Tales From The Yellow Bus

As many of you know I drive a school bus for five hours a day; about 2.5 hours in the morning starting at 7:00am and again 2.5 hours in the afternoon at 2:30pm.  This is my fifth year and I make about $15 an hour.  I do it because I love the kids, it allows me free time to write and it pays the health care for Bev and me.  Last year I was taking home after dealer, prep and options, about $150 per pay period every two weeks.  I have reached the point in longevity with the company that they pay all but 5% of my health care, but none of Bev’s.  I expected to take more home each paycheck this year versus last year.  To my surprise each check I received was $0; zero dollars.  Something must be wrong, I thought.

Last year our health care was calculated on ten months.  We weren’t covered in the summer.  This year they calculated the monthly premium deductions based on twelve months and then Kaiser, I discovered, raised their rates 33%.  That was why I was getting zero dollars for a pay check.  I complained loudly!  Why does it cost so much to insure my wife; $1,200 a month?

I found out we have a golden health care program, with no deductibles and a $5 co-pay for doctor visits.  Granted, the costs come out pre-tax, but still I’m just working for health care!

The company negotiated with the Union and came up with a change: go back to last years calculation, 10 month health care.  The bottom line: my health care would be free to me, but Bev’s would cost $500 per pay period.  I called Kaiser to see if I could insure Bev individually after tax and cancel the spousal part at my employer.  Kaiser told me I could have the Prevailing plan for $508 per month, with a $750 deductible and once that was satisfied I would pay 20% of all charges or I could choose the Portability plan for $448 a month with a $1500 deductible.  Once that was satisfied, I would pay 30% of all charges.  In addition, we have dental coverage.  For Bev that would cost an additional $38.50 a month.  Keep in mind, Kaiser has a rate change pending that will in all likelihood raise rates above those I just outlined after the first of the year.

What to do?  We decided to leave things as they are.

Why is it that we could move to Mexico and have high quality health care for about $300 a year vs $10,000 for Bev for ten months?  Sure Obamacare fixed some things like portability and insurance for pre-existing conditions and health care for dependents over 21 years of age, but our costs here are ridiculous.  I had great care when I came down with cancer in my prostate.  The bill was over $25,000.  I paid something like $1,100 or $1.200 and Kaiser paid over $5,000.  Someone got to write off almost $20,000!  But, is this what we want for health care?  No other developed country in the world pays what we do!  Something is wrong.

We could go back to the old way of having Landfair Furniture Pay for health care, but that impacts our cash flow.  Seems we just have to swallow this bitter pill.

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