Epilepsy, health insurance, employment, and a stupid little town
October 23, 2006 6:17 PM   Subscribe

This question is for people with epilepsy or other lifelong conditions or spouses/boy/girlfriends of them, and is related to medical insurance and employment.

My girlfriend has a degree in Journalism, and has experience in a few other fields (graphic design, photography, video), all of which are relatively useless where we live right now. We live in a smallish (30k) town with no real proper avenues of employment for her. We have a year lease that's up in about 10 months after which we're pretty sure we'll move to a metropolitan area for a couple reasons, not just the issue of her employment.

In the meantime, she has a crappy job that she hates working with people that suck. She'd just take a couple part time jobs and quit the damn thing, but she needs medical insurance because of her epilepsy. She said she tried for insurance that wasn't through employment before and they wouldn't accept her because of her preexisting condition. Admittedly, we're both a bit uneducated about this since during college she was covered by her parents' insurance.

We're looking for people who've been through similar situations (stuck in a situation with low prospects for gainful employment, but requiring health insurance) or at least know what _not_ to do. At the very least, some sort of words of experience in general would ease her mind a bit, since she feels pretty shitty about the whole ordeal.

posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (8 answers total)
She should find out about COBRA. It is possible she'll be able to leave her job and still be covered on her insurance through COBRA (she'll probably have to pay more than she is paying now). I know people who have been on COBRA for 12 - 18 months after they left their jobs. This might be a possibility for your girlfriend?
posted by necessitas at 6:25 PM on October 23, 2006

I have epilepsy and the pre-existing condition thing really sucks. That's why we need to rethink insurance... but anyway. One thing you should check into for periods of desperation is give-away programs by the drug companies. I was able to get quite a substantial dose of my then-drug for free on a - I think it was tri-monthly - basis by filling out some forms & faxing them to parke-davis. It is not guaranteed and is considered a charity by them, but I was never turned down.

Otherwise, it's just a question of finding a job that is more suitable. If she wants to get into journalism, she can always try to work on freelance stories while keeping the day job - I know it's easier said than done, but I'd encourage her to send stuff out on a regular basis, expecting continual rejections but not stopping. That's the part that stymies most of us - a rejection can feel so personal that a few of them deflates the spirit. But you have to think in numbers - like, over these next 40 weeks, I will try 40 times - sending out the same story /proposal or a new one, but just hammering away, expecting 40 rejections, thinking of it just as a way to hone your craft - and then if something makes it through, hey, sweet.
posted by mdn at 6:41 PM on October 23, 2006

There's some good info on HIPAA and COBRA and how they relate to this at the Epilepsy Foundaton's site. My understanding is, if she was covered for the last 6 months (or 12, or something), she shouldn't be deniable.
posted by spaceman_spiff at 7:04 PM on October 23, 2006

I have hydrocephalus and am in a similar situation as your girlfriend. I've been in publishing jobs for most of my post-college life, too. At the end of September, I lost a job as managing editor for a trade publishing company that was about to start offering me health benefits—they decided to let me go at the end of my probationary period and hire someone else. Now I'm working for a different publication and I'm playing the waiting game again, looking forward to earning some health benefits.

COBRA is expensive, no doubt about that. My COBRA coverage from my most recent job that offered benefits has already run out.
posted by emelenjr at 7:47 PM on October 23, 2006

Given her condition, group insurance is probably the best way to go. If she's willing to take a couple of part time jobs, how about a full time retail job? Barnes and Noble offers health insurance to full time employees after a three month probation period. And a job like that would let her do some freelance journalism jobs on the side.
posted by Nathanial Hörnblowér at 7:53 PM on October 23, 2006

Your girlfriend wouldn't be the first to marry for insurance. How's the insurance at your job?
posted by crazycanuck at 8:47 PM on October 23, 2006

if you two live together and you have health insurance, she may qualify for partner benefits through your company.
posted by j at 9:09 PM on October 23, 2006

If her epilepsy isn't controlled and she doesn't have many assets, she might qualify for Medicaid or SSI assistance. This is how most of my working-age patients deal with this.
posted by ikkyu2 at 12:44 PM on October 24, 2006

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