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Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Money Comes In, the Money Goes Out QUESTIONS

I got a little raise back in September. This is a good thing.
I look at the out-of-pocket premiums for my health insurance for 2010. This is not such a good thing.

The amount I pay every two weeks has been gradually increasing, usually up $3 or $5 each year. But this time it went from $117 to $139.

Well, at least my family and I HAVE health insurance. As this report shows, that's not always the case, particularly as unemployment rises. And this was better than the years when the rates went up AND the copays as well.

In those periods when I've been unemployed and/or uninsured and I was eligible for COBRA, I NEVER took it. What does one do - spend the rent money on health insurance, or hope not to get sick? Every study I've seen in recent years suggest that it is medical bills, not excessive spending on the Xbox, that is driving the most people into bankruptcy.

Oh, and one of my credit cards, one I actually don't use often, just raised its rates from an already hefty 15.9% (which is why I didn't use it much), to a ridiculous 23.9%. According to articles such as 2009 Checking Study: Bank fees take flight and A Squeeze on Customers Ahead of New Rules, it's happening all over the place.

So the questions:

1. Are you seeing your health insurance premiums and/or copays going up? Or if you are one of the uninsured, how do you decide when to go to the doctor/hospital?

2. Are you seeing staggeringly high interest rates or fees on your credit cards? What actions (negotiating with the credit card company, dropping the card) have you taken? I'm going to call mine, threaten to cancel, and see what happens.



Scott said...

1. Marcia and I took the COBRA because we had to. It isn't too expensive right now, because part of the stimulus package was to pay 65% of COBRA for nine months. Though our eighth month is fast approaching. When gov't assistance runs out, we will be trying to juggle something. Like I said, we have to have some kind of coverage for Marcia, or we will probably end up bankrupt.

2. One of our credit cards a 0% interest rate on balance transfers. We took advantage of it, since the regular interest rate was 9.9%. But then they jacked it up to 29.9%! To add insult to injury, they did it the same month I got laid off (May). I called them four times to try and get them to help me, and they refused each time. I hate to admit it, but I let out my frustration the last time and was yelling on the phone to the rep I was talking to. We have since had a company negotiate rates for us. We had three accounts, and the one that got jacked up was the only one we had a balance on, until I got laid off. Then we ended up charging things getting ready for Ian's birth. Timing stunk. I was tempted to take money out of my IRA just to get rid of the one that we have had trouble with. However, as soon as I get a job, that will be the first order of business.

Greg said...

One of the interesting things about the new health bill is that it ends denying coverage based on "pre-existing conditions." We always have to do COBRA when Krys loses her job because Mia needs constant coverage. I do wish that instead of going absolutely nuts with a 2000-page bill, Congress had started with one thing - ending the pre-existing conditions deniability. I wonder how much that one thing would help the uninsured.

Scott said...

It would help us. That is why we are on COBRA. My wife needs constant coverage because of her pre-existing conditions. And I think that would be a great idea, doing it in steps. My only fear is, and I don't know enough about what is going on with the bill, is that there is some kind of cap on premiums. Because the government can tell insurance companies that they have to cover these people, but if they are all charging them $2000 a month, what's the point? I need to read up more on it, but even being unemployed I don't have the time.