Today, some 10 years and 11 months since the last time I did it, I left a job on my own terms. I called my boss, asked to see him, and walked to his office with a single-page letter in hand.
It’s not something I’m especially good at, and, being a fixer by nature, it’s not something I’m usually inclined to do. And while there are several things about this job that I won’t miss at all, my main reason for leaving is health care.At first it was an annoyance. I went to the chiropractor. I go once every six weeks or so. I don’t have horrible problems, but a tuneup every few weeks makes everything work better. My old employer sent me a letter of encouragement when I started going.
My new employer and its insurer didn’t do that. They just denied the claims. Then they told the doctor’s office one thing and told me another. Way to keep the story straight. The insurer actually encouraged me to negotiate with the doctor and see if she would just take cash under the table instead of using insurance.
Aside from that, I rarely go to the doctor. I don’t get sick very often. My cholesterol was off-the-charts good the last time I checked it, and I eat healthier now than I did then. I go when I have reason to go. It could be next month, but it could just as easily be years.
My wife and son go more often than I do. He goes because he’s a year and a half old. My wife goes due to a medical condition. It’s not her fault and she manages it well, but it’s something she has to deal with, and doing so requires regular medical attention.
So every time they go to the doctor, after paying the $30 copay, we get a bill a few weeks later for stuff the insurance company decided not to cover. Usually the bill was three figures. The most offensive thing they refused to cover was my son’s vaccinations.
My employer wanted my son to get polio?
Well, probably not, but that’s the message they sent. Message received.
Compare that to the actions of my previous employer. The insurance company was hassling us over an anti-nausea drug that my wife needed when she was pregnant. I complained to the employer. They made some phone calls and my wife got her medicine. Then, at the end of the year, they changed to an insurance company they’d used in the past, citing better coverage.
That sent a message too. A message I like better.
So when I heard of a job at the previous employer, I sent in a resume. The main reason I work in this field, as opposed to being self-employed, is to provide for my family. My job involves some fighting, mostly to get unwilling computers to do what they’re supposed to do, but sometimes there are political battles too.
To do my job effectively, I need to save my fight for the computers. Ensuring that my son doesn’t get polio in 2009 ought to be a simple matter of making a deduction from my paycheck, taking him to the doctor and making a copayment. I shouldn’t have to fight the insurance company for basic, routine coverage.
I got the call today with an offer. They wanted me back. On top of good health care coverage, they also offered me a raise. That helped too, since I had several reasons to believe I wouldn’t be getting one of those next year.
So I turned in the resignation letter. My boss asked if it was just about money. I told him the health care was the clincher, and I told him about the large bills I was receiving for routine doctor visits. He seemed to understand. He even seemed a little offended.
It ran up the chain. I got a phone call from a high-ranking executive today. He wanted to know what would make me stay. He didn’t like my health care story either. I told him about what my previous and soon to be future employer had done in a similar situation.
He said I wasn’t the only one who had had issues. Now that I’ve thought about it, I’m not sure if that makes me feel better or worse.
He asked if I thought this problem might cause the company to lose other employees. I said I didn’t know, but it wouldn’t surprise me. The system works fine for people who don’t use it much, and most of my coworkers don’t use it much.
The problem is probably fixable, and he offered some solutions. But let’s face it: It’s a little late now. Had the coverage been adequate–it didn’t have to be good, just adequate–then chances are I wouldn’t have gone looking. But now that I have looked, someone’s dangling good, proven health care coverage and the biggest raise I’ve ever gotten in my life in front of me.
Why wouldn’t I take that offer?
He said he wanted me to stay, and I believe it. The only way to do my job well is to do it poorly for a time until you know the ropes. Then you get good, then something beyond your control changes and you say hello to mediocrity for a while, and eventually, hopefully, you adjust and get good at it again. And during those low periods, the phone rings a lot. It’s a painful process for the person doing the work, and it’s a painful process for everyone else directly or indirectly involved.
When I signed on earlier this year, I wanted to stay until retirement. The company put on a good show during in-processing, and, theoretically at least, offers a lot of opportunities to continue and advance your career. Having worked for a couple of different places where layoffs and cutbacks were a yearly tradition, I was looking forward to working for a company that was winning a lot of new business and seemed to have its best days still ahead of it.
It didn’t work out that way. I leave knowing I’m probably giving up some future opportunities. I leave a familiar situation for something different and new. And from the company’s perspective, they lose an experienced veteran who gained the bulk of his training on another company’s dime, and who will potentially be very expensive, and almost certainly very painful to replace.
But hey, they saved having to pay out a couple thousand bucks or so in health care expenses.