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Working full time to keep health insurance

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mkestrel
mkestrel Member Posts: 146

I am having trouble continuing to work full time and wonder if anyone else is dealing with the same issue. How do you deal with needing to continue to work, being basically stuck in a job because you have to keep the health insurance? Have you found a way to quit working without being financially destroyed? Disability wouldn't pay much and then I would have to buy other health insurance. It looks like the benefits don't start paying for five months, then apparently wait two years to be on Medicare (?!) I'm 48. My husband works FT too but his insurance is overpriced high deductible junk. We don't have kids. We would not qualify for Medicaid even with just his income. We don't have an expensive lifestyle. I have signed up for intermittent FMLA, but I'm finding it really difficult to keep working at all. It takes all my energy and wastes all my time. My scans have been stable and I am grateful for that. I have some side effects though, plus I had cord compression injury that did permanent damage. I get tired easily. My legs feet are half numb and I hobble around, can't really do most other jobs. I am stuck with this desk job for now.

Thoughts?

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  • cowgal
    cowgal Member Posts: 625
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    I am still working but I did have to figure some of this out a couple of years ago when I nearly lost my job when part of the company was sold. Luckily, the company I had been with kept me and added more responsibilities since some of mine went away with the part of the company that sold. During the time where I did not know if I was going to have a job I needed to get some of this figured out. My husband and my health insurance is through my employer and he is not offered it at work. We do farm and ranch on the side in addition or our other jobs. We would not qualify for Medicaid either. What it looked like we were going to need to do was to put me on my company's COBRA for 18 months. My husband has no health issues so it would make sense to enroll him in a state Obamacare plan at a bronze level. When my COBRA was up, I would need to be enrolled on a separate Obamacare plan at a Gold level. There are some things that you really need to know about the Obamacare plans before you enroll as they vary from state to state. Evidently, I am lucky enough to live in a state where my plan would have allowed me to go to a doctor in a different state and many of the plans don't. I live near a state line and most of my doctors are in the other state, including my medical oncologist. I think it might be wise to have an insurance person explain some of the ends and outs to you. I have some significant side effects from some of my treatment meds and really hope that I can continue to work and am constantly trying to try to figure out ways where I can tolerate them better. I am sure that some others will come along and can give you some advice on this topic too.

  • mkestrel
    mkestrel Member Posts: 146
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    It's hard to make a plan when everything is unpredictable. I'm glad you have found some ways to deal with it. I will have to look at the other insurances and COBRA if I have to quit. Farm and ranch on the side? That's nice :) I have a big garden (helped by friends). My mom and dad have a few cows and a lot of chickens. There's nothing like fresh eggs, veggies and beef. Lots of work though. My mom has a wild tom turkey who moved in and eats most of the feed. She has some milk goats too. Parents in their 70s and I feel bad that I can't help much. I keep trying to get them to put the cows in the freezer and stick with goats.

  • mkestrel
    mkestrel Member Posts: 146
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    Hm well maybe I'm taking to myself but it says something about my situation that there aren't many replies about this. I'm really sick and don't have a lot of time on the clock. Why should I have to work full time just to keep insurance? It's not very humane. If we are surviving longer with metastatic cancer and expected to keep working, then there should be regular imaging surveillance after early stage cancer treatment to find metastatic tumors before they eat your ##$& spine in half and do permanent damage. Waiting for symptoms is too late, especially when things like back aches aren't taken very seriously. I'm going to sleep in the shade in my new hammock now.

  • emac877
    emac877 Member Posts: 677
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    Hey mkestrel -

    I don't know why more people haven't chimed in. I do know there are a few who do still work but I don't know how many. I am still working. At 44 I don't have enough in savings or retirement to make a go of it retiring right now. If I were to go on SSDI right now it would not be enough for me to keep up on my home costs and pay for COBRA to meet that two year requirement. I am a nurse and still do 12 hour bedside shifts. I am in the process of looking for another position that may be more desk job oriented. The problem I have encountered with that is it typically pays less. I have made gains in my savings with the extra differentials and bonuses that come with bedside nursing but that has definitely been to the detriment of my physical health. I'm often spending the first few days off physically recovering. I work part time and have arranged my schedule to cluster my days together and have a long stretch off. That helps. I have bone only mets and am stable at this time so I am trying to make the most of that stability and save as much as I can.

    I think the situation is different for everyone. A few have mentioned being able to retire in their 40s due to having long term disability plans but those vary by state and job. Mine would not qualify me right now as I would have to be unable to do any gainful employment within my education and skill set which I can't claim. Others have pensions or various benefits from spouses and that sort of thing. So I am going for boke until I break and can't do this any more. That's my plan at the moment. I also have parents in their 70s and starting to struggle with their own health issues. They have helped me a lot the last few years and I am trying now to help them as much as I can and manage my own health issues as well. It's not easy.

    Also keep your eye out for anything related to H.R. 3183. It's a bill written in 2019 and introduced to the House in 2021. It would allow for a waiver of the 2 year waiting period for Medicare and the 5 month waiting period for SSDI for those with MBC. Right now that waiver only applies to end stage renal disease but they are working to get MBC added to the clause also. That would change things but it's also been sitting in the House since May of 2021 so it's not moving quickly for sure.

  • aprilgirl1
    aprilgirl1 Member Posts: 757
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    MKestrel- I am still working but am self employed so my families health insurance is covered by my husband's employer. Self employed also means no LTD for me. I worked really hard to establish my career (real estate) and since the market was so hot in 2019 until this past month I wanted to keep working full time. My husband and I are trying to make a plan where I can slowly work towards retirement . We have 2 kids , one is 25 and happily independent but our youngest is 23 with high functioning autism so I am also trying to work to save money in case our son isn't able to handle full time employment (he works 20 hours a week right now).

    Your post caught my attention and I completely agree that early stage patients are NOT given enough cancer surveillance post treatment . "Standard of Care" only gave me mammograms, blood work and breast exams (added a chest X-ray once a year for the first 5 years in addition to mammograms). They took me off femara at 7 years as my recurrence risk was so low. My recurrence 11 years after stage 1 was not in breast tissue so although I was node negative originally it's clear cancer cells got out . I blame insurance companies - I fall in to the 10% that become stage IV after stage 1 w/ completed treatment and it seems like I am or was an acceptable collateral damage to the insurance system . It is tragic and sucks that we are treated this way.

    Although I am self employed I do pay in to SS . The monthly amount willnot that much so I'll keep working while I'm feeling ok. At some point I'd like to apply for ss disability and "retire" ,

    Rmac- I understand your predicament too. My parents are 85 and 87 so I need to help them (live in a different state ) so I try to fly to see them to help every 10-12 weeks. Your parents are fortunate to have your help .

  • sondraf
    sondraf Member Posts: 1,582
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    I am in the UK but still working, mostly because a) we would only just be able to afford to exist on partners salary 2) I have excellent private health insurance through employer which keeps me out of the (rather scary) public system and 3) the state disability payments in this country are worse than Mississippi's - something along the lines of $150 a week. Our rent alone is $3500 or so before adding on taxes and bills.

    I think I can access the pension amount Ive built up here early, but then the US taxman gets a cut. Im almost out of US SS qualification having not added US credits for many years, so we are really in a pickle and need to make a firm call one way or another - stay here and accept substandard care/life or try and make a move back to the US which has its own costs but a lot of lifestyle benefits. On the whole we are in a much more precarious situation here - like everywhere else, govt support assumes young people don't get an old person's disease and so you are stuck between a rock and a hard place of being at peak earning years but not hit the inflection point of years of saving and investment yet.

    Also, for most people in the UK, housing IS their pension - we did not buy here because I got sick when we would have started looking and now even with incomes in the top 3%, we can't get a mortgage because prices are beyond the multiple banks will loan at and we don't have a large enough deposit. And that's before you get into the high stress stakes of the UK housing market - chasing chasing chasing any property that may fit your parameters, competing with 20 other people, for a place that likely needs a complete gut job and could be miles from the hospital, and the risk of the entire chain collapsing if one party cant complete. Medical care here is tied to where you live and can be a complete lottery as to how good or bad it is - if you live on one street you may have an amazing GP, but live on another street and your option is one of three terrible GP practices.

    Our plan is to ride out another year in the UK and use this year to get situated to move to the US. Partner already moved to a large global org (although what he does is high paid/high demand and completely portable), and Im shifting career slightly to an area where I can work from home freelance if needed. We bank one salary every month and it mostly gets moved into US index funds. Early next year we need to sit down with a financial planner and sort out tax planning for the UK pensions and other aspects of repatriation. And this year I have a side hustle or two I want to get started that I am hoping I can grow into something that kicks off a meaningful amount of income every month by the time I need it to help pay for my care or gives me some locational flexibility. I dont want to give up work completely, but it would be nice to do a few hours a day for myself and my own vision. That would check a major bucket list item for me.

    I would absolutely miss my private insurer here, though. They have been really really good and I never thought I would say that about an insurance company ever!

  • finallyoverit
    finallyoverit Member Posts: 133
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    I’m 47 and have been doing this MBC thing for just over 5 years. I don’t have a choice about not working. I’m not married and only have my salary and my job for insurance. I don’t like it, but I’ve made peace with the fact that I’ll be working full time until I go on hospice. Sucks, but it is what it is.


  • mkestrel
    mkestrel Member Posts: 146
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    Thanks all for sharing your stories. I sprained my hand somehow and it hurts to hold my phone so I'll write more later. All we can do is deal with a day at a time right?


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  • emac877
    emac877 Member Posts: 677
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    What a beautiful peony! I planted some in my yard last year as bulbs so this year they are a little bigger and I had several blooms. Hope your hand heals quickly.

  • sf-cakes
    sf-cakes Member Posts: 524
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    Not sure how I missed this thread (oh right, the Site Update probably had something to do with it), but this is a topic on my mind a lot lately.

    We just had a staff "retreat" in the office, about 15 of us in a very large room with social distancing and everyone wearing masks, to try and reconnect since the start of the pandemic. We've lost many staff since 2020, and we wanted a day of connecting and fun together (we've been almost completely virtual for two years). It was truly fun and we shared some honest, real stuff with each other, gave presents, and it was pretty great. But when I came home I was so tired I started crying. A day of fun and connection wore me out so much, at age 52, that I was completely exhausted and weepy. Instead of feeling rejuvenated, which was kind of the point of the day.

    I want to keep working until I'm 55, and will be eligible for "early retirement", which, most importantly, would include my current great health care plan. But who knows what MBC has in mind for me over the next 2.5 years? I should talk with HR about my options, but I'm sort of scared to, as I suspect there aren't any options other than trying to live to 55 and then hope to live for a while longer than that. This whole situation sucks.

  • elderberry
    elderberry Member Posts: 1,058
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    sondra: I would have thought NHS would not be THAT bad. I didn't know that where you live affects who you can have as a GP. In British Columbia we have no restrictions other than the challenge of finding a GP in the first place. And wait lists for "elective surgery". I live in an area that fall under Simon Fraser Health Authority but my MO and my cancer treatment is under Vancouver Coastal Health. The tab is picked up by the province so it doesn't really matter. I am grateful that we bought our humble home when we did as there is no way we could afford the asking price for our little 33 x 120 foot lot now. Having no mortgage and pretty much debt free (no huge credit car debt) enabled us both to retire by 65 with both of us having decent civil servant pensions and our Old Age Security and Canada Pension Plan. Yes -- we pay a very large percentage in taxes but there are zero medical premiums. For that, I am grateful and sorry to see many of you struggling.


  • livethedream
    livethedream Member Posts: 3
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    this is a topic I have been thinking about a lot. Recently diagnosed bone mets (just weeks ago). Age 48. On SHort term disability for now as I get through this first piece, the multiple scans, radiation to spine, new drugs to adjust to. Wondering if and how can do a high level exec job though now. And if want to spend what years are left working - want to spend time with family, go for lunches, overnight hotel stays somewhere nice, time off breaks. My health insurance is through my work. It seems like that continues for 2 years if I went on LTD but then Have to move to Medicare, and also then would need a very good gap insurance that would cover these expensive drug treatments. So I worry if stop working and use the disability plans I have, that two years from now, if still going, I will have Medicare related issues with treatment. So for now I am planning to return, assuming tolerate the cocktail of meds. But I don’t think I have really fully made a decision.

  • mkestrel
    mkestrel Member Posts: 146
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    Keznyc sorry you have to deal with this too. I feel similar, like I don't really want to spend all my time and energy left mostly just attempting to continue working. Basically I won't have any kind of retirement and I want to do some things before health gets even worse. It's like we're sitting on time bombs. I have intermittent FMLA set up for now and this is helping to at least have longer breaks and work a little less without losing insurance. About the drugs, check with the pharm company site because sometimes they have help. I'm on verzenio and there was a savings card through Lilly that paid for a couple months of prescription which also paid off my deductible, which was a huge relief.

    A hug to all who have posted so far. Thanks for sharing your stories.

  • livethedream
    livethedream Member Posts: 3
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    yes mkestrel, that’s how I feel too. And I will look into the intermittent FMLA.

  • mkestrel
    mkestrel Member Posts: 146
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    Now this great job I'm stuck with cut my pay by $3.5 per hour. Not just me, a department wide thing switching to production based instead of hourly, so they can pay less for harder work. I'd love to quit, but it's not financially possible. I checked COBRA and it was $747 a month. Marketplace isn't much better. My husband could put me on his, but he wants to change jobs.

    I walked into social security office to ask a question but it was packed with maskless crowds. The website is confusing and so are the doublespeak rules on everything.