Quick Update

It’s been difficult to find time to research all the health care options.  The school insurance premium is going down to $132.10 per pay period but the deductible will be $3,000 per person or $6,000 per family (up from $600 per person and $1200 per family).  In a meeting about the new insurance options they recommended we take the savings from the lower premium and put it into a bank account to pay for the deductible.  However even if I did that (and I’m afraid that little extra money in the paycheck is much more likely to be spent on existing medical bills, utility costs, gas, food, textbook fees etc.) the amount I could save ($1,248) would not come close to covering the new deductible.

So I went shopping on the exchange and quickly found out that due to my below poverty line income it was recommended that I apply for Medicare. I never thought I’d be applying for public assistance while working full time; that just seems wrong.  It is not easy to compare the deductibles and what the plans (school vs Medicare) cover but the cost for the latter appears to be significantly smaller. So I wended my way through the application over the course of the weekend (had to get my college daughter’s information for her work-study job) and submitted it today.  They will let me know in approximately 6-8 weeks and in the meantime on Monday I’ll be switched to the lower premium, higher deductible plan. It doesn’t go into effect until January 1, 2016 so I should know before then.

So that’s out of the way, and out of my hands.  In the meantime I’m continuing to try to talk to my insurance company about the dental bill in hopes of bring it (now just under $1,400 with the latest charges) down a bit. I’ve cancelled all scheduled dentist appointments for the time being.  I’m also awaiting a bill from my recent visit to the emergency room – just a minor thing but something I couldn’t deal with myself.  I had a nosebleed after school one day that lasted an hour.  I finally got it stopped but it started again in the evening and gushed for 4 hours (72 drops per minute – I counted).  My blood pressure was inexplicably high as well (I had been taking my medicine nightly with good results up to that point).  The ER doctor cauterized the broken vein and sent me on my way. I don’t know what that will cost. Our only flexible expense at this point is food so we are trying hard to limit spending in that area.

On the home front we had a nice day-long rain that refilled our cistern at least partially so we restarted the pump and have running water again.  We don’t use it for drinking or cooking but it seems fine (once I add bleach to the cistern) for washing and flushing. It’s nice not to have to haul 20 or so gallons of water every other day.  We are looking at a mild start to November which is good as we haven’t refilled our propane tank (used for heating and cooking) and it also means the goats can continue to graze (along with some hay and grain).  We need to get some more hay in and enough straw for bedding for the winter, especially with babies on the way!

I finally finished laying the laminate floor in the large ex-bathroom (which required a fair amount of replacing of the sub-floor and insulation) and just need to do the finishing touches (strips around the edges, wall repair, touch up paint) to complete the conversion from bath to bedroom. It will be nice to have my son out of the living room as it will give him some privacy and the ability to close his door and keep animals away. This, plus some air filtering, should help with his allergies next spring.

My oldest daughter turns 18 this week! We are filling a reusable tote bag that says “Believe in your Selfie” with cookies, cough drops, sharpie highlighters, cozy socks, chicken soup and other things she can use in the dorm as winter and finals approach.  She is doing well in college and I’m very proud of her.  My middle daughter has been very involved in the high school drama production (behind the scenes) and we are in the midst of performances.  This means a lot of extra driving around and late nights for both of us, so while I’m happy that she’s involved I’m also looking forward to closing night! The HS drama department doesn’t do things half-way and the kids who are a part of it end up putting in literally hundreds of hours over the course of their high school career.

At school we are in the midst of planning the first science fair in years and coaching for Academic Bowl has begun. We are also trying to get the science and math club off the ground.  We finally have our classroom pet – a leopard gecko named Atom – who has been a big hit with my students.  Kids from other classes stop in to see him as well.  It’s been a bridge of sorts with some students – amazing to see the ‘tough’ kids get all quiet and careful when they are sitting on the floor letting the gecko run across their hands and up their arms after school.  And since they only get to handle or feed the gecko if they are up to date on their work I’ve had a few late assignments turned in as well!

Other aspects of teaching continue to drag me down – all the data collection and analysis, prepping for tests, the cookie-cutter approach (we all have to have to use the same lesson plan template even though music class, math and science all have different approaches to teaching our subjects), and the low pay.  I’ve started looking for positions in my old business – environmental planning & permitting – and expect to send out resumes to get a feel for whether I’m still a viable candidate having been out of the field for some years now.  I can’t make a living as a public school teacher.

And now a heart-felt thanks to everyone who supports us in words of encouragement, sharing the blog, purchasing through the Amazon.com link (for which we get a small commission at the end of the month), buying things on our wish list and sending contributions.  You helped fill our pantry so that I can allocate more money towards the dentist bill! We appreciate your kindness and are deeply grateful.  Please know that you make a real difference in our lives and it is so nice to feel we are not in this alone!

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6 Responses to Quick Update

  1. My friend whose husband was a NASA engineer got Medicare! They have more money than God! She did not feel bad one bit about getting Medicare. If your income is low enough, hospitals have plans where you fill out a form and the state pays part or all of hospital and er visits.

    The goats sound like something you should keep!

  2. bogart says:

    I’d guess what you qualify for is Medicaid (provides access to medical care for the less affluent) rather than Medicare (with a very few exceptions, covers only those 65+ and does so regardless of income). Does it help to know that opening (increasing access to) Medicaid is one of the key ingredients that the ACA has used to make health insurance (which was woefully inaccessible and is still pretty inaccessible for many) more available? FWIW my dad was on Medicaid for literally years, albeit as a retiree with dementia, but please know that he cost the system far, far, far more than you and your family ever will.

    As to needing assistance (from the state) while working full time (for the state), well … what does that say about how we value teachers? Nothing good, that’s for sure.

  3. Jennifer says:

    I don’t want to sound harsh, but can you get rid of the goats? They are a cost and don’t seem to have much benefit. A hobby farm at this point seems like a bad idea. I wish you well and will continue to do my Amazon-ing thru your link.

  4. Lynn says:

    A teacher friend here in California found that she and her daughter qualify for all sorts of “public assistance” programs including subsidized housing, as she earns below poverty line as a full time teacher with over 20 years experience. So it’s not just your home state. Crazy.

  5. Linda P. says:

    It’s tough to weigh these decisions about insurance. You’re bright, and I’m sure you weighed all possibilities to the best of your abilities.

  6. Kay says:

    Have you considered applying for free care for the ER visit? The hospital may have something in place if your insurance doesn’t cover much or any of the cost.

    It’s really a shame in so many ways your teaching situation…

    I wish your family the best.

    Unrelated but have you all ever made goat cheese?

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