Saturday, July 16, 2011

money woes

Since Paul started getting sick back in July 2010, his ability to work has been hampered significantly. It doesn't help that we live in Los Angeles where in summer and autumn temperatures can reach the high 90's and 100's which is the last thing you need when you are experiencing stomach distress and trying to keep hydrated. This has left me being the sole breadwinner, which I have no issue with in the least but with the economy the way it is, it's most definitely a difficult task. (*side note I was laid off back in 2009 and it took me 15 months to find a new gig, which then turned out to be hellish to put it mildly. It's not like I didn't have 15+ years of experience, a university education, employers were either just not hiring or they don't want to pay the true worth of what the position deserves or in many cases, I was overqualified. I lost my job again in January 2011 and luckily landed the best job I've ever had in April but the only snag with this perfect job is that I am a contractor. Health insurance is offered to us but at a cost of $890 a month and trust me I don't make that much but with some creative financing, I have been able to offset this somehow, but I digress).

When we first started going to the radiation oncology clinic, we were introduced to a social worker. She was nice enough and obviously knew her stuff but unfortunately, she could offer us no help in the finance department. Turns out when you have been self-employed like Paul for the last few years and in an economy where getting work is now considered a privilege and reporting losses on job is the norm. He was 4 credits short. I asked the social worker if he could apply for any other programs and she said that he would not qualify as I made too much. I scoured the internet to find out exactly how much he could get if we tried for these other programs and basically after finding the 7 page formula on some government site, I would have to take a 66% pay cut in order for him to get a measly $100 a month. Hell, I even asked Social Security if I could give him some of my credits as I have more than enough to spare but sadly, they said that was a no go.

To add to all of this, I was to be made a full time employee July 1st but I had a gut feeling that now that Paul had been diagnosed this might affect his insurance coverage. On the day I was supposed to have my conversion interviews, I decided to call our insurance company and sure enough, by two weeks, he now was flagged as having a pre-existing condition and I was informed that none of his cancer related care would be covered. I had to tell my boss to suspend the interviews and asked if I could continue to be a contractor until November when the six month probation period would be over and Paul would no longer be considered pre-existing and all of his care would be covered. I am very fortunate to work for one of the best companies in the country and that I have one of the most understanding bosses in the world.
Things are tight but somehow we are managing. Between the almost $900 a month to keep our health insurance, the copays with the doctors, the prescriptions, the special lotions, soaps and lip balms that he needs, my feeble attempts at a more healthy diet, things aren't easy on the wallet. But you just find a way somehow. I often joke that the stress is going to kill me off long before the cancer gets him.

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