#2 Expense: Health Insurance

I once briefly considered exchanging my citizenship for health benefits, i.e. marrying a reliably-employed immigrant with great insurance in return for an upgrade from a greencard to a navy blue passport. You see, I’m single and self-employed, and health insurance is my #2 expense but the #1 drawback to not being conventionally employed.

In 2005, when my existing insurance became unavailable and I discovered that I didn’t have enough paperwork to qualify for the arrangements through freelancersunion.org, I filled in one of those pain-in-the-ass online quote request forms and actually found myself in the hands of someone extremely knowledgeable and experienced (previous attempts to find a financial advisor through referrals yielded ivy grads with zero street smarts that instilled no confidence).

Being in New York state, my options are rather limited. I wound up joining a union for business owners, which I believe exists entirely for the purposes of health insurance, for a one-time fee of $100 and I’ve had Blue Cross Blue Shield coverage ever since. It started out at $330 a month and is now $420/month. I have no prescription or chiropractic benefits, and somewhere along the line my $100 ER co-pay morphed into a $100 deductible and 70% coverage with no ER diagnostic testing, bastards. Of course, I only found this out after showing up at the ER with what turned out to be pneumonia after my last trip to Thailand. Oh, and as if $420 wasn’t enough, I have to pay a $5 fee for the privilege of paying my premium by automatic withdrawal. If I want to pay by check, it would be a $10 fee. 

There’s an excellent chance I’ll be changing providers next year, once my minor leg surgeries (two closures done, one phlebectomy to go – varicose veins, blech) are done and dusted. I’m now weighing the pros and cons of a couple of HMO options around the $300 mark. There’s also a possibility that I can find some other association to join, e.g. for dancers (no, I’m not one, but apparently that’s not required), where I pay what about I’m paying now but get better coverage. I can’t figure out how to find these organizations though…Google isn’t a big help with this one.

Advice, be it general or specific, is very welcome.

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