Ricochet is the best place on the internet to discuss the issues of the day, either through commenting on posts or writing your own for our active and dynamic community in a fully moderated environment. In addition, the Ricochet Audio Network offers over 50 original podcasts with new episodes released every day.
In what I thought was a couple years ago, but find was nearly six years ago, I posted about my dilemma at the time: I was renting, married with four children and employed full-time, but couldn’t afford the employer-offered healthcare product(s) for my entire family. I had trouble reconciling myself as a bona fide right-winger (much farther to the right of the average Ricochetto or Ricochetta), and the idea of enrolling my children onto Wisconsin’s Badgercare program, the local Medicare services. The response was positive, agreeing with my findings that the market had been horribly affected by the continuing horrendous idea of having healthcare given by employers, rather than via private providers as we do for all other insurance products.
I’ve since moved companies twice; in 2015 I started working for a company that ultimately let me go this past August (it wasn’t a good fit from the start, and I can’t blame them too much). I start with a new company at the end of October, at a higher-than-expected (and higher-than-before) rate of pay: I don’t mind telling you, via the anonymity of Ricochet, that I’ll be making $60k, quite a good salary here in “north-east” Wisconsin (Oshkosh – Appleton) area in the Retirement Plan Administration industry (compliance testing, government reporting, ERISA expertise for 401(k)s, 403(b)s, old style “pension” plans, etc.).
This new company is smallest of all: fewer than ten employees. Because of that, the benefits they offer are the most expensive I’ve ever seen. For healthcare for myself, the premiums are near $475; for my wife and I, it’d be not quite $1,100.
If I wanted to enroll my entire family, which now includes a fifth child, born in 2014: greater than $1,600 a month in premiums, or more than $19,200 a year. And the premiums are segregated first by gender (with males paying more) and age groups; I’m at the beginning of my current band, age 45 through 49.
That of course doesn’t count the $1,500 per-person deductible / $3,000 family out-of-pocket maximum (neither of which are actually too bad, but add up…), or the co-payments that must be paid even when deductibles and maximums are met.
And that’s just healthcare; what about dental, vision, etc?
So, what do I do?
- The kids must remain on Badgercare, as they have done since 2011;
- I go with the company’s healthcare for myself; and
- Look up the best policies available on the dreaded healthcare.gov website for my wife; as a stay-at-home mom, she/we receive a healthcare credit towards her premiums.
By doing this I don’t pay $1,600 a month in premiums; I do, however, have seven family members on three different health plans, while simultaneously becoming more dependent upon the growing bureaucratic state Leviathan.
In theory, at some point, the increases in my salary with result in a marked decrease in my take-home pay: eventually, we’ll stop qualifying for Badgercare and the ACA credit, so will have to go with employer-provided. That’ll result in a $20,000 drop in expendable monies. And, as previously stated, it becomes more expensive the older I become.
At what point does this happen? I’ve been too depressed to find out. Let’s say it happens at $80,000; at that point, that $20,000 drop in usable monies is a bloody 25% reduction from gross pay, never-mind take-home. Are you kidding me?
So, I have to play the shell game; gotta quit my second job now (pizza delivery) because I worry about making too much to qualify for benefits. My wife would like to go to the local “Tech” school to find a career for when all the kids are in school, but her prospective job will add different variables altogether to the calculations (maybe we’ll go on her healthcare; maybe none will be offered).
So, in the six years since my original post, I’ve been forced into being a scheming government-benefits grabber, worried about “getting mine.”
What the hell is next … don’t forget, George Orwell’s protagonist in his indispensable work 1984, Winston Smith, after a long and arduous resistance to the powers that be, ultimately loved Big Brother…