Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

My Halloween horror story October 31, 2019

From a Halloween display in Hayfield, Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.


WHAT SCARES YOU? I mean really scares you.

Is it the current state of our political climate? Climate change? Changes in your personal life? Life that feels overwhelming? Overwhelmingly high health insurance rates?

There’s so much to concern us. And I would place check marks in front of several items on that list, the most recent being health insurance premiums. Ours are increasing again. And I am seriously stressing about the additional $120/month we will pay for insurance that is nothing but a catastrophic plan. Our deductibles will rise from $4,000 each to $4,250 each come January 1.

I don’t pretend to be good at math. Words are my thing. But no matter that lack of skill set, I understand that the health insurance premium numbers are not good for our budget and have not been for years. I joke with my husband that he will need to pay his employer to work for him given the amount deducted from paychecks for insurance. Randy’s employer pays half of his premium, none of mine. I’m on Randy’s plan because I’m self-employed.

Now let me show you the numbers: In 2020, our monthly premiums will each be $1,149 for a total of $2,298 every single month. Of that, we will pay $1,723/month, which totals $20,677/year. And then we have those $4,250 individual deductibles before the insurance even kicks in.

This is absolutely absurd. There are no other words to describe the financial challenges we are facing because of health insurance rates that are through the roof ridiculous. No wonder we don’t go on big vacations, drive vehicles that are 15 and 17 years old, seldom dine out, have a vintage kitchen in need of a complete re-do, windows that need replacing, siding that needs paint or replacement…and don’t want to go to the doctor because we can’t afford to go to the doctor. Much of our income is funneled directly to the health insurance company rather than being pumped into the general economy. Sigh.

I never thought that at our age—in our early 60s—we would be in this financial situation because of health insurance premiums.

So what am I doing about this? Screaming, venting, crying, stressing. But I’ve also set up an appointment with a MNsure navigator to see if we qualify for any type of financial assistance. When I checked a few years back, that proved fruitless. I’m not especially hopeful this time either.

There you go, my financial horror story just in time for Halloween. I am thankful Randy and I both grew up in really poor families so we are not materialistic. We manage to pay all of our bills, get food on the table…and still donate to charities. We paid off our home mortgage years ago and I’m thankful we did.

But we never expected this overwhelming financial burden as we looked to the future and are nearing retirement.

This Halloween I’m not scared of things that go bump in the night. I’m scared of health insurance premiums.

THOUGHTS? Do you have similar health insurance horror stories?

© Copyright 2019 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


19 Responses to “My Halloween horror story”

  1. Claudette Says:

    America’s health care system is broken. We have talked about this before…I don’t know what the answer is. Wishing you good health going forward…and Happy Halloween! It is raining cats and dogs, I doubt it will be much fun for the kids… 🎃👻

    • Yes, the healthcare system in this country is broken. So broken. I don’t have the answer either. But I know things can’t continue as they are now for people like my husband and me. He works for a small business and I am self-employed, thus we don’t have the fantastic benefits that public employees enjoy as well as those who work for large companies. We are not alone in our health insurance premium crisis.

  2. valeriebollinger Says:

    That is a scary story, as is the whole healthcare/insurance thing.

  3. Judith Says:

    Dear Audrey, I’ve been reading your posts for a long time, but am finally moved to reply by this frightening Halloween post. How worrying to be faced with a commitment like this, and such huge deductibles. It would cause me sleepless nights. I would have struggled to pay such extortionate bills every month.
    Here in the UK, our medical care is free under our tax funded National Health system. As I’m over 60, my medication is also free.
    Now that our government seems to be following the direction of yours, we are worried that the Health Service will start to be privatised, and we too will have to find money for private health insurance.
    These costs are far more than the amount I paid in tax towards our beloved National Health Service. There are huge profits being made by some powerful organisations in the US health industry. Is there no scrutiny?
    Wishing you and yours the best of health.

    • That’s an excellent question: Is there no scrutiny? In Minnesota we have a recent case of the state overpaying a tribal nation $29 million in payments for healthcare. This just floors me.

      I’m sorry you are facing possible changes in your National Health System. It sounds like you have reason to worry. My other option is going to a Christian-based health cost sharing program. That’s not insurance and there are restrictions on coverage. But at least it would be something and would be more affordable than my current health insurance.

  4. Cheryl schrader Says:

    Are you old enough for Medicare. That would be 62. At least it was for me. That was a life. Changer and I have almost always been blessed with good health care. There are health care movements out there. It will take a lot people to make a change. But it needs to happen for the generation to come

  5. It is ridiculous. No doubt about it. I do not know what the answer is and I wish I did. We are currently negotiating another insurance change and I am not happy with the options either. We have options but we will end up paying a lot out of pocket as well. I am praying that you somehow qualify for some assistance because your figures are insane.

  6. This subject is a hot spot for me, too, and there is no way around paying more for insurance that covers less–and it increases every. single. year. Instead of the government getting involved in the way healthcare is run, it should have and still should regulate insurance companies who are making hand over fist profits, as well as drug and device companies whose sole goal is financial gain. We are in the same boat as you with insurance premiums and high deductibles. We’ve even considered paying for medical care out of pocket to see if we would be better off, but can’t take the chance since we are getting to an age where a medical emergency could devastate our lives and finances. The root of the problem is greed, and I don’t see it being fixed any time soon. It’s getting harder and harder to tread and keep our heads above water–I don’t know what happens when people simply can’t do it anymore and drown.

    • I’m sorry you’re facing the same issues as us with out-of-control health insurance premiums and crazy high deductibles. But, like you, we’re at that age and we can’t “take the chance.” I agree with your summary of the issues. If you come up with a viable solution, please let me know.

  7. So awful, Audrey. Our healthcare system is broken. I wish I knew the answer. Bless you , dear friend. Hang in there. ❤

  8. Edward Brian Says:

    Your situation certainly can be a cause for sleepless nights and worrisome days. I’ve been pretty blessed in the healthcare area all of my life due to the culture I came from (Native) and the jobs I’ve had (Navy/UPS). Praying that you and your husband will be blessed with excellent health.

    • I’m thankful to hear that you haven’t had to deal with health cost issues. Thank you for your prayers. Randy is meeting with a MNsure navigator today in hopes of maybe finding some financial assistance for us to help cover those $1,700/month premiums.

  9. Jackie Hemmer Says:


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