“He is retired, happy, and concerned about America’s future.”
Have a laugh… It happened to me… You will not laugh when it is your turn
My fellow professionals and hardworking producers, a story you might laugh at now but I think it should reveal some shared history and it will possibly become a part of your story soon.
I entered the workforce in the early 1980s. As a young man, I thought that I would work at being a good employee (i.e. I would give up any of my inventions to my employer, I would give up my weekends and nights to improve my skillset and hit “stretch targets”; I would give my employer, within reason, my allegiance, and loyalty) and as a result expect reciprocal care (pay and benefits) from my employer.
At the time I ignored the evil of company provided health care insurance (other than a comparison between different company compensation packages) but I did see the necessity for health care insurance to help me pay for treatment of illnesses for me and my family.
Though always being employed (and performing well), I did not fit into the mold at company 1, company 2, company 3, or company 4 – be it race, personal stressors, or whatever. Being a first-generation professional, I learned late (after more than one bloody nose from the hard edge of business) that there was to be no golden parachute for me and I needed to deal with the double stressors of saving for my life after I was no longer able or willing to work and the day to day necessity of keeping a job.
Along with the internal mantra of working hard I thought that retirement is a promised way of being, that “anyone” that is lucky to live long enough could achieve. I thought I would retire early (50 was old enough) but through ups and downs in business and in life, as 50 came around I pushed past it knowing I was not ready.
- I had children with college costs that were much higher than I could have fathomed at my own graduation
- I made mistakes as a young man and did not save enough (as I said I learned late)
Now I said before that I did not consider health insurance but to be just a part of a competitive employment package. But about 15 years ago (some 15 years after the death of unions to help independent providers) I was able to get to know what it was like to be an independent “contractor” and the terrible deal the working people had outside my “bubble”. I was slack jawed at the cost of the insurance coverage for someone my age and the appalling level of coverage that person received at that cost. It was a rude awakening for me – the real world outside my privilege was a nightmare. The risk of losing employment became a newly enlarged gorilla, but being empathetic I stood for a change for my fellow workmates and their families that were contractors.
It dawned on me that corporations want us to be kept too dependent so it would be virtually impossible to break away
So given my observations and the renewed retirement date range goal I put my head down and saved and skimped while maintaining my promise as a provider for my family. I did “stand” for healthcare coverage for people who obviously could not afford anything but bad outcomes.
I saved enough I thought. Work became a monster- I choose to quit – end the madness- enough is enough.
Hurray right? I did what I said I needed to do. Nah… How ungrateful right?… a privileged person retires by choice and is bitching about the cost of insurance that he should have included in his cost of retirement. But it is not for me that I am completely outraged …
I have lived in other countries during my work life and know that when my workmates left work with a government provided healthcare payment system that was at a less cost that our (US) own they were well taken care of. Paying $2000+ per month for COBRA continues to astound me, Come on, equal to payment for housing… WHY??! How can my fellow producer and contributor afford it.
Fact is those outside company provided healthcare plans typically can’t and don’t pay for full heathcare. They are one illness or an economic downturn away from disaster.
For me, the pandemic has exposed the outrageous fallacy of a comfortable retirement, but more so it has exacerbated the “Sword of Damocles” that hangs over the heads of my former colleagues and their families as they will lose their jobs or already have.
So for my fellow professional class working in the corporate world that still have a job, that see yourself in any of my story, take a moment and consider the contractor who works beside you, the guy that takes payment from you at the gas station, the nurse that takes your blood pressure. How can this person afford healthcare insurance at the current rates?
When you lose your job or are “retired” (lose your job but unable to find the next employment due to age …or whatever) you are going to be surprised at the cost of health insurance. The stock market and worldwide money system can and will suck up your savings. Above all, consider that COVID – 19 is not the last pandemic.
So what, now what, right? You should consider supporting “Medicare for all” (MFA) as a platform that supports you now and in the future. Why:
- Employer-based health care insurance is not sustainable for you – you are going to leave the job one day -with or without by choice.
- I do not think it is reasonable to pay COBRA costs equal to the cost of a mortgage for what you thought you needed for healthcare
- You should not be dependent on working to keep your healthcare
- Insurance’s job is to pay a bill. You do not need CEOs and salespeople to pay that note.
Welcome to my world. Laid off from work when my company lost its contract, the new company letting the highest paid worker go.
Silly me, since I hadn’t had a vacation for a decade (really!), I decided to use my unemployment compensation and savings and take the summer off.
Well, summer ended, time to look for a grindstone to press my nose to. To my horror, companies and even the state and local governments would advertise for a position and wait a minimum of 8 months to fill the position!
So, finally, my old job opened up, the new company was willing to bring me back at my old pay and Coronavirus arrived and biosecurity locked down the installation I was going to be the IT guru on.
Unemployment ended, savings depleted, the extension may or may not come through, as the UC system is literally still being rewritten.
Then, around four weeks ago, I went to the local dollar store for some margarine, eggs, coffee and milk.
No insurance and guess what I picked up? A hint: I awakened half panicked and confused, grabbed my portable pulse oximeter (I’m a former SF medic, so I still keep such tools and supplies on hand) and I’m shocked to see 93 flash into 94, to eventually stabilize at 97. I normally run around 98 – 99%. We started oxygen on anyone with a SPO2 of 94% or lower and evacuated them to a hospital, as 15 liters of oxygen per minute runs a cylinder empty fairly quickly for anything man portable.
Why didn’t I go to the hospital? No insurance, an unpaid debt, especially for an illness like SARS-CoV-2 infection would be lordly and preclude employment at many quality employers as a security risk for lordly debts.
In theory, I’d be able to retire fully in 7 years, by my calculations, due to economic downturns over the decades, I should be able to retire when I’m around 350 years old.
If I live that long. Besides the virus, I also have Graves’ disease, autoimmune hyperthyroidism, where my thyroid gland thyroid stimulating hormone receptors are attacked and activated by my immune system. That results in severe hypertension, tachycardia and massive weight loss.
Given the preexisting conditions and the virus, I’d be safer if it was Ebola. Literally.
The choices are stark enough, death or homelessness and death.
Needless to say, I’ve been to plenty of nations during my SF career, including civilized industrialized nations, I don’t qualify our nation as civilized at all. Not in the slightest.
Oh, did someone say public assistance? Tried it, I got a determination of eligibility, then a required interview date and time window, then denied because we don’t live in the county we’ve been in for two years.
That’d being worked on, but it’ll likely require a politician’s intervention (something admitted on the state’s own website!). By Republican representatives.
Yeah, no Welfare Cadillac for us!*
*Yes, I remember Saint Reagan of Hell’s claims well. I also heard them during the run-up for our last Presidential election, out of the mouth of some damned fool man in Louisiana at a gas station. The look on his face as I called him a bald faced liar was priceless, especially after I reminded him that Reagan told that lie during his presidential campaign.
He rapidly and sheepishly absented himself from the premises. I guess my towering 5’9″ frame was too imposing to his 6 foot self. Or more likely, the light of truth sent the cockroach back to the cover of darkness.