The following is a staff writer post from MikeS. He is a married father of 2. So, with the cat, he ranks number 5 in the house. He loves numbers and helping people. Please leave any questions or comments below for either Mike or Crystal.
I must admit. By the end of January, I was beginning to get a little worried. I was worried that I might have made a mistake in choosing my health plan for the year. With the high-deductible plan (HDP), I am responsible for all charges until I hit my deductible. I knew that I would hit the deductible during the year due to my son’s condition. His annual visit to the cardiologist usually satisfies whatever the deductible is for the year. I had done an analysis on our 2013 medical expenses and determined that we actually would have saved a few hundred dollars by having the HDP in 2013. That was why I felt ok in going with that plan for 2014.
The Month So Far
January turned out to be an active month for doctors’ visits. Every single person in our house ended up seeing a doctor in January. I was actually quite surprised. Normally, our family does not get that sick. We were in January though. It started with an ear infection for my son to start the month. That was followed by the same for my daughter within a week. My wife came down with a pretty good sinus infection about a week later. It actually took two visits to clear it up. My doctor’s appointment was not illness related, but injury related. I rolled my ankle playing volleyball again. Thankfully, it is nothing more than a sprain. Given my past history, I just wanted to be sure. All of those visits made me a little concerned that I had made the wrong choice.
With the HDP, we are responsible for paying all medical expenses first, up to the deductible. So, for all of this activity, we are paying for it. Now, once we hit the deductible we just have to pay 10% co-insurance. It was an expensive month. All told, we spent about $950 for all the visits and associated medications. It was not quite what I was expecting to start the year. Like I said, we are generally pretty healthy.
After the initial sticker shock, I reassured myself and my wife that we are still in good shape. With the HDP we were able to open a healthcare savings account (HSA). We elected to contribute the maximum allowed by law, $6,550. That amount is being deducted twice a month from my paycheck. So, I will have enough to cover our expenses during the course of the year. I just do not have that much in the HSA yet to cover everything. I did anticipate this going into the year. I have a dedicated amount on money in my savings account for medical expenses. I knew that I would have to absorb some costs first before I could reimburse myself from the HSA. I anticipated at least a time lag in when I would have to pay the bill and when I would receive the money back from the HSA. I did not want this to adversely impact my budget, so I set aside this dedicated amount.
I am hoping that January is not indicative on how the rest of the year is going to play out. I am hoping it is just an anomaly. However, if it does turn out to be a bad year for medical expenses, all will not be lost. For the HDP, my maximum out of pocket for the year is $7,000. This means I would only have to come up with an additional $450 beyond what I am saving in my HSA. I can easily cover that from my emergency fund. Have your plans for 2014 been tested already? Have you had to make any adjustments?