Good morning! Today I’d like to share something I haven’t discussed here on MML: health and self-employment. Though I am certainly no expert, the following is what I’ve learned so far while being self-employed.
(Very) fortunately I’ve been blessed with good health and a proactive sense of responsibility. As an active 25-year-old non-pregnant woman, I have several positive health factors on my side for a low-ish cost of health care. So what works for me won’t apply to others in different situations. That said, here’s what has worked for me so far.
As a full-time designer, I pay for my health insurance myself. Over the past three years this fact has given me a very conscious understanding of the (financial and physical) “value” of wellness. I recognize the impact a healthy lifestyle can have on my bottom-line and bottom-line (Anyone notice the pun? Ha…Â Ha.)
I run, lift weights, don’t smoke, drink (relatively) moderately, and eat as well as I can without sacrificing too much. All the things they say you “should” do. Since I’ve done those things most of my life, none of them were directly correlated with my quest to keep health care costs low. But now I have a better idea of what these actions are actually saving my bank account.
In terms of health insurance, I have chosen a relatively high deductible plan with a lower monthly premium.Â This gives me a monthly health insurance bill under $170.
I also have an Health Savings Plan (HSA) which is a tax-free savings account for health purchases and fees. I deposit money in this account yearly and use a HSA debit card when I go to the doctor or order contacts.
Dental + Eye
In order to save on my monthly premium, I don’t have dental or eye care included in my health insurance. Overall, this has worked well so far. In the future I might add these features to my plan.
To save money on eye care, I had my mom order a year supply of contacts before I moved to Chicago. And though I’m not particularly proud of it, I wore the contacts past their two-week expiration in an effort to save money. Eventually I ran out of contacts and shopped around my area for an affordable eye exam and contacts. My money from the HSA covered the bills.
But then there are my teeth. Though I had all forms of orthodontia for most of my childhood (braces, retainers, head-gear!, you name it), I went a full three years without seeing a dentist. I know, I know. I should have gone to see a dentist sooner. Every six months. I know. But up to this point, I honestly didn’t make the effort or save the money for this very important part of my body.
That said, the proactive sense of responsibility I spoke about earlier definitely has worked overtime in my dental care. I now have a regular flossing habit. I also use a Sonic Care toothbrush three times a day. Pretty good, right?
Well, last month when I decided it was time to grow up and see a dentist. I was faced with these choices:
- My health insurance offered a $30/month plan for dental- which means about $360/year.
- The dental cleaning and check-up fee without insurance was $166.
- Cavities cost $330.
- X-Rays were $100.
What was I to do? Should I get dental coverage for $360 a year – which would save me $$$ if I had a cavity. Or, should I risk it and pay just $266 for the appointment and x-ray out of the HSA?
It was a tough call.
I ended up forgoing the dental health plan and paid for it myself. Fortunately, all that flossing and brushing paid off. I didn’t have a cavity! It was a tremendous feeling. A real accomplishment. Though I don’t plan (or recommend) going three years without a dentist appointment, I am so thankful that those healthy habits helped my teeth and my checking account.
So all I can say to those starting a business is: floss your teeth.