It has been 23 days since my service at Shared Harvest ended. And in the past 23 days, I have frequented Career Builder, Indeed.com, Craigslist, and Idealist more times than I can count. Morning, noon, and night, I pour over the postings, find something that looks promising, and then customize my cover letter and resume to fit the requirements for the position. I gather all of my materials into a carefully edited e-mail, click send, and hope for the best.
So far this process has been tremendously successful for my husband, Taylor. If you recall, Taylor found a new position in a hospital ER and received a promotion, all in about two weeks' time. But this process has been a little slower for me. Sure, I've had some good interviews at some pretty diverse organizations, and that has been a great success in itself. It's difficult to make your resume stand out against literally hundreds of other applicants', and I am truly grateful for the chance to interview.
While each of those interviews has been positive, generally speaking, they just haven't been the best fit with my graduate school schedule this fall, which is a top priority at this point in my life. I already deferred graduate school for a year to do the AmeriCorps*VISTA program, and it's time now to move forward with my educational and professional goals. Working around a rigid course schedule, though, poses an additional challenge in trying to secure gainful employment. At this point, though, I am fortunate to have accepted a work study position at a local nonprofit for the fall. It will offer continued experience in social services, but unfortunately it only offers 10 hours a week or less at a little over minimum wage, so like it or not, I've got to keep searching for at least another part-time job.
It's tough to keep searching and stay optimistic, but every interview is encouragement that I'm on the right path. In the meantime, each day without work is another day not only without pay, but also without the potential for health insurance. It's an uneasy feeling knowing that I am one accident or illness away from serious financial trouble, and it's not a risk I would like to prolong. Yet, millions of young adults are in this same boat. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association:
A recent report by the Commonwealth Fund, a private foundation that supports health policy and health system reform research, shows that 13.7 million young adults aged 19 to 29 years are uninsured, comprising about 30% of the estimated 46 million individuals without coverage.
As I touched on in a recent post about the state of new college graduates, it's hard enough for my generation to find a job, let alone one with good pay and benefits. Like many of my cohorts, I am looking at a conglomeration of part-time jobs to pay the bills, not necessarily the pretty full-time package that most college grads dream of. And as a result, we've got to get creative to find affordable health insurance.
Option #1: Kick it with the 'rents.
With the new health care legislation, some of my peers are lucky to be able to stay on their parents' insurance plans up until age 26. Even so, many families are having difficulty navigating the new policy change with their employers and insurance companies, leaving many young adults with a gap in coverage or an increase in their premiums. However, I don't think I have this option because I am married now. Wah wah.
Option #2: Marry up.
I am truly fortunate to be in a happy, healthy relationship with lots of love and support. But let's be real--equally important is my husband's full-time job with highly-coveted health benefits. We are still waiting to receive information on the plan, but it looks like his coverage will be extended to me, and it might even be retroactive back to his date of hire. Still, this privilege doesn't sit well with the social rights activist in me. With this kind of system, partners in same-sex relationships are less likely to get employer-sponsored dependent health insurance than their heterosexual counterparts. Of course this inequality, among others, will continue to be an issue as long as same-sex marriage is not legally recognized in this country, but that's an issue for another blog post.
Perhaps on a larger stage is the need for dependent health insurance at all. I had a family studies professor at Miami who shared with the class that her impending need for health insurance was a large factor in deciding whether or not to get married and when. And that was more than a decade ago. The fact that many women (and men, to be fair) still must weigh access to health insurance as a reason to make a lifelong commitment to each other seems sad to me. There need to be other viable options besides saying, "I do."
Option #3: Stay in school.
Universities require that their students have health insurance, and unless you can show proof of coverage, this will be automatically tacked onto your tuition bill. Because I am going back to school, I will have the option to purchase insurance through the University of Cincinnati, which might not be the best, most affordable option, but it is a solid, short-term option should Taylor's health plan not cover me. And if we can't afford it, well, that's what student loans are for, right?
Option #4: Just buy a private plan for yourself.
Of course, if you have a pre-existing condition or limited income, this is probably your worst option, at least through 2014. And hey, even then, no guarantees.
So there you have it. Not only am I trying to find a rewarding, fulfilling position in which I can give back to society, I am also looking for decent pay, decent hours, and health insurance. The odds aren't great, but I'll figure it out.
Come to think of it, maybe I'd do better to play the lottery...