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Please think hard about it before you get an HSA compatible health-insurance plan

post #1 of 36
Thread Starter 
I decided to enroll our family in a high deductible HSA compatible insurance plan because we never go to the doctor and do all alternative medicine and the price for a PPO was sky high. Well here we are going onto day 6 of a hospital stay in the burn unit because my 18mo son has 3rd degree burns on his chest and shoulder.

Our out of pocket costs for this visit are going to be $10,000, and we pay $500/month for insurance for a family of three.

We were under contract to buy our first house and have to back out now. We don't even have enough to pay the out-of-pocket and will have to but several thousand on a credit card.

So to compound the stress of having an injured son, we also have to figure out how we're going to get through this financially.
post #2 of 36
Don't put it on a cc.

Talk to the hospital, they might have a charity program or a payment plan to help out. Also, negotiate the cost down. Insurance wouldn't pay that much, so why should you, kwim?

and . It must be so terrifying to go through that. I hope your little one gets better really, really fast--miraculously fast or as close to it as possible.

Ami
post #3 of 36
Apply for Medicaid.

The income limits for young babies are pretty high and they have progrmas for people that are over the limit too.
post #4 of 36
Talk to the hospital about a payment plan and financial assistance. Also, wait for the bills to be processed by insurance. You probably won't pay the "cash" price, but you will probably pay the rate insurance would have paid (at least that's how DH's plan works). Even still, it will be a lot of money - probably up to the amount of your deductible.

Our insurance stinks as well. DH's plan has a $10,000 deductible and we would pay $1200 a month for family coverage. Sure, it has an HSA, but what good does that do with such a high deductible? For us, not much but I suppose it's better than nothing. The kids and I are on Medicaid right now, but I'll probably have to go on DH's plan at the end of June.

I hope your little guy is doing better!
post #5 of 36
It's all out of whack. I am not pleased with the health care reform bill, but if it's not past, we have all lost and Big Pharm and the Insurance Industry has won. We are all screwed.

I am sorry your child is in the burn unit.
post #6 of 36
I'm so sorry your little one is hurt. I agree with pp - do not put this on a credit card no matter the pressure from the hospital. They should have someone who can walk you through all of your payment options.

If you don't qualify for any programs or state help talk to local charities. If you can't find any help then wait until you can get a final itemized bill. Go over it with a fine toothed comb first and make sure there are no errors. Then negotiate with the hospital and pay what you can afford monthly.

Also, ask your doctors for suggestions - they might know of programs that could help.

I'm so surprised by the pressure hospitals put on families to provide payment before you even check out of the hospital. Do not cave in and just tell them because you will have to pay to meet your deductible you won't be able to make any decisions until you know what the final bill will be.

When I gave birth to my daughter the billing office called our room and talked to DH. The woman told him what the bill was and what our co-payment would be. She insisted he provide payment and being exhausted he gave her our debit card info thinking from what she told him it would be around $300. Well, when it showed up on our account they charged over $1,000. I called to tell them they'd made a mistake and was told it was no mistake. So, I had to transfer money around to help with cash flow and now, over six months later, they are posting refunds to our bank account. Never again - I'll ask to be billed for it. It's not like they can kick you out for non-payment.

Best wishes.
post #7 of 36
I'm really sorry. The state of debate on health insurance issues in this country is most discouraging and disheartening. I'm with you on HSAs. They are good for those with tons of money or those who never need medical care, but are a pit for everyone else.

Agree that you should NOT be pressured into charging it. Try and bargain them down. If they think you aren't going to wind up paying anything if they don't, they really don't have a choice. It's not YOUR fault that our country's health care system is a joke and don't for a minute let anyone make you think it is.

Best wishes.
post #8 of 36
Our out of pocket for our insurance is $10,500 as well. We have $4500 set back, but we are short the $6000 (I'm having a baby this summer).

We plan on making payments to the hospital. In the past 2 years, I've had 2 other hospitalizations (with different insurance, so lower OOP, though). We've just made payments both times. THe hospital works with us.

Our state has some of the lower limits for Medicaid (200% of poverty level for pregnant women and children under 5; 100% of poverty level for children under 18 and disabled adults; little coverage for others), so that's not a help.

But, the hospital is easy to work with on payments (interest free), we've found. Don't put it on a credit card!!
post #9 of 36
I hope your little one recovers completely. Many hugs!!!

On the topic of HSA-compatible health insurance, I think it depends on the policy and the insured people/family. Last year, DH's company went with an HSA-compatible plan that was very good for us. The family deductible was $5K and the policy covered preventive care appointments 100% before deductible. That was doable and the cost for me was reasonable. DH's employer pays his 100% and pays 0% of mine, but I can only get group insurance and am, therefore, at their mercy. It is a TINY firm and only 3 employees are on the group plan plus 1-2 spouses.

This year, that plan went up more than 30% and his firm changed to a new plan. The new plan sucks for us. The family deductible is $10K! The new plan is not HSA-compatible, either. The co-pays are only $15, which is great if you go to the doctor often. We don't. The only good thing is the premium for me went down.

Our DD has an individual policy that is far less than what the group plan could offer. It wasn't a very good policy, though. (She rarely needs healthcare, so it was serviceable.) I had planned to get her on the above plan when open enrollment came up, but they switched the plan and her premium would be triple her current premium and the plan isn't any better for her. I went to ehealthinsurance.com and found her a better plan and the premium is a few dollars less per month than her current plan.

We had planned to increase our contribution to the HSA this year. Instead, we are taking all of the HSA contribution and the premium differences and putting them into an ING Direct savings account just for peace of mind. We can still withdraw from the HSA for qualified expenses, but we can no longer add to it.

Personally, I would rather have the HSA-compatible plan we had last year even at the 30% higher premium for me than the plan we now have that is not HSA-compatible. It isn't so much a function of being HSA-compatible or not. It is how the plan works for your family. We now have a deductible that is twice as high and no tax benefits whatsoever.

Our healthcare system in this country needs a major overhaul.
post #10 of 36
So I'm curious, do you think this was a good idea? We did a $2500 deductible plan that only covers emergencies.
post #11 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by goldingoddess View Post
I decided to enroll our family in a high deductible HSA compatible insurance plan because we never go to the doctor and do all alternative medicine and the price for a PPO was sky high. Well here we are going onto day 6 of a hospital stay in the burn unit because my 18mo son has 3rd degree burns on his chest and shoulder.

Our out of pocket costs for this visit are going to be $10,000, and we pay $500/month for insurance for a family of three.

We were under contract to buy our first house and have to back out now. We don't even have enough to pay the out-of-pocket and will have to but several thousand on a credit card.

So to compound the stress of having an injured son, we also have to figure out how we're going to get through this financially.
I am sorry to hear about your son and that the billing department of the hospital is being so jerky.

That being said if I could get my current plan for $500 month with no changes other than having my deductible go up my a factor of 30 I'd be all over it.

Last year my employer paid over $15,000 on premiums for my family so that we could have two well child visits, one adult physical, a trip to the allergist, and a mamogram (which a month later the recommendations changed and I probabily wouldn't have gotten). I would have gladly paid for all of those with a HSA with my own money if I could have gotten paid the difference between the premium with the HSA (especially if it was as low as yours) and the premium with my current plan. Some years your (and me too) going to met even high deductible.

Anyway I don't think HSA are bad. I think they might not be a good choice for people who neither have money for the deductible nor have employers that pay for all or part of the deductible.
post #12 of 36
Sorry about your little one and hope he recovers soon!
It sounds like you just have a terrible plan. We switched to a HSA compatible plan this year and our premiums are only $100/month with a $6000family deductible. The company also puts $1000 in our HSA. Point is, they certainly are not all bad, sorry yours is!
post #13 of 36
Sending more good thoughts your way for a complete recovery for your little boy.

I totally agree about the HSA/High-Deductible Health Plan (we have had one for three or four years.) They may be a nice way to put aside some extra savings if you're healthy & wealthy & childless. For the rest of us... no.

Here's a quote from John Goodman, president of the National Center for Policy Analysis and basically the 'father' of the HSA:

"If a mother wakes up in the middle of the night with a sick child, we want her to think about the cost of the emergency room visit."

What more does anyone need to know about whether or not these are designed to be a good option for families?
post #14 of 36
hugs to you and sorry for your little guy,
i will repeat what others have said, dont pay the entire amount!
1. if you do decide to pay, most hospitals have a discount for paying your bills right away, our hospital can discount you up to 30% if you do that, but you have to ASK about it.
2. ask to talk to a financial counselor or patient advocate. they might be able to provide you info about different programs available to help with pay. examples of that include hospital fund or county indigent fund. they should be pretty helpful because the hospital would rather get paid from an alternative source than not get paid at all.
3. negotiate. best of all with the doctor, dont go to the billing with this, because the billing has no personal interest, and the doc does - they too want to get paid, even if its not 100%.
i work at a hospital and it is astounding how many people simply ignore their bills, they dont even want to go on a payment plan, they just hope it will disappear, or i dont know what. lots and lots of people abuse the system, too, so the hospital will be more than willing to cooperate since you are trying to have it paid in full
good luck and hope it works out
post #15 of 36
I agree with what others are telling you.

Do apply for financial assistance through the hospital. We got assistance for Ds' NICU stay, we were surprised because we usually don't qualify for anything like that.

I would also not pay anything until it is resolved through insurance. I would definitely not put anything on a credit card.
post #16 of 36
OP- I am sorry about your son. They will take payments. Offer like $250/mo or something.

I have found the HSA love though- Our PPO coverage was $950/mo with a $2500 deductable ($20 copays for the dr though). We switched to an HSA with a $3800 max for $550/mo. To make it work you must figure that you very well could pay your max though.

The other thing we do is have an AFLAC emergency policy- in the OP situation she would have a nice big check coming from AFLAC to the tune of thousands that would have helped her to pay her deductible. Our accident policy is $60/mo for our family.

I do make health care decisions based on money now though. I am not saying I won't take my kids to the doctor or er if need be- but I don't race them to the dr for just anything now though. Writing out a $150 check makes me think about it a little more. I don't see how this is wrong- someone has to pay for that visit or the er- and that someone is ultimately me- either through writing the check, paying the insurance or as a taxpayer. It isn't like uncle sam doesn't get reimbursed through taxes.
post #17 of 36
Don't put it on a credit card! They have zero obligation to work with you if you charge it, and you can be sure the credit card company won't be understanding, either.

Talk to the financial office about payment plans, etc., and they will often reduce your amount/work out extended-time payments, or even write your remaining debt off after a period of time ..... but if you put it on a credit card, it's not their problem anymore.



for you and your son - I hope for good healing!!
post #18 of 36
I'm so sorry It sounds awful, poor baby.

Make sure you apply for financial assistance from the hospital. I wasted thousands at Childrens before one customer service guy asked me more detailed questions and I found out that the cutoff is 118000per year. So, I've been pretty much throwing money at them and racking up debt etc. when I qualified for financial aid.

You can pay hospitals for a looong time. Don't feel that you have to do this all at once. You may still be good to get your house. Do your taxes with mortgage interest and without and see what that gets you. Ours saves us 20,000 a year in taxes. Don't make any quick decisions.

We have an HSA compatible plan too, but it's just what's offered through work. It did end up saving money for us...about 400 last year, but only because we neglected to put money in it to pay for most of our med. bills.

1. apply for financial aid...pay slowly, put nothing on credit cards..NOTHING
2. Rethink not buying the house. It could be a good tax shelter.
3. 10,000 will NOT break you.

post #19 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by chaoticzenmom View Post
Do your taxes with mortgage interest and without and see what that gets you. Ours saves us 20,000 a year in taxes. Don't make any quick decisions.
Very OT, but how??

We pay about $12,000 in mortgage interest a year, and it saves us about $1000 on taxes. No where near $20,000.

Do you have a really big mortgage?? A huge income?? How's this work??
post #20 of 36
Thread Starter 
OP here, I wanted to thank everyone for their responses. We're still here in the hospital, and they want to do skin graft surgery tomorrow which will keep us here for another week. As time has gone on it has become apparent that money does not matter just my babies health and well-being matter, the money is secondary.

I know the HSA is nice for people who have the money to pay the max out of pocket, which is different then the deductible, our deductible was $5800 which sounded like a manageable number, but the max out-of-pocket is $10,000 wich is very easy to meet with even a short hospitalization. When we got the HSA we thought it would be plenty easy to save enough over two years to have the max out-of-pocket in ou HSA, we are one year in, and in that year a lot happened, like moving cross-country, renting a new house in the 2nd most HCOL in the country (bay area)and having to buy a new car.

I know it works for some people and I'm not saying it is bad for everyone, but I'm just sharing our experience because we thought we would be able to put more in the HSA, but we have only put in ~1600 in the past year and now we are kinda screwed. We would have been so much better off doing a PPO or even a lower deductible HSA compatible insurance.

Thank you everyone for the support and advice. Because of this we will not be putting the debt on a CC and will instead try to do a payment plan with the hospital...if they let us.
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