Wednesday, February 17, 2010

I Am Nothing Without Benefits.

Everyone knows that we are currently faced with the highest rate of unemployment many of us have ever seen. Lucky for me, I live in the state with the 2nd highest unemployment rate in the nation. Nevada is currently at 13.5%. Seems to me that the Silver State is looking a little like aluminum foil lately. Nevada is a state that survives on tourism. There is nothing else here. No tourists means no business. Therefore, the Silver State is certainly feeling the impact of the economy.

So are its citizens.

It seems the ones who have to suffer for lack of budgeting and being fiscally irresponsible are the employees. Ah…such is life. Right? You know the old adage..the rich stay rich...

While the idea of staying home & collecting unemployment may sound delightful for some, it doesn’t for me. Don’t get me wrong, I would love to stay home & get paid! That’d be awesome! While unemployment doesn’t pay much, it does pay. Who wouldn’t like watching Oprah & collecting $200? Oh…wait…not stupid Oprah. I would watch soaps or game shows instead. Or I could write my book. Or be a stay at home mom.

Anyway, the down side is that unemployment is a ‘job’ that doesn’t come with benefits. Benefits are what sustain me. Literally.

I am 95% sure I am getting laid off within the next few months. What scares me more than foreclosure, bankruptcy or mental breakdowns is not having health care. When my office started talking about possible layoffs, I spoke up and said ‘Lower my salary, charge me for benefits, take my vacation, sick days, holiday pay, take what you need to take. Just please do not lay me off. I need health benefits. What means money to you, means life or death to me.’

No one understood. Most healthy people don't understand. More's the pity.

Now I am faced with my worst fear. Being a Type 1 Diabetic without health insurance. What do I do? How do I survive? I have no idea. I have always, always had to obtain jobs with full benefit packages. I didn’t have the luxury of working someplace fun, working part time or going into business for myself. I didn’t have the luxury of taking any job I wanted simply because I wanted. The very first thing I look for when job hunting is ‘full benefit package’. The pay doesn’t even take top standing in my world.

Now, for the first time in my life, I am faced with the fear of not having benefits.

When I try to ask people for some direction, I hear ‘Well, you can get Cobra.’ From what I hear, Cobra is super expensive and will eat up my unemployment check. While it’s wonderful that I can get my pump supplies for less than $3,000 a month, I still have to pay something for them. Just because you have health benefits doesn’t mean you get your medical supplies for free. So, if Cobra takes all of my money, I’ll have nothing left to spend on the medication I’m entitled to buy at a lower rate. Umm…thanks, Cobra? What? It’s absurd. It’s a nonsensical process. What is meant to help me will ultimately hurt me in the end. So….how do I win?

How do people with medical conditions survive when they don’t have benefits?

I work 4 -10 hour shifts, I make decent money, my benefit package is paid for, and I have been outrageously spoiled at a job I do not enjoy. But, I stay because of these things. I stay because of the benefits. I stay because I have a chronic disease that, without health insurance, may not be as well controlled. Not to be dramatic but if I can’t afford insulin, I will eventually slip into a Diabetic coma and I die. That’s the long & short of it. Death.

The way I see it, these are my options:

Find a new job.
Find a new husband with health insurance.
Hit Megabucks.
Find a cure.


Oy...those four options are nearly impossible. Nearly because I'll always have hope. Sigh.

Nothing scares me more than not having benefits. Accept maybe a Diabetic coma. Double sigh.



  1. I can almost entirely relate!

    My fiance just quit his job at the end of last month and is a Type1. He has insurance until the end of this month, but will have to pay for Cobra starting March 1. He quit his job so he would never have to answer yes to being fired and he was miserable. We won't be married until April of next year so my insurance can't cover him.

    By far the hardest decision he had to make, but it was right for him and for us even though it's going to cost us in the long run. I can't offer much advice and I know I'm not in the exact same shoes, but being so close to someone that was/is, I understand.

    I wish you the best of luck with everything!

  2. Kelly, almost 3 years without insurance, at a job I love. (That last part was a LOT of luck.)

    Please. Email me. Ok? I promise to help Any way that I can.

    (on my site, Blip the Inbox, on the right, near the bottom of my crazy graphics)

  3. In February of last year my husband was laid off from Microsoft. We were expecting it and he got a nice severence which included 2 more months of health care. We have 2 T1 Diabetic Kids. We immediately called our mortgage company and the car companies because even with the newly reduced rates for Cobra, we knew we were going to have to pay dearly for it. In April I was laid off. We were both devestated. We are doing a short sale on our home because the mortgage company didn't give a rats patooty about us (until we put it up for a short sale). That short sale is still going on by the way a year later. We had to walk away from two cars and are slowly starting to pay back on our bills. How did we do it? Took a leap of faith (and spent every cent we had left) and moved to New Zealand. My husband was offered a job here. It's still tough and hard and frustrating. But we knew we had to look outside the country at least until the good ol US of A get's itself back together.

    All I can say is that it fricken sucks and know that there are so many people out there in your same shoes. I still cry, a lot. A LOT...but we keep looking ahead. You will find your way too, keeping faith and your head up as much as you can is the best thing you can do for yourself.

  4. I really feel for you, and you are so right that others don't understand that this is literally life and death for some of us. We recently found out that the retiree coverage that was supposed to cover me (spouse) is being "removed from the plan". Granted, that is likely about 10 years in the future, but still a scary prospect to know that I'd better have and keep a job with good health insurance from age 55 to 65 (when I become eligible for medicare). I hope I will be healthy enough and employable enough at that point to do that. As for your situation, if you get laid off before the end of February, you should be eligible for 15 months of "only" having to pay 35% of your premiums. Your employer has to kick in the other 65% and then get reimbursed by the gov't. You can read about it here: