Sunday, February 28, 2010

Quitting my Job

At the beginning of January I quit my job, leaving corporate America. My employer was surprised but I had been working on my escape for quite some time. I had been saving money and acquiring equipment for my next adventure, a coffee house.

A major complaint I had about my employer was a shift to completely bottom line thinking. I decided that my leaving the company should be on the same terms. I submitted my resignation at an inconvenient time for the company with an offer to continue working for some period of time for, effectively, more money. They refused and I left. I won't be requesting a recommendation.

It has now been a couple of months and the results are mixed. In some ways my life has improved. I have been spending more time at the gym. Over the past three or four years my fitness level has plummeted and my weight spiked. Since I quit both my weight and resting heart rate have slowly decreased. I have also moved more toward what I consider my genuine self. I have volunteered time to a local food co-op and even marched in the Martin Luther King day parade.

On the other hand, my stress level has not decreased. The new business is a gamble and progress has been slower than I would like. This has left me with free time that I have not used as productively as I would like. I should be writing more blog posts. I should be playing more music. I should be working more aggressively on some business related activities. I don't always deal with stress in the most productive ways.

Heath care in the US outside of a corporate umbrella is difficult. Assuming we can get any coverage at all it looks like the best I can do is about $450/month with a $10,000 yearly deductible. That means Sarah and I are on our own in any year we spend less than $10,000 out of pocket. On one hand this is what insurance is for, protection against catastrophic loss. On the other hand, the rates seem high for this kind of protection.

A number of years ago one of my swim buddies was irritated with his wife. He likes beer and she sometimes worries that he is drinking too much. She mentioned this in an exam with his doctor. He said that even if he had a problem, his doctor should be the last person to hear about it. If his doctor wrote anything down, it would go into the insurance database and future insurance coverage might either increase in cost or be denied.

Sarah and I ran into a version of this in our insurance application. Before I left my corporate job, we made sure that we had preventive care done. I got my eyes checked (I do this every couple of decades) and Sarah went in for a physical. One of the tests recommended for someone of her age is a bone density scan. The results showed lower density than desired. While this is good to know and treat, on our insurance application it comes up as a potential chronic, expensive condition. By requesting the scan, the physician actually did Sarah a disservice. A possible consequences is that we may be denied coverage for anything related to bone density for one or more years. At worst, our request for insurance may be denied altogether.

Yes, there is a global health database maintained and used by all the major US insurance companies. If you have health insurance, one of the papers you sign is an agreement to disclose everything to the insurance company. That information goes into the shared database. The database is not used to improve your health care, it is used to determine risk and reduce insurance company payouts.

The coffee house is progressing. I am negotiating a space and think I have basically come to terms with the landlord. The location is good and the costs look do-able. The next few months will be really exciting. I expect that all free time will evaporate and just hope I can keep up the gym visits.