How To Be An Adult (Or, Things They Don't Teach You In School)Thursday, March 13, 2014
We are now insured. This is the first time I've had insurance that wasn't through the government in one way or another since I was a preteen. My dad had state insurance throughout most of high school -- which was AWESOME, and even covered my glasses -- but after he lost his job due to privatization of the prison he worked at, my siblings and I were put on Medicaid. When I was too old for Hoosier Healthwise (Medicaid for kids and pregnant women), I was uninsured for a year or so before I qualified for HIP (the Healthy Indiana Plan), which is kind of like Medicaid for people who make too much money to qualify for Medicaid. I lost it after a year due to miscommunication (augmented by the fact that I was 21 and had no freaking clue what I was doing).
TL;DR - I haven't had health insurance in like five years.
But anyway, we're insured now thanks to Obamacare. Now I voted for Obama, and I fully support healthcare reform, but I feel like the way this has been handled wasn't good. It's kind of pointless for us to even have insurance. We get a tax credit to help pay the premiums (yay!), but it's only mildly helpful. Basically, we (God willing) will not ever use enough medical services in one year to meet even the smallest deductible offered, so our choice was either to sign up for the crappier insurance with a higher deductible and a lower payment, or to sign up for more expensive, but better, insurance with a lower deductible; this is normal, but again, we wouldn't use enough to meet the deductible, so no matter what, we're paying for everything out-of-pocket. We decided it would be better to pay less while still having to pay out-of-pocket than to pay more while paying out-of-pocket.
But that's not even really my point (obviously, I tend to get sidetracked).
My point is that I was completely overwhelmed looking at insurance options and I had no freaking clue what was going on. I had to call my dad (who sold insurance when I was a kid) and ask him to fully explain how deductibles and co-pays worked. I had figured it out correctly (to my dismay) -- everything is out-of-pocket until you hit your premium -- but I wanted to make sure I was correct before committing to a plan. And boy, let me tell you -- it was extremely disheartening to realize that my life will literally be no different with insurance than it was without it. I'm still not going to be able to really afford to go to the doctor (though again, that's not the point).
I was unprepared and uneducated, and I didn't like that.
I've thought for years that child development classes should be required to graduate; I think being educated about reproduction, safe sex, and what taking care of a child entails (including having to take Baby Think-It-Over home for a weekend) would really help curtail teenage pregnancy. I'm also starting to realize though that basic life skills need to be taught in schools too. Now some schools do have life skills classes, though many are being cut along with other family and consumer science classes. Admittedly I never took one, but I think that they should be just as vital to making sure you graduate as math classes.
When I was in third grade, we learned how to balance checkbooks as part of a math unit (we also learned how to fill out a check). But really, that was kind of it.
We weren't taught about the importance of credit, or how to build it and protect it. We didn't learn anything about insurance and what all these crazy terms mean. I think we might have done some basic budgeting a couple of times over the years, but nobody taught us how to budget with all of the things necessary to living on your own, and they certainly didn't teach us how to do it when you're essentially making minimum wage. I know several adults who don't know how to do a load of laundry, or cook anything that can't be microwaved, because they never had to do it (I mean, yeah, that's on their parents, but that could totally be incorporated into life skills class).
Yes, I realize that schools are already facing a ton of issues, and high schoolers are already under a lot of pressure. But you know what? I had to take geometry in high school, and I haven't used any of it since. Learning how to choose an insurance plan? THAT would have been relevant to my life.
Is it really that hard to believe that so many of us are living at home with our parents? We don't know how to function as adults in society. We spend our whole lives wanting to be old enough to live our own lives and make our own decisions, and then we grow up and realize that we have no clue what we're doing.
It's not a very good feeling.