Jason Tank


I’m in the mood for a little math. Perhaps memories of college are flooding into my mind as I watch two of my kids gear up for this semester’s finals. Once a math major, always a math major, I suppose!

Let’s start with the electric-vehicle maker, Rivian Automotive. Regarding Rivian, here are three numbers to ponder. One hundred eighty. One billion. One hundred billion.

One hundred eighty is the number of vehicles Rivian Automotive produced through October of this year. In comparison, General Motors sold 4.7 million vehicles in the first nine months of 2021. Ford sold 2.8 million vehicles during that same period.

One billion dollars is the loss posted by Rivian in the first half of this year. Through September, General Motors logged a profit of $8.1 billion and Ford earned $5.6 billion.

One hundred billion is the current market value of Rivian, following its initial public offering this past month. In comparison, General Motors’ market value is only around $90 billion and Ford’s is near $80 billion.

To be fair, Rivian Automotive is just a start-up. And, clearly, investors are hoping it turns into the next Tesla, with its wildly overvalued stock worth more than $1 trillion. But, remember, we’re talking about a company that’s made only 180 vehicles and already has a $100 billion market value? It’s good to do some math.

Shifting gears, here is another number to contemplate. Eight and a half percent.

We are now in the open enrollment period for buying health insurance coverage through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplace. Just like this year, the formula for calculating health insurance premium subsidies is more generous than in years past.

Prior to 2021, you didn’t get any premium support or subsidy under the ACA if you made more than four times the official poverty line. For example, as a family of four, you’d lose all premium subsidies if your household income exceeded about $106,000, even if only by one single dollar.

At that level of income, it implied that a family of four could really afford a health insurance plan that currently costs about $20,000 per year and sports a $5,000 deductible to boot. Good luck with that, of course. In a demonstration of bad policy, if this family’s income came in just one dollar under the qualifying income threshold, they were provided a hefty premium subsidy of about $10,000. The program was designed with a truly steep “income cliff.”

For 2022, as it was in 2021, this income cliff will once again be waived. As a result, there are no income thresholds to consider with regard to receiving health insurance premium subsidies through the ACA marketplace. And, just like last year, the official “affordable” amount for health insurance is now set at a maximum of 8.5% of your family income. For lower income families, the maximum affordable premium is even less.

For a family of four, this 8.5% figure caps their health insurance premium at about $750 per month, instead of having them pay the full $1,500 monthly cost for the ACA Marketplace’s “benchmark” silver health plan. And, with their subsidy in hand, if they chose to buy a bronze plan, they could likely cut their monthly premium nearly in half again. With this premium savings, they could then contribute to a health savings account (HSA) for later use and additional tax benefits.

All around, it seems like a good idea to do some math as you head into 2022. I’m just glad I don’t have finals to stress over in the next few weeks. I promise I’ll try really hard not to gloat to my kids!

Jason P. Tank, CFA, CFP® is both the owner of Front Street Wealth Management, a purely fee-only advisory firm and the founder of the Money Series, a non-profit program committed to providing open-access to financial education, for all. Contact him at (231) 947-3775, by email at Jason@FrontStreet.com and at www.FrontStreet.com.

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