WITA is a good thing.

The really sad thing is that even after paying nearly $50k lifetime for health insurance, I've never collected a penny of that back. The state government's oversight board of insurance here is full of former insurance executives so there is no oversight. Every single claim I've made has been denied, even the preapproved ones.

If you're worried about today, then you should be really worried about the next few years. Last year my insurance went up nearly 30%. In June it increased another 75%. Expect more large increases due to Obamacare.

Re:After 20+ years of contracting... (5, Interesting)

Jackie_Chan_Fan (730745) | about 2 years ago | (#41099957)

Actually, expect LESS increases due to "Obama Care"

The reason is more people will be paying in to plans because they have to by law.

I've paid for my own health care since I was 18. I require it due to having moderate to severe Psoriasis. I pay $1300 a month right now for Blue Cross Blue Shield in NY. Yes... Its fucking insane.

The same plan was $250 a month 15 years ago.

Every year they want to increase it about $150.

The theory with Obama Care is more people will now have to pay for a plan so more people paying in, should slow the increase in rates. However we will see if that happens in practice.

Initially the democrats fought for control over price increases but republicans and the insurance lobbyists obviously won that battle.

This country is out of control insane. If you are sick, you better be rich, or just die. That is how our country looks at people. We are burdens on society, and they would rather us all die than provide some kind of help. That is a fact.

America is a disgusting fucking country that I am ashamed to say I belong to. We simply do not care about doing the right thing.

Obama Care is a step in the right direction but its been corrupted by the insurance industry. The public option was eliminated. Single Payer universal Not for Profit insurance wasnt even considered. Big Money runs this place... and Big money sees us all as a burden and thinks the sick should simply die.

If you want health insurance in America. Either you have to pay very high monthly rates, or simply move to another country.

Re:After 20+ years of contracting... (1)

skids (119237) | about 2 years ago | (#41100137)

Expect more large increases whether or not we keep Obamacare

FTFY.

Though, I have say I have yet to see anybody actually make a convincing argument that Obamacare will increase premiums, and theoretically the deal struck was that premiums would stabilize after 2014 when the rate-review and the medical-loss-ratio provisions kick in, in return for the assured customer base. If the Republicans do grab control of both houses and perhaps even the presidency, then they can indeed repeal the ACA, and as such they will repeal everything that was in the pipeline to hold premiums down. Of course, their mouth-breathing followers will then have to go find a new Democrat to blame the spiraling health care costs on.

Re:After 20+ years of contracting... (1)

Cute Fuzzy Bunny (2234232) | about 2 years ago | (#41100279)

Expect more large increases due to Obamacare.

I don't know why that would be the case, since every other country with universal health care managed to reduce costs. Of course, you cant have your second liver transplant when you're an alcoholic, and 102 year old aunt sally probably isn't going to get a new hip either.

Of course, we may become the first to spend more on universal health care, considering we'll probably let the insurance companies write the rules.

My wife works in an end of life care facility, where people who have no idea who or where they are (if they're even conscious) are kept alive for years so the family can visit. The vast majority of health care costs are spent in the last year of the patients life...which means whatever was done didn't work. Hundreds of thousands a year per patient.

My wife has a very soft heart, but even she says that people have to get used to the idea that there is an end to every life, and pretty much none of the crap you see on television doctor shows is actually feasible. Think of the last time you watched some show where some kid says "Oh, hold on for 2 seconds while I hack into an NSA satellite and make it zoom in on the bad guys escape attempt!" and you slapped yourself in the head, because even the NSA can't do that in 5 seconds? Yeah, its like that.

Shoot...CPR doesn't work about 80% of the time, yet most people think you can fish someone out of a pond after they've been underwater for 5 minutes and you'll have a serious chance of reviving them. So your chances of someone coming out of a coma or recovering from massive injuries or degenerative conditions is almost nil.

So I think if people all got a minimum level of help that was reasonable considering their age and physical condition, and were able to spend whatever they wanted out of their own pocket to follow their heart...great...but I'm pretty sure my wife would be working in a nearly empty facility if that were to happen.

Affordable Care Act might make this easier (3, Insightful)

dkleinsc (563838) | about 2 years ago | (#41099769)

I'm assuming OP is in the US, because in most other countries this is a non-issue.

This was the kind of situation that Obamacare is intended to address, by making the individual market a viable option for people who aren't getting insurance through their employment, eliminating exclusions for preexisting conditions and requiring no more than 20% overhead (for reference, Medicare runs at about 3% overhead and the VA closer to 1%).

Other approaches, while you're waiting for that law to fully kick in:
- If you're married, and your spouse is a full-time employee somewhere, use their group plan.
- If you've saved up a lot, which it sounds like you have, consider focusing on catastrophic coverage.
- If you're older than 50, consider the AARP. They provide all sorts of discounts, including on health insurance.
- If your life situation allows, you might be able to relocate to a civilized country. This is obviously a big change, so you wouldn't want to make this lightly.
- Put up with the higher rates and less insurance. It's not pleasant, of course, but it sounds like you can afford it.

Re:Affordable Care Act might make this easier (1)

i kan reed (749298) | about 2 years ago | (#41099985)

you might be able to relocate to a civilized country.

Do civilized countries actually want us? Look at how much some slashdotters hate foreign IT workers as for comparison (unless they only hate them because they're racist, I guess). I won't deny that I've often considered escaping the more troublesome elements of U.S. culture, but I'm not convinced it's really possible.

Re:Affordable Care Act might make this easier (2)

gurps_npc (621217) | about 2 years ago | (#41100183)

Most civilized countries are relatively happy to accept American citizens.

We aren't refugees, there aren't a huge number of us clamoring to get in, and most of us don't even think of leaving the country unless we are well educated and have some financial resources.

Now, if there were a huge disaster and millions of Americans, particularly poor Americans, were to pack and and try to move, that would be a different story.

Re:Affordable Care Act might make this easier (0)

dkleinsc (563838) | about 2 years ago | (#41100331)

It depends who you are and what you can do. Many countries (such as Canada and Germany) like seeing potential immigrants with strong educational and work experience backgrounds. They also typically expect you to be proficient in their language, like it when you arrange your first job in their country beforehand, will expect you to abide by their laws as well as (in most cases) have no criminal record in the US, and if you choose to become a citizen will expect you to swear loyalty to your newly adopted country.

Basically, they're happy to have you if you're going to be a net benefit to their economy, and not so happy to have you if it looks like you'd be a drain on their economy. My understanding is that there's less of a "Dey took our jerbs!" attitude in many other countries than in the US, in part because much of the anti-immigrant rhetoric in the US is fuelled by racism, and in part because people in the rest of the world don't pride themselves on ignorance of other countries.

Single-payer (1, Insightful)

techdolphin (1263510) | about 2 years ago | (#41099787)

Single-payer! The only way to control health care costs. Eventually the United States will have to go to a single-payer system. Otherwise, we will continue to have the most expensive and and worse health care system of any developed country.

Some non contract jobs work people 39.5 hours (0)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 2 years ago | (#41099799)

Some non contract jobs work people 39.5 hours a week just to get out of offering health insurance.

Just buy insurance...it's honestly that simple. (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41099803)

I contracted for 2 years. During that time, I purchased health insurance for myself, wife and 3 children from a health insurance company. It's actually really easy. I comparison shopped online, picked an insurer with a plan that had good coverage at a rate I could afford, called them up and bought a policy. The insurer did a check of our medical histories, which took about a week, and involved them calling doctors. Fine. The policy took effect about 2 weeks after the medical checks were complete.

I was paying about $300 / mo for myself, wife and my 3 kids - and that includes a kid with autism, which the insurer could not turn down, thanks to the Affordable Care Act (GObama! Sorry, had to :) ). They did charge me $10 extra a month for my autistic child, but that seemed more than reasonable to me. $300 / mo might seem high, but it's only about $50 more than what I pay when getting insurance through an employer. The copays were competitive ($10 prescriptions, $30 doctor visits and such). The other deductibles, co-insurance, etc were a bit higher, but not insanely higher than what you'd see through a plan from an employer.

There was one thing that stunk about the plan, though - if my wife got pregnant, the insurer would drop her coverage. That sucks. In fact, I couldn't find a single insurer that would cover pregnancy - nor would they cover things like IUD, birth control pills, etc. Basically everything you'd typically associate with a woman's health was completely not covered, which is ridiculous.

Once the Affordable Care Act goes completely "live" in 2014, though, insurers won't be able to deny women health coverage if they're pregnant, and they'll have to cover basic women's health care. Anyhow, wasn't trying to make this a political statement, it's just interesting how broken the current system is for women.

Re:Just buy insurance...it's honestly that simple. (3, Informative)

drgroove (631550) | about 2 years ago | (#41099843)

Damn, thought I was logged in for that comment. Sorry about that.

Re:Just buy insurance...it's honestly that simple. (1)

dringess (552168) | about 2 years ago | (#41099911)

If I had mod points, I'd bump your OP up. I have been self-employed in the IT industry for 30 years and have always paid for health insurance for me and my family. Yep, the premiums go up every year, but what other product besides electronics doesn't?

Max out your HSA (2)

darkwing_bmf (178021) | about 2 years ago | (#41099807)

When times are good, save up for times that will be bad. An HSA is one tax efficient vehicle for medical expenses but due to contribution limits you'll probably need more than that. Basically spend less than you earn and save the rest for the future. If you're smart enough to be in IT then you're smart enough to know that you will have medical expenses in the future and you're being paid better than the average worker now. Plan accordingly.

I dropped it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41099839)

it didnt cover anything... so what was the point?

Let's see... (1)

PortHaven (242123) | about 2 years ago | (#41099865)

I pay a little over a $100 a month, to have insurance for just myself. That equates to having a $1,250 deductible.

My family is on a seperate plan, that is held individually by us. Ironically, it's with the same insurance company. It's $260/month for my wife and 3 kids. Granted it has a $5,000 deductible.

But it makes me wonder just how much my company is paying out. If I am paying $100 for myself, and $260 for four others?

In fact, to add my family would have been more than we currently pay combined. Plus more than the difference in my family's deductible. :-/

Re:Let's see... (1)

PortHaven (242123) | about 2 years ago | (#41099881)

Oh, and I'm a W2, but sub contracted to another larger firm (guberment work)

Re:Let's see... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41100161)

Who is that with? I have $7k deductible and just over $500/month on Humana. As a human with a penis, I was not allowed individual policy with family on another.

I don't understand... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41099869)

What health insurance?

I have been contacting for just shy of 15 years (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41099871)

I have been contacting for just shy of 15 years w/o health ins. I have a family of four. It’s not an issue. In reality it is an advantage. I can buy health ins for around $1500/m to cover my family. If you do the math that’s almost 100K in 5 year. I still would have deductibles before the ins kicks in. Plus the pain of dealing with Ins companies.

I self-pay everything! We go to the doctors like any family, but we go to the doctors we want, not one on a list. If you tell the doctor’s office yourself pay, they will usually take 30% off the price. My wife will even haggle with them and get more. We get the BEST care, I assure you.

My wife’s pregnancy in total including the hospital was less than 8K. That was the best doctors at the nicest hospital.

If you have decent income don’t sweat the health ins, just put away about 3% of your gross income for medical stuff.

Also eat healthy and walk a few miles each week.

High Deductible Health Plan (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41099887)

In my experience, High Deductible Health Plans from *major* carriers are quite good. I'm not talking about those discount $50/mo. plans you can get through trade organizations. I'm talking about "High Deductible" plans from Aetna, Blue Cross, etc... You might have to cover the first $2k - $3k per year out of pocket, but after that you're often covered at the 90% to 95% level with no upper limit for major medical events like cancer, etc...

If you're self-employed, you ought to easily have $2k - $3k per year available to pay pre-deductible health expenses. It's really not that much money.
My observation is that most people seem conditioned to have this totally irrational expectation that ALL of their health expenses should be covered, with maybe a nominal $20 "co-pay" at every office visit. That's silly! Why not just pay for ordinary expenses out of pocket, and save your insurance premiums for the truly disastrous stuff (i.e. broken bones, appendicitis, car accidents, etc...)?

I'm just continually blown away by two income professional households with $120k+ income who just absolutely can not bring themselves to shell out a few thousand dollars per year out of pocket to pay the doctor. What's the big deal? 5% of your income is too much out of pocket expense? They'll happily blow $1500/year on mobile phone service, but $2k - $3k / year on pre-deductible health expenses are too much? But I digress......

High Deductible Health Plan from major carrier. The only way to go.

Mine's outstanding, but... (3, Informative)

Lucas123 (935744) | about 2 years ago | (#41099899)

I have a great job and my company affords me a fantastic health plan. Unfortunately, a close friend of mine got laid off after a head injury caused a concussion and after six months of short term disability he was fired from the job where he'd worked for 13 years. He had been making about $60,000 a year. His wife didn't work. He lives in good 'ol Massachusetts, and his unemployment is too high to warrant MassHealth, so he's paying $1,300 a month for Cobra to cover his wife and two children. His savings are almost depleted and he's still recovering (headaches, dizziness, contant pain). While I fully support a national healthcare plan, the one we have in place -- get healthcare or pay the fine -- ain't doing it. More needs to be done to help those in need of health coverage so they don't wind up going into emergency rooms for chronic illness care. Any study worth its salt shows preventative care is cheaper than reactive care.

Another US centric topic (-1, Flamebait)

Alkonaut (604183) | about 2 years ago | (#41099905)

At least bother to clarify that this is really a question aimed at US contractors. For the rest of us (a majority of slashdotters?) this is a non-issue.

Re:Another US centric topic (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41100239)

No, you are the minority.

It's in the FAQ: Slashdot is an American run, America-centric, primarily American visited website. It's easy to get the wrong impression the way people talk though. Between the attitude and the English as a Second Language commenting I would probably assume the same thing.

Any preferences? (1, Flamebait)

turbidostato (878842) | about 2 years ago | (#41099919)

Yeah, of course: moving to a country with a civilized public health system. Each and every first world country but USA, that is.

Worn out. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41099935)

Once you are injured, sick or old, you are worn out. Once the capitalist, aynrandian system has no use for you anymore, you're supposed to just die and not bother your boss for handouts. I hear the best way to kill yourself is by inhaling nitrogen.

Re:Worn out. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41100313)

Once you are injured, sick or old, you are worn out. Once the capitalist, aynrandian system has no use for you anymore, you're supposed to just die and not bother your boss for handouts. I hear the best way to kill yourself is by inhaling nitrogen.

Except for some odd reasons, Americans think that medicine/science can cure everything and therefore no one should die.

It is truely amazing the amount of money waisted on getting an extra amount of time for people in their 70s, 80s, 90s, 100+s.

If you are over 70 and have any other life shorting untreatable illnesses (copd, congestive heart failure, kidney disease, liver disease, etc),
why in the world would you want to spend millions of dollars to treat cancer, alzheimers, parkinsons etc ? Curring the latter won't improve
your quality of life.

Early 50s (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41100095)

I'm in my early 50s in New Jersey, IT consultanting for 15yrs. Insurance would be running me about 1k/month, but i switched to a high deductable plan, about7k/year deductable, and now its only 600/mo. I argue enough with my doctor about cheaper drugs and other things, they said they wish i was on medicare. According to a article I read in NYTimes i should be getting about 3k/year from government to help pay once ACA is implemented... I almost got married a few years ago but issues with insurance stopped that. she didn't have & i would have been paying about 20K per year. I get no pension but i save like crazy and on track to save about 1 million. there was an investment article that said you could retire on a million but you would never be able to buy a new car and would have to eat early bird specials. The conclusion was it was not a life worth living.

Give up? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41100245)

I prefer to live healthy and die when it's time. Health insurance companies are making a fortune off of people's fears while simultaneously providing little to no tangible benefit. Keep your money. Live sensibly, and let the doctors rot in hell.

Slashvertisement? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41100283)

Didn't RTFS, but I know all my society memberships love to push their health plans on me.

Ask Slashdot: Which credit card is provides you with the most rewards and security?

RomneyCare helped a lot in MA (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41100359)

For the self-employed, the non-group insurance market was really drying up in the early 2000's (premium increases beyond group, preexisting condition exclusions, absurd caps and other loopholes). RomneyCare made it easy: just log into the exchange, there's about 30 family plans offered by 5-6 different insurers, the tiers aren't too complicated (still some fine print to be careful of, but it's standardized between insurers), the prices are public and comparable (no better pricing available through direct or brokers or secret channels). Premiums have gone up, but remain competitive with group insurance. We got a rebate for premiums this year because our insurer exceeded 15% limit on salaries, marketing, and overhead.

I think ACA will extend most of these benefits to other states by 2014.

What is the problem here? (2)

bobbied (2522392) | about 2 years ago | (#41100395)

I've always thought that the biggest problem WAS insurance. There is no other area where the consumer generally has *no idea* what the cost is of what they consume. They just care about their copay or out of pocket and don't usually know (or care) what the real costs for the services they consume are. It follows that when someone else is paying for it, people tend to consume more than they really need, which drives up costs for everybody.

Running a close second is malpractice liability and the host of "cover my butt" testing now done by doctors. With the patient not really knowing what all this stuff costs and the doctor facing increasing malpractice insurance costs the pressure to do tests "just in case" is huge, even if the test is unlikely to ever catch anything and is expensive. You know that a good percentage of medical testing falls into this category, and this simply drives up medical costs and insurance premiums.

I suggest that we attack this problem on two fronts (once we get the current "Affordable Health Care Act" off the books.)

First, I think the expansion of HealthCare Security Accounts (HSA) is in order. Make it possible for folks to buy catastrophic health care plans (with very high deductibles) but allow them to put pre-tax money into HSAs up to the max out of pocket per year. Structure them like 401Ks and encourage folks to save though out their lives for medical expenses and allow these accounts to be passed down to others upon death. This will put the patient back into a position to care about costs and make it easier for them to refuse unnecessary testing.

Second, we need to put caps on medical malpractice awards for pain and suffering and make the looser pay legal fees in medical malpractice cases. Awards need to be for actual damages (i.e. for past/future medical expenses, lost earning potential etc) but pain and suffering and punitive awards need to be capped. The "looser pays winner's legal fees" will effectively eliminate those who are gaming the system by filing frivolous suits and their lawyers who are looking for a lucky million dollar award from a jury. All this would serve to lower malpractice insurance costs and lower the pressure on Doctors to perform unnecessary testing that drive up costs.

All in all, we need to get back to a system where the patient can take responsibility for the cost of their care. Only then can we hope to contain the ever expanding costs.

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