If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you know that I pretty much had two years of my life planned out in advance. And I’ve followed that plan so far. But, two little grenades have been thrown into my life, and thus, things have changed.
The first involves the impact of health care on my budget, which has forced me to choose which parts of the plan I can still afford to implement.
As I’ve written about before, I enrolled in health insurance for 2017 through the Affordable Care Act, aka “Obamacare.” Since I retired early, prior to eligibility for Medicare, there weren’t a lot of choices. So I didn’t do much research in advance – I just went on the healthcare.gov website and enrolled.
My income in 2017 consisted of a small pension from the State of New Jersey, and Social Security. I became eligible for Social Security in June, so I received just six payments. At that income level, the subsidy toward my health insurance premiums was about $350 per month. I selected a very high deductible plan ($7,500), making my premium about $275 per month after the subsidy. Fortunately, I didn’t get sick in 2017 so I didn’t have to pay much of the deductible, the premium was affordable, and it all worked out pretty well. Fingers crossed that I stay healthy at least until I’m 65 and eligible for Medicare.
Next year, my income will include a full year of Social Security, making it higher than 2017. So when I enrolled for 2018, I was in for a complete shock. Not only did the premium for the same high-deductible plan increase by about 50%, but I was no longer eligible for any subsidy because my income was too high. So, my premium was going to increase from $275 per month, to $775 per month.
Did you know that if you exceed the maximum income amount, which is around $47,000 per year, by even one penny, you lose all of your subsidy? I had no idea, but I certainly do now. There’s a thing called the Obamacare “cliff” – at a certain income level, you just drop off it and get nothing.
The short version of the story is that I was able to “un-do” my application to start my Social Security in 2017, thereby keeping my income well below the Obamacare threshold. Without the Social Security income, my health insurance premium for 2018 is $12 per month, and my subsidy is about $9,000. And once I re-start Social Security, maybe when I’m 65 and on Medicare, my monthly check will be significantly higher.
It’s the right decision, but it does have a big impact on my financial situation, and on my travel plans. Although it’s relatively inexpensive to live in an RV, I can no longer afford to do the other traveling I’ve been doing. I decided NOT to change my plans to stay in England and Wales for the winter and spring of 2018. There would be a financial cost to cancel because everything is already arranged, and besides, I really feel that if I don’t do it now, I might never do it. So, I’ll be funding it with savings.
But, I have to cut out my planned summer sublet in New York City, and I’m debating about the Panama Canal cruise next September. And these changes are really OK, because of the second game changer.
I’ve mentioned before that my 23-year-old son has moved from Seattle back to his hometown of Newtown, Bucks County, Pennsylvania, and started a career in real estate (see http://www.newtopias.com). It has been quite an amazing transition to witness. After graduation from college, he had a strong pull to experience “somewhere else”, so he went to Seattle, where his sister was living.
Then last summer, after a year of struggling to support himself and make new friends in a new place, he is incredibly happy to be back home. He’s lived in Bucks County since he was two, and that’s where he’s comfortable. He’s an Eagle Scout, and has been active in sports since he was four, so his network is wide and deep. All the people who know him the best are there – except, of course, for his family.
So, I’m going to change that! I think Kyle and I have learned very similar life lessons, even though we’re at very different points in life. We’ve learned how much we appreciate “home” after we’ve been away from it for a while. We realize how incredibly important our relationships are – the friendships which we’ve spent years nurturing. Both of us have realized that we belong in Bucks County.
During my travels across the country, I enjoyed visiting all sorts of different places. I’ve been all over the country, in all four corners, and in between. I’ve seen big cities and small towns, rural and suburban landscapes, dramatic mountains and peaceful farmland. A common theme I felt was that the people who live in each place seem to belong there. They fit. And it made me ask myself “Where do I fit?”. Everywhere I went, I asked myself “Could I live here?”, and I tried it on for size in my mind.
Before Kyle made his decision to move back, I might have answered my questions with “Maybe here. Maybe.” But, I didn’t feel enthusiastic about anyplace. After Kyle’s decision, every time I considered a new place, I asked myself, “Why would I live here, when Kyle is back in Newtown?”. And that’s what stuck.
The combination of the desire to live near at least one of my children, and the desire to be near many of my very dear friends, including a whole community of genealogy friends, made the decision to move back to Bucks County an easy one. It was literally a no-brainer; I just followed my heart. And I’m ready to make it happen as soon as I touch down in Philadelphia on May 20, 2018.
More details to follow as I work them out!