[Baypiggies] Career Advice
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?
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