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Health Savings Account Plan Comparison Question & Answers

2014 February 13
by Sarah Fields

Richard asks…

what kind of health insurance plan do you have?

is it for a single person or family plan

and I’m not trying to get personal but how much do you pay a month

also whats your co-pay per visit and how much is it per ER visit

Thank you so much, I have been looking for health insurance for a while now and my military coverage for a college student is about to end. Thanks again

Sarah Fields answers:

I’m covered through work which offers a Health Savings Account with a $2500 deductible and $2000 maximum out-of-pocket through UnitedHealthcare. I have to pay the full amount for doctors visits and prescriptions instead of a co-pay. The money I put into the HSA is pre-tax dollars, and I earn a whopping 3% interest on that money. It’s still cheaper than anything I could get on my own outside work.

Ehealthinsurance.com offers a comparison search feature.

Have you checked with your university or are you a member of a professional organization? They usually have relationships with private insurance companies that might help getting a better rate or coverage.

One last thing: UnitedHealthcare is the WORST insurance company I’ve ever dealt with. I would not recommend using them.

Good luck!

Charles asks…

Should I quit work and go to Nursing School?

Okay, so I know this is lengthy, but I really would like some good advice and I need to give as much detail as possible to get it. When I graduated high school in 2008, I started college as a Nursing major. I completed most of my basic classes and prerequisites (I lack a computer course, anatomy, and microbiology). But I “dropped out” and got married in October of 2009. I am now a new mom (my daughter was born Jan 30th) and having her put a lot of things into perspective. My husband and I both have decent full time jobs. I am a teller at a local bank. After taxes and health insurance, I used to bring home around $612 every two weeks. Now that I’ve added my daughter to this insurance, I’ll be lucky to bring home $500 after taxes/insurance. Childcare is going to cost $260 a month. My husband grosses $360 before taxes weekly, and that’s not including his overtime hours, which he’s been getting a lot of lately. We’re trying to refinance our home mortgage to consolidate all of our debt so we’ll only have one monthly payment. Here’s my question: Should I quit my full time job to go back to school for Nursing? I don’t know if we can afford it. I know I will qualify for aid and student loans, as well as food stamps and WIC, which we currently do not qualify for. I don’t want to be one of “those people” who leech the tax-paying community, but if it’s to better myself so that I can have a better job making more money in the future, I think I can deal with the “shame” of being on food stamps and WIC for two years while I’m in school. I don’t want this to put a strain on our marriage or our finances…but I was hoping having only the one monthly payment and being able to cut our car insurance by $80 (by going down to liability insurance only instead of full coverage) + the gov. aid would be enough to get us through. I really want to be a nurse, my heart has always been in it…I’m terrified, naturally. What if I’m not smart enough? What if I fail? Then it’ll be all that time and effort wasted for nothing! Before you suggest it, working part time is not an option. Nursing classes are 5 days a week and that’s not including after-class labs and studying & homework from home. If I am going to do this, I have to focus on it 100%. No job. Does this plan sound too risky? I know I can always get another job and quit school if I had to, but then I’d be out tuition and all that…how do people afford this? How much in student loans should I plan on taking out to cover living expenses while I’m putting myself through school without a job and only on my husband’s income? Should I see if my daughter will qualify for low-cost or free health insurance, since she won’t be covered by mine once I quit my job (IF I quit my job?) It just seems like in the long run, it will profit me more to quit and go back to school to get this nursing degree rather than stay at my current job, with no plans to advance because it’s NOT where I want to be the rest of my life. What should I do? Any input would be appreciated. Do you think I can do it???

Sarah Fields answers:

Let’s kinda start at the end here. If you quit your job to go back to school, there are a few things that need to happen first.

1. You MUST have a savings account to cover your family if something happens. If your car breaks down, your husband gets injured and can’t work, you lose your home, etc. It should be for 12 months of living expenses and I wouldn’t make any major life changes without at least a 6 month cushion.

2. To be competitive in nursing, you will need a BSN. That’s a 4 year college degree. If you quit school after a year, then you will have 3 years of full time schooling to do, assuming your credits haven’t expired. Your other option will be ADN, which should take another 2 years or so. You could then get a lower tier job, work for awhile, and then do an online BSN course, which should take about 18 months. All these numbers I am giving you are ballpark and will depend on specific circumstances. You should be able to work part time or full time during your pre-nursing portion and you *may* be able to work part time during nursing school, at least until clinicals. Personally, I feel that getting as many grants as possible for the BSN is the smarter way to go. It’s less time in the long run.

3. Next year, the health insurance mandate kicks in, so you MUST factor that in. While subsidies are available for low income families, if you make more than 400% of the poverty level, you cannot get a subsidy. If you make less than 133% of the poverty level, you will qualify for medicaid. With this insurance mandate, employers of over 50 employees are threatening to drop employees down to part time so they don’t have to provide health care or are threatening layoffs.

Now, onto your worry about being on the dole. Government programs like this are set up to help people who made bad decisions or had bad luck and are trying to right themselves. As easy as it is to sit here and scold you for dropping out of school and then getting pregnant before you were financially able to support a child, it’s done. The Government is there to help you become a meaningful member of society. No one likes moochers taking advantage of the system, but do you really feel like getting help so that you can go back to school and get a great job is mooching? I don’t. If you belong to groups or social circles that do feel this way, it may be time to reevaluate your allegiances.

Living poorly will mean reassessing your expenses. Can you use public transportation rather than maintain a car? How can you cut your food costs – do you have accces to bulk grains and legumes (rice, beans, quinoa) and seasonal vegetables? If so, it can be very cheap to eat this way. Become as much as a vegetarian as you can, using meat as a special treat rather than the center of each meal. Comparison shop – there are a ton of websites for this.

Cable, cell phones, xbox games, subscriptions all become luxuries. Get a library card and read actual books. Read magazines there.

In the end, only you can decide if this is the right time to make this change. It’s going to be a long serious discussion with your husband with all the cards (and bills) on the table. If you don’t have his support 100%, it will fail and your marriage will likely crumble. Money is the #1 cause of fights.

Whatever your decision, good luck.

Ruth asks…

discount health plan card vs health Insurance?

we currently have aetna but the premium is high. What is better?Discount card or health insurance.Please guide us.

If discounted health plan is better…which company is recommended.we are in NY.

Sarah Fields answers:

My understanding is that with a discount card, you pay a monthly fee, and then get your medical expenses at a group rate that you pay out-of-pocket each time. The problem with this is that generally there is no cap on what you will pay in a year. If you get in an accident, you could still have substantial medical expenses.

There are many different health insurance plans out there so you cannot make a blank comparison between the two. If you want lower premiums, but still want coverage in case of an accident, I would consider a high deductible health plan (HDHP) and accompanying health savings account (HSA). You will have lower premiums than with traditional health insurance (what I assume you have now), but you will only be responsible for paying up to the deductible each year. After you pay the deductible, the insurance will pay 100% after that.

To help you save for the medical expenses that you will encounter you are allowed to open a tax-free HSA account, that will allow you to use pre-tax dollars to save for medical expenses until age 65. After age 65, you can use the money tax-free for whatever you want.

Check out this page for info on how these plans work:

http://www.hsasale.com/index.php?pr=HSA_Information

Or this page to get a free quote:
http://www.hsasale.com/index.php?pr=Free_HSA_Quote

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