Thursday, August 23, 2007

How Much Money Have You Made Off Your Health Insurance This Year?

$1,333.21…that's my answer. Some of you may remember my post from last October in which I announced my decision to switch from Guidestone's HealthChoice 1000 plan to the HealthSaver 2600 plan. My new plan is a government-recognized HDHP (High-Deductible Health Plan), which qualifies me to have an HSA (Health Savings Account). My new plan's premiums are significantly less than the premiums paid for the HealthChoice 1000. The difference in cost is going each month into my HSA. Also, any medical expenses that I have paid out of my HSA this year, I'm reimbursing back into the account (even under my old plan, I would still be paying on my deductible). As a result, my HSA now contains the amount given above, about equally split between a Money Market account keyed to a Visa Checkcard and a set of investments in various Guidestone Funds. Folks, that money is mine. I get to keep it in that account as long as I wish. I could spend it on avgas if I wanted (with significant adverse tax consequences). But most importantly, by my calculations I'll enter 2008 with better coverage than my old health insurance plan provided (because I have this stockpile of cash to cover deductibles that I didn't have before), and not long after that, I'll basically have zero-deductible health insurance. And all of this has happened without me or my church paying a dime more than we've been paying all along. I don't plan to take advantage of zero-deductible health insurance, because I want to keep saving money into that HSA to carry into retirement. I regard my HSA as part of my retirement planning strategy. Let's face it, I'm VERY likely to have health care expenses in retirement if Jesus tarries that long and leaves me alive that long. I could pay for them out of my 403b (and pay taxes on the money withdrawn to do so), or I can accumulate money in the HSA (tax-free on the way in like my 403b) and pay for my retirement health care out of there (tax-free on the way out very UNLIKE my 403b). But the best thing about the HealthSaver 2600 is that I am doing my part to solve the health care crisis in the United States. My HSA has made me a consumer once again regarding medical care. My treatment choices now cost ME real money. As a result, I'm growing stingier every day. I don't run to the Farmersville clinic when I think I might have the flu—I tough it out. I always still had the flu when I left the clinic anyway…now I have the flu AND more money still in my HSA. One reason health care costs keep skyrocketing is because we have a system where the consumers are often not directly paying the bills. Well, I'm no longer a part of that problem. Has your health insurance given you any money this year? If not, right now, while next year's church budget is being planned, might be a really good time to start talking with your church leadership about the potential benefits of an HSA.

8 comments:

joerstewart said...

I've been doing this for two years. It's priceless.

Tim Rogers said...

Brother Bart,

Help me. Gail and I have been investigating this. Was what you had to spend out of pocket this year less than the increase in the interest?

Tim Guthrie said...

Great post Bart. As a Stewardship guy - let me say you are setting the pace with this.

All Pastors need to explore this - it is great and it is "working to change" the culture of our poor health economy.

selahV said...

Bro. Bart, sure wish we'd read this a long time ago. I'd hope all pastors could get into this. retirement comes without warning sometimes...like in my husband's case. and I pray other ministers are able to do this. selahV

Bart Barber said...

SelahV,

God's richest blessings upon you in your new blogging enterprise. Reading this a long time ago wouldn't have helped...HSAs are a recent phenomenon, brought into existence by the current President Bush. After they became legal, it took a while before they became available. Joe Stewart is a veteran when it comes to HSAs, having participated in one for a full two years!

Bart Barber said...

Tim,

I'm not sure that I understand the question.

Bart Barber said...

The other Tim,

I agree that every pastor at least ought to explore this.

Bart Barber said...

Joe,

As usual, you're out ahead of me.