[Baypiggies] Career Advice

Tung Wai Yip tungwaiyip at yahoo.com
Wed Feb 16 20:39:55 CET 2011

Good point about medical insurance. I wonder if the upcoming health care reform 
will change that. Medical insurance is one issue that dissuade me from free 
lancing or working for early stage or unfunded startup, which may have minimal 
or no medical coverage. The employment based health care insurance is tying 
people to large companies and is not helpful in this new economy.

Wai Yip

----- Original Message ----
From: Roderick Llewellyn <roderick at sanfransystems.com>
To: baypiggies at python.org
Sent: Wed, February 16, 2011 10:46:53 AM
Subject: [Baypiggies] Career Advice


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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