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Do you work for your health insurance?

Posted Jun 30 2009 3:48pm

Last week,  a client, “E”,  wrote an email telling me how difficult it is to “.. have your life  so controlled by insurance as it is for so many like us (living with chronic illness). I’m disappointed it determines so much of my joy. And my son will determine where he will work based on who will cover his colitis meds.”

E was referring to TheNew York Times, Shifting Careers article, written by Marci Alboher, “Working While Chronically Ill”In it, I was quoted as crediting  my ability to make the career changes that I did to being able to rely on my husband’s  health insurance policy that covered our family.

I’ve been fortunate that my husband’s jobs have always offered group policies with good health coverage to our family.  But that hasn’t stopped me from worrying about losing that option.

This  illness taught me loud and clearly that the unexpected happens.  I’ve  always felt deeply that chronic illness leaves me a more vulnerable person.

When I became ill with multiple sclerosis (MS) almost 30 years ago, a short disability leave made MS  part of my documented health history.  Purchasing reasonable private health insurance  (forget disability or life  insurance! became impossible.   The only options open to me were group policies through a job.

Healthcare insurance went from being off my radar screen to high priority. Even if we chose not to take the coverage in my job, I wanted the choice.  Just in case.

E reminded me that so many continue to feel vulnerable and dependent on employment for getting the health care they need. There are many reasons why good medical care is expensive.  I wouldn’t presume to offer ideas about how to change this system that’s so broken.

But I think it’s terribly wrong that people, particularly those with chronic illness who rely so heavily on this system,  have to make employment decisions based on healthcare options.   It can’t be good for anyone’s health – employers or employees.

This clearly isn’t working well enough for too many who need it.  How about you?

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