As we neared the big day when I’d give notice at my job, I documented some of the ups and downs we experienced. Here’s a little of our roller-coaster ride, with some helpful info woven in.
Sunday, June 19, 2011: We’re just under three weeks from my proposed last day at work. I haven’t yet given notice; we’re lining up a few things first – well, one big thing, which is health insurance – before I make the move.
And so with that hanging over our heads, last night was rough. We were having dinner; Karen finished first and thought to check the mail. She brought it back to the table to deal with together while I finished eating. Among the junk and bills was a letter from the health insurance provider to which we’d applied the previous Monday. She opened it and began to tear up. My stomach turned, and I pushed my plate away: They’d declined her. They cited her chiropractor visits due to back pain. She was devastated.
Sure, back pain can be caused by chronic conditions, and anything chronic or that says “I’m on my way to surgery!” is a big red flag for underwriters. But in Karen’s case, the visits were more like tune-ups: She’s a massage therapist. It’s manual labor. She gets sore, and she makes a real effort to take care of herself; it’s as simple as that. But it’s also a matter, as our broker had warned us, of “a bunch of little things adding up.” Too many visits to a specialist like a chiropractor, and apparently the underwriters think you’re treating the system like a candy shop. Never mind that all of the charges were approved at the time she used the service. She apparently wasn’t supposed to use the care that we were paying, with every paycheck, for her to have.
Here’s the safety net: She works just 26 hours (that’s plenty for a massage therapist) but she can buy into her employer’s insurance. Losing her insurance through my job constitutes a “qualifying event” to make her eligible outside of her employer’s normal enrollment period. It will cost us about $200 a month, but that’s very likely what we’ll do.
Here’s a link to a great set of tips for those of us applying for individual health care.
Friday, June 24: This past week was a big one.
Karen confirmed the details of getting on her work health plan, so I think we’re good to go there. So yesterday morning, I gave notice at my job. I’d set the effective date as July 8 but agreed to delay it to July 15 to cover for a vacationing colleague.
The deed is done. No turning back now.
Wednesday, June 29: I’m a little freaked out.
Deep, cleansing breath.
We’ve done all the stuff we’re supposed to to prepare for a change like this: saved aggressively, tied up loose ends related to everything from home repairs to personal health, and lined up both baseline income and secondary/optional work for when I need it to stay afloat.
And I keep reminding myself of something: I have a bizarre history of good luck with this kind of leap. Not like this counts as a strategy, but every time I have taken a financial risk – when I have known that it’s the right thing for me – money has shown up. And I mean shown up, as in completely unexpectedly. My favorite example of this, because it’s so simple and literal, is “the blue jeans story.” It happened almost 20 years ago when I’d just moved to Albuquerque with my then-partner and her/our child. I was working part-time for $12/hour, trying to support our family with occasional help from my partner’s mother. At one point I needed new jeans just to have something decent to wear to work, but the $27 that Sears wanted for some Levi’s at the time felt like a splurge. I bought them anyway. The next day I received a letter from Cincinnati Gas & Electric. My grandfather had bought stock in them for me decades earlier. Turns out they’d been trying for six years to track me down, because they had a dividend payment for me: $28. That’s what I’m talking about.
I hope my luck holds.