Medical Insurance, Net Income or Manually tracked?
My wife and I have just started our YNAB journey and are looking forward to gaining control of our spending. We have a question about how to track the cost of medical insurance.
It seems like it should be in our budget since it's a voluntary expense, but it's not in the net that's automatically deposited in our account and recorded by YNAB.
While I agree with the answers given -- budgeting your net income is much easier -- I do think this is illustrative of how broken healthcare is in the United States.
Even highly budget-conscious individuals (i.e. people on a YNAB forum) generally don't bother to track their personal healthcare costs very closely and don't have a good grasp of the overall cost. They're usually aware of usage-based out-of-pocket expenses (copays, deductibles, co-insurance), but the monthly premiums and the portion paid by their employer is very out-of-sight / out-of-mind.
I know that's sometimes used as an argument in support of HDHP + HSA plans -- forcing the consumer to absorb more usage-based costs and take a more proactive role in budgeting for those costs. But in my experience those plans disproportionately benefit the affluent. I happily abuse my HSA for its tax advantages and can afford to cover my medical expenses out of pocket. Meanwhile, those living on the edge often don't have the resources, knowledge, or discipline adequately save for their medical expenses and will often just forgo needed medical care because they can't afford it.
Sorry for the political rant. My employer is in the middle of a very contentious benefit enrollment period right now, where the employee share of healthcare costs are going way up, and it's depressing to watch all the panic and confusion unfold, and this budgeting question touched a nerve :)
Oh, and include a comment cell to record information about communication: with whom I spoke or whether I left a message, what was discussed, additional hoops I have to jump through (e.g., send them some form), etc.
Very necessary! QMEM has an ability to timestamp every note in the memo box which I do. Some of my notes include excessive amounts of profanity. It would probably be pretty amusing to a 3rd party reader, but I never remember what I think I'm going to, and dumping it all in that little box after I get off the phone is valuable in a multitude of ways ;-).