Monday, December 7, 2009

Day 45: Adult-Sized Decisions

Coming back from vacation and reentering real life is never fun.

Coming back to work to reminders that it's "Time to elect your health care coverage for 2010" made it far worse.

There's nothing like those emails to remind you that you're not in Yosemite anymore.

Day 45's thing I've never done before wasn't really something that I wanted to do or chose to do, it was something that I had to get done before the end of the week: read my health insurance manual and make a responsible decision about my plan.

I have elected my health insurance before, when I first got a job. But I did so haphazardly, not really understanding what was covered and what wasn't. Going to the doctor is sort of like a game show. After the examination, I'd step up to the counter having no idea how much I'm going to owe them and then....the big reveal. "Congratulations, Stephanie, your co-pay is only $25!!!!"

Evident by the ongoing health care debate, being an uninformed citizen is no longer good enough, so I decided this time around, I was going to make an intelligent decision about it.

So I settled in on Tuesday night to read, in its entirety, the manual sent out my company's benefits department about health insurance.

The manual is full of insurance jargon that gave me a headache. HMOs, PPOs, FSAs. The booklet actually had a glossary to help explain all the terminology found within the pages. It's just too much. I wondered if those fighting for and against these different health care reform packages really know all of this stuff, or if they also have dictionaries that they refer to when the debate heats up.

According to the super duper research some outside company did, I've been to the doctor a total of five times over the last five years, meaning I could probably save some cash and select a minimal plan.

But then the hypochondriac in me started anticipating "what if" scenarios in my head. Maybe I'll forego the vision insurance and just pay for contacts out of pocket, I considered. But what if I develop a lazy eye and need surgery? In one evening, I anticipated needing physical therapy for two broken legs, an organ transplant and developing a rare skin disease that left me unable to work and virtually unrecognizable to everyone I know.

I consulted coworkers for advice, but health insurance isn't like picking out a sweater. It's definitely a personal thing. A lot of the people that I was talking to have families and wouldn't likely be needing the same kind of care as me.

Finally, after reading the manual and attending a class that walked me step by step through all the options (a class virtually useless to me because my boss and I spent most of it brainstorming ideas for the blog), I was ready to make my informed, well thought out health care selections. How so very adult of me.

Well, not exactly. I tried to go at it completely without my parents' input, but before I hit confirm on all of my selections, I simply couldn't help myself and I emailed my mom for her opinion.

"What do you think about Flexible Spending Accounts? Do you and dad have one of those?"

She emailed me back a few minutes later, "I'm not sure. I don't think I know what that is."

Neither do I, Mom. Neither do I. But I signed up for one in 2010!


  1. I hate the insurance selection time of year. I switched plans this year because my REALLY expensive plan - you know, the plan that costs an arm and a leg, but would pay for the majority of an arm and leg transplant if I needed it - was getting too rich for me.

    Yet I am still agonizing over "downsizing" my plan just to have a little extra cash in my paycheck each month.

  2. i got a flexible spending account for the first time too!

  3. me too! FSA's for everyone!!

  4. Dude, I had a FSA last year. I put the approximate amount I thought I'd need in it, and then with like two weeks to go I realized I had $300 or so (probably the entire amount I put in it in the first place) that was going to EXPIRE if I didn't use it by 10/31. So I had to load up on all sorts of stuff like neosporin and scar cream and bandaids just to make sure it didn't completely go down the toilet. let us know how it goes! :)