I’ve worked as a professional writer for decades. Ok sure, most of the writing I’ve done is kinda boring technical and business documents, but still, I’ve made my living with the written word since 1992. In the 2000s I started to branch out into other types of writing: marketing copywriting, grant writing, writing for magazines, and writing and editing books. I learned how to set up websites, taught myself basic graphic design, and started a blog. I loved the variety of work I could find beyond corporate America and decided to strike out on my own as a freelancer.
I found all sorts of work in the wider world. I started contributing regularly to several trade magazines, I wrote and designed marketing materials for several small businesses, and I eventually started to specialize in helping clients create family history books. I loved it so very much. I even wrote a book of my own.
That all came to a screeching halt in 2017. A Canadian company bought out the company where my husband worked. My husband wasn’t worried about losing his job, but I was. I’ve been through too any corporate mergers and various downsizing shenanigans in my career to think nothing at his company would change. I was making a great living as a freelancer and consultant, and I could have easily paid all our bills with plenty left over if my husband lost his income. The problem was health insurance. We had health insurance through his company, and when I started to research how much it would cost to buy our own insurance I had a panic attack. The costs were obscene. At the time, a really crappy plan with a $16,000 deductible that would be basically the same as no insurance cost $2,700 a month. It didn’t provide any copays or anything to help offset costs. Basically we’d have to pay $2,700/month, or $32,400/year PLUS $16,000 in out of pocket expenses if there was a true disaster, for a grand total of $48,400, before insurance would give us a penny. A decent policy with copays and a reasonable deductible of $3,000 cost $3,500/month ($42,000/year).
Obviously these costs are for people who don’t qualify for a subsidy. If I qualitied for a subsidy, the costs would have been like $300/month.
Not only could I not afford that, I think paying such obscene costs for insurance is just wrong. I had a strong premonition that my husband would get laid off. And even if he didn’t, he would retire many years before me, so I had to have some sort of affordable health insurance. I knew my only real option to protect our health insurance was to get a “captive” job at a big company. So, I went into a deep depression, closed my freelancing business, and got a job as a technical writer at a manufacturing company.
I kept an eye on insurance costs. The following year, they were even higher, $4,100/month ($49,200/year) for a policy with a sky-high deductible. In 2020, the prices have fallen a bit to a still obscene $2,900/month ($34,800/year). That’s more than three times what I pay for my mortgage It’s actually way more than the total costs for every singe bill I pay ever month, including groceries. OBSCENE.
I live in Tennessee, a part of the country deeply opposed to the Affordable Care Act. I wasn’t a fan of the legislation myself, but do you know what I’m even less enthusiastic about? Health insurance that costs $2,500+ a month. I think we all deserve health insurance we can actually afford that will actually pay for health care when we need it. I don’t expect free health insurance. I also expect options that are affordable for small business owners like every other developed country on the planet.
Whenever I think about my health insurance options, I think of the mafia. It’s a shakedown racket. I can pay an absurd amount of money every month, but when I actually need insurance it probably won’t do anything to help me pay for the care I need. It’s a scheme to make health insurance executives rich and give people with insurance a false sense of security.
The United States is supposedly the most advanced country on earth with the best health care. That’s just not true. A country that offers zero affordable good health insurance options to self employed citizens, and forces them to close successful businesses, isn’t the most advanced country. A country with so many people who have to forgo medical treatment because they can’t afford health insurance doesn’t have the best health care system in the world. In my opinion, the United States has the worst health care in the developed world. I remember years ago talking to a good friend who had gotten laid off from her job. She didn’t have many expenses, so got a low wage job that she enjoyed. She didn’t make enough money to quality for a subsidy, so her annual health insurance payments would have been more than her entire take home income.
I’ve considered my options over the years. When my husband turns 65 he will transition to Medicare, which actually **IS** affordable (I personally want the option to buy into Medicare before I’m 65). I’ll see how much insurance for just me costs. If it’s still obscenely expensive for just one person, I will probably decide to move to another state or perhaps even another country.
America, we can and should do better.