Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Insurance...The Poor Farm Budget 2018

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Moving on with our annual financial budget, I'll share with you how we manage insurance costs. In this category we include auto, home and life insurance. In 2017 we also included health insurance because one of us had it, but in 2018 it will be absent because neither of us is covered. But before I hit that hot topic, I'll discuss the more mundane insurances.

Auto insurance. It is required by our state law but we carry only the minimum on our vehicles, liability. It costs us $32.67/month for both vehicles: a 2002 Ford F-150 and a 2000 Dodge neon.  So if one of our cats lights up in my car and the whole thing goes up in flames...we're out of luck. And that cat has lost another life I imagine. 

Home Insurance. Also fairly simple. We wouldn't even have it if it wasn't required by our mortgage lender, but it is, so we do. Cost is $43.08 per month. This was the best price we could find and the company we use has insured our home for twice the present appraisal value because that amount was their minimum. It also covers personal belongings and the outbuildings.


Life insurance.  We each have a term policy payable upon death. We've had the same policies for years and we are rewarded for such loyalty with a steady increase in premiums as we age. I would've preferred a free toaster. Oh insurance, how thou vexes me. We have a combined coverage of $400,000 and it costs us $739 every 6 months or $1480/yr.



We no longer have minor children at home, the most minor one being twenty seven , but we want the surviving spouse to have a nice cushion to live out their days and the ability to stay on this property until their own death. And although we personally do not believe it is a parents duty to leave an inheritance to their children, it would be nice if we could leave enough for them to have a nice weekend away. Certainly, if we still have a mortgage we want our offspring to be able to pay it off.

So, how did our projections compare to actual costs? For 2017 we budgeted $155/month for auto, home and life insurance. Actual spent was $202/month. Not too far off. The additional $47 month was due to the increase in our life insurance premiums we forgot to budget for. For 2018 we've budgeted $220/month. Looking at our projected life insurance costs, we're not expecting a big jump until I turn 60 in 2019.

Now, health insurance. Last year from Jan-Nov. 2017 Keith was covered by his employer at no cost to him. I also could've gotten coverage through his employer but the cost was way out of our budget as Keith's income would've been reduced by 30%. So we said, No Thanks. In Nov. 2017 his employer announced that employees would have to pay a portion of their health insurance. Again, this would've dropped Keith's take home pay by about 20% and we said No Thanks again.

Thus, neither of us has health insurance. because Keith's employer technically offers it to both of us, neither of us qualify for any of Obama's Health Care Plans. We fall between all the cracks . We have handled this by working harder every year to get healthier. We do not take any prescription drugs, handling any aches or pains with holistic or herbal treatments. We do not regularly see physicians. We don't even see them irregularly. We are eating better than we have in decades by avoiding many processed foods and growing as much of our own food as possible. We remain active.

But we are both very aware that a semi-truck could run through us at the corner tomorrow morning, that our hearts might decide a serious arrhythmia would be entertaining, that a bulging aneurysm is lurking in our brains, that cancer could be looming within a pancreas waiting to jump out and yell BOO!

C'est la vie.

Like our dear blog friends Leigh and Dan at Five Acres & a Dream, have recently experienced, accidents can happen anytime, especially for those who do so much hands on work required on homesteads. Like Dan, Keith badly cut his finger using a saw two summers ago. Fortunately his injury was not as serious as Dan's and the total bill was less than $1000. We paid it over time to OSF Saint James Hospital whose mission is to recognize the  Personal worth and dignity of every person we serve regardless of race, color, religion and ability to pay. They were more than willing to set up a payment plan with us. We are blessed to have such a facility in our community. 

It is with these events that you learn to rely on family and friends, and you pay off the medical bills as you can, when you can. Health insurance never guarantees your safety, and none of us gets out of this life thing alive anyway.





22 comments:

  1. Farmers have it hard no matter how the combine rolls...

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    1. So true. Although my husband has worked hard for years as a self employed farmer, when applying for an off farm job 14 months ago, he was often seen as "inexperienced." What a big load of manure that was.

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  2. I hate the cost of health care, even with out high deductible insurance. And with the Big Announcement I just wrote about (guess who's pregnant? ) it's hopeless. I feel like saying "get in line" every time I open a medical bill. And we're lucky to be healthy! I have NO idea how some people in this country manage.

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    1. I believe it will get worse and worse as time goes by. I'm watching the series "Dirty Money" on Netflix and just finished the one on big pharmacy. It's all horrifying, the way health care agencies are (the majority of them) focused only on profit, and not at all on real patient care.

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  3. Across the board, insurance is happy to take your money, making promises about what they cover - but do Jack-all to pay up, when making a claim. Which is why we keep our insurance to a minimum as well. They do not please us, so we reduce their cut as much as possible. ;)

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    1. You are so right. Health insurance exists for the board members, the investors, not for those who are ill.

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  4. Donna, ObamaCare has plans for everybody... they have to because you have to pay a monthly penalty if you don't have insurance! So they MUST provide health insurance for everyone in all income or no-income categories. I'm a retired RN and I've got to tell you that your care at any hospital, without insurance, will be shabby at best. And the hospital will bill you for their services no matter if you have the money in the bank or if you have to sell your farm to pay it. You are taking a huge risk with your lives and livelihood without having insurance of some sort. Insurance is the #1 priority in a budget, right up there with food, clothing and shelter. And as we age the ailments come, no matter how well we take care of ourselves. Please, check out health insurance and get some. You do indeed qualify... everyone does... it's the law. Blessings~ Andrea xxx

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    1. Andrea, I love a good discussion. Let's have one. I am also a retired RN, 36 years in health care all told. 11 of those as hospice/home health manager. The hospital system I worked for OSF Healthcare in Central Illinois was outstanding then and remains outstanding now in regards to care of the indigent. No difference in care based on payer status, in fact employees are disciplined if anything less is noted. I understand this is not true in many other systems, we are very fortunate to be in this area of Mission Driven-rather than Profit Driven-health care.

      Regarding Obama Care, yes they have plans, but no, they are not for everybody. As in our case, because health care insurance is "offered" by my husbands employer (regardless of the fact that we feel we cannot afford it) neither of us is eligible for Obama care. Believe me, I've done my homework and talked to the Obama Care reps who have confirmed this. As far as the penalty goes, Trump had that eliminated and when we filed our taxes for 2017 demonstrating our lack of health insurance, there was no penalty to pay. Every bit of federal tax we paid via payroll deduction is being returned to us.

      In regards to past medical bills owed, hospitals cannot directly require a homeowner to sell their home or farm to pay a bill. They can through very long and legally expensive (for them) process the eventual lien on a home but by that time, many patients will simply file bankruptcy. It is always in the best interests of the hospital to work WITH patients whenever they can. They budget for indigent care and in fact the mission driven hospitals are evaluated on the amount of indigent care they provide. Too little is as bad as too much.

      Yes, I agree we are taking a risk but it is one we have become comfortable with. If we had minor children, the situation would be different. The facts are, that at this point in our lives, we have so little that a hospital would be interested in. Want to take our 680 Sq Foot grain bin house? Our very old cars with no value? Our four pigs and one milk cow? All my thrift store clothing and furniture? Take it. It's yours :)

      Please Andrea keep commenting. I love to hear opposing viewpoints. I find total agreement, totally boring!

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    2. Thanks for the discussion ladies. We don't qualify either because my husband's employeer offers it. I think it's important to remember that medical bills can be made in payments and most often the cost can be negotiated if you can pay a lump sum.

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    3. Part 1:

      Hello again, (((((Donna))))). Sorry it took me awhile to get back here. xoxo

      Gee, I don't know where to start and I have to be honest in saying that I don't much enjoy discussions like this. I say my peace and then usually "walk away" but I'll partake in this short chit-chat. :)

      What I meant when I said your care will be shabby at best if you don't have insurance is... if you need a big life-saving procedure that costs a lot of money and you don't have insurance, the doctor will think twice about giving it to you. That's a fact. I've seen it over and over in the clinical setting. Plus, if you do not have insurance they will be very reluctant to transfer you to a bigger, better hospital if needed. I've seen that one over and over again in the clinical setting too. A 23 minute medical chopper ride from our small town to a children's hospital in Chicago is $30,000!!!! Our 14yo daughter had a cerebral hemorrhage from a ruptured AVM we didn't know she had. The very best place to treat her was Chicago. Helicopter transport, two hospital stays, open brain surgery = $750,000 total by the time all was said and done. Because of their expertise in the field she recovered and lives a normal life today. But if we did not have insurance she would NOT have been transferred to Chicago. Period. She would have gone, via ambulance, to a much inferior hospital about 35 miles away and I shudder, as a nurse, to think what would have happened to her there. As it was, our little podunk hospital ER here diagnosed her as suffering from a migraine headache and were going to send her home with pain pills... until I "put on my nurse's cap" and INSISTED they do a CAT scan of her head. The radiologist came running to the ER saying our daughter had a major brain bleed with a 3cm blood clot, dividing her brain in half. Within an hour she was in the air and headed to Chicago... because we had the insurance to pay for it!

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    4. Part 2:

      Hospice is a whole other issue because there is no variance of treatment... in fact there's very little "treatment" due to what hospice is, by nature. So that's like comparing apples and oranges, really.

      I wish you would check out Obamacare a bit more, Donna, as yes, there are different plans for different incomes. And if your income is low enough you qualify for Medicaid. The bottom line is you MUST have insurance by law. Not having insurance is not an option and for very good reason.

      You are probably "comfortable" with the "risk" of having no insurance because you feel you will get treatment regardless, whether you have insurance or not. But then there's the ethical question about that. Do you expect goods and services anyplace else, without paying for them? Do you go to the grocery store and take out groceries without paying for them? Of course not. Health care is no different, in my view. How can doctors and hospitals keep their doors open when people expect care for nothing? How do RNs get paid when the people they care for expect them to work for nothing? We simply can't do that. Thus the law about people having to have insurance.

      Years and years ago my husband had the chance to join his brother in his carpentry business. It was NOT a thriving business and my husband and his brother would have been the only employees. My husband adores working with wood. We talked about it and talked about it but in the end my husband decided he had to be responsible. He had a job that gave him a steady income and provided insurance and retirement. It wasn't a job he loved but it paid the bills and other things. So he turned down the carpentry offer and stuck with the job he felt he had to stick with, in order to ethically and morally do what he knew he should, as a breadwinner. He just retired after working full-time, faithfully, for 43 years of his life... at a job he didn't much care for. So we all make decisions that affect our well-being. Hopefully we all choose wisely.

      Take good care, Donna, and I love reading your blog entries. Blessings to you~ Andrea xoxo

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    5. Andrea, Thanks so much for this discussion. It's a good topic, yes?

      I agree that a physician will rethink expensive procedures once they are aware of our private pay status. I can live (or die) with that.

      Obama care would be available to us IF my husbands job did not offer heath insurance, but it does and we feel it's not affordable for us. So, no Obama care for us.

      Medicaid eligibility in Illinois is not based on income alone. You must also have a qualifying medical disability (such as blindness) or be over 65. We only have the low income.

      No, I don't expect to receive medical services without paying for them. This is why we do not use the ER for toothaches or simple headaches (not the type your daughter had)and we currently do not even have PCP's. If we went to the doctor we'd pay cash. If we have to go to ER, we'll work out a payment schedule with the hospital.

      An RN's paycheck does not (yet) reflect the payor source of her patient. She gets an hourly rate whether she cares for fully insured, Medicare or Medicaid pts. This may change as hospitals are called on the carpet for their often very elevated charges as the whole US Healthcare system has been on the verge of collapse for decades. Our expectations of perfect outcomes has turned us into an obnoxious and litigious society. This has raised costs in all spectrums of healthcare. Liability insurance for MD's is through the roof.

      Suffice it to say, I could've continued working as an RN but the field was changing and I no longer felt like I made a difference. So we've chosen this very simple life without the net of health insurance, as your husband chose to stay at his job which as you said "he didn't much care for" in order to keep his insurance.

      That's one of the reasons I do live the US. We still have freedom of choice and all the consequences, good and bad, that go with that.

      I love reading your blog too!


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  5. Hi Donna, oh the insurance...it vexes me too. Our auto insurance in Canada is mandatory before you can register your vehicle. I still have another 6 months on the car loan, so I have a big plan, but as soon as it's paid off...I'm getting the minimum too. We have home insurance because it's required by our landlord. I often think it's such a waste of money...but what if everything burned down, we'd be very appreciative of anything we could get out of the insurance company. Life insurance isn't a bad idea, but boy oh boy, that is a lot of money Donna. I feel for Leigh and Dan...it's scary. Here in Canada, I complain at length about the sh*tty medical care, how doctors just don't care anymore, whip out prescription pads like a hot gun and the up to 24 hour wait times at emergency hospitals...but at least we are covered under medicare. I couldn't imagine getting one of many hospital bills for 3k in the mail...

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    1. Rain, I love hearing about these issues from those who live in other countries. Although I personally don't want to be in an accident with an uninsured driver, I do not believe it should be mandatory to have auto insurance. Our government has it's hands in way too many of our pockets. Their job in the US was originally to protect us from foreign invaders. How far they've strayed. I'm glad life insurance is not required by law-yet-and there are times we consider dropping it. Then of course one of us will croak the day after and then no one gets a nice vacation ! :)

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    2. LOL!!!! Well, the good thing about not having life insurance is that Alex knows the old arsenic in the coffee trick won't bring him in any untold fortunes lol! ;)

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  6. Interesting post and discussions. In this new, improved Obama care world, no insurance plan covers me living where I do, but seeing the Dr. I use...so I have a bronze plan for worst case scenario, and expect to pay out of pocket for actual care.

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    1. Tell me more if you can. How does your location affect your coverage? It appears there are many restrictions that are poorly communicated as compared to the pros of Obama care which are well advertised.

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    2. Donna, in my neck of the woods the insurance companies have two service areas. One is comprised of the two urban most populous counties, and the other made up of the rest of the counties. I live in the latter, and insist on keeping my health care team, who're in the former. Hope that helps.

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  7. Heath insurance: My husband uses the VA but he also has his employer paid insurance as well. He's covered well. To add me on his employer paid would of cost us an additional $700 a month at which we don't want to spend because I am on DOD's TriCare for military spouses. I pay nothing and it qualifies us. However next year, I will be 65 and that means medicare. I will be charged $200 a month or whatever it is. My tricare will be tricare for life I still pay nothing. That medicare payment will help me to get some things done that I have been putting off due to Tricare not covering enough of it.

    It's all crazy though. Just today, I bought my dog and my younger cat pet insurance to cover their medical and wellcare. $90 a month!

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    1. $700 a month to add you?!? Good thing you have Tricare coverage as well. And I'm not telling our two dogs and three cats about your animals excellent coverage. They'd be mighty jealous. Rabies shots. That's what they get.

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  8. You budget well, insurance is such a necessity although finding that comfortable mark is always a worry.
    We are both retired and on Medicare and Tricare For Life, we only pay for the Medicare part, 134.00 each per month.
    Tricare For Life is free right now, my husband served 36 years in the military, and is one of his retirement benefits.
    We pay homeowners insurance, auto insurance, and carry an umbrella policy of one million dollars, just in the event one of our two hundred year old trees falls on a neighbor's house, I wouldn't want to risk getting sued because our homeowners didn't pay enough.
    I'm not a spender, unless it comes to my animals, and then I do what is necessary.
    Unforeseen accidents like my ankle breakage are what sets a person back, and is the reason I try to not over-extend my choices in life.
    You seem to have it all figured out....Kudos friend.
    ~Jo

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    1. Oh no, I really don't have it all figured it, I just tell a good story. None of us really know, or can plan for the unforeseeable, which is why we buy insurance of one kind or another. That illusion of control, it does help one sleep at night. :) As I write this the winds are HOWLING outside at about 45 mph and I wonder if our partially finished barn will be standing tomorrow. Right now, I'm glad it's insured!

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Comments are good, as long as you're a real person and not some goof telling me how you were cured of hepatitis by snorting a pulverized neon blue crayon. Your comments don't even have to agree with my viewpoint, I love a good discussion, but civility does matter.