Think About It: Securing your health is as important as landing first big job

By JP Krahel

Congratulations! You’ve just received a job offer in the mail from that local marketing firm you’ve been flirting with for the last few months. They want you to come in and discuss terms. You head into the office, brimming with confidence and prepared with your checklist of requirements. After a little bit of pleasant discussion, your employer says, “Here’s what we’re willing to offer: annual salary of $45,000 and two weeks off per year. Unfortunately, we don’t offer benefits, so you’ll have to get your own insurance.”

You’re so happy to get a job that you didn’t hear that last bit too well, and you go back to the residence hall to brag to your friends. As I said, congratulations.

Time passes by, and you’re in your third year at the company. You’ve progressed quickly and have nearly doubled your starting salary. Still no benefits, though. On a Saturday morning, you wake up to severe joint pain and odd rashes covering your body. A trip to the doctor and a few tests confirm that you’ve got lupus, a chronic disease that requires intense drug therapy and that exacerbates other diseases, like obesity and osteoporosis. You call up your boss and tell him the whole story, and he says, “Take whatever time off you need. I’m sure your insurance will cover the drugs.”

Your heart sinks quite quickly. You never bought your own insurance. All of a sudden, over one 24-hour period, your focus has gone from getting a promotion to affording to stay alive.

This story is unrealistic, you may think. Perhaps. You may well go through your whole life without ever getting sick. At the very least, you can survive a few years between the time when you are cut from your parents’ plan and when you get around to buying your own. But, to paraphrase Harry Callahan, do you really feel that lucky?

Is it worth the risk? I cannot stress enough how foolish it is for any job-ready, college-educated young man or woman to live one day without coverage, not because disaster will strike you, but because it could.

Yes, it is expensive. A quick Internet search will give you rates based on your age, gender, location and other criteria, and the prices may be staggering. This is why it’s crucial to make every effort to get insured through your employer. All things being equal, a group rate is always cheaper per person than an individual rate, which means that you’ll get better bang for your buck going through work.

If your current employer isn’t going to give you anything, you’ve got two options. You can buy for yourself, which may be costly, but at least you’ll have done the responsible thing. The second choice you have is to vote.

New Jersey’s primary for the 2008 presidential election cycle came and went this past Tuesday, Feb. 5. Come November, though, there will be a tremendous emphasis on health care coverage. The Rider News’ archives, other newspapers and the Internet all offer information on the plans of the various candidates. See which plan makes sense to you, if any, and factor that into your vote.

It scares me to think that there are 47 million Americans, citizens of the greatest country in the world, who cannot afford to see a doctor because they have no health insurance. I implore you, please don’t let yourself become one of them.

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