Frills don’t come cheap. When the company you work for is “self,” sometimes the benefits are less than perky. Crunching the budget may often put the ixnay on manicures, pedicures, personal trainers, even well-deserved vacations, but you should never have to ixnay your health insurance.
Recently, my broker called to spare me impending sticker shock.
Sounding nervous, she blurted, “Your premium has gone up ... 76 percent.”
Just like that I became one of those high-maintenance people.
I should have seen it coming from my first retail ad job when I asked what my benefits were, and my then-employer said, “You get to work with us.”
Then there was that second ad job where my physician’s billing manager scorned, "You have the worst insurance possible!”
It was only down the insurance hill from there becoming a self-employed family because decent plans come at a serious premium. As I find myself soon to be priced out of the oddball privy group I have subscribed to for over a decade, it makes me sick, but wait, that is not an option.
What can self-employed small business people do to be heard and get help?
For me, after hysteria didn’t work, I shot e-mails to politicians and every smart phone friend I knew. I blogged, blabbed, tweeted, and prayed to the health care gods.
Apparently someone was listening.
Sworn to secrecy, the voice told me to go to the 'Hellth Insurance store' (not real name) for an offer you can’t refuse, echoing I should not expect mental coverage, for those days are over!
Who buys health insurance from a retail store? I was convinced this was the start of retail therapy.
Thinking along my department store origins, I wondered if they gave Valium gift with policy purchase to compensate for the mental health deficiency. Hoping at the very least they validated parking, I made my appointment.
While ranting and raving to my hairdresser who comes with friendly affordable longevity rates, he gasped and advised me not to get sick.
The next morning, with symptoms of aftershock from thoughts of no hair care, mental care, and worse yet, health care, I was a wreck, but had to pull it together for my little health insurance sit down. When I was barely out the door, my brother, an attorney, called.
“No insurance are us,” I answered.
“Do not call an attorney,” he counseled loud and clear from the other end. He insisting there was no case, no matter how much I cried it was criminal.
Although we were three states away, I could see his eyes roll when he heard l sent an e-mail to my congressman. In his brotherly loving attempt to bring me back to the real and now, he jested, “Why not write the president!”
Deafening silence followed after I told him I did.
Running late, I quickly drove to this health-salvation appointment, I couldn’t help but notice at a destitute-looking man crouched on the side of the highway holding a sign for help.
Suddenly it became clear. With one raised brow, I cocked a grin, shook my head, and sent psychic thanks to the health care gods for Plan B.
Self-satisfaction used to come with self-employment. It only makes me wonder how many ambitious entrepreneurs would have taken the independent step had they known of the health insurance consequences or financial burden that loomed ahead?
When providers penalize for gender, pre-existing conditions, usage, and age, they often leave independent business people little choice but to go without health insurance. It should not cost an entire salary to participate or maintain a plan.
I’m not sure how some people sleep at night, but I do know we need more heal and less hell in health care.