Because as smart economists recently proved it is super-confusing, and most of us can’t do the math.
But! We found glimmers of hope. So don’t be scared.
We’d like to hear how you’re choosing your health insurance for 2019 — or are you going to do without? — and what you’ve learned from past mistakes. Hit us up at insurance [[at]] arm and a leg show [[dot]] [[com]]
EXTRA CREDIT: We’d love it if you send us a voice memo!
Finally, we’ve got some resources here — guides from some smart, friendly folks — to help you get smarter and avoid some worst-case outcomes.
- The basics from a smart, kind civilian: Arm and a Leg listener Anna Jo Beck gave herself an education on the topic after her husband was diagnosed with cancer (he’s fine now) — and captured what she learned in a charming, self-published booklet. For Your Health: Making Sense of American Health Insurance starts with “What is it, and do I need it?” and goes on from there. BONUS: It’s peppered with what Anna describes as “moments of cute, heartwarming distraction to keep you from wanting to totally give up hope.”
- Another version of the basics, from a smart journalist: Vox.com health-care reporter Sarah Kliff published I’m a health-care reporter. Here’s how I shop for health insurance in 2015. It’s still a good primer.
- More advanced and detailed (also funny), from another smart journalist: Business Insider’s health editor Zachary Tracer chronicled his own decision-making — including actual math — in fall 2018: My company offers free health insurance — here’s why I decided to spend $1,000 more on a better plan.
The basic premise all around: If you can afford to think about anything but the lowest-possible monthly premium, then a good thing to think about is: Financially speaking, what’s the worst-case scenario, if I get hit by a bus or something?
Which is not exactly a fun scenario to contemplate, but still. It’s why the very cheapest plans, in terms of what you pay every month, may not be a good deal.
The Oh My Dollar podcast goes into good-humored detail in a recent Halloween episode, The $30 Spooky Health Plan You Probably Don’t Want. (No time to listen? No problem: They’ve done a great write-up.)
This episode closes with War of Amusements by Mucca Pazza—a Chicago treasure since 2004. The group’s self-description — “the marching band that thinks it’s a rock’n’roll band” — doesn’t begiin to do it justice. You can download the track on a pay-what-you-want basis, or listen on Spotify.