The pandemic has prompted a lot of discussion about job loss, job growth, and changes in the economy. Other discussions have talked about the impact of various lockdowns and work from home situations on animal welfare, adoption and rescue groups.
** disclaimer: I am not an expert on any of these issues and the following blog post is a collection of my anecdotal experience during my life and in the last year.
In mid-July last year (2020), I lost my job at a small local nonprofit with an operating budget of more than two million dollars annually. My job loss stemmed from my supervisor’s dissatisfaction with my performance after she asked me to move from a job I was extremely good at to a job I had absolutely no experience in. (Forgive these excess prepositions because this experience was so stressful I don’t want to waste time perfecting my grammar because even writing about it gives me great anxiety.)
Around the same time, we had asked Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab for help neutering the two about 9 month old brothers, Misty and Fog, that we had trapped at our neighbor’s house.
Now, during my newspaper layoffs and even when I left other jobs, my health insurance lasted until the end of the month as the premium at been paid. Forgive my snarkiness, but at this particular human services non profit agency, the powers that be (as there is no human resource department or trained human resource professional) cancel your medical benefits on your last day to save money for the agency, because if they dispose of you before the 15th (or so I was told) the insurance agent refunds the monthly premium.
As soon as I learned I was losing my job, I asked my husband (at that point we had been separated for a year) if he could put me on his medical insurance as of August 1. After all, my July premiums had been paid.
So you can imagine my surprise when I was suddenly without medical insurance for two weeks.
Now, from what I understand, COBRA benefits can be purchased retroactively. And our local hospital has a good charity care program.
So that’s the background. We’re in a global pandemic, I’m unemployed and have $5,000 to my name, no medical benefits, and two male kittens coming of age.
When they helped us get low-cost neutering for our “greybies,” we thanked them and I said the fateful words, “I wish I had the money to give a nice donation but I just lost my job. But if you ever need a foster, I’m willing to help.”
Foster cat godmother gave us our first batch of kittens July 31.
Yes, we have been fostering with FURR for a year and a week. Foster cat godmother can’t believe that and says it feels like we’ve been around for an eternity.
Now, if you are one of my friends or a regular reader, you may recall that on August 1, our sassy little black kitten, Hades, bit me as I tried to medicate her infected eyes.
I went to urgent care that day as the finger was growing redder and redder. This was the very first day I had medical benefits and honestly I was scared that they might give me trouble as my insurance had lapsed. Was that fear rational? No. But was in understandable in American society? Hell, yes.
About six a.m. August 2, I went to the ER because the finger had swelled (despite antibiotics) and I could no longer bend it.
On my second day of renewed medical insurance.
I was in the hospital for four days. First time ever, other than during childbirth.
My neighbor— an economics professor at a local community college— and I had the discussion this winter: Who should be responsible for healthcare?
I abhor the idea that this is the domain of the employer. Your access to affordable medical care should not be tied to your job. I believe— even without “socialized medicine” (which I 100% believe in but think certain improvements are attainable without it)— with proper regulation from the government and this system abolished, individuals could find their own health care.
Insurance companies would have to shift their market to individuals instead of employers, and they would have to adapt and market more affordable products but would make their money by attracting as many individuals as they could.
Anyway, the teenager and I were talking about insurance and I was thinking about all of this.