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On Monday March 17th at 5:40pm I was suddenly released by my company who is reorganizing. My job was no longer needed and I suddenly had no income. I was offered two weeks of severance pay.  OK fine; thats business. It would have been nice to have a softer landing but I can't complain  This company hired me when I lost my job of 25 years. I wrote about my experience here (Unemployed and job seeking; An eye opener into the health insurance Juggernaut)

At the time I was let go by my previous company at 52 years old. I had never been without health insurance in my life.  In that case I had a 13 month severance so I had time to deal with it but this was during the height of the great recession with the difficulties of finding work, the 13 months flew by. I was suddenly faced with the realities of not having health insurance in a pre-ACA environment.

This time around I have an opportunity to obtain health insurance with the support of the ACA. I am 58 now and although I am in relatively good shape it is still scary nonetheless.  I went from a six figure salary to a $450 a week unemployment check.  I work in the high tech industry in San Jose, CA so my rent here is just shy of $2000/month, still helping to pay my daughters college loan off and I have 5 years left on my mortgage (a house in Virginia, which I am renting out with the help of a property manager).  

Most of the focus of the fight for healthcare (and rightfully so) has been around less fortunate individuals and families of lower incomes.  My current experience gives me an opportunity to reflect and share how the ACA affects people like myself who are considered middle to upper middle class.  Follow me below the fold.

It sucks to be out of work anytime but now at 57  I worry that I will not be able to easily find work. The high tech industry is by and large a younger persons job market.(Silicon valleys brutal ageism)

Silicon Valley has become one of the most ageist places in America. Tech luminaries who otherwise pride themselves on their dedication to meritocracy don’t think twice about deriding the not-actually-old. “Young people are just smarter,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told an audience at Stanford back in 2007. As I write, the website of ServiceNow, a large Santa Clara–based I.T. services company, features the following advisory in large letters atop its “careers” page: “We Want People Who Have Their Best Work Ahead of Them, Not Behind Them.”

I'm fortunate to have worked at a company for 25 years with a good 401K plan with matching and profit sharing.  I took a hit to these investments on my last layoff but I still own a home (5 years left on my mortgage), and I rolled the surviving funds of my 401K into a guaranteed annuity (also 5 years away from fully vesting).  If you do the math I'm also 5 years away from being eligible for collecting Social Security so at the moment I have 5 years to go until I reach a decent retirement (I won't be rich but I'll be OK).  

The layoff puts me at risk as I might had to make some tough choices about my retirement plans unless I find something quickly but thanks to the ACA, health insurance is not something I have to be overly concerned about in this tough time.  What concerns me, are jerks like John Barasso and Jennifer Stefano and countless other conservative right wing ditto heads who are so terrified that the ACA will help people and become as accepted as Social Security and Medicare that they don't realize how ridiculous they look.

I know that the ACA is still far away from better solutions such as single payer but it helps everyone, especially the poor and less fortunate, but also more fortunate people like myself and rich people as well who will reap the economic benefits.  

As time goes by more people such as myself of all idealogical stripes will come to understand the importance of the ACA

Washington (CNN) - Support for the country's new health care law appears to be rebounding slightly, according to a new national poll.

A CNN/ORC International survey released Tuesday indicates that nearly all of the increased support comes from upper-income and college-educated Americans.

I don't know if the reality will offset the bullshit by the 2014 midterms but the trend will continue eventually until a tipping point is reached(ACA Is On Fire. Obamacare Now A Third Rail).

Originally posted to Hot2na on Sun Mar 30, 2014 at 05:46 PM PDT.

Also republished by Unemployment Chronicles and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Please let us know how... (16+ / 0-)

    ... your insurance options look.  4.5 million Americans have a job separation, voluntary or forced, each month so you are representative of a very large pool that will be eligible for the marketplace each month.  

    For example how does your marketplace options stack up versus COBRA coverage?  I can assume a very large variance but I'd love to know what numbers you are looking at.

    Down the road I'd be interested in how having an ACA plan could effect your job search.  Will it let you consider consulting contracts equally with full time opportunities?

    Thanks for sharing your journey and best luck Hot2na.

  •  Thanks for this diary ... (10+ / 0-)

    I really think the situation you are in is simply reality that's going to hit anyone of us, as we get older.
    Unfortunately, many of us haven't spend too much time thinking about it. Would be nice to hear more, as things progress.

  •  ACA kicked in just after my social security (27+ / 0-)

    survivor benefits started.  

    When I retired, I had computed that the big pile of money that had been set aside for me because I hadn't used much sick time would get me to that point,  but I actually only had 6 months left and the money would have been gone, and the policy the school had, that I could stay on, just kept getting more and more expensive.  

    I wasn't going to be able to make the school insurance payment from the social security.

    ACA to the rescue.  I was able to quit the school plan and the SS benefits cover me with a platinum plan each month.  I am spending $100 less per month, and there is a small cushion from the benefits each month as well.

    I fear the cost of the plan may rise if not enough folks sign up, but I do have the option to choose a less expensive plan if that happens.

    ACA worked out very well for me, and I finally have a choice in what works best for me.  I think the insurance company is probably still charging the schools a much higher premium, and the employees have to pay a bigger share every contract.  

    Like you I always had insurance through work, but I am very thankful for the ACA.  Just in the nick of time!

    If love could have saved you, you would have lived forever. & http://www.dailykos.com/blog/Okiciyap

    by weck on Sun Mar 30, 2014 at 06:24:43 PM PDT

  •  obamacare will level the field (9+ / 0-)

    for the middle aged worker

  •  Republished to Unemployment Chronicles. (14+ / 0-)

    Good luck with your search.

    I wish the ACA had been available when I lost my job at 60. No way could I afford the COBRA, so I did without insurance until Medicare kicked in. Very scary.

    "May the forces of evil become confused on the way to your house." - George Carlin

    by Most Awesome Nana on Sun Mar 30, 2014 at 08:57:11 PM PDT

  •  Medicaid estate recovery could be a problem. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    radarlady, riverlover, elfling

    Most of the loudmouthed criticisms of Obamacare have been debunked, but there is one problem that could affect you.  Low-income and unemployed people between the ages of 55 and 64 have to reimburse Medicaid for services they receive.  If you do not find a job this year, you could be put on Medicaid next year.  Section 1917 of the Social Security Act, and federal regulations at 42 C.F.R. 435.700, et seq. says that people over 54 may have to pay 100% for all community-based services and prescriptions if a state chooses to take their assets.  States can put a lien on the home while the Medicaid recipient is still alive.

    This is a partial descripton from medicaid .gov:
    State Medicaid programs must recover certain Medicaid benefits paid on behalf of a Medicaid enrollee. For individuals age 55 or older, states are required to seek recovery of payments from the individual's estate for nursing facility services, home and community-based services, and related hospital and prescription drug services. States have the option to recover payments for all other Medicaid services provided to these individuals, except Medicare cost-sharing paid on behalf of Medicare Savings Program beneficiaries.

    People who are 54 and younger usually will get Medicaid for free. People who make decent money get Obamacare subsidies unless they make enough money to pay the premiums. Only people between the ages of 55 and 64 cannot really benefit from Obamacare in states that expanded Medicaid. This discrimination against people over 54 who have been laid off and are living on savings is especially hateful in the light of covert age discrimination for older job seekers. Homeowners who are affected by this may have problems relocating to find new jobs. A lien placed on savings and other assets could make it impossible to pay rent and other expenses. The existance of inaccessable assets could eliminate eligiblity for other types of aid.

    P.S. Although I would have preferred single-payer, ACA seemed like a good start until I found out about this.  I am not a lawyer, but got this information from HHS memos and a phone call to them.  A detailed article is available at: http://www.opednews.com/...

    •  You sound very concerned (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      radarlady

      and you present a link to an article from a questionable source:

      Dr. Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury for Economic Policy in the Reagan Administration...
      Are you sure you are on the correct site?
      •  The HHS realizes that this is a problem. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        raines, elfling

        The source I cited earlier is written in normal English.  I was worried enough to read about this situation on the HHS website and to call Congress people.  The rules do not seem to be clear to any of them.  I was told that it is up to each state to decide what to do.  Much of my information about the application of Medicaid liens came from a HHS memo dated Feb 21, 2014:

        This memo says:SMDL #14-001 ACA #29
        RE: Application of Liens, Adjustments and Recoveries, Transfer-of-Asset Rules and Post-Eligibility Income Rules to MAGI Individuals

        This is an excerpt with the parts that concern me most put in boldface by me:
         Under section 1917(b)(1)(B), states must also seek recovery, for Medicaid beneficiaries who were 55 years old and older when they received medical assistance, from the estates of such individuals for amounts at least equal to medical assistance paid on their behalf for nursing facility services, home and community based services (HCBS), and related hospital and prescription drug services, or, at state option, for any other items and services under the state plan (with the exception of Medicare cost-sharing). . . . .
        MAGI individuals who were 55 years old or older when they received medical assistance are therefore not exempt from the estate recovery provision in section 1917(b)(1)(B), although all of the estate recovery limitations and exceptions described in other parts of section 1917(b), including those described in section 1917(b)(2), and the exception in situations of undue hardship described in section 1917(b)(3)(A), apply.

        Due to the potential barrier to enrollment that future estate recovery may create for some individuals, CMS intends to thoroughly explore options and to use any available authorities to eliminate recovery of Medicaid benefits consisting of items or services other than long term care and related services in the case of individuals who are determined eligible for Medicaid benefits using the MAGI methodology.

        In the meantime, states have some existing authority to limit the scope of recovery for Medicaid beneficiaries. They may limit recovery based on the eligibility categories in which the beneficiaries are enrolled; for example, a state may limit estate recovery to the services under section 1917(b)(1)(B)(i) for people enrolled in the new adult group – that is those relating to LTSS.

        Please note that states may limit the recovery of money spent on Medicaid recipients, but they are not required to do so.  I called HHS for clarification and they said it is up to each state to decide what coverage will have to be reimbursed by the estate.
        This is the source:
        http://www.medicaid.gov/...

        •  ESTATE recovery (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          WakeUpNeo, Curt Matlock

          That seems to suggest any funds that may be available in the person's estate after death. It does not suggest that someone (like the diarist) might lose their remaining home and assets to reimburse medical care provided through Medicaid at the time the care is provided..

          “Texas is a so-called red state, but you’ve got 10 million Democrats here in Texas. And …, there are a whole lot of people here in Texas who need us, and who need us to fight for them.” President Obama

          by Catte Nappe on Mon Mar 31, 2014 at 02:03:16 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  I think the real story is that the language (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Catte Nappe, WakeUpNeo

        is unclear and that asset recovery in this case was a possibility overlooked by Congress when sending additional people to Medicaid (along with the issue of people in the expanded Medicaid donut not being eligible for subsidies on the exchange). It needs a fix.

        Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

        by elfling on Mon Mar 31, 2014 at 12:53:44 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  A few things do. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          elfling

          It's a complex law that interacts with some other complex laws in complicated ways. This is one of them.

          Oddly, there is already a section in the law that deals with people left out of Medicaid expansion: recent immigrants are not eligible under federal law, so the law deems any poor immigrant as being exactly at the poverty line for the purposes of the subsidy calculation.

          Either of these are easily resolvable by a legislative patch. Now that we're past having to patiently explain the law to shrieking idiots, fixing it should be the next order of business.

    •  This was basically set up for those (5+ / 0-)

      with nursing home costs. There are a lot of exceptions you may not be aware of given the source of your cite.

      There needs to be a fix clarifying that the recovery should not include normal expenses beyond long term care.

      There is no lien if you are expected to live in the home again or have a surviving spouse living in the home and in some other situations.

      Since the diarist is not going to be using Medicaid your  repeated cut and pasting this is just alarmist.

      If you are so concerned write to Sibelius and demand a fix.

      I'm asking you to believe. Not in my ability to bring about real change in Washington ... *I'm asking you to believe in yours.* Barack Obama

      by samddobermann on Mon Mar 31, 2014 at 03:33:11 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  If the diarist does not get another job this year (0+ / 0-)

        he may be put on Medicaid next year.  It will depend on how much money he made and his family size.  From what I read, California is very thorough about slapping on Medicaid liens.  

        It would be better to address this now than to wait for the Repubs to make a stink about it next October.  

    •  California (5+ / 0-)

      California is a state that will lien assets including property for medicaid payments.  There is a committee assessing this policy combined with the ACA.  The policy is still in effect, but it may be changed.

    •  Avoiding medicaid altogether (7+ / 0-)

      is possible if you have retirement money, regardless of your age. You can generate just enough income to reach the ACA subsidy level, rather than Medicaid, through Roth IRA conversions each year. This tactic is even more important in states that did not expand Medicaid. There is no early withdrawal penalty and, if you have little other taxable income, you likely will have little if any tax liability.

  •  Wishing you the best. NT (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NotGeorgeWill

    "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

    by HeyMikey on Mon Mar 31, 2014 at 07:06:13 AM PDT

  •  Hey, that's rotten luck, Hot2na (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    OleHippieChick, NotGeorgeWill

    But I'm glad that at least you don't have to worry about health insurance.

    Gods, what a society we live in. We need that guaranteed income and we need it fast. My son, who previously has been headhunted out of every job he's ever had (except the first one) has now been unemployed for three months. Fortunately for him, he saved most of his income during the high-earning years so he's a long way from starvation. Still, even he is getting worried. He's 43. I worry. Gods, how I worry!

    Hope you're able to find something, Hot2na. Hey, you could always make some kind of living as a "Compu-Guru" helping cluessless old folks like me! I'm mystified by Twitter, for example.

    "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

    by Diana in NoVa on Mon Mar 31, 2014 at 07:34:28 AM PDT

  •  You can move money from and IRA to HSA tax free .. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NotGeorgeWill, Liberal Thinking

    one time, and use it to pay deductibles, co-pays, and any medical expenses until you've met your deductible.

    Withdrawals from a Health Savings Account and any interest accrued (if it's in a mutual fund, for instance) are also tax free.

    When you retire, you can use the HSA for Medicare co-pays and premiums.

    Democrats: The party of "We The People"

    by DannyB on Mon Mar 31, 2014 at 09:41:55 AM PDT

  •  After our crash (4+ / 0-)

    My husband also worked in Silicon Valley and aged out early.  He became a "day trader" and lost all our money in 2000.  We were 60 and 58.   My real estate company was ruined by the mortgage foreclosures that came on in 2006.  I am writing this because while it is a shock when all this happens and despite our living on the edge, we have had a good life so far and are grateful for our time that probably will be less due to our lack of money.  Without social security, medicare and our reverse mortgage I would not be writing this nor have access to a computer.  In many ways this last decade has been as fruitful as our younger life.

  •  ACA goes over7M: TOTAL Estimated Exchange-Based (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NotGeorgeWill

    QHPs: 7,080,316.
    The Giants win the pennant!
    The Giants win the pennant!
    The Giants win the pennant!

  •  Bummer man (0+ / 0-)

    Been thru that drill too many times in the last 6 years.  I'm a bit older, and not as well off as you are as a result of the changes.  I'm on a contract right now that's most of what I used to be making, and because of it, I don't qualify for any subsidies.  We'll see what happens when the contract ends in August.  Worst case is I'll be back on Rail Road Retirement unemployment.  They pay about half of what the state pays, even after requiring higher retirement contributions. 8^(

    Best of luck to you.

    “that our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions, any more than our opinions in physics or geometry.” Thomas Jefferson

    by markdd on Tue Apr 01, 2014 at 09:12:53 AM PDT

  •  economic treason (0+ / 0-)

    "Young people are just smarter,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told an audience at Stanford back in 2007.

    Well, that's a self-serving comment. I wonder if he was the same age & working at Walmart & living in a trailer if he would say the same thing.
           As someone who is even older and lost the best job I've had in years to some hatchet job of an evaluation I can sympathize. I never thought I'd be back in the unemployment office again. When I saw a roomful of people waiting 2-3 hours just to talk to someone, the notion that people would prefer that to a job is sick. The politicians who act like that roomful of people deserve what they get are economic traitors who should be in Guantanemo with the other enemies of the US. We would have a lot more people working if good American jobs weren't sent to be done by Chinese slave labor just so some billionaire could make even more money on the misery of those they rear-end.

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