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 🙂SPONSORED LINK:
Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in this blog post may be affiliate links, so, if you click on the link and make a purchase, I will receive a commission. Amazon, the Amazon logo, AmazonSupply, and the AmazonSupply logo are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates. WheelingIt is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
We LOooVE Comments, So Please Do
Nomadic RVers says
Well guys good luck on your decision making as far as health care is concerned. Looking forward to a lithium battery thing and learning more about it.
We will miss you in Arizona this year looking forward to all your adventures in Florida
Take care Dave and Kathy
I went with the indemnity plan (US Health) because its nationwide, less than any ACA plan, and has free telemedicine. I may add the MEC to be ACA compliant this month, then I would be able to get my mammograms, paps, etc. Since I’m 62 will just need it for 3 years until I can get Medicare.
I think the insurance issue is the most difficult problem that RVers face. Really sad.
Makes total sense. As you get older the ACA plans get progressively more expensive, so the $$ gap (compared to other types of plans) gets larger. The MEC addition seems like a good mesh on the indemnity plans.
And yes, really wish it wasn’t so difficult to figure it all out.
Ok, here’s my chance to meet you again! (failed attempt this summer in UP). If you’ll be in Charleston for a bit, how about a Holy City brew one day?
Rob A. says
Sorry to hear about the accident… Body Shop Recommendation: Last year we had extensive work done by Parliament Coach, Clearwater, Fla as we had a terrible event with our topper awnings deploying as we exited a rv park. Their body shop and staff were awesome and we were able to stay on site was we are full timers. They provided a site with septic and 50 amp service during our 2 week stay. They are very busy and you should make an appointment. All the best
Good tip, thanks. We’ll add the shop to our list of potentials.
Rob A. says
You are welcome.. Good luck
Jerry and Judy says
Greetings, sorry to hear that it may have been sabotage! As a former police officer of 24 years, nothing surprises me any more, but many things do sadden me. Hope things go right for you once repairs begin on the rig, sometimes hidden damages surpass anything you ever thought may be there, other times what looks like a huge expense ends up being not so bad, so crossed fingers are always in order.
Right now it looks like the car damage may be more extensive than we originally thought (we’ll probably have to get it re-assessed when it finally gets into a proper body work shop) while *hopefully* the RV damage is minimal. We will see….
Jerry and Judy says
Oh got started and forgot to mention, keep your eye on South Dakota, we have a ton of measures dealing with Obama Care and health care in general on the ballot, things could change in a major way come November 8th depending on how the votes go.
Interesting. I’ll have to go check it out. Thanks for the alert.
Lithium is the topic that we are so looking forward to. The live chat is going to be during the World Series Game 7! Bummer. We’ll look out for the archived video then.
AH! Game 7. Totally slipped our mind. Paul usually keeps me on top of all the baseball stuff, but he hasn’t got a fav team in the World Series this year. Sorry about the overlap.
wayne thomas says
You can always catch the archive from Technomadia on YouTube.
Richard Cross says
Drat, I too am always on the lookout for any Lithium info. My email notice for the Technomadia chat came through at 8:30pm on Nov. 2nd (while I was watching the game, and after the start of the chat anyway). I will watch the archive version, but I really would like to have joined in. In a perfect world I would love to hear about these chats a couple of weeks in advance so I could get all excited looking forward to it. 🙂
I don’t know anything about the hook ups so forgive this, likely stupid question – why aren’t the pins secured by a mechanism that doesn’t allow accidental disconnection? Or, at the end of the day, why wouldn’t you just use a padlock to secure that pin in place? I am sure there are plenty of malicious people out there but I can also see that pin working itself loose over a bumpy road.
Anyway, keep on keeping on, and here’s wishing you’ve now paid your mishap dues to the mishap deity and they will let you all continue in peace in the future.
Padlocks are a definite alternative and what we’ll probably do in our new set-up. Honestly we’d just never contemplated the idea that someone would pull tow pins as a prank. Really never imagined that would happen. And in 7 years of towing we’d never seen those pins as much as budge on the road. So, lesson learned.
Ray F says
So sorry to hear about your accident. Sounds as though no one was hurt so that is a good thing. I tow as well and have and older tow rig. It really gives me the creeps at times, so I pay a lot of attention to it. It’s an 8 year old road master explorer rig and does quite well. I do have locks on all of my pin locations. never would have thought someone would be evil enough to pull yours. Crazy world we live in.
Glad you are safe.
thanks for the update on you Health care as well. My wife and I are retiring next year and plan to go full timing in the fall. I’ll be 62 and she is a few years younger (she never really tells me how much :)) so your insights to what’s available are very helpful Only time will tell what our upcoming president (both of which scare the hell out of me) will do with the Affordable healthcare program.
Best wishes and thanks for the updates,
Ray and Leslie
It’s so hard to make a good choice on Health Care since things seem to change every year. Plans drop off the exchange, companies pull out. We were about to switch domicile to Texas 2 years ago, but then BCBS (who had offered excellent plans there for years beforehand) pulled their nationwide plans from the exchange. Now, you can only buy HMO-type plans there. Florida still seems to have a good plan for now, but there’s no guarantee that’ll be the case in the future. It really makes it hard. I honestly just wish things would stay steady for a while so we didn’t have to do all the research and make a new decision every year.
I left a comment on your “accident post” but thought it might be worth it to mention that I have been the victim of vandalism, as well. I was fortunate that no one, including myself nor my vehicles were damaged. I did have to wait for the shipment of a new bar. The more I think back to the day, the surer I am that someone purposely removed the pin and took the bar–so is the hitch company. They said what happened just couldn’t have happened any other way. Just another reminder for everyone to be cautious–so many more RVs on the road and an opportunity for the crazies. It should be a felony if any of them are ever caught as it could cost lives. Glad you are ok.
I’m SO glad you did not sustain damage, and yet so sad that your tow hitch was vandalized like that. I can’t believe how many people have reported that this has happened to them. My eyes are wide open now.
Thanks for sharing your plight with us! We just started full-timing a few weeks ago, and we have relied heavily on the info you share on your blog – so very much appreciated! I love your blog for your heartfelt sincerity with both your good and bad experiences. And for your photography…your pictures could almost stand alone, but I much prefer your insight along with them :). I had to say this to you, because I caught the tail end of the livestream you just did with Technomadia , and I felt for your discussion of the blogging vs videos. I think there are many of us who follow your blog…I have for a couple of years…but rarely comment. I follow several blogs, and although I contemplate the posts and carry them with me, I do not often comment. Not sure why, but I can see now that the feedback is important, so I will try to be a better participant going forward! Sorry for the long post (as dreaded per the livestream!), but I wanted to assure you and Technomadia that the blogs are very much loved!
Most kind of you to say, and most appreciated 🙂
Richard Wilkes says
First sorry for you tow incident. Always something to discover and learn. We all learn from your experiences and I’m sure it helps all viewers a lot.
I too am headlong into the insurance changeover. I will be ending cobra in Jan and my wife is retiring March 1 and we hit the road 10 days later! I won’t dwell on how bad the insurance situation has become particularly for those who want nationwide coverage and to be flexible and mobile. I am leaning heavily on those experienced and then doing my own research. Greg and Keith have been quite responsive at rverinsurance.com!
The main point of contention for me is the labeling of PPO and PPO/EPO plans and what real underlying network it is allowed to use. Even the fine print does not always provide great clarity!
To that end you mentioned “FL is the Only “RV-Friendly” State Left With A Nationwide ACA plan”. We are currently Washington State residents and would not object to changing Domicile to Florida but for the starting point would like to not change unless necessary. What I have found out so far with Greg/Keith, Several calls to BlueCross companies and reps in Florida and Washington is that Washington does appear to also have a BlueCard, PPO, availability for 2017. Several Plans are available that though have some vagueness do not point to anything else. They appear to be both on and off the exchange and available for Tax Credits. So until I hear differently I would put Washington in the RV friendly category for insurance.
As an aside, I am not sure why Washington is so often bypassed as a state worthy of consideration for Domicile. With no income tax and decent insurance rates (below Florida blue) there may be some offsets to property and vehicle registration costs.
I have sent the above information today in several emails to Greg (WA) and Keith (Fl) and Greg responded tonight with ‘I fired off an email to a Regence rep., wanting to make certain the Blue Card is available on all Regence plans, on or off the Exchange. Stay tuned…’ Apparently the information I gave him on PPO access and national/international coverage through BlueCare he wants to confirm up the food chain.
An example 4000 plan for Washington and a data sheet for it is: ‘http://exchange.ehealthinsurance.com/ehealthinsurance/benefits/qhp/WA/SBC-WARegence_Blue_Shield-SBC_Combined_Silver_Connect_4000_The_Everett_Clinic-10.2016.pdf’ and if you look at that you can go to the link on it for the actual policy data. Still not complete but clearly PPO and mentions international availability and BlueCard access. There are several like this including a 2500 HDHP that are HCA and Tax Credit available. ‘http://regence.com/policy/2017/WAEX/SilverHDHP2500TECW’
This should not be as difficult as it is, but it is and here we are until it’s changed. The insurance carriers are not making it crystal clear either with glossy marketing on one side and ‘fuzzy contracts’ on the other.
Let’s figure this out all together and challenge our experts to detail actual products. Then buy from them!
Without getting political I ran my own spreadsheet of income (MAGI) (modified agi) and Tax Credits. From $70,000 where there is no tax credit to $30,000 the minimum before Medicaid, Apple Care (wa) and others kicks in is between 20 and 28% of income. That’s the old mortgage rule if you recall and that is before the 2500 to 5000 deductible! If you are in the middle income bracket and most of us RV people probably are, then this has become close to or the single largest living cost. For those of you interested, look at the Modified AGI information that can dramatically reduce your ‘income’ for the insurance tax credit. Two big ones are funding an HCA at 6700 per couple plus 1000 per adult over 55 and IRA investment/deductions. ‘http://obamacarefacts.com/insurance-exchange/calculating-tax-credits’
WA is actually a great option for RVers, for all the reasons you mention except for one point. In order to establish legal domicile in WA you have to have a true street address. A mail forwarder, such as the one many full-time RVers use in the “RV friendly” states of FL, TX and SD, will not work. So that means you either need to rent a place or buy physical property. We’ve looked at WA ourselves many times because we travel there often, but the street address issue has always been a block for us. If we ever manage to buy property there, you bet we’ll move our domicile there. Their health plans are good and we love everything else about the state too.
I haven’t looked at WA recently but I don’t believe domicile requirements have loosened? If you find out differently I would love to know.
Richard Wilkes says
Thank you Nina!
I will also follow up with any updated information confirming PPO status of the policies and usability throughout the USA and even abroad once I get some more clarification. Greg/Keith from rverinsurance.com have been very responsive and willing to get to the bottom of what we need through these muddy waters. Kudos to them again.
The Wa domecile address is what we are confirming ourselves once we lose our current ‘physical’ address. What I can share is the legal description posted by the Wa Dept of revenue. ‘http://dor.wa.gov/content/contactus/con_residdef.aspx’ exerpts below:
My interpretation and focus:
-once you have established residency from ANY of the criteria below you are presumed a resident until otherwise proven. Focus on ANY.
-Lives in a motor home or vessel which is not permanently attached to any property if the person previously lived in this state and does not have a permanent residence in any other state.
– This one is particularly of note since we have, drivers licence, had an address, are registered to vote etc.
– I think all we need is a physical address for insurance purposes to geo-locate the policy by county. But the devil is in the details of how we do that. We used to have a lot at a camping club here that provided a mailbox.
-That also might be a way to maintain that ability. But then again the sands could shift again next year for insurance by county!
Washington State residency definition
Persons are considered residents of this state for sales and use tax purposes if they take actions which
indicate that they intend to live in this state on more than a temporary or transient basis. A person may be considered a resident of this state even though the person is a resident of another state.
The Department of Revenue presumes that a person is a resident of this state if he or she does any of the following:
Maintains a residence in Washington for personal use;
Lives in a motor home or vessel which is not permanently attached to any property if the person previously lived in this state and does not have a permanent residence in any other state;
Is registered to vote in this state;
Receives benefits under one of Washington’s public assistance programs;
Has a state professional or business license in this state;
Is attending school in this state and paying tuition as a Washington resident or is a custodial parent with a child attending a public school in this state;
Uses a Washington address for federal or state taxes;
Has a Washington State driver’s license; or
Claims Washington as a residence for obtaining a hunting or fishing license, eligibility to hold public office or for judicial actions.
Persons may rebut the presumption of residency if they provide other facts which show that they do not intend to reside in this state on either a temporary or permanent basis. A Washington resident who intends to move at a future date, however, will be considered a Washington resident.
Yeah, those are the very same residency rules we ran into when we first looked at this. Since we’ve never previously been residents of WA, establishing that tie once we are already fulltime living in the RV is tricky. And in order to register to vote, have a drivers license etc. we’d need to get a physical address. Haven’t found a solid way to address this one in WA for fulltime RVers, at least not yet. Let me know if you’re successsful.
Kim & Don Greene - Harvest Hosts says
Hi Nina & Paul,
Thanks so much for all of your hard work researching the ACA, it is greatly appreciated by many!