- 2001 - 10.8%
- 2002 - 16.2%
- 2003 - 22.3%
- 2004 - 16.3%
- 2005 - 19.4%
- 2006 - 18.2%
And when you start looking at alternative plans, it becomes a bewildering maze of figures and becomes very complicated forecasting what the next year might bring. And if you switch to the cheaper plan, then you can get burned by less coverage and there is the real possibility they won't let you switch back to the old plan. A conundrum to say the least. I'm currently investigating HSA plans (Health Savings Accounts) but they aren't all peaches and cream either.
An HSA (in which money contributed is tax-deductible, grows tax-free and can be withdrawn tax-free for medical expenses) certainly can work for you. A worker who salts away $1,000 per year for 40 years in an HSA could accumulate $133,400 to pay for future health-care expenses, EBRI research shows. If the very same worker salts away $2,650 per year, the HSA nest egg could grow to a whopping $474,200.
But those sums, while tidy, are best case and assume a worker would not spend any money in an HSA on current health-care expenses. It assumes they would roll over 100% of their year-end account balances each year.
The more likely case is that a worker would spend some portion of the money in an HSA on current medical expenses. And once you factor the very real possibility that a worker rolls just a portion of their year-end account balances, the health-care nest egg starts to look meager, if not insignificant.
Consider, for instance, the worker who salts away $2,650 per year over 40 years but spends most of it for annual health costs and rolls over just 10% of the year-end account balance for 40 years. That worker would have only $10,000 in the HSA to pay for health care expenses in retirement. And that sum seems hardly enough to buy a box of cotton swabs four decades hence.
Doesn't sound so wonderful does it? Well there are suggestions to make it better and you can read about it in this article entitled Time to overhaul HSAs at Marketwatch.
Some will advise me to just find a doctor to declare myself totally disabled and then I can get on Medicaid. Well, that's fine, except I'm not disabled to that point, nor do I like the thought of not paying my own way and waiting on a government handout. I believe those should be reserved for the the truly needy, whose ranks we'll probably join pretty fast at this rate.
Looks like it's time to wing another letter off to the old congressmen/women in DC - fat lot of good that will do, but if you write a letter and your friend writes a letter, etc, etc - maybe somebody might just wake up. So help us out and sharpen that pencil.