So back in mid-November, HR told me that my partner and I would no longer be eligible for health insurance through my employer, starting 1/1/2020, because I had been part time for a year.
I forwarded this to my boss, saying "Buh wha?" We had checked the employee handbook when I went part-time. Part-time employees had to pay the full cost of insurance, instead of 20%, but they were still eligible. I had been paying the full cost since January, when I went part time. Neither of us were aware of anything that had said "and after a year, we kick you off." My boss promised to look into this and get back to me.
A couple of days later, I ran over a big block of wood in the road. I wasn't sure if I'd hurt anything, but a warning light on the dashboard activated. Wednesday, while I was taking Lut to dinner after a doctor's appointment, a kind driver stopped at the light next to us honked and let us know that the front passenger tire was low on air. "Oh, that's probably what this warning light that I haven't decoded yet is."
We went to a Quiktrip to air it (they have free tire pump machines! Very convenient.) At this point, I finally noticed that I'd lost a hub cap, bent both wheel rims on the passenger side, and the low front tire had a slow leak. Lut reminded me that we were near a tire place, so I drove over there. The warning light had gone off, so that confirmed that the tire was what the car had been sad about.
The tire place had been purchased by Big O Tire since we were last there, and they were too busy to look at it that night or tomorrow. I made an appointment for Friday of that week -- since it was a slow leak and I'd already driven like 30 miles over the course of 24 hours, I figured it wasn't urgent.
I discovered I had a text message from my boss asking me to call about the insurance issue, which I figured was a bad sign. She'd texted that morning but I hadn't noticed until almost 5PM. I called her back and left a message, saying I'd talk to her tomorrow if she didn't get back to me tonight.
That night, I had insomnia, waking at 2AM with my thoughts full of the future: would I have to go back to full time work? How would I manage that? How would I manage if I didn't? How much would it cost to pay for private insurance for two ~50 year-old people per year, one of whom has cancer? What would it cost to have the car fixed? Why hadn't I waited to move into the turn lane until I was past that cursed block of wood in the road? Why am I so bad at this? Should I quit writing? My day job pays a lot better than my writing ever will. Etc.
I prayed to God for serenity and equanimity, because I have a gigantic retirement account and it feels like I should at some point be able to stop angsting about money and I would like it for that point to be now k thx. I don't even want to whinge about my problems because they are SO PETTY. "Oh no, I might have to work full time!" Girl, most of your friends already have to work full time and most of those that don't would be DELIGHTED to have the option to do so.
Eventually, I slept.
On Thursday of that week, I learned that my boss had talked to her boss, and they talked to HR and looked through the documentation. They were eventually able to discern that this was, indeed, a new policy at my employer despite the "Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia" attitude that HR was taking. The ACA doesn't require that the employers offer health insurance to employees who work less than 30 hours a week, and they had decided not to do so anymore. They'd also stopped covering domestic partners last year, although mine had been grandfathered in at that time.
But that was done now. Even if I returned to full-time work, the bank would no longer allow me to purchase insurance for my partner through them. I could get myself covered again, but that was it.
My boss said, "We know you don't want to work full-time. Find out what it will cost to insure yourself and your partner, and we'll get you a raise to cover the difference between that and what you were already paying."
I didn't know if the amount of COBRA would be more than my boss and her boss could convince HR to pay me, or how much discretion they have in salary. I also needed to look into the ACA exchange, in case that was more affordable than COBRA. I felt like, on the one hand, COBRA is supposed to be the same insurance I'm already getting and I'm already paying the full cost so it shouldn't be THAT much more? But everyone says that COBRA is crazy-expensive and my existing insurance premiums are low, so I just don't know. But it is good to know that my chain of command has my back. <3
The next day, I went back to Big O Tire to get the rims and tire repaired or replaced, as necessary. I showed up at 8:05 and sat down in their lobby to write and wait for the news.
Thirty minutes later, the mechanic walked in and handed me my keys. "The rims were just a little bent, so I hammered them back into place, and patched your tire. You're good to go!"
"Great, thank you!" I went up to the counter to pay.
"No, really, you're good to go. We don't charge to patch a tire."
Apparently RANDOM STRANGERS also have my back and I am absolutely going to this place when I need new tires. O_O
I went to the mall to walk and Panera to write for a few hours afterwards. Big O Tire hadn't gifted me with a new hubcap, naturally, and it struck me that I knew exactly where I had hit the block of wood and that must have been where I lost the hubcap. So I went back there and LO! The block of wood was gone but my hubcap was right next to the median . :D
I can't get it back on, and I'm not sure if the hubcap is slightly bent, or the wheel is, or if I'm just not being sufficiently forceful. I may go back to Big O and ask if they can puzzle it out, but it hasn't been a priority.
In early December, I got the Cobra packet. Now, bear in mind that my bank's policy says that employees get an 80% discount on their insurance, but employees pay the full cost of any family or dependent insurance they purchase.
Lut's insurance through COBRA was almost three times what I paid through the bank. My insurance through COBRA is thirteen times what I had been paying.
Either the bank's "you pay all of family and 20% of your own insurance" is FLAT WRONG, or COBRA is charging an illegal amount more than the bank's payment. I am inclined to think that the bank is wrong rather than that COBRA is ripping me off, however, because COBRA's premiums were in line with the ACA premiums. My COBRA premium was actually lower than through the ACA, although assuming I could actually collect the subsidy I am purportedly due, it'd be cheaper to go through the exchange. I didn't check for Lut, because he gets Medicaid and is therefore not eligible for ACA subsidies. I have wrangled over whether or not it is worth it to continue to pay for private insurance in addition to Medicaid. The oncology clinic that we use (and which I love; I have a lot of experience with different medical providers at this point and the Sarah Cannon Cancer Center is far and away the best overall) takes Medicaid. But some of his other providers don't, and Medicaid doesn't appear to pay for prescriptions, and I just feel better if he's got private insurance as well.
So I took the COBRA packet to work and told my boss. She called me and told me that she and her boss had secured a 65% raise for me starting in 2020.
Yes, you read that right. My take-home salary will be SIXTY-FIVE PERCENT more in 2020 than in 2019. This is enough to cover the increase in cost from COBRA, the extra taxes that I will pay on the raise, and still have some money left over. It's not a LOT left over, because the insurance premiums by themselves will eat up more than half the raise, and state/federal/city/social security/medicaid will take another fifth or so. But it does more than make up for the hit I took from losing insurance.
My boss: "So normally, you'd get a raise at your annual review, but my boss wanted to be sure you knew that this was taking the place of that."
Me: "THAT IS FINE thank you."
Anyway, I feel like I prayed to God for serenity and He looked down at me and said "Aw, you poor thing, let me fix this stuff for you. There you go."
Thank you too, God. <3
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