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+ - Doctors, HSAs, & Allergies: Oh the fun we have

Submitted by robi2106
robi2106 (464558) writes "I have been to the doctor's office only a few times in my life. Once yesterday, once earlier this year, and once back about 8 years ago, and then again some time when I was 14 (I think).

But this time was different. Why? Because I got to pay for it. You see, previously, I had insurance through either a government employer (like when I was a cop) or when my dad worked for a Big Company. This time it was just me... me and my extremely high deductible HSA plan, thanks to the IRS (PDF). Now I am not mad at the IRS, I am actually thanking them, I think.

Before having a state job I worked as a contractor for several years, and that means benefits like health care are FRIGGIN expensive, but they (meaning the contracting company) can shaft you because you can be fired at any time and they have no incentive to actually invest in you as an employee. So they charge $180 / month for a high deductible plan that covers hardly anything. And don't even think about getting their plans with a family ($300-500/month).

So back then, and being a single and fit guy, I did the sensible thing, I bought a HDHP, a high deductible health plan with a $2K deductible PPO for $110 / month with barely anything covered, just in case. It turns out that these plans don't even cover accidents (broken legs, etc). They only cover health related issues (cancer, asthma, or other diseases). And nothing preventative is even mentioned as possibly covered (until you meet your $2K deductible).

Back to the recent experience. ~2 months ago I got married, and we were both self employed (aka self-UNEMPLOYED). Getting your own health care is more expensive than buying the engagement ring (not that I have anything against rings). The only tangible benefit is the $75 / month premium.

Think that is low? It is. But consider that to step up to a non-HSA account with decent coverage ($1K deduct) might cost a perfectly healthy male age 28-30 about $130 / month. The difference over a year in premiums alone between the HSA account (900) and normal plan (1560) is $660, meaning that to switch to a higher plan will cost almost as much as another health plan coverage. And that is just in premium.

So here is where the HSA comes in handy. If you expect that you might spend about $1000 / yr in qualified expenses (glasses, dentist visits, etc) then you get the HDHP and put that $1000 into a HSA account, TAX FREE. So at the end of the year you fill out IRS form 8889 which is where you tell them how much you put into that HSA then that much is subtracted from taxable income. Not bad.

Except you still have to friggin HAVE the money in order to put it aside in the first place.

Enough rambling about the IRS code. I have allergies. Bad ones in fact. My recent move into a house with my wife confirmed it because my eyes swelled up for weeks. Yes weeks. Off an on they would get better then worse. This weekend, while away from home for 3 days, my eyes got better significantly. So it is official.... something in my house is trying to kill me.

I got an appointment with an allergist and she said "yep.... you got some bad infections in your eyes because the allergic reaction ran unchecked." Bummer. It could be dust mites, pet dander, or may be something else. My wife and I eliminated all smelly things that she wears, literally. They are all out in the garage in a bag. Once my allergy testing happens next week we may know if one of them was the culprit.

So here is where the rambling about HSAs and allergies intersect. The Dr office visit is not covered (naturally) with any co-pay so I get to pay the full amount ($170 cah-ching!). Then the 3 meds I am on cost $160 (cha-ching-ing-ing) and I go back next week for an actual allergy test (any time lab work is involved I assume the price will hit ~$200).

This isn't soo much of a post where I am soliciting input as it is a post where I am complaining about lacking money. :-) Kidding aside, has anyone else had some bad allergy problems and gone through the allergist testing stuff? What can I expect?

jason"

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