This is about the reality of being unemployed.Â Read on…
Last night I cut my hand open.Â It was dumb, really.Â I had a table knife (ok, I’ve used it on steak before) and I was trying to separate 2 hamburger patties.Â I usually use the smaller butter knives but last night I just picked this knife.Â And um, ya, my hand was wet.Â So, it slipped down and I cut my hand really nice.Â Luckily the knife is super sharp so it didn’t tear any skin – it was just a clean, deep cut.Â
7 months ago I would have gone to the clinic to get stitches.Â Last night I looked up “Superglue & cuts” on the Internet.Â I don’t feel really good about the superglue thing (I’m sure it beats duct tape in a case like this) but here’s the thing.Â I don’t have health insurance.
My kids do – Utah is pretty good about getting kids on health insurance right away.Â My wife does, after we paid thousands of dollars for Medicaid (more on that below).Â But I don’t – I didn’t qualify.
So I’m standing over the sink washing out this deep wound and I get a little nauseous.Â But the wound isn’t gross – so I think I’m nauseous because I’m thinking about how much money I have in the bank, and I’m thinking about how much this is going to cost.Â I’m actually ready to puke.
So here’s the deal.Â Right now you have a job with benefits.Â You probably think they suck, but at least you have them.Â What are you going to do about health insurance if you are unemployed?Â I didn’t really care – because I wouldn’t be unemployed this long.
When we first got state insurance for the kids I was relieved.Â I figured they would be the first to have an accident (pretty active kids!).Â But because my wife and I had been putting 10% into a 401k we could not qualify.Â Well, she was pregnant.Â Even though we’ve had good births with our first 3 kids, I didn’t want to have a birth without insurance!
Our case worker explained to us that since we had over $5,000 in assets (anyone that works for 12 months at a good job will quickly surpass this small limit) the ONLY way she could get coverage was if we did an “asset paydown”.Â This means you write a check for over $2,000 to the state, and they put you on the insurance for 12 months.Â That would be good enough to cover the baby.Â So cool, she is insured, and we don’t have to worry about possible medical bankruptcy if there are complications.
Who has $2,000 sitting around that they can plunk down on this expense?Â When you have no income, $2,000 is a ton.Â Even when you have an income $2,000 is a ton (at least at my income level back then).Â I don’t know too many Americans that don’t live paycheck-to-paycheck.
The thing that killed me about the $5,000 limit is that it quickly eliminates the middle class.Â This is pretty funny because you hear all of the politicians and cops whining about welfare fraud (hey, I’m not for it either) – but someone like me, who is hard-working, pays taxes, contributes to society and all of that, I’m the first to get eliminated.Â At least we could do the asset paydown.
I wasn’t worried about insurance for myself because I’ve been out of doctor’s offices for the last 10 years.Â Low risk lifestyle, no injuries, etc.
Until last night.
Just realize that if you have no savings, or small savings, some small accident could wipe you out right away.Â You may be prepared to continue paying the bills for a few months, but don’t neglect planning for financial crisis.Â Like the Saturday after we got laid off we had our two cars in the shop which cost about $900.Â That was $900 that was going to go towards the bills.Â You just can’t be too prepared.
Finally, don’t send me any money :)Â I’m going to Home Depot today to get some Superglue.