21 Responses

  1. CALpumper
    CALpumper April 22, 2009 at 7:13 am | | Reply

    I am blown away on all fronts.
    First, when do I move to Mass????????

    Second, it’s tough for someone who Is employed, has a chronic illness and the employer is a small business, at least in NY it’s tough.

    I’ve had a “story” for the past two years when I decided to take the job I currently Love and will Never leave so long as my boss keeps me.

    Living with and maintaining any chronic illness is tough.
    Everyone has a story.
    There are always circumstances and situations to consider.

    I wish I had “global” advice.
    Tammy got it right, “Never give up….”
    And I haven’t. I just now work and live within my means, as I always have but now I truly understand that and am finding ways to actually do it without stressing too much.

    Best of luck to all of you!

  2. Ken
    Ken April 22, 2009 at 7:27 am | | Reply

    When I lost my job in Aug 07, we stayed on COBRA while I did some self-employment stuff. When I tried to obtain individual insurance, I was immediately denied by everyone I applied with due to my Type 1. When my 18 months of COBRA ran out in February, my only option was to apply with my state insurance pool plan, which required that I had used up my entire COBRA eligibility. If I had somehow managed to get individual insurance back in 07, and then later got dropped, I would not have been able to apply with the state plan and would have been out of luck.

  3. Topics about Health-insurance » Jobless and Diabetic: Some Folks We Know

    [...] DiabetesMine: the all things diabetes blog placed an interesting blog post on Jobless and Diabetic: Some Folks We KnowHere’s a brief overviewA few weeks ago, our community was shocked to learn that one of the most respected D-bloggers, Scott Johnson, was let go from his company. Although losing a job for anyone in this economy is a hard blow, it is especially worrisome for those of us with a serious, chronic medical condition like diabetes — [...] [...]

  4. Eric
    Eric April 22, 2009 at 7:58 am | | Reply

    You say:
    “The Obama administration has created a new plan for COBRA, which mandates that the federal government will pick up 65% of the cost of COBRA premiums. Wow. Downside?”

    For a downside, how about the question of the cost to taxpayers? How does Mr. Obama and the congress expect to pay for it? More taxing our children?
    I sincerely sympathize with people who don’t have insurance coverage (my own mother recently spent a good deal of time in that situation), but we all have to understand that there is no free lunch; all of these government-backed plans cost lots of money (in most cases MORE money than something in the private sector because of the inherent inefficiency of government agencies [again, I am directly familiar, my wife is a federal employee]). As your friend the Happy Hospitalist ( says, the FREE=MORE strategy/mentality is NOT sustainable. I’d rather see the current congress and administration show some creativity rather than just propose that Uncle Sam pay for everything.

  5. Tim
    Tim April 22, 2009 at 8:08 am | | Reply

    Blimey – how scary. Thank God for the free-at-point-of-entry National Health Service in the UK…we don’t know how lucky we are.

  6. Kathy
    Kathy April 22, 2009 at 8:20 am | | Reply

    I’m soooo lucky to have a job with fairly good insurance. The thought of being without scares me. I’ve done COBRA and state health insurance before, and the monthly premiums were awful.

    If anyone in job trouble needs a couple Humalog KwikPens, give me a shout. I’d be happy to share.

  7. Scott K. Johnson
    Scott K. Johnson April 22, 2009 at 8:49 am | | Reply

    Thanks Amy. And thanks for the comments everyone.

    It is a scary time for anyone I think, but living with diabetes adds another huge layer of worry to deal with. I feel fortunate that my employer offered a small severance package, as that is not required and many do not.

  8. Mandy
    Mandy April 22, 2009 at 11:42 am | | Reply

    Seeing that newspapers are folding left and right, I have been hoarding supplies, just in case. Especially my insulin and my pump stuff. We have just been given a mandatory 2 week unpaid furlough, and I have great fears for what the future brings. For now, though, I’m preparing for a “what if” scenario, and cleaning up my resume.

  9. jacob
    jacob April 22, 2009 at 11:47 am | | Reply

    Really great post. Full of information, all the right details. The case of Melissa was interesting. It doesn’t say if she’s a type 1 or 2 diabetic, but most of us with type 1 who try to maintain tight control would find it very hard, if not impossible, to safely subsist on five test strips a day, especially if we have a regular exercise regimen. Seems to me one of the first lines of prevention the Obama administration should consider is making glucose testing supplies free. The savings in prevention of short- and long-term complications might be huge.

  10. Lauren
    Lauren April 22, 2009 at 12:06 pm | | Reply

    Doesn’t anyone see that the problem ultimately lies with the profit-hungry insurance giants? They are the ones setting these absurdly high and unaffordable premiums while making billions off the backs of sick Americans. I don’t understand why we stand for the current system.

    I have 2 insurances, the primary being Anthem Blue Cross. It’s an individual plan because, as someone with a chronic illness, I would never ever join a group employer-funded plan. That is a huge mistake. I keep my own plan, which is the best way to make sure you’re never “between plans.” I would never get rid of my individual coverage and join a group plan because those are dependent upon external factors such as employment. And if I wound up in the hospital while “between insurances” I would be in a very bad situation.

    So, I keep it for catastrophic purposes. On a day to day basis, however, the coverage is useless. And this is the crux of the problem. Insurance companies are the ones setting the premiums, dictating terms to physicians, and deciding how many test strips we’re “allowed.” Why do we allow this horrible system to continue?

  11. Scott E
    Scott E April 22, 2009 at 1:08 pm | | Reply

    These stories are the types of things I fear could happen to me – the best thing to do is be as prepared as you can be. I change my pump infusion set every 3 days (the doctor and well-respected guidelines say every 2-3 days), but I refill my prescription as if I change it every two. This way, I have accumulated a “stockpile” of infusion sets that I can use when and if no longer have insurance. Fortunately, this doesn’t expire. Also, since the number of test strips and amount of insulin I use varies slightly each day, my Rx sometimes comes up for refill before I’ve depleted what I’ve got. I refill it anyway, so I have a reserve (although when it comes to strips, I’m really not ahead of the curve on usage – sometimes I use more than expected and dip into my reserves). The moral of the story is to be prepared.

    (the “captcha” phrase to submit this comment includes the word “cured”. Oh, the irony…)

  12. T1 in Boston
    T1 in Boston April 22, 2009 at 1:43 pm | | Reply

    Thx to Amy for this impt post. While we’re at it — Anyone need NovaMax strips – the ones that communicate with the MMD Paradigm pump? I have extras (from doing what Scott E. recommends above, and then switching meters). Let me know – we can discuss off-line.

  13. Rosalind Joffe
    Rosalind Joffe April 22, 2009 at 3:22 pm | | Reply

    Scott’s story is painfully familiar. Living with a chronic illness makes looking for a new job particularly scary. Do I disclose, will this job have more stress than I can handle, how do I ask about benefits without showing that I really need them, etc.? Will I find a job before my health coverage runs out? Ford factory workers know it’s impossible to predict what the future marketplace will look like. But I’ve found that my clients who plan careers with their chronic illness in mind are able to be in as solid position as possible (see my post w/3 things to think about:
    Bernard F got a new job relatively quickly – He was smart because he developed solid skills transferrable to a variety of industries FYI -Read more about Bernard F’s career story on my blog, because there’s a lot to learn from his approach.

  14. Lyrehca
    Lyrehca April 22, 2009 at 3:46 pm | | Reply

    I have been between jobs several times and have relied on COBRA coverage, particularly when I left a job to go to grad school and when I’ve been between staff jobs and chose to freelance long-term. I also picked up a group plan for freelance writers when my COBRA ran out and the monthly fee, while pricey, was comparable to COBRA. Paying my health insurance bill was the first thing I did in those months and it was just what I did.

  15. Sanjeev Bhadresa
    Sanjeev Bhadresa April 22, 2009 at 6:12 pm | | Reply

    Having been in a similiar situation in the past, I know how stressful if can be to afford diabetic medication and supplies, even with COBRA coverage.

    Good luck to all!

  16. Brian
    Brian April 22, 2009 at 9:36 pm | | Reply

    The Massachusetts health reform plan has brought significant help to many low and moderate income people struggling with health insurance.

    In Massachusetts:
    - insurers cannot take health status into account. The price of insurance is only based on age and zip code. They are not allowed to even ask about your medical history, or prescriptions, etc.
    - all people must have coverage that includes prescriptions. This spreads the cost of prescriptions across everyone in the insurance pool, so that people with health needs don’t have to pay extra.
    - people can buy individual coverage at group rates. Both groups and individuals are all part of the same rating pool, and pay the same rates.
    - the Connector, a new state agency, makes it easy to buy coverage and compare plans on a fair apples-to-apples basis. The Connector only gives it’s seal of approval to plans to provide comprehensive coverage at a good value. Their website is
    - for low income people who can’t get Medicaid, the Commonwealth Care program provides sliding scale premiums, with good coverage. There’s a choice of plans, so diabetics can compare the coverage from the different carriers.
    - Massachusetts has long provided assistance to low and moderate income people in paying for COBRA, and now when you add in the new federal subsidy, the laid-off worker only has to pay 7% of the premium.

    A great service will help anyone figure out how to get health insurance in Massachusetts. Call the Health Care For All HelpLine at 1-800-972-4232.

    The Massachusetts model is being considered as part of national reform. Let you Congressional representatives know if you support expanding affordable coverage.

  17. Jim D
    Jim D April 23, 2009 at 7:11 am | | Reply

    Don’t forget the option of store-brand test strips. They are easily half the cost of the name brands and some of the chains use the same manufacturer for the meters. I picked up a Target brand meter for $8.00 and the strips are half of the price of the J&J strips and the lancets are very inexpensive.
    Also, the manufacturers have a lot of “free meter” promos which usually come with a sample vial of strips and lancets, so in a pinch this could be a way to get some free supplies.

  18. Mark
    Mark April 23, 2009 at 8:48 am | | Reply

    If you lose your job, you usually have a little time to use up your Flexible Spending Account before you’re officially “laid off”. The good thing is that you can spend all of it without having actually paid for all of it. So if you elected to put in $1200 for 2009, and you got laid off in March, even though your employer only deducted about $300 from your Jan/Feb/March paychecks, you can spend the rest of the $900 without ever having paid it. It’s true, unbelievable, but look it up on the internet. actually, i just found it at (see #7 on that page)

  19. JasonJayahwk
    JasonJayahwk April 24, 2009 at 10:56 pm | | Reply

    Thanks for the post. Perfect timing. As a T1, I was laid off this March and had several months’ warning because I was asked to stay on to close the division of over 800 people (I was one of the last 5 to turn off the lights). Even with the extra time to search for a new career/job, I wasn’t getting many bites with my applications. With twins and another one on the way, my family is concerned but thankful for COBRA and knowledge that we’ll find a way. Anyone looking for a proven IT Systems Engineer with a MS in CompScience, BS in Microbiology, and a record of adding value to a business through IT? Willing to relocate with own funds. :-) (Sorry, shameless plug, Amy).

  20. Lana
    Lana April 28, 2009 at 3:10 pm | | Reply

    My son (diabetic since 1993) who is currently a full-time student and has coverage through my employer is going to be registered for less than 12 credits next semester and will lose insurance. I am horrified. Any advice on any programs/coverage (we live in NY) which he might be eligible for? He doesn’t have any income, and I can’t afford COBRA.

  21. Fernando
    Fernando April 29, 2009 at 7:58 pm | | Reply

    WOW! Just a reminder, the government doesn’t “pick up the tab”, WE do.

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