Insuring the Holste/Hanberg clan is expensive business.

Since leaving her full-time job in 2007, Mary has been paying for her health care out-of-pocket (as I have since 2008).

Mary’s plan was, until now, the only health plan in Washington that includes maternity (if you’re self-employed and buying insurance on your own) and the monthly premiums were very high. When we added Hannah to the plan last year, they got even higher. I’m on an HSA, which is basically the equivalent of a catastrophic health care plan that includes a couple doctor visits. It’s cheaper, but still not cheap, especially for what I get.

The premiums for the three of us runs close to $900 a month. This is a big chunk of money. And for many people thinking about starting a small business, it’s a high barrier to clear. (I would note that in an unusual way, my position as Metro Parks Commissioner really helped here, since my stipend for that position gets close to covering our health care costs, giving a little extra peace of mind when we made the leap to being fully self-employed).

Today, our insurance company sent a thick envelope that detailed what Mary’s and Hannah’s new plan will cover (we still haven’t gotten mine yet), and what it will cost. The old plan is going away, and we have to pick from a new plan.

I will confess to some nervous trepidation as I opened the packet.

Here’s the short take:

  • Our deductible drops by $1,000, if we stay in the network.
  • Our annual out-of-pocket maximum drops by 60%, if we stay in the network.
  • Radiology and Laboratory visits are now covered, instead of cutting off after the first $400.
  • And everything else pretty much stays the same—although it looks like some brand name drugs might be a little more expensive, it’s hard to estimate that one exactly.

Significantly improved health insurance! Yes please!

So what’s it going to cost us?

Well, it looks like the cost to insure Mary and Hannah will actually drop by $71 a month. That’s an $852 savings a year.

Now. We haven’t seen options for my insurance rate yet, but according to this sheet, I could sign up for a bronze version of Mary’s plan (which would still have better insurance than mine) and the monthly premium for me would only go up about $35.

All in all, I rate this somewhere between a good savings and a great savings, depending on what we decide to do with my health care. And to see that with better insurance, is very welcome, indeed.

I know this post will trigger some strong negative reactions from people who are opposed to the law. I also know that the ACA will cause some people to see their insurance rise (since we were on the only plan that had maternity, I would not be surprised if people on a plan that previously didn’t would see their rates rise).

I’m not saying the ACA is a perfect law. From what I’ve read, there are some tweaks that would help it, if both parties would address them.

But this is huge for us as a family. Reducing our annual expenses by $400 to $800 (or somewhere in between) makes it just slightly easier to run our own business and insure ourselves. And the lower out-of-pocket maximum means that the risk of a single medical issue financially derailing us is lower, too.

It turns out, I was very glad to get that packet.