*Deep Sigh*

I’m done.  Done. Done. Done.  Done with work until the new year.  To quote Ghandi, “Halleh-freakin’-lujah.”  This will be the first time that I’ll be able to use my paid time off since I started at the new job, which is fine with me.  I’ve been there six and a half months, and I already have nearly 90 hours of time off saved up.  It’s awesome. 

Of course, the universe, being it’s usually douchey self, decided that it was going to make my last day of work absolutely miserable, and it everything went wrong.  (Don’t you tell me that computers don’t have a mind of their own…and that they aren’t vindictive jerks)  But at least I get to take a couple of weeks off.

Speaking of work, I know it’s generally not a good idea to talk about work online, but I’m not saying anything here that I haven’t already said in person to the management, so, you know, whatever.  My company has decided that they’re going to be changing to a new “Consumer Driven Health Plan.”  This is a corporate euphemism for “We’re sick and tired of paying for your insurance, so we’re basically going to take away the insurance we promised you when you signed your contract, and then we’ll couch the change in flowery rhetoric to try and disguise the fact that we’re ripping you off.” 

2010:  $35 a month out of my paycheck to help pay for insurance.  $500 deductible.  $1,000 out of pocket maximum.  Good plan.

2011: $90 a month out of my paycheck.  $1,500 deductible.  $2,500 out of pocket maximum.  Won’t cover non-generic drugs. Rip. Off.

So, let me get this straight:  You’re increasing my monthly payments by 250+%, but at the same time, decreasing my coverage significantly.  And that’s only because I’m single.  If I had a family, my deductible would be $3,000 and my out of pocket maximum would be $5,000.  You’re refusing to pay for any non-generic prescriptions.  So, if I get sick and need a drug that isn’t available as a generic (which is about 20% of the drugs on the market) I’m going to have to pay for it entirely by myself.  Really?  This is how you want to treat your employees.  This is how you’re going to compete for high-tech talent in the same marketplace as Microsoft, Amazon, Boeing, Google, Adobe, and Nintendo?  Smart.

See, the thing is, when I took this job, I was paying $95 a month for a "catastrophic” individual plan through a company on my own.  This plan had a lower deductible AND a lower out of pocket maximum than my new work plan.  Essentially, it was a better plan for only about $5 more a month than I’m going to be paying now as a “benefit” from my employer.

When I took this job, I ALSO took a 10% pay cut from my previous job because I was being offered benefits, which weren’t included in my last job.  So now, six months after I started, I’ve lost the benefits that I took a pay cut in order to receive. 

I’m not pleased.  Nor, I’m not surprised to say, is pretty much anyone else in the company.  I understand that insurance prices are going up.  I get it.  And I’m willing to pay a little extra for insurance.  But the company’s costs on the old plan would have gone up by 16%.  Why is my cost going up by 250% and my coverage going down my 300%? 

It just seems to me that companies are no longer interested in taking care of their employees.  I really like where I work.  I like what I’m doing (most of the time.)  I like the people with whom I work.  I like the company and it’s vision.  But when they do something like this, I feel like they don’t respect or value me as an employee. 

And worst of all, in my opinion, is when the HR representative gets up and says, “We think you’re really going to be excited about this new health plan.  We’re calling it the ‘Consumer Driven Health Plan’ because it’s really going to help you as a consumer make better choices and have a better grasp on your own health care.  Studies have shown that 50% of all health care could have been prevented by changes to behavior, and so with this new CDHP, you’ll be better able to make informed choices about your health behavior.”

Translation: We’re not going to pay for jack squat, so you sure as hell better not do anything that may possibly ever mean that you’ll get sick.  And you sure as hell better pray to whatever God you worship that you never get in an accident, break a bone, get an ingrown toenail, have a heart attack, have diabetes, or any other genetic condition that requires regular medication.  That’s how you’ll make better health choices.  You’ll be so scared that we’re not going to cover you at all that you’ll end up locking yourself up in a padded room and throwing away the key.  Here’s an idea.  I don’t drink.  I don’t smoke.  I’m not grossly overweight.  How about you give me cheaper rates or better coverage, and make the idiots at work who spend half the day standing outside in the rain destroying their lungs with cigarettes pay all the extra.  They’re the ones who get bronchitis every two weeks.  They’re the expensive ones.

I wouldn’t have minded so much if they had just come out and said, “Our health expenses are going up, and as a new company, we don’t have the financial resources to absorb them all.  Therefore, your expenses will be going up as well proportional to our expense.”  I would have been upset, but I would have been a little more understanding.  But instead, they treat us like morons and present the new “Consumer Driven Health Plan”  like we should be skipping through wildflower meadows, holding hands, and singing Kumbaya in gratitude for this wonderful new health plan that will help us make better health choices.  I don’t appreciate being treated as though I’m too simple to see what’s going on.  Just be honest.

It just seems to me that, this year in particular, everyone is trying to rape me financially at the beginning of the year.  In January, my rent is going up SIGNIFICANTLY, my internet and cable are going up, my car and renter’s insurance are going up, my electricity and water rates are going up, and now my health insurance costs are going up.  You know what’s NOT going up?  My income.  I’m already trying to live a financially monastic life in order to get out of debt and have enough in a savings account that if I ever get in an accident, I will have the $50,000 in savings I need to pay for what my new insurance won’t.  Now my monthly expenses are increasing by probably $400-$500 a month in January, even though my lifestyle is actually getting LESS extravagant.  I’m never going to get out of debt.

It’s almost enough to make me start drinking.  Which the company would probably prefer, since it obviously isn’t willing to pay for decent health care, but is willing to pay for free booze at the company Christmas party tomorrow night.  Apparently, they want us to make better health decisions, which clearly includes getting smashed at the office Christmas party before driving home in bumper-to-bumper traffic on the freeway.  Healthy.  Really healthy.

  • WhiteEyebrows

    Yeah, that stinks.

    A year ago, they moved us to a high-deductible plan + Health Savings Account. The premium went down by 30 or $40, and they seed our HSA with a nice chunk of money, then they provide opportunities for us to earn additional incentives $ (for filling out stupid quizzes online).

    The nice thing; I now have a tax-free investment account that I can take all the way into retirement. The bad thing; I now look at my own health care costs as a drag on this investment account. I delay going to the doctor or receiving care because I have to pay full price for that care, and I see the full price coming out of that tax advantaged account. What good investor wants that?

    As it turns out, it’s bad for people to treat their health care as a ‘consumer’ – it’s better to get care early and cheaply rather than being rushed to the ER because you waited too long and wanted to save a buck.