Set Adrift: Finding health care in uncertain times
“Jon, I’m afraid we have to let you go. Here’s your severance package.” On May 13, 2013, my life changed forever. Twelve years in, I’d planned to retire from the utility; they didn’t see it that way for me and 250 others.
As I reviewed the package, I asked about health insurance. I had to consider my family. “You’ll get 60 days covered by us and then you’re eligible for COBRA. You need to leave. Do you want to pack your belongings now or later?” I left, unable to say farewell to my peers. As I headed home, I thought about the situation. I’d never been through this. How would I take care of my wife and sons? I had a bit of cushion and decided to take a few weeks to do nothing. The drift had started.
A month before coverage was scheduled to lapse, my son broke both arms in a scooter accident. My wife was hysterical. “What about the insurance?” I told her we were covered and that I was looking at options while in job search. “What will we do if something happens after that?”
I was adrift, simply surviving. Finding a job was proving more difficult than I’d thought. Health coverage information outside of employment was hard to find. Even though I had been in HR for many years, I hadn’t worked much in benefits and didn’t always understand the language.
Eventually, I received my COBRA letter. The rates would destroy us financially if we had to maintain them very long. I went on several interviews that went nowhere. We knew my wife’s teacher salary wasn’t going to be enough. We made the decision to let our coverage lapse. I was worried; I wanted to put my boys in bubble wrap and keep them inside. I had a bit of severance left but we knew we needed to look at all the options. We talked to realtors about selling our home and moving in with family. I was embarrassed and defeated; what value was I bringing?
It took almost a year to land a job with health benefits. We kept the house and fortunately everyone remained relatively healthy. During that time, I gained perspective. I’m now comfortable saying “I understand” when talking to someone in a similar situation.
Some things I picked up through that “drifting” journey:
- Start the process sooner than later
- Do your research and seek out trusted resources
- Select the right health care coverage for your current needs
- Compare estimated yearly costs, not just monthly premiums
Having had the opportunity to talk to the team at GetCovered.com and review their offerings, I’m excited that insurance information has become much easier to find and understand. You can call and talk to someone, a refreshing change of pace as automated as many organizations have become. The service is free for those looking for coverage, which is appreciated in these challenging times. GetCovered.com is an option that offers advice without an agenda to sell you a specific solution – it just helps find the right solution for you.
I hope that I can help others through my personal experience.
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