Ask the Readers: Finding Personal Health Insurance?

by J.D. Roth

Today, I’m going to do something I’ve never done before. I’m going to use this blog as a means to do research for a forthcoming article for Entrepreneur magazine.

Your Money

I’ve been writing the monthly “Your Money” column for Entrepreneur for 2-1/2 years now, and it’s a lot of fun. It’s a chance for me to hone in subjects with laser-like focus. If you’ve read my stuff at Get Rich Slowly, some of the articles might be familiar. But I also get to cover new topics (like building a team of financial advisors).

The column is also fun because it’s a vastly different process than the one I’m used to. With blogging, there’s almost instant gratification. For instance, I’m writing this piece at 8:12 on a Thursday morning. It’ll be finished and online in about ten minutes. Nobody else will review it; I’ll just post it and let readers respond. Which you will. I’ll have feedback in half an hour.

With the magazine, however, there’s a long turnaround. My current article, for instance, is on peer-to-peer lending. I started doing research for that piece in early October, at the end of my trip to Turkey. I submitted the piece in early November. My editor polished the piece, it went to print, and it finally found its way online at the end of February. There’s one comment on the article. This article about that article may get dozens of comments.

So, as I say, it’s a different beast.

Anyhow, this is all a tangent. The real reason I’m writing today is to recruit your help for the article that will appear in the June issue of the magazine. I’m writing about how to find health insurance when you’re on your own.

Personal Health Insurance

There are a lot of perks to being an entrepreneur. When you work for yourself, you control your destiny: you pursue a project of passion while setting your own hours and working without a boss. But there are drawbacks too. Sure, you set your own hours, but you’re often working far more than you ever imagined. Many entrepreneurs are lonely, too, spending most of their days in isolation. And let’s not forget medical insurance!

In fact, I’d argue that medical insurance is currently one of the biggest barriers to entry for would-be entrepreneurs. I have several friends who are ready to leave their jobs to start their own businesses, but they can’t. They can’t afford the more than $1000 per month in medical insurance for their families.

Here’s a direct quote I jotted down from one friend last week:

If it weren’t for health insurance, people would be free to do so many things. My husband is tied to his job because we can’t afford to be without coverage. Even with health insurance, we pay a shitload of money for medical costs.

For many families, health insurance costs as much as housing.

In my own case, I’ve had to make some tough choices. When I was married, I was covered under Kris’s health insurance. I took it for granted. Now that I’m on my own, I carry an individual policy with a high deductible. That protects me from catastrophic crises (like a car crash), but I pay out of pocket for routine care. And I’m discovering that even routine care can cost a fortune.

Last week, for instance, I visited my allergist to discuss my rampant hay fever. The half-hour office visit cost me $250.50. The two-minute “surgery” to send a fiber-optic cable through my sinus passages cost $530. And the nasal spray the doctor prescribed to fight my symptoms cost $138.32 for fifteen doses. All told, I spent nearly $1000 to get temporary relief from my tree allergy. Next time, I’ll probably choose to suffer.

Or maybe it’s time to change my policy. I pay $144 a month, but I receive almost nothing in return. Maybe I need to bite the bullet, to pay $300 a month (or more) but have comfort in the knowledge that it won’t cost me $1000 every time I need to get allergy relief.

Share Your Story

So, here’s how you can help me. Do you pay for your own health insurance? Have you in the past? What sorts of advice can you offer other folks who need to do the same thing? If you’re willing to share your story (or to help others find affordable options), leave a comment on this article. And if you’re willing to let me chat with you for my article, be sure you use your real email address when commenting so that I can contact you.

I think there are a lot of folks out there who struggle with affordable health insurance, and this is a chance for us to help them. Let’s do it!

Note: Past GRS articles on this subject include Hunting for Health Insurance (which chronicles my search for health insurance last spring) and Health Insurance Options for the Self-Employed.

Updated: 07 March 2013

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