Recession Mama

{August 4, 2009}   Goodbye Health Insurance and Extra Paychecks

From Heather:

I’m on vacation, but I really do miss ya.

Please enjoy this post from own big sista!


By: Jennifer

When Heather asked me if I’d write a guest post, my first thought was……. me?  I am not a pro like these other mamas but decided what the heck – here it goes.

I’ve been a little tight with my money since I was a kid, my dad would give me 2 quarters to put in the offering plate at church and I’d tithe 50% and pocket the rest.  I may even still have that first quarter tucked away some place : ) Unfortunately, some of the obstacles I’ve recently encountered regarding our ever changing economy won’t be fixed by saving my quarters. 

My husband and I have both served in the Army Reserves, almost 50 years combined service…….  Him MUCH longer than I.  A few months ago I had to retired, for medical reasons, the military and I had served each other well over those many years.  It provided much need direction in my life and money so I could finish college without going into debt.  Over the course of our lives the military has given both my husband and I incredible opportunities and we are thankful for that.  Recently we had to make a tough decision regarding my husband’s military career. 

Marty (Charlie Brown Xmas Tree)

 In 2005 my husband was deployed to Iraq, all total he was gone from home 15 months.  This was, without a doubt, the most difficult time of our lives.  Somehow, with God’s grace, we made it through.  But, it was a very trying time for all of us.  We have 3 teenage daughters (which is a whole financial crisis in itself – that’s a whole blog by itself) and we decided, as a family, that dad would retire before we would ever go through that again.  A few months ago the time came for us to make good on that promise.  Faced with ANOTHER deployment to Iraq, my husband requested retirement and to our great relief, his request was granted.  This is a very exciting event for us, we are tired of him spending so much time away from home.


Even before the excitement abated, the financial realities began to set in.  As the economy limps slowly along, we will now have a significant loss in extra income.  As a Colonel, he makes really good money.  He gets paid each month and several times a year when he’s gone for several weeks at a time on duty.  We crunched the numbers and will survive, fewer dinners out and home projects (my husband has a bit of an obsession with STARTING projects around the house, but that is a whole other story!) 


The big money issue will come in the way of health insurance cost.  I know you maybe asking yourself what health insurance has to do with all of this.  We get our health insurance through the military.  Contrary to what you might think, it’s pretty good health insurance at a VERY reasonable rate, about $185/month for our family of five.  We’ll now be forced to get health insurance through my husband’s employer which costs almost 3 times as much a month. (The deductibles and coverage are essentially the same) Wow, lower income and higher health care cost!  I wouldn’t have thought my husband and I would be smack in the middle of the health care reform debate. I’m sure we’ll figure it out, maybe instead of a fewer dinners out maybe we’ll skip dinner once in awhile! 


All of this really got me thinking about how the nation really is in a health care crisis and what our government is trying to do to fix it.  I Googled “health care reform” so I could  try to understand what’s going on.  After a night of research, I may be more confused than I was before. 

What I do understand, in my simple way, is that health care costs are way out of control.  I won’t go political so don’t worry (As my husband proof read this he made me insert this comment – to Jenn’s blogisphere coven – you DON’T want Jenn to go political).  But what I don’t understand is how we could have good health insurance through the military/government and pay 1/3 of the price that we will now have to pay through the private sector?  Same type of coverage, able to see any doctors we want and pay 20% if they are out of network.  My husband, who had a brilliant flash of the obvious – pointed out … the military insurance isn’t for profit like private sector insurance companies… all the military insurance has to do is break even. That really got me thinking, do we really need health care reform or just greed reform.  Seems like greed has gotten our country into much of the situation we face today.  I don’t have the answers, but it seems there needs to be a balance between making a buck and taking advantage of the system and the people it’s there to serve. Just because something’s legal doesn’t necessarily make it right.


Enough of my rambling,  I’m very proud of my husband’s service to our country and yes I am a little (well maybe a LOT) freaked out about the money and the health insurance. 

Bottom lin– we are not willing to pimp my hubby out to Uncle Sam to have extra cash and reasonable health insurance.  I guess we should just count ourselves lucky that we both have jobs and health insurance.  After all, aren’t we all learning that money doesn’t replace the time spent with loved ones?  Maybe this recession really is a reality check for all of us.

Katy says:

Hi Jennifer,
Great job on your post! We’re not really pros either. Journalists are not always great bloggers because we try to stay objective, rather than give a point of view. Here, you gave a great point of view, and I sooo agree with what you have to say. We are in the mess we’re in today because of certain people’s greed. Health insurance does need reform, and any one who’s ever had to price out their own insurance understands that. People in the health care industry also understand that. My brother works in health care, and his company is already looking into how they can cover everyone. I also don’t understand everything about how it’s going to be done, but as a freelancer who’s had to buy her own health insurance, I know it’s completely necessary. Thanks for posting, and thank you and your husband for serving!!! I am very, very appreciative and also completely understanding of why you wouldn’t want to continue to do so.

recessionmama says:

From Heather: Thanks to you and Marty for serving our country. It’s been rewarding and a big sacrifice for you both. I can’t believe you served 20 years! Marty served even longer. I think you should be able to keep your military health coverage even when you retire. But I guess you’ll get it back when you reach 65. You absolutely need coverage especially since you’ve had cancer. But I hope you find one that won’t be too expensive.

Jennifer says:

We are a little sad to be leaving the military, but feel like the timing is right for our family at this point. As Reservist we are not eligible to draw our military retirement until we reach age 60 at that time we will also be able to go back on the military health insurance. Needless to say that is a little ways down the road and doesn’t help much now. Thankfully we can get insurance through our civilian employment, it is just soooo much more expensive.

Carla says:

Jenn, 1st of all, THANK YOU to you and your husband for your service to our country. I’m happy to hear he retired and isn’t going to be away like that anymore. We can totally relate to what y’all are going thru. It’s not like we’re losing the house or anything, and we still have 2 cars and bla bla, but yeah, life is different…eating out is rare, but I cannot agree with you more that the time we are spending together is the very best thing that has happened to us. And don’t get me going on health care reform, either! Thanks for writing, Jenn!

Lydia says:

Thank you to you and your husband for your military service! People of good hearts and good minds need to address our health care situation. I have to confess, I don’t trust the government to run it. The government NEVER does anything efficiently. Good luck with the health insurance hunt. You might want to look into Medical Savings Accounts or Medical IRAs. You carry ins. with a high deducible and use the $$ in your MSA to take care of the routine doctor visits. If you have a CPA, they can explain it in detail. Thanks again for your service. Since my nephew is a Sr. this year at the Naval Academy, I just have to say “Go Navy! Beat Army! 🙂

gracelog says:

Hi Jennifer,

You make a good point regarding the inequity in the cost for health insurance. I am self-employed, and was buying my own insurance until I moved to a different state and now have no insurance as I was classified medically ineligible due to a pre-existinting condtion. There is definitely a need for change.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, and thanks to your family for your service to our country.

God bless you!


jennifer says:

We appreciate everyone’s support for our military service. I know there are no easy answers when it comes to the health care and health insurance problems. My prayer is that everyone will be able to have affordable health insurance or at least access to affordable health care. There should not be such inequity in the level of health care that Americans receive.

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