Friday, July 8, 2011

When it rains, it pours

Well that's a trite blog post title. But it's true...

First I got laid off. We figured out we could pay our bills except for the mortgage between Mr. Mac's salary and my unemployment so we thought we'd be okay until I got a job or I settled with my (former) company and got a severance package. But then "stuff" kept happening.

First, we've had issues with COBRA. (Do they call it COBRA because dealing with HR and insurance company is like dealing with a bunch of snakes?) When I got laid off, I got a bunch of folders with information on all sorts of things including COBRA. I was told I'd get a mailing after my last day telling me how to sign up for COBRA. Well, I got mailings alright. I got somewhere around five different mailings (I stopped counting after a while) most of which were 11 pages long and duplicated what was in my packet and each other. One of the letters said I had until mid-July to sign up so I waited.

What the letters didn't say was that I have no health coverage until I sign up and pay in full from May 11th to the end of the current month. And that it would take around 10 days after my payment was received for the carriers to be notified and turn my accounts back on. I didn't find that out until several phone calls and trips to the website and plenty of misinformation being handed out to me.

Oh, they tell me, it's not a problem... just pay for your medical bills and then file for reimbursement later. Because you are covered; it's just the carrier hasn't been informed of it. I asked them to explain to me how someone who hasn't got $2400 in their back pocket to pay for their health insurance can afford to pay $120 for a prescription. Naturally I didn't get an answer and I didn't push it because it's not the customer rep's fault that their systems are set up to screw you over.

As a result of this fiasco, I have not taking any of my maintenance prescriptions for several weeks now. It's been hot enough that most of the pollen-producing plants have died off and I'm doing okay with just saline rinses. But I'd really like to be back on the VesiCare and I'm not sure what's going to happen when MacBoy's antidepressants run out.

I asked our insurance agent for a quote on health insurance outside of COBRA. I know I can get cheaper insurance from a private policy, but it won't cover as much. Plus, they may not cover me because of the surgery. So I get the quote back from the agent in email and I can't open the damn file!

Like I said, if it's not one thing, it's another...

With the mortgage, we wrote to them and told them the situation and they sent back a form letter and said they'd contact us within 30 days to work something out. So that has bought us some time.

MacBoy's car insurance is due and we reduced coverage and that bought us some time as well. He's going to pay it himself, which is going to wipe out most of the money he earned at the part-time job he had last month. Maybe this will be incentive for him to get a real job.

The final kicker is the IRS. "Somehow" Mr. Mac "forgot" to include his income when he did our TY09 taxes. So instead of getting back what we got back and already spent ages ago, we now owe another $9000. I really don't see how that can be right. I am hoping there is something wrong with how he did the stock options and RSU on the form.

But looking over what they sent us, I'm thinking he did something so his work wouldn't take out a lot of taxes (because we used to get back thousands in refunds and we wanted that money all throughout the year) and now they are taking out too little when before they took out too much.

I have been poor before. I grew up poor. So I know first-hand how hard it can be to get out from under crushing debt when you don't have a lot of money coming in. You have to do stupid things like pay too much for stuff when you don't have spare cash. And any emergency of any sort throws you for a loop because you have no cushion.

I really don't want to go back to that place.
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