Monday, August 24, 2009

Staying Afloat Unemployed

Last Friday marked the three month anniversary of my husband's last day at the Boeing Company after having received a layoff notice. Despite due diligence in a job search, he continues to be unemployed. Here is what has happened in the last three months:

(1) Due to provisions in the contract between the SPEEA union and the Boeing Company, under which my husband was working, Boeing has continued to pay for our medical insurance--up until now. We just received a bill for $1,373.91 to be paid by September 1, for one month's health insurance premiums. But I will have more to say about that later.

(2) We have been receiving about half of our former income in the form of a weekly check from the Employment Security Department of Washington State (commonly called an "unemployment check"). By using food from storage and cutting back, we have managed to get by on these checks by supplementing them with 200 dollars per week from our savings account. Our savings are still in good shape.

(3) Mental-health-wise, this has been a good season for me. I seem to have finally settled on the right combination of medications, and having my best friend husband spend every day with me has been wonderful, as well. Because of savings and food storage (thank you, Prophets of God) and a good worker's contract (thank you, union and company) and unemployment checks (thank you, legislators), we have not had worries this summer and have been able to enjoy the time together, taking walks, grocery shopping, watching a favorite television series, and sitting at the beach, tossing pebbles into the water. It has been a very healing time for me, and I have been more and more able to function like I used to. It has been a time of Peace.

(4) With continuing assistance from state and federal programs, we will be able to subsist on our savings and food storage for six months more, while my husband goes to college for the first time. He is all signed up. His tuition will be paid by the State of Washington.

Our savings are depleting, but should last for another six months, despite the jump in medical insurance costs. This is because our insurance premiums will not be as high as indicated by the statement we received in the mail last week. As part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), which was signed into law by President Obama on February 17, 2009 as part of the Economic Stimulus Package, we are entiled to COBRA premium assistance.

COBRA (the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985) made it possible for workers to keep their health insurance after layoffs by paying their premiums out-of-pocket. ARRA cuts the costs of those COBRA payments by two thirds. The bottom line is, we need pay only 35% of our total insurance premium for each of the next six months. (A thank you to the President and Congress.) We have already sent our first check for $480.87, and we have just enough left in our savings account to do that five more times.

(5) Our hope is that husband can stay in school and complete a two-year degree in business management. The next six months look good. After that, we will see what Father has as our next surprise. His plan for us is certainly working out so far. (A call back to Boeing would sure be nice, I think.)

A thank you to lapstrake for the photograph.