August 12, 2009

Supporting a family: health insurance, retirement, etc.

If Sarah were going to buy health insurance for our whole family through the University of Michigan -- and she's not going to -- but if she were -- a comprehensive insurance plan for the 3 of us would cost nearly $1500 per month, out of her pocket.

That is the number UM would withhold from her paycheck. It's not a particularly fantastic health plan either; it's simply fine, and would cover Sarah, her spouse, and her 1 child.

Post-docs are somewhat modestly compensated affairs. But this is still a full-time job at a premier institution -- the 18th best university in the world, according to the U.S. News list. So the sort of funny thing about this is that, depending on the level of Sarah's retirement savings withdrawals, tax withholdings, life insurance, disability insurance, etc., if she DID get the health insurance for her family, I think it would be possible for her to achieve a take-home pay of zero from this university.

Again, we're not going to do this. Fortunately I have health insurance for us already.

But it really might be a nice absurdist exercise to get that paycheck with all zeroes printed on it. You could frame the paycheck in a nice gilt frame and save it for when the toddler grows up. Print a caption that says, "Full-time tier-1 university job with benefits, America, 2009." Put it in his hope chest!



Sheree said...

Hope... That Elliot's adult world is more reasonable than ours, or hope that things don't deteriorate further?

Amy E said...

Yeah, this country is in big insurance trouble. I can't get my own individual policy as a freelance photographer because of a "pre-existing" insulin disorder I was born with. Just last month, I was on the phone with Blue Cross ***begging*** them to let me pay them $650/month for a crap individual policy. The answer was no. NO COVERAGE.

I find myself preposterously forced to make occupational decisions based on the pursuit of health insurance. To have health care, I have to work at a company, I can't work for myself. I can't be the capitalist I want to be, because my health insurance options prevent me from doing what I most love doing.

Michelle Piz-Christensen was a full-time freelance Stylist making $20/hour before she had babies. Now she works at Starbucks, just because they offer her insurance as a part-time employee (one of the few corporations in America that does). Her paycheck IS zero, and has been for nearly 4 years now.

Yes, we have Obama, et al., and Hope, but big EMPIRical changes move slowly, and I fear we may not reap sound benefits of those changes in our lifetime... though HOPEfully Elliot will!

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