Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Disappointing news

Yesterday we received some bad news. You may remember that we'd been told back in December that we would get paid and have benefits through the summer. Well it turns out that the person who told us that was confused, and we learned yesterday that our benefits will indeed stop at the end of May (2 weeks before my due date). J will receive a lump-sum payment of what they still owe him for the rest of the summer, but no benefits along with it.

It sounded a bit fishy to me, but his contract simply says it ends May 15 and that he's paid XX amount and gets his benefits while under the contract. They had been pro-rating his contracted salary over 12 months. But now that he's not coming back in the fall, they'll make up the last 3 months with a big check at the end. Unfortunately there's nothing in the contract saying he'll be paid over the summer. They only do that when people return for another year's work. When they don't, they get this lump-sum deal. It's just a tricky thing that HR does to save themselves a few thousand in benefit money (passing that cost on to the former employee).

We're pretty frustrated, especially because he works for a Christian school. It seems wrong to take away medical care for a pregnant lady so late in her pregnancy. At the same time, it's simply policy, they are not targeting us; the timing just happens to be bad. Fortunately J's boss is really pissed about it and thinks the whole system should change, and not just for us. He's going to the Dean to ask for at least one extra month for us, just to get us through the birth (but also for the whole summer if that can happen). But apparently HR is a little kingdom and their policies are hard to crack. There's not too much hope for an exception.

And really, we won't lose our insurance, we simply have to pay for the entire premium (if we elect Cobra payments). This will work out to about $1000/month for the three of us. Thus, it is $3,000 we didn't anticipate needing to have. Obviously since we're heading into a long stretch of time without income, that $3,000 could have come in handy.

We are also checking into whether we qualify for the state's free or low-cost insurance programs, at least for the baby or baby & me. One concern I have is that his big final check might disqualify us from that (which makes their method of laying him off all the more...rude...evil...unfair...tricky...I don't know, there's a bevy of fine adjectives I could come up with).

This is stressing me out even though I'm trying very hard to see that it's not that awful. It's not like we'll have no insurance, we'll just be paying for it a bit earlier than we expected. And hopefully we will qualify for some assistance, seeing how our entire fall's income is set to be my whopping stipend of $2500. There is still a chance that I will receive the fellowship I applied for; we will know about that next month. I know that we will be OK, it's just all terrible timing.

We did have one bit of positive news yesterday: someone answered a housing wanted ad I placed for Berkeley. It's a house that seems very nice. We can't afford it on our own, but if we find another couple or roommate to live with it might work. Don't know if we could find such a person, considering we'll have a newborn not sleeping through the night, but you never know. There have to be others in our situation trying desperately to find housing, and this place is a pretty sweet deal.

Well thanks for listening, like always. My sugar's up again, but I'm told that can be stress-related. Not surprising.

After talking with the people at Medi-Cal and Healthy Families (two of the state insurance programs), we came to a horrifying conclusion: we have fallen into a hole between the two programs and won't qualify for either one. We will have too much in our bank account to qualify for Medi-Cal (because they are electing to pay us this big lump-sum), but we won't have income which disqualifies us from Healthy Families (again because they are paying by lump-sum, which they expect us to treat as the next three months of income - only it's not over three months, it's all in one month). Furthermore, the artificially-inflated final paycheck will disqualify us from a lot of other assistance for several months at least.

So basically the school has not only removed our benefits, but their manner of doing so has screwed us out of qualifying for the state programs that are in place for people in our position. Thank you, Azusa Pacific. WWJD.

As to the other options: we can't qualify for our own coverage; we've tried before, but because of "pre-existing conditions" we were denied. So we can't get insurance except through group coverage. For the state coverage, we are falling into a hole between Medi-Cal and Healthy Families.


Kate said...

I don't know if you ever read Adam Walker Cleveland's blog, but his wife is beginning a Ph.D. program at GTU this coming fall. They might not be interested in living with another couple and a baby, but there's probably no harm in contacting them.

Stasi said...

Ha ha, yes, someone put me in touch with Sarah back when we were both admitted, and we've been talking about housing (and everything else) ever since. Unfortunately they're allergic to cats so we can't make the cohousing work. But thanks for the idea. :)