Insurance Tied to Employment with No Safety Net is Worrisome

Ellen Powell, South Burlington

I am keeping fingers and toes crossed for single Payer in VT because I live on the edge of poverty and my health insurance relies on how many college students sign up for bass lessons at SUNY Plattsburgh each semester. If I don’t get enough, I don’t get health insurance. At the end of each semester I bite my nails, wondering if I’m going to get enough students signed up for the next semester to qualify for their health insurance for a few more months. It’s been like this for three years, is nerve wracking and it sucks. If there was a safety net under me of single payer in VT I would surely sleep better at night, knowing if I didn’t get enough students one semester I would still be covered.

Before I started at SUNY I worked for a small company in Burlington for 25 years and got health insurance from them. The company was sold and the new owners got rid of everyone, one by one. I was the last to go. I held on to the cobra as long as I could but it was too expensive, so I got group insurance from BCBS and had to pay to join the Chamber of Commerce so I could get their group deal. The monthly payments were draining my savings at an alarming rate and the deductible was $2,000. There was no way I could afford to pay off the deductible, let alone make the monthly payments, so I never went to the doctor. It was a serious relief to be hired by SUNY Plattsburgh- even though I go through a nail biting time at the end of each semester, wondering if I’ll get enough students next semester to get the health insurance. I am an adjunct lecturer there. I have no job security.

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