Preparing Financially for Healthcare Costs

As we conclude the February blog theme of being financially prepared for your job transition, an area I’ve consistently seen not get enough attention from job seekers is the financial ramification of healthcare costs, both insurance premiums and out-of-pocket costs.

Additionally, having been in the health and wellness industry for over 15 years, I personally know how difficult that market can be to fully determine the “total cost” of healthcare. The investigation can be a bit daunting; however, the research you do is well worth your time, particularly if you have some type of chronic health issue.

I’m reminded of Proverbs 30:25, “Ants are creatures of little strength, yet they store up their food in the summer.”  Resourcefulness, perseverance, and patience are “ant attributes.” You need these to fully consider how healthcare costs factor in to your planning, and eventually, the job offer considerations (Step #7 in the Crossroads Career methodology).

First, if you’re currently in job transition, you’ve probably encountered the opportunity to enroll in COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act – a federal law that may allow you to temporarily keep health coverage after your employment ends, although you pay 100% of the premiums). While COBRA is a terrific stop gap benefit, you can probably find much cheaper options with short-term insurance (6 month spans) or through the Affordable Care Act exchanges. These coverage options can approximate what you had at your previous employer and be about one-third to one-half of the total costs.

Second, as you approach the opportunity to receive a job offer, I’d encourage you to do full due diligence on understanding the type of healthcare insurance your employer will be providing, as the financial outcomes can vary dramatically across insurance products.  Finding out what insurance premium levels are, copay amounts, deductibles, and capped out-of-pocket costs per person are all important as these factors can be noticeably different between employers.  While you typically won’t be able to negotiate with the employer on the health insurance they offer, knowing the costs can provide you valuable information for determining how you would approach a broader total compensation negotiation.

Finally, healthcare is exceptionally personal.  Each of us are unique individuals and have different needs and risk thresholds.  What works for your neighbor may not work for you, either from the care or financial provisions.  Many articles exist that can provide much more detail than this blog has room to share. I encourage you to take the time and make the effort to explore the breadth of what is available to you in order to make the wisest choice for you and your family.

Dave Sparkman currently serves as the volunteer Crossroads Career board chair and local ministry leader. He is also the founder and managing director of Spark Your Culture, a corporate culture consulting firm. Prior to that he worked at UnitedHealth Group, a Fortune #5 public company, serving in the role of Chief Culture Officer. His unemployment experience came from the implosion of Arthur Andersen, where he served as the West Region Managing Partner, People.


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