Everyone Deserves A Health Insurance Plan Like This…

My wife started her new teaching job here in New Mexico last week, and this weekend we had to fill out her new insurance sign-up forms. We have been on private insurance for almost 2 years since I left my corporate job, costing us about $320 a month in California and $215 here in New Mexico, both of which had huge deductibles (which I went over in both 2007 and 2008). This covered medical only – no dental, no vision – so while I was happy we had health insurance (basically an enhanced version of catastrophic insurance, really), it did not cover us for a lot of things. But our new health plan, while a little more expensive, is so much more than we are used to having!

See, my wife is a teacher in a public school – and educators get amazing health insurance plans when they teach at public schools. (Knew I should have been a teacher) The groups are so big that they can really negotiate with the companies to get the best deals. And while we are paying $215 a month here for our plan until the end of August, the new one will cost $257, an increase of $42 a month. But let’s look at the big differences that are only going to cost us an additional $42:

Old Plan – $40 copay for doctor visits
New Plan – $15 copay for doctor visits

Old Plan – $10 generic prescriptions
New Plan – $2 generic prescriptions

Old Plan – $2500 deductible
New Plan – $0 deductible

Old Plan – 50% of any outpatient services
New Plan – Max of $150 for any outpatient services

Old Plan – 50% of charges for newborn services (delivery, prenatal, postnatal care)
New Plan – A one-time $25 copay on first visit only, everything else covered for newborn services (delivery, prenatal, postnatal care)

Old Plan – $150 for a routine physical
New Plan – $0 ded., $0 copay for routine physical

The list goes on and on – I have never seen an insurance plan like this. And I didn’t even add in the $0 deductible/$0 co-pay for almost all dental work or the free contact lenses all year for my wife. All those years I worked for both large, international corporations and small, independent companies, I never had a health plan like this one for educators and their families. My wife worked for a private school in California, and they didn’t even offer insurance. Even when we start a family, the rate will go up to only $349 a month with all the same coverage…so I guess she will have to continue working there forever. (kidding, honey…kind of) However, signing up for this plan reminds me of how lucky we are, and I do think that every single family and individual in the country should have plans like this available to them, and it is incredibly unfortunate that they don’t. It’s a national embarrassment, really, and I hope one day everyone can have medical coverage like this!

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Comments (15)

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  1. Frugal Dad says:

    I’ve ofter wondered why instead of taxing us into oblivion to pay for free universal health care, we didn’t simply offer up Medicare to those younger that 65, for a fee. You could pay premiums for access to Medicare benefits, and a sliding scale (based on household size/income) would allow those who could not afford it a break on the premiums. This would also be an option for self-employed individuals not belonging to a larger group plan.

    Critics of Medicare would probably point out flaws in the existing plan, but I’m sure it is better than having no insurance at all.

  2. david says:

    I’m with your FD – it does seem to be the solution, at least an interim one.

  3. Matt says:

    Government related positions generally have a superior insurance plan to private sector insurance plans. I’ve worked as a government, private sector, and now self employed – my best insurance plan by far was working within the governmental system.

    Of course, the trade off was the lower pay scale. Thus, there is always a trade off.

  4. Brian says:

    I agree with Matt that work for a gov’t agency of any type does have great health benefits, but also most of those jobs are union and many times they forgo salaries (In pocket wage increases) to keep their excellent health and retirement packages.

  5. My wife is a public school teacher, as well. We can choose from a number of plans, and most are good for the price. Dental and vision are also VERY good. Dental is fully covered after four years of regular check-ups. We are 80% covered now.

  6. Braunn says:

    “educators get amazing health insurance plans when they teach at public schools”

    Wow…that is quite an impressive package! Know however, that not all public school systems are created equally.

    My wife has been a public school teacher in TX for a number of years and we have actually just completed a move where she has begun teaching in KS. Neither of the benefits packages in these states (or, at least, in these particular school systems) is anywhere near as good as you describe.

    While the cost to cover just her is/was next to nothing in both cases, and the coverage is decent (though not nearly as good as you describe), the cost to cover the entire family (+spouse, +kids whether 1 or 100) bumped it up to about $800/month. In either case, we appear to still be subjected to the Robin Hood effect of property tax revenues (schools’ primary revenue source) being redirected from major metropolitan areas to more rural areas that just don’t have the tax base. (On the flip side, our children will actually reap the benefit as they will be attending a different school system than the one my wife now teaches in.)

    I expect we’ll see the same arrangement in KS as we did in TX: let the school pay for her and my job cover the rest of us.

    While I agree that I’d love to see a more universal application of insurance coverage, I don’t know that Medicare, or the government in general is the answer. It’s my current opinion that it’s the very relationship between Medicare and Insurance companies, and all the rules and regulations surrounding it, that are a primary cause of skyrocketing health costs to begin with. Not to mention that I have very little, if any, faith in the government’s ability to “save” me money. Social Security anyone?

    Congrats again on your move. Hope all is going well!

  7. David says:

    Braunn – that is unreal that a public school system is charging you guys $800 for insurance, thats the highest I have ever heard for a group education plan!

  8. Universal health care in the United States represents the “final frontier” in freedom. Some would call it socialism, but not having to worry about getting medical care if unemployed, underemployed, having a pre-existing condition, being denied the insurance you do have for ridiculous reasons would be a true freedom. Think of how many people in this country are tied to jobs that they hate just because they get over-priced health benefits. Think of how many jobs they would free up if they quit. All of the insurance company employees could easily get new jobs…

  9. I used to teach in a public school and had insurance similar to what you currently have. It was wonderful and I didn’t realize how good we had it until I quit to stay home with my son and we depended on my husband’s insurance.

  10. Emily says:

    I am jealous. My hubby doesn’t make a lot of money and we pay $500 for his employer provided health insurance. on top of that, we have $35 copays and $2500 deductibles and $200 for an ER visit. Totally sucks, is stressful, and frustrating. We have considered just switching to a private policy but found we may be saving on monthly payments but what we’d be responsible for in the day to day would be too much to make a difference. the health insurance situation in the US is getting more and more ridiculous by the day. I like FDs idea.

  11. […] happens, is the cost of health insurance. However, after this post by David of My Two Dollars on his wife’s health insurance coverage, I think we’re going to move to New Mexico where I’m going to find a job as a public […]

  12. $10,000 in medical bills — and that’s with insurance…

    Two encounters with illness have cost David of My Two Dollars and his wife nearly $10,000 out-of-pocket so far this year, and that’s not including the $320 a month they were paying for health insurance premiums. Health care is a huge personal-finance …

  13. Matt says:

    Public sector (govt) is the way to go. My mother was civil service and we never had to worry about medical/dental expenses or banking fees (credit union). I never realized how bad everyone else had it till my wife informed me what it was like in the private sector.

    When you have a giant pool of govt workers, you can negotiate great deals (like congress’ and my health care plan). That’s why health care should be nationalized – the deals you get with collectivization are just too great. All industrialized countries do it. We’re just so capitalistic that we’re getting screwed.

    I’ve always said, “companies are great at making widgets, not so great at fulfilling needs.” Let them make widgets freely and with minimal regulation (mostly about safety) and leave the needs to the govt. Each has its place. When we nationalize widgets, we head down the road to bread lines but when we privatize needs like health care and water/power we head down the road to great wealth and devastating poverty.

    My credit union is not for profit, if they make a profit it comes back to me and other depositors. Fees for checking? Never heard of it in over 20 years. I work civil myself now and with all the benefits they even pay for my bus fare (that’s a savings of $90/month – no chump change really)

    And that ole’ chestnut about making less money in exchange for security with a govt job – it’s a myth. I been in the private sector for a few months here and there and it was a cutthroat nightmare of BS AND it didn’t pay more. Question the messenger on this stuff. Who’s telling us that the gov pays less? Corporate talking point if you ask me.

  14. David says:

    Thanks for the comment Matt, and I am with you about the pay – only certain jobs that pay less in the private sector too pay that too little. Working in the public sector can provide great pay and great benefits, and sometimes retirement in only 20 years. It’s not a bad way to do it!

  15. […] bills so far, in addition to the $300+ a month we were paying on our premium. Luckily now we have a great plan through my wife’s work, but prior to September 1 we were paying for our own private insurance. And in order to make it […]