For folks in Washington State (and probably other places, too) it is that time of year to pick a healthcare plan for 2021. At least that’s true for people using the Washington State health insurance marketplace. The entire process took me less than thirty minutes, as far as the state is concerned. Great. That’s the insurance policy. My real healthcare plan costs less and has been far more valuable for several years.
First, don’t make the mistake I made last year that stretched into early this year. I trusted and misread the various emails and letters I received thinking I didn’t have to do a thing because everything would carry over. For a bit of that fiasco, read Health Insurance Confusion 2019-2020-. My personal remembrance was that my mistakes in dealing with health insurance companies and the health insurance marketplace was unhealthy. It was eventually successful, but the extra costs in money, time, and stress were expensive.
This year, selecting an insurance plan for next year I decided to make a change. Ironically, while real estate prices are rising (I’m a broker with Dalton Realty, Inc. – required disclosure), it is because inventory is falling – at least on Whidbey Island. Each sale can be more profitable, but there are fewer sales. Currently, the number of brokers exceeds the number of listings by about a factor of three. Those listings where sixteen offers are submitted mean a potentially good day for the seller, their broker, and one of those buyers and their broker; and fifteen pairs of buyers and brokers who pull back and wait for the next listing, possibly competing with the same crowd minus one. I’ve had a better year than many, but I’m not taking that for granted. So, I must reduce my monthly expenses. The irony is that, because of a health care crisis, I have to cut back on my health insurance expenses.
There’s good news. Changing my insurance plan only took about that half hour I mentioned above, and that included on conversation via Chat and one call to a real conversation at Washington Healthplan Finder. I think, I think, I’ve now reduced my monthly premium by about $300 or $400 per month. That happened by raising my deductible from $1,150 to $6,000, as well as paying out of pocket for more on the copays and prescriptions.
The comparison between the old and the new plans was easy. Thinking back over the last four years, and further, my total copays and prescriptions through the healthcare provider associated with the health insurance company was – let me run the numbers again – zero. Zero. My experiences with that health care provider and conventional health care have been so traumatic that I no longer use their services. I continue to carry insurance because: 1) accidents happen, and 2) insurance is required.
Yet again, another insurance policy that I’m required to pay for but that is effectively useless. Health, house, and car insurance have been a greater expense that what I’ve spent on healthcare, house maintenance and repair, and maybe truck repairs. (That last one is close because the truck is 20 years old, though the house is 56 years old, and I’m older than both of them.) I can’t cut back much more on house and car insurance, but I can at least cut back on health insurance, and that’s only because subsidies will pay the rest. Without subsidies, I wouldn’t have any health insurance.
Over $1,000 per month for insurance is ridiculous. Imagine instead, paying a health care provider that much per month. That would be great health care.
Imagine instead, paying a health care provider something more like $100 per month, getting a professional who spends thirty minutes per appointment or more as necessary, being able to work with them more than once a month, and working on treatments that are specific to my lifestyle, my finances, and my history. That is welcome and healthy considering the rare ten minute consultation when so little background and understanding are available that the main treatments are based generalities, stereotypes, and assuming every patient is essentially the same.
Working outside the health insurance company’s healthcare provider also means eliminating a lot of insurance and corporate paperwork, and the subsequent negotiations with insurance and corporate bureaucracies. Unhealthy experiences, at least for me.
Health insurance is not an insurance of health. Health insurance is not health care.
At least in my experience, conventional health care is centered on how I am going to die, while a more personal approach can be about how I am going to live.
I am fortunate. I’ve mentioned my health care provider before Water’s Edge Wellness Center in Langley, WA. They operate from a business model that sounds radical and innovative, but I suspect it is more similar to the way doctors worked fifty years ago. One difference is that, instead of paying per visit, I pay per month. Because of my financial constraints (and my frugality), we work from supplements and tests that rarely cost more than that monthly premium. Compare that to just the subsidy I receive, which is seven to ten times higher (depending on how it is calculated.)
Water’s Edge’s business model can probably be replicated. That’s one reason I write this post. I think… I know their business model and caring approach are better than any health care plan I’ve experienced in twenty years. Prior to that I had an impressive health care plan while I was an engineer at Boeing, but that was back in the era of personal ignorance of medical costs, and even then the visits were corporate.
I’m glad I live in Washington State because it has such things as a Healthplan Finder, and people who support it well. I’m also glad I live in a state that is taking Covid seriously. Because of Covid and life in general, someday I might need the full suite of services of a hospital and whichever doctor they assign me (my previous preferred provider left them.) That’s why I keep the insurance. But lately, health insurance has become all expense and no benefit; while my health care has been the most beneficial and the least expensive I’ve experienced.
Good ideas happen. Innovations succeed. Such ideas deserve to be spread around. I’m glad someone was willing to try. I’m a lot healthier because of it. (And am also old enough to have had an interesting enough life that there’s plenty to work on. Now, about that hyper-extended knee, and the compressed disk, and pandemic-dictated restrictions on exercise like dancing. Hmm. Plenty to work on.)