Health Insurance

Discussion in 'Indie Related Chat' started by GBGames, Jul 28, 2004.

  1. GBGames

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    ** C & P from Dexterity forums **

    As I decided to not get a full-time job immediately after my undergrad degree in order to leave more time to do game development, I found that I will no longer be on my parents' insurance plan after my birthday at the end of July. I need to start looking into getting my own plan, as I will not be getting such benefits from my current part-time job.

    While I will be doing quite a bit of research on it in the coming month, I am also new to insurance information. I have no current idea what may be considered good/bad or where to get good information to compare different policies. While I will figure it out eventually, I think it wouldn't hurt to get some help from people who may already have experience with this.

    Any information, advice, or websites people can point me to for help with this decision will be greatly appreciated. Naturally I don't want to get something that is overly expensive, but I don't want to get some poor coverage just because it is cheap either.

    Thanks!

    Mark Fassett 07-07-2004 04:32 PM
    The best way I found to get health insurance (and other benefits) if you are self-employed, is to have a spouse with a job that provides benefits :) I know that's not particularly helpful, and probably not what you're interested in, but that's how I have my health insurance.

    milieu 07-07-2004 05:57 PM
    Most health plans these days offer individual health plans. These are basically the same as the group plans most employers use, but the price tends to be higher, as you do not benefit from the group rate.

    Ask your friends and family in the local area about their HMOs. Then research the plans on the HMO websites, and make sure they accept individuals.

    Dexterity 07-07-2004 06:24 PM
    I've found it helpful to get a plan with a high deductible if you and your family are in fairly good health. Often if you go for full coverage with a very low deductible, you'll be paying more than the premiums + deductible combined when compared to a plan with a higher deductible. My family of four is covered by a plan that costs us about $300/month, but the deductible is $3500/year, so we pay the first $3500 of any medical treatments each year, and anything beyond that is 100% covered. This works out well for us, because to get a decent plan with zero deductible would cost us more than the "worst case" $7100 we'd have to pay in a single year under our current plan. And in the "best case" we pay $3600 per year.

    GBGames 07-07-2004 06:52 PM
    Well, there you go. A friend of mine was asking for my resume to see if I can get a job at his place of employment, and my first response was, "I'd rather not get a full-time position at this time." He argued that while I will need time to work on my games, I will also need money. I thought I had enough to get started, especially since I still have a part time job and live with my parents. If insurance is going to be that much, I don't. B-\

    *sigh* I guess getting a full-time job is going to be a bit more necessary than I had thought. I'll still do some research, though, and we'll see how much I would have to pay for myself if I continue to be exclusively "self-employed" B-)

    Dexterity 07-07-2004 07:20 PM
    Keep in mind that my coverage is for a family of four, including an infant. If you have only yourself to insure, it's going to be a lot cheaper.

    george 07-07-2004 08:09 PM

    go to an insurance broker, he should give u a good deal. i know that if u have a dba u can get a better deal, something like a group plan. maybe u and your friends or programming partners or whatever can do that. i myself pay $220 a month, but its a good plan, and i need it because i have ulcerative colitis ...

    Mike Boeh 07-07-2004 09:26 PM
    Check out http://www.ehealthinsurance.com

    I pay 550/month for a family of 3, but I have a much lower deductible than Steve... For a single male just out of college, it should be dirt cheap, around 100$/month I would suspect...

    20thCenturyBoy 07-08-2004 08:32 AM

    Health insurance? Pah. Waste of money if you're young and fit and single. I am only considering getting it now at age 36. Maybe it's a generation thing :)

    Dexterity 07-08-2004 11:24 AM

    I've gotten my money's worth from insurance. Last year when my son Kyle was born, he stopped breathing several times and ended up in the NICU for 10 days. I think the hospital bill was around $90,000, which the insurance took care of.

    MrPhil 07-08-2004 01:38 PM
    Short-Term Health Plan

    You can also get a time-limited coverage that isn't as expensive as the perpetual kind. I quit a job once before I had a new one and was able to purchase a 6-month policy and it was only a few hundred dollars. In your case this might be a way to give yourself some time to figure out your next move is but still be covered in the mean time.

    -Mr.Phil

    PS Oh, the catch is that once the 6 months is up you can NOT renew.

    milieu 07-08-2004 02:41 PM
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by 20thCenturyBoy
    Health insurance? Pah. Waste of money if you're young and fit and single. I am only considering getting it now at age 36. Maybe it's a generation thing :)


    I think it's more of an American thing. We have no national health insurance, so if you end up hospitalized, you have to pay the whole bill. With our medical costs, you could easily end up bankrupted by a fairly minimal bill. I read one account in the WSJ about a 20 year old college student who had appendicitis...and now owes $16,000 to the hospital. Not a great way to start off your career.

    GBGames: I recommend you take the job. If you keep expenses down by living with your parents or a cheap apartment, you can stash away months of future operating expenses for your business. Plus, if it's a programming job, you get paid to learn things you'll use for your games in the future.

    ggambett 07-08-2004 02:53 PM
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by milieu
    I think it's more of an American thing. We have no national health insurance, so if you end up hospitalized, you have to pay the whole bill. With our medical costs, you could easily end up bankrupted by a fairly minimal bill.

    Same here, so it's not a [North] American thing. There is national health insurance here but the service isn't as good as private insurance. It's not exactly "insurance" either (for what I read, your health insurance works the same way as the car insurance) but it's close enough.

    Chris_Evans 07-08-2004 03:33 PM
    If you're a young single male and you live a healthy lifestyle, then you can certainly get away without having health insurance for a few years. There's a reason why young single males have the lowest insurance rates.

    Of course there's always a risk of a bad accident happening while you're uninsured. But there's always risks in life. You could get hit by car tomorrow and die.

    I wouldn't pay for insurance unless the odds of something bad happening are sufficient enough. Such as...

    - If you have a medical condition
    - if you're married and have kids. If your wife is pregnant, you better have insurance.
    - Car insurance. Not only is it required, but the odds of you getting in some kind of accident in your lifetime is VERY high.
    - House insurance. If your house is somewhat old or you live in an active weather area, then the house insurance will usually pay for itself at some point.

    So I'm not against insurance, but unless the law requires you, you shouldn't just blindly or feel obligated to purchase every insurance or protection plan under the sun. Insurance companies are out to make money too. For people who need insurance, the insurance companies charge really high rates. Those that really don't need it, they give low rates. If an insurance company quotes you a low rate, think to yourself carefully if you really need their plan in the first place. You might be better off creating a savings account and setting aside several thousand dollars for a safety net. At least you'll know that you can use all the money you put into it.

    Mark Currie 07-08-2004 05:43 PM
    I recently got insurance after going a few years without it. I get the impression that doctors give you a discount when they know you don't have insurance, or rather they charge more if they know you have coverage.

    Despite this, I think insurance is worthwhile. I pay $130 a month, have a $750 yearly deductable after which they cover 80% of my bill. The $130/month is 100% tax deductable as long as my business is profitable. Also, I think the IRS allows you to setup a medical saving plans where you can save more on taxes (for the self employed), but I haven't researched that yet.
     
  2. GBGames

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    Dexterity 07-08-2004 07:57 PM
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Mark Currie
    I recently got insurance after going a few years without it. I get the impression that doctors give you a discount when they know you don't have insurance, or rather they charge more if they know you have coverage.


    Actually, it appears that just the opposite is the case. I remember reading recently about a study that showed that people without insurance will usually be billed at a much higher rate. I believe the main reason was that they're at much greater risk of default than those with insurance. For many common treatments, insurance companies will set a limit as to the amounts the doctors can bill for. So the doctors make it up by overbilling those w/o insurance. For example, our doctor might bill us $150 for some treatment, but the insurance company says, "No, we're only going to pay $89 for that." Then we get a bill for $89, which applies towards our deductible, and we pay the $89. But without insurance we'd be billed for at least the whole $150 and possibly even more. The doctors accept this situation because they want to attract/treat patients who use those particular insurance providers.

    Fenix Down 07-08-2004 08:00 PM
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by milieu
    GBGames: I recommend you take the job. If you keep expenses down by living with your parents or a cheap apartment, you can stash away months of future operating expenses for your business. Plus, if it's a programming job, you get paid to learn things you'll use for your games in the future.


    I'm a recent graduate with a full time job, which puts me in a unique position to respond to this. :) A full time job is a double edged sword in the most literal sense. On one edge you get money and health insurance, on the other edge it takes away a huge amount of your energy and time. Energy and time that you could be spending on getting your business off the ground.

    As for learning things you can use in your games... Well that's hit and miss. What you learn at a programming job certainly can be relevant to what you would need to do for your business, but I would say that this in itself would not be a good reason to get a job. As Steve P. says in one of his articles, you only need a certain amount of skill in programming to make games. After that, your programming ability becomes irrelevant to your chances of success.

    By the time I got this job, I already made Brickster and re-wrote a large portion of my game engine based on what I learned. The main reason I was hired was because I already knew C++ well, and would be able to replace a programmer who was moved to another project. And also the company I work for develops DSL modem chipsets. Not exactly game related. :)

    Of course everyone's situation is different, but I thought I'd throw in my 2 cents. It's becoming very clear to me though why Steve P. so adamantly suggests to "burn the ships" and get into your business fulltime. It's easy to think that you'll be able to get a lot done after work hours, before you have a fulltime job. But when you get one, reality hits you in the face. :) I personally am planning on quitting my job at a certain point in time, and I'm currently using DavidRM's approach (I think it was him) of getting a certain amount of monthly sales + savings in the bank first.

    Justiciar 07-08-2004 08:56 PM
    If I were in your shoes, and believe me when I say in many ways you are in an enviable position, I would do the following.

    I'd take the job. I'd cut my living expenses to the bare bone, and stuff everything else away into highly productive investment vehicles. (A really good book on introductory tactics for this is "Safe Strategies For Financial Freedom")

    Work there as long as you can (3 yrs? 5 yrs? 7 yrs?) and keep building up your investment portfolio until it's doing well enough to be able to sustain your living expenses.

    Then strike out on your own fulltime.

    I can think of quite a few benefits to working full time besides the paycheck and health insurance.
    1. Industry contacts
    2. Industry experience
    3. Business experience (you get to watch someone else man the helm)
    4. Social contact and interaction
    5. Mentoring

    Number 5 is a really huge one in my mind -- if you are able to find people at this job who will mentor you, you will learn volumes more than if you were on your own.

    The very real danger is becoming psychologically (and physically!) dependent on that weekly paycheck. This can become a huge stumbling block when you are ready to go it alone.

    Best of luck in your decision!
    Anthony

    kevryan 07-09-2004 12:41 AM
    I've become somewhat of an unwilling semi-expert on this subject (at least in the USA). Over the last few years my family has had somewhere between 2 and 3 million dollars in medical bills. Insurance companies get a discount on these bills that individuals don't. It is very eye-opening to look at the details of these bills and see how expensive everything is.

    In California there is the "Healthy Families" program in which you can get insurance for all of your children, no matter how many you have, for $27 a month. Co-pays are only $5 and total co-pays for the year are capped at $200. There is no medical underwriting so your children can not be disqualified for a pre-existing medical condition. Your income has to be below 250-300% of the poverty level - in my case I can qualify as long as my income is below around $90,000. This is a federal program and every state has a version of it. I never would have found out about it except I was looking for program that didn't care about pre-existing conditions.

    I know this doesn't affect the recent college graduates, but hopefully someone finds this useful and maybe ends up saving some money.
     
  3. GBGames

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    Mark Currie 07-09-2004 04:27 AM
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Dexterity
    I remember reading recently about a study that showed that people without insurance will usually be billed at a much higher rate.


    That's interesting to hear, because it's the opposite of my experiences. I can only comment on my personal experiences, which have thankfully been few in number and small in scope.

    I can think of two times with two different doctors when I got a discount while not having insurance--at least they acted like they were giving me a discount. Of course it’s hard to be certain.

    Right after I finally got insurance again, I saw another doctor. I was charged $160 for a ten minute visit. The insurance company capped it at $120. I got the impression the doctor charged as much as he could, thinking that the insurance company would be covering it anyway.

    If you don’t have insurance and you see a doctor, I think it’s a good idea to mention that you don’t have insurance (even though he/she already will know it), so that the doctor will possibly have empathy for you and maybe give you a break. In fact, next time I go to the doctor, I’m going to casually mention that I have a high annual deductible. Maybe that will prevent having another $12/minute visit.

    Still I think having insurance is totally worthwhile. A couple years ago my brother went to the hospital and racked up $115,000 in bills, which was covered by his insurance.

    george 07-09-2004 09:26 AM
    insurance companies and hospitals make special price deals in their contracts, so insurance companies always pay less than the actual price. so if you are uninsured, you actually get charged more than the insurance companies do. and prescription drugs are another story, some of those prices are so high its ridiculous. here in the united states, the medical business is a dirty one, its really sad...

    GBGames 07-24-2004 01:34 PM
    I've made the decision to get insurance. Turns out that since I am still a full-time graduate student, I can get a student's insurance plan, which is roughly $550/year and a $2500 deductible! Not too shabby, and the coverage is good.

    Thanks for all the input, everyone!

    robleong 07-24-2004 07:32 PM
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by george
    go to an insurance broker, he should give u a good deal. i know that if u have a dba u can get a better deal, something like a group plan. maybe u and your friends or programming partners or whatever can do that. i myself pay $220 a month, but its a good plan, and i need it because i have ulcerative colitis ...


    What's a dba? So, even with a pre-existing condition such as ulcerative colitis, you only need to pay $220 a month? Sounds like a good deal.

    george 07-26-2004 11:04 AM
    a dba is "doing business as", like doing business as "dexterity software".

    yea i pay $220 a month (no deductables) for the coverage, plus another $40-$50 on medications, plus around $10-20 on doctor visits...

    its not too high, just imagine what it would be without insurance, the medication alone would cost hundreds and hundreds of dollars...

    when i got this disease almost a year ago, i had no health insurance. i went through a very tough time... so i suggest everyone look into health insurance, even if you are young. i am 21, i was diagnosed when i was 20... even if you are sure you are never going to get a disease, you could still get into an accident...

    robleong 07-27-2004 01:55 AM
    Thanks for the reply, George. Duh - it's a fictitious business name, and I have one! I thought these insurances don't cover preexisting conditions - that's how little I know about insurances.

    By the way, I'm actually presently involved in ulcerative colitis myself, so drop me a line if you wish to talk about that further. Take care.

    Jake Stine 07-27-2004 05:48 PM
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Mark Currie
    That's interesting to hear, because it's the opposite of my experiences. I can only comment on my personal experiences, which have thankfully been few in number and small in scope.

    I can think of two times with two different doctors when I got a discount while not having insurance--at least they acted like they were giving me a discount. Of course it’s hard to be certain.

    Correct. In the experience of friends and family around me, they issue a full blown price to the insurance agency on paper but behind the scenes the insurance agency still only pays a fraction of what the "standard" fees are. The customer may not always be made aware of the difference in price that the doctor actually recieves. I've heard that this has largely been the curse of HMOs, but I've never had any experience with insurance prior to HMOs.

    But yeah, even in giving you a discount, chances are the doctor or hospital is still getting more from you than they would from an insurance agency after the discount they give to it.

    Of course, nothing ever quite makes sense in a corporate monetary setting like insurance, so some rather cheap things will have a seemingly illogical absorbantly high cap while other expensive things may not. Doctors will and do try to take advantage of that when possible without too much inconvenience to the customer. It's a terrible headache and if I never in my life have to deal with it directly I'll consider it a moral victory on my part.
     
  4. george

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    i replied in the original forum but my post was missed in the c & p... it was something like this:

    robleong:

    wow you have uc too? and i think gilzu has crohn's right? so that's 3 people with ibd here, is this common in programmers or what? ;)
     
  5. cliffski

    Moderator Original Member

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    I find this topic interesting, not because it really applies to me, but because its interesting as part of my next game (which is all about politics and running the country).
    It seems that practically everyone in the US thinks they should have medical insurance, and also (by the sounds of it) choosing the insurance is a lot of grief and takes a lot of effort. Here in the UK, some people do have private health insurance, but just as many rely purely on the state run national health service.
    I'm interested to know if you all think that private health insurance is still a good idea, or if you think the (old) British system would be beter (where basically you pay for mutual health care through taxes paid to the state),

    Im not trying to argue a political point, im just interested and also curious about the US attitude to such things, as I'm british, trying to write a game about politics that americans will be happy to buy (which is one hell of a balancing act I can tell you.) ;)
     
  6. Air

    Air
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    There is an overwheming dissidence in the US toward gov't run health care programs. I'm not entirely sure people have any particuarly good reason for it other than the fact that they've been taught and trained that "big government" is a bad thing. I can attach a good reason to it, however: When the gov't (particuarly the on the national scale) instates programs that offer and move a tremendous amount of money, a form of potential monetary power is created-- a level of power that a lot of relatively unscrupulous groups and individuals would like to gain control over. We're experiencing the after-effects of a large government in the US as we speak, where a casual, politically disinterested people are being taken advantage of by a group of politicians who are pretty much turning the US Treasury into their own little personal piggy bank.

    There have been numerous historical accounts of similar behavior in other countries. I suspect that this sort of thing was the inspiration for the original arguments against big government that are prominently discussed by our founding fathers. That said, it's pretty much just a fad/buzz-phrase anymore. Our federal government has grown into a monster and it's full time we americans accept the fact that it's going to stay that way. Amusingly, the people taking advantage of the power the gov't has to offer are the same ones that preach "small gov't" all the time. I guess that's called playing both sides of the coin.

    Anyways! I personally would be all for a universal healthcare system of sorts. But who knows... maybe I'm just bias because I've been without health coverage for most of my life. :)
     
  7. robleong

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    George,

    OT - No, I don't have UC, but I'm involved in a study of a drug that might be useful for UC.
     
  8. kerchen

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    Another common argument against universal health care in the US is that it doesn't scale when you get to a country the size of the US. Advocates of UHC often point to Canada as an example of how it works, but opponents say that Canada is much smaller and their health system sucks, too. Personally, I think there are some deep pockets with a vested interest in keeping things the way they are in the US (and not just in health care).
     

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