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another huge increase in health insurance

May 22nd, 2011 at 12:42 pm

I got a notice in the mail yesterday from my health insurance provider. Due to increased health costs they 'have' to increase rates again. They increased them 14% in January and now are increasing another 14%. The new rate is $486/month about $79 more/month. Almost 30% increase in one year.

This is the only health insurance I can get in Colorado due to pre-existing conditions. Its state sponsored, but not cheap. If I were 55, it would be $606/month - $120 more. If I were 60, it would be $706/month - $220 more. It's insane.

I could go with a higher deductible, but that's a guessing game. The likelyhood of having two bad medical years in a row are slim, but possible. Last year was the first bad year in 25 years, I doubt if it will be 25 years until the next one, but the chance of one in the next 15 (pre - Medicare) is pretty high. But will it be this one or not for 5 years. I could go for the lower premiums/higher deductibles, but adding another $1000 deductible from my HSA actually adds a few dollars to the premium and out of pocket is $1000 higher, so that's not an option.

Going to a $5000 deductible lowere the premiums a little over a $1000 a year, but out of pocket if I need the max increases by $4000 a year. So I guess I'll stay where I am and hope that sometime in the next decade, a decent health care system gets implemented.

Before retiring I read that for each decade of early retirement you need to put aside $100,000 for health care costs, now I'm thinking that was a little shy, I'd bet on $150,000 per decade. I have almost 2 decades from when I retired at 47 to eligibility for medicare, which still costs, just not quite as much.

I finished reading my book Darker Than Amber by John D. MacDonald. Mystery - pretty good.

feeling good

September 29th, 2010 at 06:06 pm

My kidney stone procedure went very smoothly. They put me to sleep, crushed the stone and removed it and the stent. They woke me up and I was awake and aware in 10 minutes. No after effects from the anethesia at all. This is the way it should have been the first time around. And as a bonus the back pain I've had for the last couple of weeks is gone. I feel great. Just one more operation to go.

Thanks alot for all the well wishes during this time.

I finished reading my book The Shield between the Worlds by Kiana L. Paxson and Adrienne Martine-Barnes. Sci/Fi - ok

$130,000 hospital bill

September 21st, 2010 at 04:34 pm

I had my consultation with the surgery dr today and he is 95% sure he can just take the mass and a small slice of my kidney. He says kidney cancer is almost always curable. That is such good news. First I have to get the kidney stone and stent removed. That is scheduled for next Tuesday. I will be in and out of the hospital. I don't have to stay overnight.

Prior to getting the stone removed I had to get another blood test and an EKG today. When I was registering for that the lady told me she could see my bill and I asked her what the amount was - just under $130,000.00 for the total bill while I was in the hospital @$10,000/day. However because I was in network it was discount by almost half and $71,000 is the amount going to the insurance company. Of that I will pay my $2000 deductible. I expect the total for everything after all the surgeries will be close to $200,000. Thank God for insurance.

After I heal from the kidney stone removal I will schedule for the kidney mass surgery. This will probably just be an overnight stay in the hospital.

While we were in the hospital my mom went xmas shopping. They were selling books and knick-knacks in the lobby. Strange place to buy xmas gifts.

I got to hear more horror stories today. It turns out while I was in the hospital some neice of someone they know from church was in the hospital at the same time as me and while putting in her IV port they knicked her lung and it collapsed. Since I had an IV port that could have happened to me - according to my mom. Sigh!

I finished reding my book Sins and Shadows by Lyn Benedict. Paranormal - pretty good. This is a new author for me. I've put her other books in the series on hold at the library.

the glass is half empty and it's leaking

September 20th, 2010 at 02:12 pm

My mom must have hundreds of stories about horrible things that have happened to people in hospitals. She knows or has heard of people who have died from almost everything. And she feels like she has to tell me about all of them. I know she's scared, but I just don't see the point in always thinking about the worst thing that could happen. She is like that about everything, she thinks about the worst thing that will happen before she thinks about the positive. She says she's trying not to do that about the operations I need, but every conversation is What if _____? (fill in the blank with something bad).

She had company coming over and it was, "What if they see I have weeds in my yard?" "What if there's a speck of dust in the room?" What if there isn't enough food, or if there's too much food, or if the food doesn't taste right, or if the napkins don't match the tablecloth?" It's exhausting - no wonder she's so frantic and tired all the time. When she tells me these things I try to make a joke. Well if they see a weed in the yard, they'll condemn you and never come to your house again, and you won't have to worry about it anymore."

My viewpoint is so different. To me the glass is half full and I'm happy to have that half. You can't let your fears of what might happen paralyze you from moving forward and enjoying whatever bits of happiness you can. You need to grab onto those bits and then savor them. I can't waste my energy and depress myself by thinking of all the hundreds of things that could go wrong and I don't know why someone would want to. Even if I knew I was going to die in a month, I can't think of anything I would change in my current lifestyle. I love my life. I have exactly the kind of life I want for myself. I worked for years to get here and I enjoy every day.

I would like to help her with her fears but she is 70 and is not likely to change her thinking patterns now, I just wish she would keep some of these thoughts from leaking over onto me. I keep telling her, these people are experts at what they do. They've done hundred of the same types of surgeries, there is no reason to think that something will go wrong this time. I believe in being prepared for bad things - like having money saved and insurance and having a will etc, but I don't dwell on it. I wish she wouldn't either.

I finished reading the library book An Unforgettable Lady by Jessica Bird (aka J. R. Ward). Romance - pretty good. This is one of the her earlier books and she is a much better writer now. I love her Black Dagger Brotherhood series.

Good News

September 18th, 2010 at 12:56 pm

My kidney dr called yesterday and he had been confering with the dr who will perform the surgery on my kidney. That dr thinks he can just shave the cancer off the kidney and I will get to keep my kidney. Woohoo!! I am supposed to meet with both of them next Tuesday to discuss it. I really hope that is the case. This will mean I need two procedures - one to deal with the kidney stone and stent and one to deal with the cancer.

I went to Safeway and got some groceries

1.98 - 2 bags Mahatma yellow saffron rice
-1.98 - 2 .50 cent q's doubled
-----
FREE - these go to the food pantry

3.75 - 3 Yakisoba noodles
-3.00 - 3 .50 cent q's doubled
-----
.75 - food pantry

10.00 - 8 cans Campbells chunky soup
-8.00 - 8 .50 q's doubled
-----
2.00 - food pantry

2.00 - 2 cans Rosarita refried beans
.00 - 1 10 ct Mission tortialls free wyb 2 Rosarita
- .99 - 1.00 Mission q price adjusted
------
1.01 - the 2 beans are for the food pantry and I kept the tortillas

2.97 - 3 packages Bumble Bee tuna
-2.97 - 3 .55 cent q's doubled
-----
FREE

2.59 - 1 doz Egglands eggs
-1.00 - q
-----
1.59

1.08 - 5 bananas

The food pantry gets the following items

2 packages rice
3 Yakisoba noodles
8 cans soup
2 cans refried beans

I finished reading the library book Nowhere to Run by Suzanne Brockmann - Mystery/romance - ok. These were some of her earlier works. She writes much better now. The stories were very cliched.

I finished reading my book Dragonsong by Anne McCaffrey. Sci/Fi - good.

I do have kidney cancer

September 16th, 2010 at 04:36 pm

I saw the kidney dr and I do have kidney cancer. They are going to remove the right kidney sometime in Oct. It is only in stage 1 still but close to going to stage 2. It's 7 centimeters and according to the dr, they usually grow about 1/2 centimeter a year, so I could have started this 14 years ago. The cancer hasn't spread to any other part of my body.

The surgery will be done with telescopes so only a small incision and 1 - 2 days in the hospital and approximately a week to recuperate. It wasn't what I wanted to hear, but it was what I expected.

Since I was in town I ran some errands. I got 2 books at Border's using 40% off coupons and free gift cards from Discover.

I went to Target and got 12 cans of Spaghetti-O's for .50 each. I had 4 .50/2 coupons and 2 .40/2 coupons so final cost was $3.20 or .27/each. They will all go to the food pantry.

I also got gas while in town at 2.69/gal. It is .10 cheaper than my little town and I had .30 cents off from King Soopers gas points and I will get 5% back from Discover saving another .12/gal. Total saved per gal is .52. I filled up my 2 5-gal gas cans and spent $50.62. The first time I've ever spent more than $50 on gas.

I went to the used book store and traded in some more books. I have more than $500 in credit now. I'll never use it all, since I get most of my books free w/gift cards or from the library now. Occassionally I take my nieces there and tell them to pick out whatever they want and use my credit for that.

I finished reading the library book The Overton Window by Glenn Beck. Thriller - ok

a long post about why I haven't posted in so long

August 27th, 2010 at 10:47 am

Around 10 pm on Aug 10 I started throwing up. This was accompanied by severe back pain on one side. Since I'd had several kidney stones before I knew the symptoms and started with my normal procedures to pass one. Usually they pass. I've only had to go to the hospital twice before. Once it was gone by the time I got there and once I spent all day and it finally passed without any interference from them.

Anyways I started drinking lots of water and took some Cranberry pills. The problem with the pills is I kept throwing up so they weren't getting into my system. I need to buy some juice to keep on hand. This lasted all night untill I was only throwing up water - nothing left in my system and still in pain. So I checked with the local Urgent Care but they didn't open until 8 and they didn't have any equipment to deal with kidney stones. So I called my mom and dad to drive me to the hospital in the next town.

Unfortunately they were busy and it was more than an hour before I got checked in. They said the previous day they had only had one patient. They did an ultrasound and found out I had a 12 centimeter kidney stone. The dr planned to go in and reconnect my kidney around it.

That was the plan anyways. When he got in he got the stent around the stone and hit a pocket of infection which went thru my whole system putting me in septic shock. The pus and infection infected all my organs. There happened to be a clinical study being done in the hospital right then on septic shock and how their drug might treat it better. They contacted my parents and they had 30 minutes to decide whether to allow them to treat me or not. My parents knew people who had died from septic shock or who had been sick for more than a year recuperating from it. The mortality rate is 50%. Mom consented to the study.

At that point they went in and took out my gall bladder because it had already become infected. I had a very difficult time coming out of the anethesia. Once they had me woke up, they turned around and put me in a coma for 8 days, while they tried to flush all the toxins out of my system. After 8 days they woke me up.

I was incredibly confused at first and was kept in ICU for 2 days. Then they moved me to an Intensive Care room. By the third day I could stand with help. On the forth day I could walk slowly using a walker. On the fifth day they sent me home to my parents. This was last Sunday. I was so happy to be out of that hospital and the shower I took when I got to my parents is problably one of the 10 best feelings in my life.

At first I was incredibly tired after doing any little thing. Even lifting a spoon to eat was a hugh chore. But I gained strength each day. By Wednesday I was walking without the walker or a cane and Thursday I went up and down the stairs without a problem. So my parents brought me back to my house last night.

I still get tired very easily, but I just rest for awhile until I have more energy. Mom and I are walking about a 1/4 of what we did before. I try to add a little more each day. I have a hard time eating since I'm not hungry and nothing tasted right. All the antibiotics wiped out my taste buds for now.

Because I was in a clinical trial I don't know for sure if I got the drug or a placebo, but based on my recovery and things the nurses said I'm pretty sure I got the drug. Eventually they are supposed to let me know.

I still have the issue of having a 12 centimeter stone in my body and they saw an unidentified mass on my kidney from before. That could have been the pocket of infection or it could be something else. I have follow up appointments to deal with it. I also have a ton of bills coming up with no idea right now what this will cost. I have a $2000 deductible so I'm sure it's at least that much.

But for now I'm alive and home and not in pain - so I feel good. My concentration isn't that good so I'm not reading as fast buy I did finish the library book Whiplash by Catherine Coulter. Mystery - very good

Using my IRAs to pay for my health care

March 28th, 2010 at 01:43 pm

Part of my plan for retiring early is to keep my income very low so that I remain in the 0% tax bracket. According to the IRS I can earn the following before being bumped to the 10% federal and 4.5% state tax brackets.

$3650.00 - exemptions
$5700.00 - standard deductions
$ 500.00 - if I pay property taxes and don't itemize
--------
$9850.00 - 0% tax bracket
$2000.00 - if I fund an HSA
--------
11850.00
+ if I have more than 5700 in standard deductions I could earn even more and remain in the 0% bracket. These are 2009 figures and it may go up some in 2010.

In 1997 I started working for a big company which had a pension plan for it's employees. They froze the plan one year after I started working there. When I retired the company gave me the money that was in the plan. It had grown to a whopping $3906.00. In this situation the pension is treated like an IRA. The fund reserved 20% to pay taxes before passing the money on to me. Frown

If I just spent the money on living expenses I would pay taxes on the money as income and also owe a 10% penalty for early withdrawl. However, if my income with the pension/IRA dispersal is less than the amount to tip into the 10% tax bracket I owe no income taxes on the money.

If I spend the pension/IRA money on medical expenses, including health insurance premiums, dr visits, prescription drugs, lab work, eye glasses etc, I don't have to pay the 10% penalty. There is a caveat on that. You can exclude the amount you paid for unreimbursed medical expenses during the year minus 7.5% or your adjusted gross income for the year. And the IRA/Pension distribution contributes to your gross income. Figuring out the exact amount to withdrawl ahead of time can be tricky unless you know exactly how much you are going to earn for the year and exactly how much your medical expenses will be. I plan to ballpark it in the future and if necessary pay a small 10% penalty on the extra.

So for 2009 I had income including the pension distribution of 7765. My medical expenses were 3140 multiplied by 7.5% means 2558 was exempt from the 10% penalty. That left 1348 to pay the penalty on so I paid $135 in taxes last year and got the rest of my 20% that the fund withheld back as a rebate. To do this you have to fill out form 5329 and select exemption 05. There are only 4 lines on the form so it's not that difficult, plus you don't have to itemize your deductions to do this, you can use the standard deduction, but you do have to have reciepts to back up your claim on how much you spent on medical if the IRS ever asks thru a random audit.

This year I will be withdrawing $5000 from my IRA to pay for medical expenses. This is a ball park figure based on needing to pay $4500 for health insurance and a guesstimate of another $1000 - $1500 in out pocket expenses. My income can be higher since I can open an HSA fund so I shouldn't have to pay income taxes on the withdrawl and the penalty may be anywhere between 0 and less than a $100.

I could take the money from some other funds and not use my IRAs. I know the money gurus always tell you to leave this money till the last, but I have good reasons for doing it this way.

1. Most of my money is in IRAs.
2. Currently I'm in a 0% tax bracket, you can't get lower taxes than that. Taking the money now means less money I will be forced to take out when I am 70 and collecting social security and our government has raised taxes thru the roof to fund all the spending they are doing now.
3. It preserves my other funds, especially my cash for emergencies.

Until I am 59 1/2 and can withdrawl the money without penalty I will try to continue to use this method of funding my health care expenses. That's a little more than 10 years, this could be $50,000 or more preserved in my other funds and money that I won't have to pay taxes on, or very little taxes.

I finished reading my book Beyond the Dark. Supernatural short stories - very good.

health care insurance after COBRA

March 27th, 2010 at 12:38 pm

When I retired in August 2008 I immediately signed up for COBRA. The COBRA benefits ended February 28, 2010 so I had to get new health care insurance this month. When I worked I paid about $32 a month for health care insurance with a $400 deductable and $20 co-pay plus drug benefits. I kept that same coverage for the rest of 2008 and 2009. In 2008 I paid 182.26 a month for COBRA health care. In 2009 it went up to 212.28 a month. In 2010 my company changed providers and I went to a $1000 deductable and the price went to 372.00 a month. But I only had 2 more months to stay on COBRA and I would be HIPPA eligible so I stayed on.

Being HIPPA eligible is a big deal if you need health care and have pre-existing conditions like I do. It's basically the only way you can get health insurance in my state. Around December 2009 I started looking for my replacement health insurance for when COBRA ran out. I called a health insurance broker that a friend of mine recommended. She was terrific. After talking to me awhile about my sitution she made some calls and found out that in Colorado my only option was to go on the Colorado government health plan - CoverColorado. No private insurers offer HIPPA plans in Colorado at this time. The goverment plan is not cheap and tells you so right in the literature. They basically say this is your only option and you're going to pay for it.

For a plan with a $1000 deductible the monthly payment is 572.03 - $6864.36 a year. The $2000 deductible plan is $440.52 a month. I chose to take the HSA (Health Savings Account) option of $2000 deductable and a monthly premium of 379.45 or $4553.40 per year. With the HSA I can open a tax savings account and leave the money in there until/if I have a major medical expense. Or until the new health care plan starts taxing the plans. I read somewhere that is in the new bill.

It's a ton of money - over one third of my annual expenses will be going to medical care. At least I have it, but I very much doubt things will get better with the new Obama plan, although I might eventually have more options than the government plan.

I finished reading my book Iron Kissed by Patricia Briggs. Supernatural - very good.

meds

June 21st, 2006 at 08:15 pm

walked with mom for 55 min

Only worked 9 hours today. Had a Dr appt. Spent $20 for co-pay. Have to go back on medication for the diabetes, it is very high again. Blehh! Disappointed and slightly blue about that.

I need to dig out some books on diabetes and brush up on controlling it better again. I admit I've gotten sloppy because of laziness and lack of time and stress. Need to pay more attention.

Got a sample of Head and Shoulders in the mail.

Finished listening to the library book on tape Metro Girl by Janet Evanovich. Romance. Very good, very funny

flex account

April 3rd, 2006 at 07:40 pm

walked with mom for 55 min

DirectTV still has Showtime on tonight. I didn't see anything I wanted to see that I hadn't already seen this weekend, so I didn't get to take good advantage of the freebie.

Had a Dr appt this morning to check if my blood pressure has come down with the meds. It was 124/80 very good. She also took another blood test to see if I'm low in potassium, calcium or magnesium. I've had horrible cramps in my calves when walking this last week and she thinks it's a side affect of the meds. I hope they send it to the right lab this time, they sent it to the wrong one last time and it cost me $100 because it was out of network.

Went to McDonalds for breakfast after the Dr appt and spent $4.84

Got the March Walgreens rebates already. Expecting another $10 GC from them too.

Got information from my flex account, they paid my claim. My flex account still had money in it from last year and they told us we could use it up till March of this year. They took this claim out of this years account. I don't understand that and need to call tomorrow to find out what the deal is.

I hate calling people on the phone about accounts and things.

Booked our hotels in Edmonton for the extra night we are staying in Canada. $83 each. So far I've spent $2578.83 and I haven't gone anywhere yet.

Applied for my $10 rebate from the My Points insider club. I got my first two CDs from Your Music. The Wanda Jackson CD was really good. And I absolutely love the ZZ Top Rancho Texicano CD. I've been chair dancing to it all afternoon.

Finished reading the Smart Shopper magazine and printed off a $5 off $25 purchase coupon at Party City for my mom from one of the cites listed in the mag.

Finished reading Kiplinger's magazine. This issue is about How to save money on everything and the had a lot of the same stuff that was in the Smart Shopper magazine.

Finished listening to the library book on tape Winter Prey by John Sandford. Mystery. Very good. I love this series and the main character Lucas Davenport. He has some great lines.

New financial goal

February 27th, 2006 at 08:36 pm

walked with mom for 35 min

Went to the Dr today for lab results and new prescriptions. Blood pressure is still too high, 146/102 even with medication so increasing the meds. She combined two pills in one somehow so I still only have one prescription. That will save some money.

She also agreed to let me have 3 months to get my diabetes, cholesterol and triglycerides back under control through diet. That's great since I don't want to go on more pills. So now my new financial goal is to lose weight. If I can lose weight and control my diet, I will save a min of $20 a month in new prescription, plus if I get my blood pressure down, she will take me off the new meds, saving me another $10 a month.

Spent $20 on dr visit.

It never fails that you will see tons of great deals on things you're not interested in buying, but as soon as you are interested you can't find any of them. I've seen the Target ads for getting a $10 gc for new prescriptions forever, but now all the sudden when I need one filled, can't find an ad anywhere. I'll keep looking. I need to get this filled this weekend though.

Got the email notice to redeem my $25 restaurant gift certificate for buying the Entertainment book. I didn't know this was the same as restaurant.com or I might have waited for a different deal. They never have any restaurants that are close to me or that I go to listed. Most of them are bars, but I have a year to redeem so maybe something will come up.

no more discounts

February 23rd, 2006 at 10:08 pm

walked with mom for 55 min

Got my DirecTV bill today and the $5 discount I've been getting for the last 6 months is finally gone and I have to pay full price again. Plus they sent a statement saying they're raising the price $3 a month starting next month.

I'll have to start paying attention to the cable and dish TV offers that come through to see if I can get a better deal.

My results from my blood tests are in and as I suspected, my diabetes is not in control anymore. In fact it's the worse it's been. That means more prescriptions. Bleagh. Have an appointment to meet with the Dr again on Monday for scripts.

Finished listening to the library book on tape Visions In Death by J.D. Robb. Mystery/Romance. Excellent series.