Health Insurance makes me Ill

Every now and then I hear about how x percent of people in my age group, 18-35, do not have health insurance. Up until acquiring health insurance myself through my job with a large national retailer, I had not realized what a pain in the @$$ health insurance really is. I actually had thought for a while there that the reason so many in my relative demographic didn't have it was because it was a big expense that we were not entirely convinced was worth it (that was my position age 18 -23 ). Of course that was unless it turned out you had cancer or some other expensive illness which usually seems unlikely regardless of whether or not it is.

Now that I am trying to leave the retail world for a full time job as a massage therapist I've discovered how tricky health/medical insurance really is. I've been looking for a plan comparable to my part-time medical plan at Home Depot. The best I have found has not quite as good of coverage for a little over twice what I am paying now, and the price increases each year. The high cost is due in no small part to the fact that I'm female in my child-bearing years - it seems the ability to get pregnant is sort of a liability in the health insurance world. I find this incredibly ironic. It turns out getting affordable health insurance when you have a working uterus is almost like winning the lottery. It happens more by accident than by intent. My new employer has a plan with high deductibles and very limited coverage that I have been told by my coworkers isn't really worth paying for.

On top of that the plan I had at home depot tended to be difficult to set up and easy to lose. I actually found myself uninsured for over a year because I moved from part-time to full-time, and unbeknownst to me I was supposed to log onto homedepot's benefits web site and tell them I still wanted the plan I had been paying for for seven months already. This was because the full-time plan was slightly better than the part-time plan. All of my other benefits including my dental insurance, and short-term disability rolled over. In fact long-term disability was added to my paycheck without my even requesting it. But I was dropped from the health insurance with no ability to re-sign up until I either returned to part-time, got married (had kids etc.), or until the narrow two weeks of enrollment period came up again the following year.

Of course I'm not alone in my difficulties. More than a few of my coworkers have had issues with the health insurance program. The most common complaint is being promised health insurance at 90 days, discovering that you were originally entered into their computer system as a temporary employee (a decision made somewhere up the chain of command and unknown to you), and then discovering the "benefits choice center" wouldn't allow you to enroll in the health insurance until you hit 180 days.

The worst however was a fellow employee who went on sick-leave, and got dropped from the insurance because it was somehow registered as a personal leave. She was offered the chance to sign back up if she paid a fee for reinstatement that was right around 1000 dollars. I am not sure if the reinstatement would have covered the surgeries that she underwent while she was on sick-leave. If they did I suspect it would have been worth the cost.

Now I find myself faced with the decision of trying to pay the much higher health insurance fees which will impact my financial state significantly (it will mean taking longer to pay off student loans, and waiting longer to buy a house etc.) , stay part-time with a job I really do not want anymore (and do not feel I really have time for) to keep the medical benefits, or take the risk of going uninsured in an industry (massage therapy) where injuries are common and can leave you unable to work very easily.

Keeping both jobs seems to make financial sense, however I can tell you from the last 5 months of working 2 jobs that it has left me with a very high stress level, and with no free time to implement a regular exercise program which would significantly help me with my massage job. The point is I think working both jobs is increasing the likelihood that I will get sick or injured from the increased stress, decreased time to recooperate from long hours of massaging others, and limited time to get into shape for doing just that.

Maybe I took for granted that there wasn't a health insurance store that I could just show up at and say "okay I'm ready now, sell me on a plan..." There isn't one is there? A health insurance store I mean? :dizzy:

So that is my experience with health insurance in america. I have known many people who have stayed with employers who were mistreating them because they didn't think they could get as good of a health insurance plan eleswhere. To be honest it baffles me that anyone would ever have to make such a decision in this country. Healthcare involves life and death, and a person's entire financial future, surely we have an incentive to do better than this.

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