Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Turning 55 and fed up with healthcare costs September 7, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 7:04 AM
Tags: , , , , , ,

In 19 days I turn 55.

Recently I received my first birthday greeting, from my health insurance carrier, a well-known Minnesota-based company.

The message wasn’t all that nice.  In fact, I’d say it wasn’t at all thoughtful, not one bit, for a soon-to-be birthday celebrant. My three-month premium is increasing $151, from $878 to $1,029.

The whole correspondence made me so darn mad that I called my husband at work to see if I could still get on the company insurance plan. His employer was switching to a new insurance carrier to try and curb costs. He said he would check and get back to me.

So while he was asking, I was calling my insurer. I got through the first automated voice when my cell phone rang. (Did I mention that I hate those automated systems?) It was my husband calling back, and probably a good thing since at that moment I glanced at my insurance bill and saw the reason for the $151 premium increase:


There it was in bold-faced, capitalized letters.

The bill could have included these bold-faced, uppercased letters to project some Minnesota Nice: HAPPY BIRTHDAY, AUDREY!

My husband shared a dismal message. Coverage through his employer would be $30 higher than my new monthly premium of $342.83. How do they come up with that 83 cents tacked on the end?

My husband’s news sent my anger level soaring off the charts. “What the blankety-blank (not my exact words, but I want to keep this post family-friendly) is going on?” I screeched.

“Welcome to Obama Care,” he said.

I have no idea if rising insurance premiums are related to changes in healthcare policies, but my spouse seems to think so. I didn’t follow healthcare reform because half most of the time I couldn’t understand it anyway. That’s not an excuse, simply the truth.

But I do know this: Way too much—well over $800 a month— of my family’s income is now going toward health insurance premiums for my husband and me, who turns 55 shortly after me. I have a $3,000 deductible and my spouse has a $2,400 deductible.

His employer has been paying about $90 of his monthly premium. Since I’m self-employed, well, every premium cent comes from my pocket.

We rarely visit the doctor because that costs us even more money.

Honestly, I am fed up with the rising cost of health insurance and healthcare and I don’t know what the heck to do about it.

I’ve even thought about dropping my insurance coverage. But I am smart enough to realize that at my age, that would not be a wise decision.

HOW ABOUT YOU? Are you fed up with the rising cost of health insurance premiums and overall healthcare costs? What are you doing to control/cut costs? Share your thoughts by submitting a comment. Feel free to speak your mind. Just use family-friendly language and keep your comments libel-free.

© Copyright 2011 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


14 Responses to “Turning 55 and fed up with healthcare costs”

  1. Tyson Says:

    Go to a $10000 deductible. Make sure its 100% coverage after that. And when you cannot stand that, just go without it.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      I have thought about increasing the deductible and just may. My concern is that I have an artificial hip and, once I increase the deductible, well, I don’t think there’s any going back.

  2. Michael Says:

    Followed your post from MinnPost….

    I don’t think your spouses response to ObamaCare is an accurate portrayal. Although I disagree with the complete plan for lack of cost containment, I think there were several insurance based wins for the public. (lifetime maxs elimination, recidivism, covered preventative maintenance)

    Health care premiums have been increasing dramatically for years for two reasons. 1) the rising costs of healthcare unrelated to insurance. And 2) employers continually contributing less and less to your plan because of the cost. In some cases discontinuing coverage all together.

    Since 2001 my family coverage went from 100% coverage with a copay of $40 (a distant dream) to now my portion being $595 per month with a $3,000 per person deductible. My max out of pocket is $8,000! Trust me, with two boys, one with special needs, we max out.

    On a side not, the $342.83 you state is most likely pretax. You might need to factor that in to determine the actual net out of pocket cost.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Thanks for following from MinnPost to offer your insights. I don’t claim to understand healthcare reform and I doubt my husband does either. Who does?

      I don’t know where, specifically, to point the finger for continually rising health insurance premiums. But I think the two reasons you listed are certainly among the causes.

  3. I feel your pain, Audrey! I will be 56 in November, and really need to have health insurance. But the insurance pays less and less all the time, so we end up paying more out of pocket.
    I don’t see how anyone can afford regular care. It costs way too much. Just to have my blood levels checked is about $500.00, then add the MD appt for another $200.00, and there goes what I have spent the last 6 or 7 months paying off my bill.
    Our clinic doesn’t accept just payments every month. It has to be 10% of the balance or you have to get a loan to pay it off! What ever happened to people being able to just make payments they could afford?
    Health care is getting so expensive that you have to be rich to afford to go to the doctor for routine care.
    Deductibles are getting so high with the insurance companies that you rarely can use up your deductible before the end of the year.
    I could go on and on but I think you get my drift. I work in health care, but can’t afford my own. Something’s wrong with that picture!
    Love reading your blog, Audrey!

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Unfortunately, all too many people can relate to exactly what you are saying, Nancy. I understand and hear your frustration.

      Thanks for your kind words regarding Minnesota Prairie Roots. I assume you are the Nancy Keech I knew back from junior high school in Redwood Falls. Am I correct?

      • Hi Audrey,
        Yes, I am the very same Nancy Keech. I live in Rochester now so I am too far away from people I know. We get back near Redwood about once a year or so. My husband still has relatives out that way.

      • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

        Well, it is nice to reconnect with you after all these years, or should I say decades.

  4. ceciliag Says:

    That is all terrible.. I am living in the US but come from NZ. there health care is free. You pay for the doctor but not a hospital, you pay for medicine but not for a referred procedure .. why is it so expensive here, in britain even the doctor is free.. What a terrible dilemma.. that is just too much money. better to take that money and save it ibnto a high interest account and pay when you need to, just don’t get hit by a bus! c

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Thanks for stopping by Minnesota Prairie Roots to share information about the NZ healthcare system. I’m quite uninformed about how other countries handle healthcare so I found this interesting.

      I can appreciate your last comment about not getting hit by a bus. Going without health insurance would be a risk and the last thing you would want would be to get hit by a bus. I found out, though, when my son was struck by a hit-and-run driver (while crossing a street five years ago) that his medical care was covered by our auto insurance company. I never would have thought. Maybe the same goes for a bus. The driver was never found, by the way and my son is OK.

    • Trace Adams Says:

      There is an old adage that says “there is no free lunch”. I think “free” health care would fall into that don’t you?
      Someone is paying for it…your taxes I would have to guess. Otherwise your NZ doctors and health care providers are just the nicest guys on the planet working for free and all. What do you think, is it actually free?

      • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

        I think you’d pretty much be correct, Trace. “There is no free lunch” as it applies to government-run healthcare programs. Thanks for making that point.

  5. Roger Manning Says:

    The Hospital CEO’s, especially the non-profits” might think about their own salary – and reducing it. A very interesting email is circulating on the net:

    “Peter Fine…

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Roger, thank you for stopping by with your comment. I agree that those at the top really need to take a close look at their salaries.

      You will note that I opted to delete most of the info included in your comment because I really cannot use my blog as a vehicle to circulate an email making its way around on the internet. Readers, if they wish, can try to find such information on their own.

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