Sunday, February 2, 2014

Health Insurance Cancelled

I got a packet in the mail that said my employer (to whom I will only refer as [retail]) is cancelling my health insurance.

I have been with the company since 2001, full-time, but since the recession the hour cuts have hit deep, and my average hours dropped for the last three years. My average weekly hours for the last year are about 30. The cutoff point is about 32. I am considered part time.

[Retail] recently announced they won't offer health insurance for part-timers. The excuse they gave for cancelling benefits for part time employees is they don't want to deny us the subsidies and tax credits we can get if we purchase insurance through an exchange, and they believe we can find cheaper alternatives on the open marketplace. Bull-fucking-shit.

Reason number three is that the plan is expensive to offer, and the majority of employees don't sign up for it anyway. Yup, it is expensive. I know how they feel. I pay over 100 bucks a month for rising costs and dwindling benefits, plus copays. As much as I pay for insurance, and it still doesn't cover everything. Yeah, I know exactly how expensive healthcare can be.

I talked to my HR and asked her if I have any recourse, since odds are I will be above 32 average hours sometime this year. Last June I was finally allowed to transfer to a different work center and have had full-time hours since. But the other day I confirmed it: average hours were determined on January 1, I was below the threshold, and I will lose my benefits. There is no appeal.

It feels like a slap in the face. I have had their insurance since 2002 or so, always paid my premiums, only used it a handful of times over the years. As long as I've been with [retail], as "flexible" as I've been adapting to erratic schedules, dwindling hours and doing other peoples' work for no extra pay in recent years, they are cutting me off.

My lack of hours was not my choice. I asked for more hours. I begged for more hours. The answer I always got was "well, James, hours are just so tight. We'll see." Nothing was done. So I just kept my 23 hours a week and was expected to be thankful for them because some people got even less. I took extra shifts whenever I could, but there were never enough to bring me up to full-time. Now [retail] is punishing me for not being full-time.

Fuck [retail]. No, not fuck Obama. My employer is doing this--probably had it in mind for years. They're just using the ACA as an excuse. This is big business pushing the cost of insurance onto the individual, leaving more profit for the shareholders. Fuck them, and fuck healthcare in this country.

Looks like I will be seeking insurance from healthcare.gov soon. I don't expect to find anything this good for this cheap, but maybe it will be a good thing. Health insurance was one thing keeping me tethered to my job, so maybe once I find insurance apart from my employer, I'll have that much more freedom.

It's still a slap in the face. There's no reward for loyalty. Your reward is in your paycheck. That's it. It makes me want to quit, find someplace that will treat me better and--oh, wait, that's right, the economy sucks. I can't do what I feel like doing, which is walk out the door giving [retail] the finger. I hope I find decent insurance on the open market. I should qualify for a subsidy, since my income is so low, but I'm not hopeful. Insurance is expensive.

Things are getting worse for those with the insurance, too. People on the HRA plan don't receive account dollars automatically. Now they have to earn those dollars, probably with health screenings and other activities. Little by little costs go up and benefits go down. It's been like this for many years. Healthcare reform had nothing to do with it, but now they're blaming Obamacare for it.

Rising costs and falling wages hurt our freedom more than the government ever could.

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