Paying $2200/month for healthcare, 70M 50F. Good income, but no money left at end of month. We are healthy but this it’s killing us!

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by WindyAndShady

Throwaway acount for privacy. Location: Oregon.

Husband is retired for about 10 yrs now with government pension (PERS), I was a SAHM and don’t work now and don’t plan to. Only child is out of the house now, 21 yrs old independent and studying but still on our health insurance. My husband always took care of finances, and I am originally from another country and have no clue about these things and never worked in the USA. But talking to similar aged friends now, they tell me how little they pay for healthcare. Some even just $2200 a year (what we pay monthly!). My husband says we pay so much because we don’t qualify for cheaper plans that are subsidized by the government and because we are in a group plan through his former employer that has very generous benefits. I am 50, 20yrs younger than husband, and don’t qualify for Medicare yet.

Last year I looked at our finances and I saw we paid just a bit more than $1800/month for healthcare. In December 2017 we got a letter from PERS saying they were raising (renewing) our premium to $2200/month. Apparently there was nothing we could do, husband said, but continue paying. The plan didn’t change; just the price. $400 a month more, which is insane!!!

Someone told me to call a hospital and ask about an individual healthcare plan and I did call one of the biggest hospitals in town (Kaiser). But they said they don’t have a person I can talk to on the phone or in the office to see some plans, but that I can look on the internet for a third party provider. They declined to name one, so I have no idea where to turn for such provider.

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We have to penny pinch every month to break even now, although we have what I would consider a good income.

Here is our breakdown:

  • His pension: gross $5400, after federal and state taxes and what they take for healthcare, which is $2100, we are left with net $2200 ((this net amount is what we live on monthly))
  • His Social security: gross $1900, after federal taxes and Medicare it comes out to net $1300. ((this entire sum goes towards mortgage/property taxes/house insurance/extra payment towards mortgage; about $15 left every month))
  • His Medicare/month: $134; I don’t qualify yet.
  • Our PERS Healthcare (plus dental, but no vision coverage) per month: $2137, which break down to $355 for him, and the rest for me and kid.
  • Husband has federal taxes deducted at a higher single rate so we do get a refund every year on our taxes, this year almost 9k for federal/state. He says because he rather lives on less and lives within that budget and has some savings once a year so he/we can decide what to do with them every year…. I don’t understand all this, but that’s what he does, no matter what I say.
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We have no debts, no cable, no luxuries, our used car is paid for. We buy clothing from thrift stores.

Mortgage is about $700/month but we pay an extra $300/month, so we will pay off the house within the next 11 yrs vs. 18 remaining years on the mortgage. Our utilities are about $60/month, rather low. Food budget is about $800 – we hardly eat meat, but cannot afford organic either. We never eat out and don’t indulge in cigarettes, soda or wine, not even bottled water.

On the phone with Kaiser I was told we can change plans every November if we don’t have any extraordinary event happening like moving during the year (we don’t). But what can we even change it to?? What can we do to pay less for health insurance? In our budget, I find this category (healthcare) to be the most challenging, and I hope this is where we can tweak something so we can have more money left at the end of the month. I feel so stupid… we are all healthy, but paying so much money is killing us. Please help me/us with some suggestions in regards to healthcare costs.

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