A Few Updates/Announcements -> Our Accident, Health Insurance & Lithium Video Chat
I’m still not in the right head space to write about our trip last week to the Outer Banks so I figured I’d just give folks a few updates & announcements today. I’ve got more than I thought 🙂
Our Tow Accident – > Further Thoughts & Conclusions
My post on our tow accident generated an enormous amount of comments. THANK YOU to everyone who chimed in. The comments opened up several new lines of thought and also highlighted several useful tips for our time going forward. We may never know exactly what caused our accident, but several things are now clear:
1/ R-pins/hitch pins DO fail – The type of simple cotter/R-pin/hitch pin that we were using does fail. Several experienced commenters posted about this, and there’s no doubt that upgrading those pins to heftier locking/linch pins is an easy safety upgrade that anyone can do. Even better, if you’re worried about #2 (below) is to switch your pins to padlocks or lockable pins. This means you won’t be able to easily unhitch in an emergency (say, a fire), but it does prevent malicious tampering. Several good brands of padlocks were mentioned by commenters in the last post PLUS the tow accessory kits (like this one for Blue Ox, or this one for Roadmaster) now come standard with lockable cross-pins or padlocks. You’ll have to decide what makes most sense for you.
2/ Malicious tampering is WAY more common than I ever imagined – SO many people commented on this, SO many. I really had no idea it was such a known problem, but thinking back on our trip that day we’ve become more and more convinced this may well have happened to us. We are both really sure the pins were in when we started (our 4x check is pretty thorough), but we were stopped on a ferry for 2 hours giving someone ample time to pull the pins, if that was their intent. At least one pin was gone when we had the accident, and it’s possible the other one was too (we were too freaked at the time to remember if it was still there but we haven’t been able to find it since). If BOTH pins were really missing then tampering is the most probable cause. A re-check of all our connections after our stop would have caught this, and this is a procedure we are implementing from now on.
3/ Insert The Cotter/R-Pin Pin On The Outside For More Safety – Two posters (Luke & Wes) with the same Blue Ox connections as us gave the following fabulous tip which came directly from the manufacturer. Their testing showed that if the cotter pin was missing, the big cross-pins tend to work their way outwards rather than inwards. So, a super easy switch is simply to install them the other way around. Insert the cross pins from the inside of the arm and put the cotter pins on the outside. THANKS for this easy tip, guys.
As for how our various vehicles are doing? I took the car to a collision place here in Charleston and looks like the repairs are going to be more extensive than we originally thought, requiring ~3 weeks to complete. We have not yet had anyone out to assess the RV, so we have real idea of the damage there, but I imagine it might take a similar time-frame. Since we have to make it down to FL for Christmas we’ve decided to delay our bodywork repairs until we’re settled there and have more time to complete them. Several commenters gave us helpful recommendations there, so we’re going to check some of them out. All in all I expect it’ll be a few months before we’re back to normal and able to tow again. C’est la vie.
The Health Insurance Exchange Is OPEN For Enrollment
For all you pre-Medicare folks out there, the 2017 health insurance plans are now open for enrollment and you will need to make your new choice by Dec 15th on order to secure coverage for next year. RVerInsurance has written a very detailed article about the best choices available for RVers, and I honestly don’t think there is much more I can add to their analysis, so I really encourage everyone to go there first.
DISCLAIMER/ I am NOT a qualified insurance agent so what follows is simply my personal layman’s opinion of what I’ve read. Please seek out a qualified agent before making your choice.
I will sum up a couple of items, taken directly from their article:
1/ ACA Plans In SD, TX Are Limited – If you’re buying plans on the ACA exchange there are very limited choices out there. For SD & TX there are literally NO nationwide plans on the ACA exchange. What this means is that you’ll be covered for “emergency care” anywhere you go (that’s part of ACA law), but if you are looking for regular care (or post-emergency care) you won’t find any in-network facilities out of state. In SD there is still the option of buying a Silver Plan (specifically, the Avera 4000 Plan with HSA) which will cover 60% of out-of-network costs, so at least you get *some* coverage out of state. In TX I don’t know if that same option exists for 2017.
2/ FL is the Only “RV-Friendly” State Left With A Nationwide ACA plan – Florida blue is still offering the same EPO BlueSelect/BlueOption plans on the exchange as last year. Although not “technically” PPO they allow you to use the extended nationwide BCBS network (= Blue Card) outside of Florida, effectively giving you nationwide coverage. If you have access to this, I think it’s one of the best options out there IMHO.
3/ Health Sharing Ministries May be a Viable Alternative for Some – I have to admit health sharing ministries are looking more and more attractive, but they do come with some definite caveats. The main thing to understand about ministries is that they are NOT insurance. They are faith-based health cost sharing plans that rely on members sharing each others costs for unexpected expenses. There is NO “guarantee to pay” (all the plans make this abundantly clear), but there are fairly tight guidelines for what is typically covered. If you are comfortable with that premise and whatever religious requirements might be involved (plans differ a lot here), plus you don’t have any pre-existing conditions (most ministries exclude them) they can potentially save you $$ over regular ACA plans, especially if you don’t qualify for a subsidy. Plus they are exempt from the ACA Penalty. You can read more about them on the RVerInsurance website.
4/ Indemnity Plans Are Another Alternative – This is a new offering by RVerInsurance and may make sense for those of you who can’t get a decent nationwide plan any other way, and don’t have any pre-existing conditions. Basically indemnity plans just pay you a fixed amount for whatever medical visit or procedure you undergo. Medical costs vary SO much cross-country that I’m not really keen on a “fixed pay” concept, but if you’re interested you can read more about it on the RVerInsurance website.
5/ Off-Exchange Is Always An Option – If you make enough income that you don’t qualify for a subsidy (more than $47,520 as a single or $64,080 as a couple) then you might as well look at plans off the ACA exchange. There’s generally a wider range of choices here and you may find more nationwide options available. I haven’t looked at these in detail so can’t comment more.
What Are WE Going To Do?
Gah, it’s never an easy decision. If we decide to keep our domicile in SD we’ll probably go with a Silver Avera Plan like we did this year (In 2016 it was called “Avera MyPlan 3500” plan. In 2017 the replacement is the “Avera 4000” Plan). It’s really sub-optimal since it has zero network outside of SD and no out-of-pocket maximums, but it does cover us in an emergency and it does cover *some* of the out-of-network care through copay. I’m still not (personally) comfortable with the idea of a health-sharing ministry. I’m also not overly keen on a fixed indemnity plan, and my initial look at pricing doesn’t seem like it would save us much compared to our current ACA plan anyway. So, the Avera Silver Plan is really our “best” option at this time.
A totally alternative idea is that we DO have the option to switch our domicile to Florida when we stay there this winter. It would cost us some $$ to switch, and there’s no guarantee that the FL Blue Plan which is on the exchange for 2017 will also be there in 2018, but it would give us a decent nationwide healthcare option for at least one year. If we decide to move we have some extra time. Moving states counts as a “qualifying life event“, which means you are not limited to Open Enrollment and can apply anytime. So, for now we may just roll our Avera Silver plan and make the decision on moving later.
Related Posts & Links:
- Health Insurance Time -> Less PPO’s, Harder Choices for Pre-Medicare Fulltime RVers -> My post from last year around this same time. Click HERE
- Health Insurance & SD Domicile -> Are There Any Options Left For Younger Fulltime RVers?? -> My post from 2 years ago around this same time. Click HERE
- The ACA And It’s Impact On Fulltime RV Health Insurance -> My original ACA post. Click HERE.
- Self-Medical Care -> My 3-part series on self-care. Click for Part I, Part II and Part III.
Lithium Video Chat With Technomadia Nov 2nd (TOMORROW!!)
We’re currently parked next to our good buddies Technomadia and they’ve graciously invited us to gate-crash their next live video chat on Lithium Batteries. Whooo hooooo! As one of the very early original adopters of Lithium in RVs (way back in 2011) we followed their installation and system progress avidly for years before we decided to basically copy them and install ours. So if you join the chat you’ll not only get to hear the experts, but you’ll also get to see our mugs adding our few updates to the mix.
WHEN? Wednesday, November 2 (TOMORROW!) 8 pm EDT / 5 pm PDT
WHERE? On the Livestream Channel (you need to sign-up for a free account to access, but that’s all)
WHAT WILL BE COVERED?
- Overview of lithium batteries for RVs (pros over lead acid, costs)
- Recap of our respective Lithium setups
- Five year update from Chris & Cherie on how their setup has been holding up, and the lifestyle benefits they love.
- Q&A Session with ALL of us
Related Posts & Links:
- The Big “Beastly” Solar/Battery Upgrade Part I – Why?
- The Big “Beastly” Solar/Battery Upgrade Part II – Component Details
- The “Big Beastly” Solar/Battery Upgrade Part III – Installation
- The Big “Beastly” Solar/Battery Upgrade Part IV – Summary
- Technomadia Lithium Battery Posts -> Click HERE
That’s it for updates. I promise my head will be back to more normal blogging soon 🙂