[Baypiggies] Career Advice

Roderick Llewellyn roderick at sanfransystems.com
Wed Feb 16 19:46:53 CET 2011


I just wanted to put my two cents in one Steve Piercy's advice. I agree 
with a lot of what he says. But when he says "I set aside my fears of 
not having  medical benefits", I have some cautions there based on my 
experience. I too gave up on them when I went to doing all contract 
work. I acquired individual insurance. As long as you can get that, get 
it right now. The problem is that when you reach about 50 years old (I 
know that for some of you that seems basically infinitely far away.... 
let me assure you that it is not, and this advice is meant for you!), 
you become extremely undesirable customers for insurance companies. You 
will get endless offers from car, fire, and life insurance firms, but 
you won't hear word 1 from medical insurance companies. They will use 
any possible excuse to deny you coverage. Again, if you are a 20 
something or even in your 30s, this seems totally irrelevant: insurance 
is cheap, you never get sick, you really would rather have a fast car, 
and hey, you're immortal, right?

Now what happened to me was I took a full time job with good medical 
coverage, and my own insurance was getting expensive, so I dropped my 
individual coverage. Within a year I tired of the full time job and 
quit. Lo and behold, since I no longer had individual coverage, no firm 
was obligated to cover me (thank you Republicans!). So they all turned 
me down. In America, you have no right whatsoever to medical insurance. 
That's what we call "capitalism". What it means is that if you have a 
major disaster, you will be essentially bankrupted. Everything you have 
made in your entire life will be dissolved to pay for that liver 
transplant or whatever.

As long as you have an existing individual plan, very easy to obtain 
when you are young and healthy (but not, unfortunately, immortal), and 
you keep paying your premiums, your insurer will keep you on and cannot 
kick you out. You want to do this until you are eligible for Medicare. 
Again, I know this seems so far away as to be practically unimaginable 
to many of you, but consider that all the retirement plans, 401Ks, stock 
equity you're drooling over, that house you picked up cheap during our 
bust, etc.... all could be lost because of one disease. Even that fast 
car! So it's pointless to plan for all of those things and not focus on 
this insurance issue.

This is the true tyranny of the American system. If you are a full-time 
employee, you get free or nearly free medical coverage. But if you leave 
employment, you only get Cobra (which by the way if you are gay, it does 
NOT cover your partner, because it's a Federal program and as you 
probably know, the Feds only recognize the existence of gay people in 
one context: you can't serve in the Army), which lasts 18 months (plus 
18 more covered by California). Once that time expires, you are on your 
own. And if you are now 50, forget about getting medical insurance. This 
in turn will force you to take full time work to get coverage. But guess 
what: hi-tech firms want to hire 50 year olds about as much as medical 
insurance companies want to cover them!

So my advice is to think very carefully about this issue. Don't just 
assume that "if I need it I can get it". That's like saying "I won't buy 
fire insurance until my house burns down." Surely you don't think the 
insurance companies are that stupid, do you?

Good luck,

Rod Llewellyn

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