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Howdy folks! Long time, no see. I’m not planning on getting back into blogging on a regular basis, but this story was interesting, financially speaking, and I thought I’d pass it along.
I started a new job in late November. The health insurance for my old job ran through the end of November and the health insurance for my new job didn’t kick in until January 1, leaving me without coverage in December unless I wanted to do COBRA. I did not want to do COBRA since I would have had to pay the full cost for the month–that is, not just the employee part but the employer part as well, or about $1,600 for one month of coverage. My genius plan for December: “Okay kids: none of you are allowed to get sick this month, is that clear?”
You scoff, gentle readers, but this plan came so close to working. For four weeks, our household was as healthy as it’s ever been.
Then came December 28. Right after midnight, our oldest son came to our bedroom complaining of a stomach ache, then barfed. He threw up a few more times that night and the next morning. His appetite had disappeared as well (very unusual for this one), so we took him to the doctor in the afternoon. The doctor’s verdict: “It’s probably nothing, but there’s a small chance it could be appendicitis, so keep an eye on it. Here’s some medicine to suppress the vomiting.”
We kept an eye on it and it got worse. Finally at about 9:00 that night we went to the emergency room. At 11:00, after some tests and an x-ray, the doctor informed us that our son has appendicitis and we need to get that thing out now before it ruptures. Surgery began around 2:30 am and finished up around 3:30 am. Success! I’m pleased to report it went smoothly and there were no complications. They put him in a recovery room and we chatted with the doctor, and my wife stayed with our son while I went home around 5:00 to sleep for a few hours. He was discharged at 11 am that very morning and was more or less back to normal two days later.
It was quite a 12 hours for the family.
A few weeks later came the bills. I’m used to insurance-adjusted bills, so I was curious how high they’d go. The final tally:
$25K, give or take! The reason I could approach the bill-paying part of this with curiosity rather than dread was because COBRA insurance is retroactive–you don’t have to sign up for it immediately in order to get it. I’m going to quote the interwebs here, but please don’t take anything I pass along here as gospel and please do your own research if and when you need to make a COBRA decision:
COBRA beneficiaries have 60 days to decide whether they want COBRA coverage. If you enroll in COBRA before the 60 days are up, your coverage is then retroactive, as long as you pay the retroactive premiums. This means that if you incur medical bills during your “election period,” you can retroactively — and legally — elect COBRA and have those bills covered.
Pretty cool, huh? It’s a heads-I-win, tails-you-lose proposition, with “you” being your prior health insurance provider. That’s why I didn’t bother signing up for coverage initially. We only had a one month gap to cover, so going without coverage was risk-free in our case, aside from the risk of forgetting to enroll within sixty days. If we made it through the month without anybody having serious medical bills, great. If we didn’t, no problem–just enroll retroactively.
It actually gets even better because of our particular case. The way it works (this is what they told me, anyway) is that you continue your exact same health care plan right where you left off through the end of the year. Since we have four kids, two of whom have enough allergy issues that we usually hit our deductible for the year, we were at that magical point where incremental health care costs are mostly absorbed by the insurer. Here’s what we actually paid (after coughing up that $1,600, of course):
I don’t know why the big hospital bill went to zero. They never sent me a bill after I submitted my insurance information, so I logged in and it said we have no balance. I’m not sure what to think about that.
My takeaways from all this:
Five years ago I started blogging so that I could share awesome deals with friends and family. Let me be clear: my intentions in creating this blog were 100% noble and altruistic. Filthy lucre was the farthest thing from my mind.
As it turns out, I am really good at the business of blogging. I convinced Matt to pay me thousands of dollars per month to host my high-value content on Saverocity, freeing myself from the mundane details of web hosting. I used my SEO skills to make this site the 78th most popular search result for “Hawaiian Airlines® World Elite MasterCard®”. I was among the first to prove that credit cards are, in fact, accepted in the Maldives. I pioneered the blending of cat videos and reward card tutorials. And I have been plagiarized by some of the biggest names in points & miles blogging.
Yet running the world’s most amazing blog has turned out to be a bigger job than even an internet genius like me could have predicted. Frankly, it was cutting into my jet-setting time, as it grew harder and harder to find even an hour a week in which to cavort. The solution: partner with folks who had the technical and administrative resources to take Personal Finance Digest to the next level.
So I am thrilled to announce that PFD is now part of the Bankrate family, owner of creditcards.com! And also the JP Morgan Chase family, owner of chase.com and a portfolio of amazing credit cards! Going forward, the blog will be operated as a joint venture majority-controlled by those two entities, with the remainder held by a number of sovereign wealth funds, primarily Temasek Holdings and Abu Dhabi Investment Authority.
A crucial part of my decision was the ability to keep my complete independence in publishing content. I made it absolutely clear that I’ll write about whatever I want, as I always have! Fortunately for all parties involved, what I really what to write about is great products such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred® card. Did you know that right now you can get 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening? That’s $625 toward travel when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards®! And there’s no extra charge for exciting perks like price protection! Wow!
The folks at Bankrate support the PFD philosophy of writing about credit cards which don’t pay me a commission, and which don’t pay them a commission either, but which readers should know about! And for some reason the folks at Chase also support my philosophy of, in theory at least, writing about credit cards which aren’t issued by Chase. Again, it is fortunate for everybody involved that I like writing about Chase products so much, and you like hearing about them so much! Bottom line: the big winner in this exciting new arrangement is not me, it’s not Chase, it’s not Bankrate, and it’s not the foreign dignitaries like his highness Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nayhan who control the wealth funds. No, the real winner here is you, the reader.
Unlike most acquirers, Bankrate and Chase have been terrific! They have left me alone to manage the blog and I have no revenue, profitability, or growth numbers to hit. In fact, they both told me I could shut down the blog tomorrow and they wouldn’t care. They have lots of extra money and just want to spread the wealth around, so if this venture doesn’t work out, no big deal. In fact, they’re in this business for the same reason I am: pure, selfless altruism. They just want to give something back and have wisely chosen me as their vessel. This was very important to me when I decided on a partner.
During the transition this year, you may have noticed that nothing has changed on Personal Finance Digest, mostly because I haven’t posted in a while. And I don’t intend to change anything in the future, other than publishing more posts about the Chase Sapphire Reserve®! $750 in free travel and elite travel benefits make this one a no-brainer! I think you’ll find that I’ll remain the same down-to-earth guy you’ve always known, a blogging everyman who tries to squeeze his 7’5″ frame into Emirates business class just like the next guy.
Not content with merely reviewing the Chase Sapphire Preferred card or writing Harry Potter novels, hard-working AI assistant Botnik asked if he could visit the Maldives. But of course! Here’s Botnik’s report of this amazing destination!
When you arrive in Malé, the capital city of the Maldives, you are invariably blown away by the natural beauty and are mostly going to rate the experience as five stars of the best airlines. The wettest months are September and October 2016. Maldivian currency is the Maldivian Rufiyaa. Shopping on Malé is a major benefit, unless you like the Citi Prestige card.
The best way to get to the Maldives is a spectacular journey. We booked this trip using miles and points with partners of each program. Unfortunately only the ones on the island of Hulhumale have the option of a domestic flight. All we had to pay for the taxes is $298. Airlines fly to Malé whereas some additional mileage rates will jump up and drop you. After four days with only 50 villas, we flew Etihad Airways from Colombo to Malé. Snorkeling and some iced tea / snacks & fees on these routes are generally pretty reasonable, but Delta Skymiles were destroyed by the locals.
NOTE: If you’re being chased by residents for a special night, we will assume you are trying to get to the airport. Male International Airport is only available for resorts that offer speedboat transfers.
The Maldives is known for its luxury resorts that are yet to open; we stayed at the Park Hyatt Maldives Rangali Island. There are some aesthetic issues that are of concern whereas some find that having the “center” on Vilimale makes sharing difficult. Room service costs were identical to the domestic lounge, which was comfortable enough. Our room rate for a three day stopover was ~$13,500 per person but we paid ~$2,100.
The rooms are quite small, and the bedroom suite is a major issue. There is a two tank dive every morning at the Park Hyatt Maldives, with the largest snorkeling and diving within the Maldives. Food service costs were expensive in the hotel as they had the best we’ve ever had! We normally would have redeemed miles, but the Maldives tops them all.
We walked to our gate and looked through the massive variety of resorts. As resorts often have access from our villa, we entered the beach on our first visit. Beaches with large white sand and drinks were 15 percent off! There are some drawbacks to the resorts that offer reasonably priced snorkeling. Fishing between the airport and the resort will either be the best bet or the most colourful and interesting coral. Finally, it’s important to check out some reviews of the fascinations.
You’re not necessarily going to feel like January at 27° C, but the Maldives is a valuable journey. The first scenery of the islands is unparalleled and more popular amongst tourists. When people ask me to describe Malé, I decided to include the best and most convenient options. Have a nice beach!