Planned Surgery Without Obamacare

February 1st, 2017

If you’ve followed my blog, you know I broke my ankle on the 2nd of January. I thought it was sprained so I put off having it checked for two full weeks.  My bad.

I didn’t want to go to an urgent care only to spend a couple hundred bucks to tell me it was sprained, and to just R.I.C.E.  So I just did R.I.C.E. at home, for free.

But then, after two weeks, it was time. It wasn’t getting better at all.  The pain and symptoms were too much, so I may have conceded to defeat, shed a tear or two, and got packed into the van to go to an urgent care.

I’m not here to give you any medical advice, but I want to share things I’ve learned in this latest medical “crisis.”  I have found information very difficult to find, and I believe that no matter what your insurance is, it’s powerful to be informed.

One of my biggest fears/annoyances is paying for a doctor only to have them refer you to someone else.  And that’s exactly what happened. I went to the urgent care where they took xrays. The nurse who took care of me 80% of the time (the other 20% was a P.A.) said “do you want to see the xrays?”  Of course we (my wife was with me) did.  “See that?  That’s obviously a break.”  Ugh… it didn’t look very small :(  “Let’s go talk to the P.A.”

The P.A. basically said “you have to talk to an orthopedic doctor.  We have one in our network…”

That cost $119.

45 minutes later we were checking into another urgent care to meet with the ortho.  He basically said “You have to have surgery.  If it were 2 millimeters separated I like to avoid surgery, but you are almost 10 millimeters.”  I asked “how much do you think this will set me back?” He responded “I don’t know, but I’m guessing between $7,000 and $12,000.”  He gave us a few surgeon referrals to call.

My goodness.

Because we didn’t have the first urgent care put a splint on (because they said we would just have to do xrays at the next place, and I thought they’d just do it there), they charged us an extra $80 to make a splint.  That was a bad choice on our part.

That cost $119 for the ortho to get surgery and $80 to make a splint (that would have been included in the first urgent care trip).

I spent a couple of days calling surgeon offices… that was not fun at all.  But one office stood out, night and day, from the others.  The office staff sold me on using their surgeon, not because they were in sales mode, but because they were very nice (even after knowing I was self-pay, or “pay in cash, before the service”). Learn more about those phone calls, and what I learned for job seekers, here.

On that Tuesday I had made an appointment for the following Monday (which was the earliest they could get me in), and possibly surgery that afternoon, but then I got a call asking if I could come in on Thursday. I was elated to get in earlier.

With the 20% self-pay discount, that appointment cost $200.

The purpose of this post isn’t to be a surgery-log… I want to give you an idea of how I got to a surgeon I liked, and how much it cost.  So far we are up to about $520… just to get referred to the right person, and for him to say “okay, I’ll cut you.” Aside from a splint, so far there’s be no medical care (but hey, the xray and diagnostics is worth something).

$520.

In my experience, a surgery will generate at least three bills: the surgeon, the hospital (or surgery center), and the anesthesiologist.  What do you figure each of those cost?

Four years ago I had emergency gall bladder surgery.  I went into the emergency room at 2:30 am and had surgery a few hours later.  No shopping around.  I was pretty much doped up from 3am until I came out of my anesthetics, with some big nurse over me telling me to “BREATHE!!”

I wrote about the costs here… can you believe that the surgeon, after his 50% off cash pay discount, cost only about $800?  The guy in charge, the guy calling the shots, the guy doing the cutting and repairing… $800.  That seems awfully low to me, especially when the total cost of surgery and ER was over $20,000.  The surgeon’s got less than 5% of the total payments.

Well, here’s how ankle repair surgery came out, for me.  Mind you, this was a “pretty simple” surgery, with two screws and no plates.

Surgery center: $1,305 (after a 75% discount!!)

Surgeon’s office: about $1,400 (I can’t find the exact number, but it was after a 40% discount)

Anesthesiologist: $600 (apparently this was only a discount of $40. I’ve never gotten a good discount from the anesthesiologist)

90 days followup visits with the surgeon are included, although I’ll have to pay for xrays and extras. And I’ll have to have physical therapy, which I’m hoping isn’t more than $500.  Altogether, this misplaced kick-resulting-in-broken-ankle is costing a little less than $3,000.

Not fun, but definitely better than the guess of $7,000 to $12,000.

How might you get an expensive medical procedure for such a low (or “reasonable,” or “affordable”) cost?

  1. You shop around. Let them know you are self-pay and ask if they have a discount.  Don’t argue, just ask. You aren’t negotiating, you are simply gathering information.
  2. Don’t go to a hospital for a planned surgery (if you can help it).  Check out “surgery centers” in your area. This is a MUST READ regarding surgery centers.

Now here’s the interesting thing: After the first frustrating day of calling surgeons the doctor recommended, I called the surgery center and asked them who they work with, or recommend.  That was my short list for calling the second day.

I’m not saying that not having insurance is awesome.  Not at all.  But for those of you who can’t get insurance, you need to know that not all hope is lost.

Oh yeah, for those of you wanting to do the math… assuming I paid $1,000 a month in insurance, with a $10,000 deductible, I still would have had to pay for this entire surgery out of pocket.  Just saying.

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Myths and Realities of Old Person Job Search #AgeDiscrimination

December 15th, 2016

My good friend Norm from NYC sent me this Wall Street Journal article titled Five Myths About Landing a Good Job Later in Life. The author, Anne Tergersen, “writes about retirement” for the WSJ.

It’s a pretty optimistic, encouraging, happy article.  The five myths, which she busts, are:

Myth 1: I’m not going to find a good job.

Myth 2: You can’t take time off, or you’ll never get back into the workforce

Myth 3: I’m not going to make as big of a contribution as I did in the past.

Myth 4: The only type of work available to older applicants is part time.

Myth 5: The chance to be an entrepreneur has passed me by.

It is encouraging to read her article, and see the stats she presents to prove that those are all myths. The hope is abundant.

That is… until you read the comments.  The 125+ comments tell a different story. The story from the trenches is that age discrimination is alive and well.

I’ve been going over some of my old Ask The Expert interviews and age discrimination has come up. I’m a firm believer that it exists.  Recruiters and career coaches caution you to not let age discrimination become THE excuse for you not finding a job.

I agree that we shouldn’t fixate on age… I’ve seen the results of fixating like that.  EVERYTHING happens wrong because “I’m too old, no one wants to hire someone my age.”

Depression sets in, you lose any speck of confidence you used to have, and you know have a convenient scapegoat for all of your job search failures.

I have seen it. I have even had my own scapegoats.  It is a waste of time and energy.

I’m not saying it’s not real. What I’m suggesting is to not let it (your age) be the excuse for not making progress.

When your age becomes your brand, you have a branding problem. And, as CEO of Me, Inc… as VP of Marketing for Me, Inc, you have a task: to rebrand yourself.

Instead of being “that old guy/gal,” you need to be “the person with expertise that we haven’t seen, but we need!”

Instead of being the person who is “too expensive,” you need to be the person they “need to hire, and it’s a bargain to get you.”

Think of the old adage: turn your (perceived) weaknesses into (perceived) strengths.

I know, I know, this is much easier said than done. But I’ll tell you, you aren’t the only one with a problem in your job search. Be creative, be purposeful, be strategic, be smart, and attack the problem head on.  The goal is to get your next great job, not to try to change how discrimination works.

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Age Discrimination: Old is Obsolete

August 14th, 2015

Age discrimination. I hate it.

When I speak, it is the number one issue that every audience is concerned about.

When I was in my job search, nine years ago, I was too old to be a young person who would take a lower salary, and too young to be experienced enough. I was in the middle of two age discrimination points. I learned that no matter how good I thought I was, and how awesome my credentials and potential were, age was going to keep me out of opportunities.

In a job search seminar, the speaker said that the best way to address age discrimination in an interview was to address specific issues head on.  Like: “Just so you know, I don’t need to be on the company health care plan because … ”  Or, “Usually someone with my experience and accomplishments would make around $xx,xxx, but I am at a point in my career, and with my personal finances where I am looking for a job where I can really contribute to the company, and I am looking for compensation in the $yy,yyyy to $zz,zzz range” (where that range is lower than what the interviewer is assuming).  I’m sure those phrases need finessing, but the speaker’s point was, instead of letting the interviewer ASSUME things, based on your age, address the issues head on and move on to more important things, like how you can excel at the role and bring value to the company.

What do you think?  Is that too brash?

Here’s a BlueSteps article that includes a bunch of phrases you can use to communicate, or at least rethink, the value you bring, when you might otherwise be focusing on your age: Brains, Brawn and Bravado: Employing Your Endurance and Experience to Overcome Ageism

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Should You Dye Your Hair Black, and Other Discrimination Issues #JobSearch

November 10th, 2014

This weekend I had an interesting dialog on the Execunet LinkedIn Group about what you can or can’t say to job seekers. At one point in the dialog this comment was made:

“…on one hand, everybody’s peddled the mantra of constant personal upgrade and new ever evolving skills, to fit the market requirements. You know, physically as well. Those people dye hair, trying to look younger.”

I’m not going to go into any of the conversation, but this line struck me as interesting.  I’m going to go out on a limb here and say most guys don’t color their hair.  So, when they are at “that age,” and in a job search, and the hair is going to give it away… doesn’t it make sense to color the hair?

So, this is not a blog post where I’m going to tell you what to do. I think YOU need to make your own decision.  Here are two of my opinions, and then I want to hear what you think in the comments.

Jason Alba Opinion 1:  Personally, I wouldn’t recommend it, unless you have always wanted to do it, or if you are doing it for reasons other than the impression during a job search.  In other words, if you are doing it to hide your age, usually in preparation for an interview, then do not do it.  I think it’s like when you look at someone’s LinkedIn Profile, then when you meet them they are twenty years older… there’s just something weird there.

Jason Alba Opinion 2: If you choose to color your hair, for whatever reason, have it done professionally.  Especially if you’ve never done it before. It’s really easy to do this wrong, and have it look horrible.

So… that’s my opinion.  I’m keeping it short because I want YOU to add your comments.

So, what do you think?

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How to Explain a Sabbatical If You Were Taking Care of an Ailing Parent or Loved One

October 16th, 2014

Last week I was doing a LinkedIn consultation with a professional who had taken time (a couple of years?) off to care for her father. She has had a fantastic, awesome career, but didn’t know how to explain her years off.  She asked me how to explain this, and I reached out to career professionals in the Career Directors LinkedIn Group for advice.  The experience these professionals have is broad and deep, which is why I like getting input from different professionals.  Below is what I learned. I hope this can help you if you are in this situation:

don_goodman_headshotDon Goodman, Certified Resume Writer, GotTheJob.com, and reseller of my video course: LinkedIn for Job Seekers

I would say,

Sabbatical (Date) – Attended to urgent family matters now fully resolved,

or

Sabbatical (Date) – Attended to needs of ailing parent now fully resolved,

It is perfectly OK to help family members in need and all the employer needs to know is that it is completed.

mary_schumacher_headshotMary Schumacher, Writer and Coach, CareerFrames.com 

Hi Jason – I would also use a sabbatical statement such as the ones Don provided. I also might just insert a statement such as:

“Took two-year leave to serve as caretaker for parent. Stayed current on industry trends and learning to remain fully prepared for next corporate challenge.”

Employers want to know that your knowledge is up-to-date as far as their needs, and that your skills aren’t rusty. There are plenty of free online courses to help even those very immersed in their caretaker roles.

irene_marshall_headshotIrene Marshall, Executive Resume Writer and LinkedIn Profile Writer, ToolsForTransition.com

Jason — I don’t think it requires a big explanation. I would either put “Family sabbatical,” “Personal Sabbatical” or “Professional Sabbatical” without adding anything else in either resume or cover letter. It just accounts for the time. And I only use years, not months/years.

There are millions and millions of Baby Boomers taking care of parents (myself included). And over the past several years I have worked with many people who have relocated, quit their jobs or took part-time work to handle what their parents need.

It is very common now and nothing your client should be nervous about. You never know that maybe the person reading would have given their eye teeth to be able to take time off work rather than feeling guilty that their job was keeping them from doing it..

I moved my mother with Alzheimer’s into assisted living in January. I was at part-time work until about the end of July because none of her affairs were in order. And I’m still dealing with two attorneys, etc. even though I’m close to full time work now. I would have had to quit a corporate job.

But in the first half of the year there was absolutely no way I could have been doing anything related to my work for keeping up with my industry or anything else. I was up to 3 am, 5 am and more trying to sell my mother’s home and everything else. I would not have been able to even think about online coursework because it frankly was not my top priority and I was exhausted.

And I wouldn’t include “fully resolved” because I think it then puts the reader in a slightly awkward position of assuming that mom or dad actually died.

christine_robinson_headshotChristine Robinson, CPRW, ChristineRobinsonCPRW.com

Jason, I try to be as straightforward as possible, composing a quote based on the client’s circumstance. Also, I usually refer to it as a “professional leave” or “career break” because I feel the word “sabbatical” has some nuances that don’t necessarily apply to every situation.

I place the quote under the Professional Experience heading.

2012 to Oct. 2014: “I took a professional leave to attend to my terminally ill brother; following his passing, I engaged in a variety of professional development opportunities to maintain credentials and volunteer roles to keep abreast of industry trends.”

You get the gist. It may be wordy and it may be slightly shocking, but on the other hand, it leaves nothing to the imagination of the reader. Plus, the dates will (ideally) be captured by ATS.

Thanks to Don, Mary, Irene and Christine for sharing their thoughts – if you have a different idea, please share it in the comments below!

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I Judge Based On Your Appearance

September 8th, 2014

jason_alba_beardYesterday I shaved.  It wasn’t a normal shave, it was an EPIC shave.

You see, for the first time in my life, I grew a beard.  It was a five or six month beard.  I’ve never gone longer than two weeks before.

But this time I did it for a youth educational simulation where I played a role, back in early June.  And then, what the heck, I might as well save it for the youth simulation in early September, right?

I’m not really a beard guy. I won’t lie and say I “enjoyed it,” but it was for a good cause, and I could handle it for a few months.

Yesterday morning, less than 12 hours after we got home from our Saturday event where I played “wicked King Jason” with about 230 boys and over 200 adult volunteers, in a two-day training program, I shaved the whole thing.  I shaved in stages, first with lamb chops and various styles of goatees, all the way down to a tiny ridiculous-looking mustache.  My wife, a cosmetologist, helped me, and took pictures until she couldn’t hold the camera anymore (she was laughing/crying too hard to take a good picture by the end), made a very interesting comment:

“Stereotypes are really powerful!”

She said this around the time I had lamb chops and mustache that kind of dripped down my chin (imagine a goatee without the middle part).  This has never been my style.  My wife’s unspoken message was that I looked [ridiculous, scary, stupid, uneducated]… you fill in the blank here.

She knows me, and my heart.  But that facial hair stuff gets in the way T the stereotypes that comes along with that style gets in the way of 20+ years of knowing one another.

There are things we choose to do that stereotype us – from our dress to our language to how we move our body.  We don’t think it’s fair that people look at our ‘stache, and judge us for living how we want to live.  Why don’t they just judge us by our hearts, intentions, and who we really are?

Are people really that shallow?

Yes.  They are.  We are.  We all are.

We have all judged people by an outward appearance.  It might be something that person chose, like their color coordination, or something they didn’t choose, like their skin color or accent.

But we judge.  It isn’t right.

I wonder if it’s our fault for how we choose to express ourselves, or is it our fault for how we care so much about how others are, really, not like us?

Either way, discrimination is bad, wrong and ugly.

So where do we go from here?

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JibberJobber for veterans: why?

March 10th, 2014

Last week I talked to a veteran.  The call was exciting and rewarding, and I was again reminded why I give a year of premium to veterans at no cost.

I do this as a thank you.

I was reminded, during the call, of a call I had with a veteran a few years ago.  When he understood that I was offering a year of JibberJobber premium as a “thank you,” he got quiet for a while, then expressed heartfelt gratitude.  He said: “a lot of companies say they support the troops, and put a sticker or flag in their window, and that’s great.  But what you are doing really, really helps us.”

I had goosebumps and found it hard to respond.

After our call I saw this neat story in the news about the race in San Jose where one runner (Erik Wittreich, a former Green Beret) went out of his way during the race to shake the hand of a veteran… a 95 year old veteran, who was cheering on the racers.

erik-wittreich-veteran

It was a touching story.  But this part disturbed me (Bell is the 95 year old veteran):

“They showed a lot of love to me, and they recognized me,” Bell told ABC News. “I liked that.”

Bell was a former Army corporal who trained paratroopers all over the world for the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) that preceded the CIA.

“I never got recognition in my life,” he told Sulek on Tuesday. “I was a jumper in the OSS. That’s all.”

I think it’s kind of sad that Bell didn’t feel like anyone recognized him.  Maybe he humbly didn’t recognize the Nov 11, July 4, etc. holidays that recognized servicemen and servicewomen.  I’m glad that he had that once-in-a-lifetime experience… what a choice opportunity.

Now let me tell you something special about all of this recognition stuff.  I have been around military, in one way or another, since I was eleven.  I know people that serve, their spouses, their kids, and even their grandkids.  There is something I have learned, over the years, and recently as I talk to veterans who use JibberJobber.

Veterans, in general, do not feel entitled to handouts, help, etc. They do not feel like we (people, stores, companies, restaurants, the government) needs to give them everything.  This is NOT about entitlement.

They do, however, want a chance to show who they are, and to be respected.  Not respected because they are veterans necessarily, but respected as human beings.

How can we, you and me, give them that chance?

When you see special deals and offers for veterans, please do not think that it is an entitlement thing.  What I’ve found is that they are sincerely gracious, but never expecting or demanding.

We can do our veterans a better service by giving them humane respect, and a chance.

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Friction and Communication in the Job Search

January 7th, 2014

I’ve been working with a young graphics artist to clean up JibberJobber.  We’ve been working on “cleaning up” JibberJobber for the last almost-eight years, since we went live.

The problem we have at JibberJobber is the same problem I see on LinkedIn profiles, and company websites.  It’s what I call distraction, or noise.  I have said that every single word, even every character, either adds to or takes away from the message.

Can you imagine if Nike made a mistake and spelled their name Nikee on a few pieces of marketing material?

That would be a huge distraction.  Of course, Nike is well-branded and we are going to forgive them.  We already know who they are, and we trust them (to make shoes that are pretty good). They’ll probably get some awesome PR (like they really need it… not).

You, my friend, are probably NOT well-enough branded to get the same goodness that a spelling error like that gives to a company like that.  I’m not well-enough branded, and neither is JibberJobber.  Distractions and noise for regular people and small companies cause what I call friction.

Marketing friction causes discomfort, confusion and pain right away. The trust level plummets.  The thought is “if they can’t spell a word right, can I trust them with my information, especially my credit card?”  One little typo, or a grammar mistake, can cause this friction.

You’ve heard that your resume should have no spelling errors, right?  Any little spelling error can make an OCD reviewer gag and want to switch careers.  They can’t fathom anyone being so classless as to have an error on their resume. They take that one little error and disqualify you. The more OCD reviewers might disqualify you for life :p.  Regular, kind and even forgiving people might not disqualify you right away.  They might be able to read past a typo or two and understand what your career has been, and what they might get from you if they hire you.

I wouldn’t gamble my future on which type of reviewer is going to see my resume.

The resume error is one example of creating friction in our communication.  Friction also comes from the way we look, the way we dress, our accent, our punctuality, our body language, the grammar or words we choose, etc.  Friction can also come from anything the person we’re talking to might use to discriminate – race, age, religion, etc.

I’m not saying you have to become a vanilla, boring, mainstream person.  What I’m saying is that mistakes in communication can be “the problem.”

I used to work with a software developer who is brilliant.  He was the go-to guy that all of the other developers would get help from when they were stuck.  He understood computer stuff, whether it was hardware, software, networking, PCs, servers, etc. like no one else I have known.  But the guy couldn’t spell very well.  If he didn’t have someone proof his resume I’m sure it would have ended up in the trash bin, because there would be multiple spelling errors.

Isn’t it sad that people can’t get past certain criteria to see the brilliance of who we are? It’s the world we live in.

Here is the take-away from this post: What can YOU do to decrease the friction you may be introducing in your communication with others?

 

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Understanding the ATS (Applicant Tracking Systems)

November 7th, 2013

There is a lot of buzz about how to get your resume through an ATS (aka: applicant tracking system).  An ATS is to a recruiter what JibberJobber is to a job seeker.  It is a tracking system.

Before I go on, if you don’t think you need JibberJobber to keep track of your job search, realize that HR and recruiters are using some kind of ATS or tracking system to keep track of you.  Don’t bring a knife to a gunfight – get on JibberJobber!

So here’s a great article on ATS systems: Ensuring Your Résumé Avoids Applicant Tracking System Pitfalls

In yesterday’s Ask The Expert call with The Recruiting Animal, Animal said he doesn’t use an ATS, and that is really something that internal recruiters are going to use.  In other words, getting your resume through an ATS is not going to be an issue for ALL recruiters.

Check out Arnie’s article:)

 

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Awesome, Empowering Thought from Leah Harris

September 23rd, 2013

leah_harris_headshotI saw this article on my local news website a while back.  It tells a little about a keynote speaker, Leah Harris, at a conference of professionals that was sponsored by the Utah Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health.

The article is short and interesting.  But this one paragraph JUMPED out at me:

After years of considering her life in terms of her diagnoses of borderline personality disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder and suicide attempts, Harris said she realized there was tremendous power in redefining herself as someone who had dreams and ambitions.

I absolutely loved this.  She has titles that easily categorize and group and define her: borderline, OCD, suicidal (or, having been suicidal).  But her empowerment came when “she realized there was tremendous power in redefining herself as someone who had dreams and ambitions.

I love, love, love this!

In 2008 I wrote a blog post titled I Lost More Than My Job 2 Years Ago, where I talk about losing my identity, which I had encapsulated in my little professional job title, printed on my business card.

Losing a job title makes you a nobody, kind of.  At least, if you’ve been using a title to define yourself for many years, like Leah talks about, losing that title, or switching it to “unemployed,” can be very debilitating.

I tell people that I eventually lost hope, but one day I got my hope back.  It was when I came up with the idea for JibberJobber.  It was when I found dreams and ambitions!

When you lose sight of who you are because you listen to titles and stereotypes that try and define who you are (that’s profound, reread that), step back and REDEFINE YOURSELF as someone who has DREAMS and AMBITIONS!

This is so empowering!  Please share this with someone who needs to hear it!

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