How do you talk about something that has become so painfully political in a non-political fashion? No idea, so I’m just going to rant for a bit.

This was the second year in a row where I waited with sickening dread for our new company insurance policies. If they changed our provider–a very definite possibility–I would almost certainly once again be either forced to get a new job or spend thousands of extra out-of-pocket for a plan that’s no longer tax deductible because my employer didn’t choose it.

Fortunately, they kept the same plan. Unfortunately, premiums went up and benefits dropped to the tune of about $5,000 this year. In other words, pretty much par for the course with insurance.

With our new health insurance in effect, I decided to dig through my old budgets to see if our increase is really as bad as I’m imagining. I could only find information going back to 2012, which is a little bit of a bummer for a numbers nerd like me, but it still works.

Before getting into the actual numbers, I have to note that this isn’t a complete apples to apples comparison. It is only MY portion of the premiums. I know the company is paying another portion of it, which I, unfortunately, do not have on file. This is another problem with Health Insurance in the US, but that’s a discussion for another day.

On top of that, I don’t have a good benefits comparison. But to give you an idea of the downward trend there, in 2010 Finley and Amy spent a combined 4 months in the hospital, and we paid $200. If the same thing happened today, we’d pay at least $12,000. Though, to be fair, that early plan offered insane benefits.

With that out of the way, let’s get to the good stuff: the numbers.


Year Cost/Moth Increase from Last Year Note
2012 $491 This is the first year I have tracked – full year Family Plan
2013 $509 4% Same Insurance Plan
2014 (Beg) $419 (18%) New Low Deductible Plan
2014 (End) $492 17% New job, much worse plan
2015 $579 18% Same plan as last year
2016 (Beg) $330.46 (43%) Terrible, terrible new plan
2016 (End) $696.37 210%, or 20% from 2015 New Job. Pretty decent plan.
2017 $816.60 17% Some tweaks to last year’s plan to make it worse
Summary 66% Premium Increase from 2012


A Few Highlights

Two of these past five years were particularly tumultuous for me work wise, which also screws up a good comparison. Let me give a couple explainers about what’s included above:

2014 – The company was really, really pushing these low deductible plans instead of the straight co-pay plans we had before. I decided to take it. Since I then switched jobs, I got screwed out of a few hundred dollars of deductible that I wouldn’t have paid otherwise. It wasn’t a huge amount, but it was enough to make me feel stupid. It didn’t help that the new company offered relatively terrible plans compared to what I had before.

2016 – My company got bought out, and our new overlords introduced an insurance plan where my son’s therapy was no longer covered. It meant we would have been out-of-pocket about $20k more for the year than we originally planned.

After a month of living on the $20,000 pay cut due to benefits change, I decided that I was being really stupid and got a new job with insurance that covered the therapy. Even though I had to pay more in premiums, I came out WAY ahead.

2017 – Amy separately had United in 2016, which we paid for out-of-pocket instead of through either of our employers. When United pulled out of the individual Colorado market, Kaiser–and likely all the other CO insurance companies–raised their rates and lower their benefits. So that’s where we are now.

What This Means

This means I’m paying more now than I did before.

Seriously, this is just one data point, so nobody can extract what happened to me to mean everyone.

I can say that it sucks to pay more and get less. And paying 66% more in premiums compared to a basically 1% annual inflation rate between then and now is clearly not sustainable.

Some Thoughts on Reform

Since Health INSURANCE and Politics have become so painfully intertwined, I wanted to put in my two cents about why every option is bad going forward. This is going to be vaguely political, so if you want to jump before I rant some more, feel free.

Single Payer Plan–Premiums would be renamed taxes and then continue to either skyrocket or be paid for through lower quality care (quick economic lesson: barring efficiency improvement, you can’t change what something costs, you just end up paying for it in different ways). Gigantic insurance companies with little competition that often seem like Claim-Eating Blobs would be replaced by an even bigger government bureaucracy. Considering what our Neighbors to the North go through to get Autism treatments (why the heck do some Americans aspire to this on Health Care reform?), we would most likely being paying for my son’s therapy’s out-of-pocket while we wait three to four years for a bureaucracy to rubber stamp the care. Summary: more expensive premiums and/or worse benefits, overall more cost.

Market Based Reform–Premiums would plummet, but they would likely only cover catastrophic illness and injury. So. . .more like an actual insurance plan instead of whatever the heck it is we have now. My son’s therapies would not be covered, so we’d be paying it out-of-pocket, but maybe, just maybe, the decrease in premiums would make up for the huge additional expense. Summary: cheaper premiums, worse benefits, overall cost forecast hazy.

Another Tweak Through another Reform Bill (Most Likely Scenario)–Premiums will continue to increase, but maybe at a slightly lower rate. My son’s therapies will continue to be covered. We will all continue to complain about how crappy our health insurance system is. Summary: Carry On My Wayward Son.

Anyway. . .

Next week I’ll hopefully get back to writing something better. I just had to get this out of my system.