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One night to make decision
Old 03-17-2009, 12:46 AM   #1
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One night to make decision

This has been an interesting year!
In early January had a physical because I just turned 50, all good except blood work. High white blood count 18,000. Diagnosis was CLL which is a chronic form of Leukemia. Unfortunately this seems to run in the family. Father died approx. 10 years ago and mother has had it for 17 years but has not needed any treatments. Hopefully I have the same nonaggressive form as my mother.

Now for the decision.
First thing this morning had a meeting with my boss and head of HR. Due to the current reduction in force my position was being eliminated. I have been with Mega Corp for over 22years. The firm would like to keep me and has offered a lesser positon with the same pay. In order to make the position available we would have to let go of another long time employee who I am fond of. He is 64 years old. If I do not wish to take the positon, I can opt for a very attractive severance package. Mega Corp has treated me very well and continues to. It will be very hard to leave. I am treated like family. I have no pension or health benefits if I choose to leave. I will get Cobra and will need HIPAA health insurnace coverage after that.

I have been running numbers all night (Firecalc & Fidelity Planner) and believe we can financially afford to retire. This would require a 4% withdrawl rate from our savings. Both programs show our funds lasting 40 years. We have no children so leaving money behind is not a concern.

I need a little help being pushed over the edge. I am nervous about the current market conditons, rising health care and possible boredom. It would be easy to take the lesser positon with same pay but I am afraid I will miss the opportunity to early retire with a package. With my current health condition it seems time is more important than the money.

After reading this forum for many months I can anticipate some responses. It is funny when the decision is yours to make how difficult it can be.

I owe HR a response tomorrow.
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Old 03-17-2009, 01:01 AM   #2
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I am sorry about your diagnosis and you have a great attitude.

Do you know how much HIPAA insurance will cost in your state? Does it cover prescriptions?

My two cents since you asked is that the health care from your job is reason enough to stay with it and not take the very attractive severance package. If your condition requires more treatment than your mother has needed, it could eat up your nest egg.
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Old 03-17-2009, 01:03 AM   #3
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You have a chronic health condition and you have to make a decision on a dime.

The other guy is 64, within a year of medicare and can collect SS.

You will pay for Cobra, 18 months, but what about after that? Can you get health insurance? Do you live in a state where you can't be turned down? Does wife work? does she have coverage? Is this an expensive condition to treat?

On the other hand you want time and will receive healthy package to leave.

seems like this is a tough one to decide but not much time. Can you buy more time to think??

Can you let other guy go, then decide to opt out later?

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Old 03-17-2009, 01:08 AM   #4
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Wow, tough situation. I personally would probably leave rather than be involved in forcing someone else out. However, it would help to know if the 64 yo guy is planning on leaving anytime soon. Maybe he would get a better package, and he's eligible for SS and Medicare. If he's planning to retire next year, or if he's going to get axed the next time, I'd probably stay. If there's no way of knowing any of these things, I think I'd choose to stay. You've got a rough situation, in that after Cobra you'll have to find coverage with a serious pre-existing condition. I would hate to go out without having my long term medical coverage in place. Of course, if you think you can find another job to tide you over until you have your ducks in a tighter row, that might be a good option too.

Good luck in making your decision. Let us know what happens.
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Old 03-17-2009, 02:16 AM   #5
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Thanks for the quick replies harley, jug and Bestwifeever.

It is my understanding that HIPAA is a federal law and requires insurance companies to guaranty coverage for folks who have had continual coverage. It is approx. 2 times the cost of normal coverage but I am not sure about perscriptions. I will need to do more research on that.

The other guy is a long time colleague who has worked for me many years. His name has come up on previous RIF lists and I have been able to save him. This is the third time we have had to let staff go. Each is getting more difficult, it is not fun having these discussions with folks who have worked so hard for me in the past. I am afraid this downturn in the economy will require additional reductions.

I spoke to one of the owners who is settting me up with the most experienced CLL doctor in the country. He indicated I maybe able to work either as a consultant or part time in order to keep the health care. He is a great guy and almost feels like my brother. This is what makes the decision so hard. The reason for the quick decision is so all the reorganization can be complete by Thursday.
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Old 03-17-2009, 06:16 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by planning2fire View Post
Thanks for the quick replies harley, jug and Bestwifeever.

It is my understanding that HIPAA is a federal law and requires insurance companies to guaranty coverage for folks who have had continual coverage. It is approx. 2 times the cost of normal coverage but I am not sure about perscriptions. I will need to do more research on that.
.
Uhhh, I don't believe there is any law aside from cobra requiring a company to insure you, and cobra is temporary 18-36 months. HIPAA is the law I believe that deals with privacy issues.

If this be the case, the bottom line is that you have a condition and you need insurance. After Cobra runs out what are you going to do? The other guy is almost medicare eligible. He's covered, you need time to think.

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Old 03-17-2009, 06:35 AM   #7
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This is a decision of huge importance and you need time to do some serious research on health coverage in your state. No way would I be willing take any chance of losing coverage with the medical condition you describe. You can easily paint yourself into a corner and not realize it until it is too late.

Unless you can get your employer to delay the deadline on your decision to allow you to thoroughly research your health insurance options, stay employed.
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Old 03-17-2009, 06:38 AM   #8
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I am in the take the other job right now camp... the other guy will get the good severance that will take him to SS etc...
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Old 03-17-2009, 06:54 AM   #9
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Planning, once COBRA expires it will be virtually impossible for you will to get private health insurance without an exclusion for your condition. I see where California has a state high risk pool, but looks like that isn't a viable option for you based on this Oct 08 LA Times article:

California high-risk pool for medically uninsurable helps fewer residents

"A $75,000 benefit cap, high deductible and costly premiums make the program unavailable, ineffective or unaffordable for many chronically ill people."

Also, regardless of the owner's good intentions, be very cautious of being able to keep health coverage as a consultant or even going part time.

Take the job offer for the full time reduced position and stay employed...
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Old 03-17-2009, 06:54 AM   #10
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Take the other job. The other guy will get his severence and could more than likely last on it until SS/medicare kicks in. You have 15 years to medicare, and if you work just one more year you will more than likely pull in more income than had you taken the severence and medical will be taken care of for at least that long. Then, over time, negotiate PT/consulting work that will allow you to keep medical and yet slow down enough to take the time to care for yourself and to smell the roses.

Good luck with the difficult choice you face.

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Old 03-17-2009, 07:30 AM   #11
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I Think a copy of this thread needs to go to the decision makers on National Healthcare. You may even get to sit in the upper deck during the POTUS SotN speech.
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Old 03-17-2009, 08:14 AM   #12
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This is another example of just how badly the link between employment and health insurance needs to be severed. Any more than that would start getting political, so I'll leave it at that for this particular thread...
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Old 03-17-2009, 08:28 AM   #13
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Quote:
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Take the other job. The other guy will get his severence and could more than likely last on it until SS/medicare kicks in. You have 15 years to medicare, and if you work just one more year you will more than likely pull in more income than had you taken the severence and medical will be taken care of for at least that long. Then, over time, negotiate PT/consulting work that will allow you to keep medical and yet slow down enough to take the time to care for yourself and to smell the roses.

Good luck with the difficult choice you face.

R
Ditto. Take the other job!! You don't yet know what you are dealing with, medically. It is unthinkable to back yourself into a position in which eventually you may not be able to afford the best medical care or treatment for your condition, should it worsen.

It MIGHT be tough on the other guy, but it's a jungle out there and you aren't a charitable organization. Besides, he might be looking forward to the severance pay and/or unemployment and might actually be toughing it out hoping for a layoff. You don't know and shouldn't take his situation into account when making your decision.
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Old 03-17-2009, 08:49 AM   #14
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It MIGHT be tough on the other guy, but it's a jungle out there and you aren't a charitable organization. Besides, he might be looking forward to the severance pay and/or unemployment and might actually be toughing it out hoping for a layoff.
I agree. Plus, since the guy is 64, the guy can practically "taste" the retirement safety nets (already eligible to collect SS and within months of Medicare). Hopefully the severance could fund whatever COBRA he'd have to pay until he turned 65 and then some.
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Old 03-17-2009, 09:12 AM   #15
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First Cobra can be very expensive so research what your actual costs would be with another plan and a stiff cost increase per year 15%(?).
Personally, I would lean to staying with the company - keeping my illness quiet - until I had a very good handle about the condition I have and how it will affect my life. Not just because of insurance but, because it might affect my options if I were to retire. For example, if I wanted to have a very active and physical retirement but my illness didn't allow it; I would stay working and incorporate that restriction into my life planning.
I would not take into consideration the other people that might get laid off - if it wasn't one of them it would be someone in the company.
Good luck with your difficult decision.
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Old 03-17-2009, 09:39 AM   #16
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Hi planning2retire.

First off, I have to say that it really stinks that they have put you in this position -- to stay employed, you have to in essence lay off a friend. That is a miserable thing they have done to you.

They should not have put you in that position, so I think you have to make your decision as if you didn't know that piece.

You're at a tough age to be shopping for health insurance and your condition sounds like something that will make any insurer cautious. I don't think you can risk retirement now without having a solution to the insurance question. Health insurance rules vary greatly from state to state and you really need to find out where you stand. Perhaps there's a state high risk pool that is affordable. Perhaps your state mandates that you be able to buy insurance without underwriting. There's an excellent FAQ on buying private health insurance you should review.

Best of luck with your very difficult decision.

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Old 03-17-2009, 10:19 AM   #17
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I'd stay with the sure-thing health insurance option for sure. You may even be able to creep down to less than full-time and keep the insurance, even if you had to chip in.

FWIW, CLL is often a disease which runs along for decades with little or no impact on quality of life. Best wishes on that -optimisim is appropriate.

At the risk of redundancy, don't give up the insurance. Maybe in a couple of years health care reform will open other options but for now, cling to it.
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Old 03-17-2009, 10:32 AM   #18
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Sorry about your dilemma . I'd stay for the health insurance and also to make my retirement a little more secure . This year has shown us that it is better to have some padding in the budget then to just be making it on 4%.
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Old 03-17-2009, 11:03 AM   #19
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Thanks everyone for your thoughtful and gracious replies. I appreciate your common sense approach to my situation. I am either incorrect or naive regarding HIPAA. My research has indicated that in California, my current state, and Florida possible retirement location both have HIPAA insurance plans available. I have reviewed the requirements and a quote sheet for the California programs. Florida was a lot harder to get info. After placing a request for a quote I was immediately bombarded by telephone solicitors who were not very interested in helping once I told them about CLL. A gentlemen did give me a verbal quote and said I needed to fill in an application to get it in writing. The cost of these plans was roughly $800 per month. Does this seem correct or am I totally off base?
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Old 03-17-2009, 11:19 AM   #20
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The cost of these plans was roughly $800 per month. Does this seem correct or am I totally off base?
We are in Tampa and pay over $1100 monthly for a family (just us 2 now) plan, so $800 does not sound too bad.

But most states limit HIPAA coverage to 18 months -- that's the real issue. What would you do thereafter until you reached age 65? HIPAA is 'stop gap" coverage at best.
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