Friday, April 28, 2006

Health Insurance Stifles Career Creativity

This posting is a continuation of another posting titled “Young and Uninsured: Living Without Health Coverage

Deciding on a career can be tough. It’s something you literally need to live with for the rest of your life. Sure you can change your career, but it’s not as easy as buying a new pair of pants.

Factors for choosing a career might include salary, work hours and conditions, societal influence, location, and more. One factor that seems to be gaining girth is whether a person can get health insurance by pursuing a certain career or not.

As health insurance costs skyrocket higher and higher, fewer and fewer companies will be able to afford to offer it to their employees as a benefit. Or the companies try to find ways around the cost – offering the coverage to some, but not all. So the list of careers a person can go into and get good coverage as a benefit is shrinking.

In the IT industry, companies seem to be relying more and more on contract workers – you work for a company but you don’t really work for them. Many in the IT field start out as contractors and pray for a chance to work directly for the company. As contractors, they get almost no benefits so when they do get hired, they want to hang on as tightly as they can. That person might be better off, both financially and physically, at a different type of job such as consulting. But consultants do not usually get health insurance.

Buying health insurance just isn’t the same as having it as a benefit. People I know have chosen to take lower-paying jobs just because the benefits (mainly health insurance) were better. My brother-in-law works as a civil engineer with the county. He could easily make more money at a private company but chooses not to because he wants to keep his job stability and health insurance.

I am sure my brother-in-law is not alone. There are probably millions of people in this country that would rather do something else but feel they can’t afford to lose their health coverage and other benefits. I am sure there are many people who would be much better off to reduce their work hours to 20 or 30 a week instead of 40+ but are afraid of loosing health coverage. It’s ironic that by working more hours to keep coverage they are risking their health by stressing themselves out so they can get health coverage to make them better – it defeats the whole purpose.

America is the land of opportunity. We are entrepreneurial in spirit and should be free to pursue whatever course we see fit for ourselves. But if we must worry so much about health coverage that it affects our choice of career, then it also diminishes our spirit and our pride.


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