Sunday, August 9, 2009

Forty-Two Ways in Forty-Two Days- Benefits

I have many of your standard benefits through my job; Paid Vacation, Sick Leave, Group Health Insurance, Dental Insurance, Vision insurance, 401k, and a couple that are very nice but not so standard, Flex-Spending Account, Supplemental Life insurance and *Lifeworks*. The two of these that I am most grateful for are my health insurance and Lifeworks.

As one who lives with a chronic illness, on a "good" year I see my primary care physician twice a year, my rheumatologist 8-9 times a year, my phlebotomist 8-9 times a year and my pharmicist 12 times a year to fill 5 different precriptions that range from $4.00 (my folic acid) to $40.00 (my biologic) per month WITH my insurance plan. On a not so good year, I add in up to double the visits to my various doctors, physical therapy and other sundry items. Last year- my medical claims alone added up to $8353.10 and that is not including my medications- my out of pocket for all of that (again- not including my RX's) was 915.86. That is not a small chunk of change in either case. At the beginning of the calendar year I sweat my deductable but then I think about the fact that without my insurance plan- I would be responsible for a heck of a lot more than that deductable. It is very probable that if I did not have that benefit from my job I would have to take a second job just to pay those medical bills. That second job (and I speak from many years experience here) would lead to more fatigue, more frequent flares, more prescriptions, more doctor's visits and more medical claims. I cannot imagine where we would be without my medical insurance.

Lifeworks is an employee assistance program. The best way I can describe it is a resource clearinghouse. Available by phone or online 24 hours a day, Lifeworks offers information on topics ranging from personal health and well-being, life at work, and disability issues to financial planning, legal issues and managing employees. You can read articles online, listen to podcasts, request printed and video materials sent to your home and call for instant advice and referrals. Unlike the EAP's of old which strictly dealt with addiction and mental health issues, Lifeworks aims to cover anything in your life that might serve to make you less productive. Like the traditional EAP's- it is a confidential service. Our username and password are universal throughout the entire company. The only information that is given to the company is how many times the site or phone line is accessed per year. When we moved, I spent hours on the website printing articles about relocation, adjusting to a new place, becoming an empty-nester and letting go while maintaing a relationship with my adult child. The really neat thing is that this benefit is not only for me- but my husband, my son, any family member can use the service. I gave my son the information on budgeting, renting an apartment and living on your own. He also has the username and passwords so he can access articles that he may find relevant.

These two benefits have served to take away a lot of stress in our lives. Though they are easy to take for granted when you don't "need" them- they can be lifesavers when you do. I am fortunate that my employer cares enough about their employees that they have made all of our benefits available to us. It is one of the many reasons that I believe in the work that they do.

No comments: