Last year, I wrote a pretty lengthy article on South Dakota health insurance for pre-retirement RVers. You can review that article for the full story but here’s a recap:
Up until 2015 I had a low cost, high deductible plan that would cover me in case of emergency only, everything else I paid out of pocket. My emergency fund was large enough to cover the deductible.
Starting in 2015, the Affordable Care Act (more commonly known as Obamacare) changed the health insurance scene for full-timers dramatically. Everyone over 30 now had to have full insurance – high deductible plans didn’t meet the requirements – or pay a penalty.
Because of my income level I qualified for a subsidy that made the insurance cost similar to what I paid for the catastrophic plan, but I wasn’t able to take advantage of my shiny new “real” insurance, because all of the plans offered on the Marketplace required a person to be within South Dakota for routine or extended care (luckily emergency care was still covered). Not very nomad friendly.
I decided about this time last year when I was signing up for coverage that I’d be moving to Texas this year, since one of the insurance providers in Texas (Blue Cross Blue Shield) still had PPO plans that would cover routine care out of state.
Which brings us up to the present. It was announced this past October that BCBS was going to be pulling their PPO plans in Texas for 2016, a big blow for the full-timing community. I had planned on “moving” to Texas while working at Amazon this peak, but now there’s no reason* to since the health insurance field in Texas is the same as South Dakota. Of the three big full-timing residency states, only Florida still has nomad-friendly health insurance options for 2016, but the RVing community is guessing that in 2017 those will disappear too.
For those of you planning on hitting the road in the near future who are looking into health insurance, I still recommend Kyle’s website over at https://www.rverinsurance.com/ for the latest news and advice. I was in e-mail communication with Kyle last year when all of these changes were taking place and he helped me a lot with the Health Insurance Marketplace and figuring out what my options were.
I talked to several younger full-timers this year who opted to pay the penalty for not being insured and still covered their own costs out of pocket like before – a valid option for those who are in good health. I myself could have saved some money if I’d gone this route but that slim chance of a medical emergency made me pay for a plan. In 2016 though, the penalty for not being insured is going up to $695 a person or 2% of your annual income, whichever is higher, so people who opted out of health insurance this year probably want to think about signing up for 2016. For me personally, my marketplace plan for 2016 is going to come to less than the penalty.
Which brings me to what I signed up for for 2016.
Let me start by saying that signing up through the Marketplace went a lot smoother this year than last year. I still had to do the whole process over the phone since the website does not recognize my mail forwarding address in South Dakota as a real address, but the 26 minute phone call was fairly painless and Avera (same company I had last year) accepted me as a SD resident without any complaints this time so there was no extra phone calls and bickering back and forth (last year, I almost didn’t get the process finished in time for my coverage to start on jan 1st).
Like last year, I opted for a Bronze level plan. Not the cheapest one available, but the second cheapest which has an out-of-pocket cap covered by my emergency fund. There’s just no point in getting something better when I’m not going to be in South Dakota to enjoy the benefits.
That about covers it! Have a good week everyone, I can’t believe it’s only a week until Amazon is done. Receive is still getting 50+ hour work weeks so my paychecks are continuing to be happy. Next week the last day for my shift is the 22nd, so even if overtime would be called on Wednesday us campers were told not to go in for it. I’ll be writing a little more about my plans post-Amazon soon.
*When thinking about it, moving to Texas still might make some sense when it comes to health insurance. If I ever did need to go back to my state of residence for extended care, visiting Texas in the summer, while uncomfortable, would still be easier to do in an RV than staying in South Dakota in the winter. However, I did not want to pay ~$500 to switch the rest of my insurances and registrations over. Just something to think about for those of you getting ready to choose your residency state.
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