Making It All Work: Consider Your Health When Starting a New Job
Last updated: April 2022
I'm pacing around the house, saying, "will they call?" My family keeps calling to check on the status of my interviews. "Should I have told that many people? What if I don't get the job?" raced continuously through my head. At 10 pm, "Phew, I got the job," left my lips while talking to the human resources department. Two days later, I received another offer.
While the newly employed often review salary, vacation time, job duties, the first page I read in an offer is the benefits page.
Health insurance for lupus
My mother, Dorothy, is always right if you have read my other articles. She is a hospital social worker and once told me to work for a large company because the larger companies are likely to offer better medical benefits. Medical insurance secures my ability to see my 9 'ologists. Does it mean that I will continue to receive Benlysta infusions to treat my lupus and Humira shots to treat my Hidradenitis Suppurativa? It also secures my ability to see my therapist using my employee assistance program, which provides free services and medical insurance.
I've learned that larger employers can negotiate better medical benefits—the larger the employer and the larger the insurance provider, the more chances of keeping my providers. In fact, some employers, like my own, provide multiple insurance packages with various companies. If the medical insurance benefits offered by the employer are not an option, some states provide alternative state insurance policies through state policies and through the Affordable Care Act. Ask your employer to provide you with medical insurance or a stipend to cover insurance premiums
Other insurance options with lupus
In 2018, I suffered from septic shock; my organs were beginning to fail, and I needed 6 months of medical leave. Given that I did not have short-term disability insurance or life insurance through my employer or my husband's employer, we had to rely on family for financial support.
When I think about my 10 years with the government, I remember a plethora of short-term disability insurance programs, life insurance programs, accidental injury insurance programs, etc. I am usually rejected by most supplemental life insurance and short-term disability insurance policies because I have lupus. Occasionally, I have found supplemental life insurance policies that provide benefits without the need for a physical or medical history. My current employer provides short-term and long-term disability benefits, but the plan excludes one year's claims related to a pre-existing condition. It reminds me of my college years when medical insurance did not cover pre-existing conditions.
Job accommodations with lupus
Even though I am not legally obligated to tell my employer about my medical condition or conditions, it is difficult to hide because of my work. In either case, I always complete a work accommodation form with the employer to make sure that I receive any accommodations prescribed by my doctor and permitted under the Americans With Disabilities Act. In 2019, not long after I suffered septic shock, I started working from home because the long commute and stressful environment reduced my productivity and endangered my health. My employer obliged after explaining in a detailed letter.
When asking your doctor to submit a work accommodations form to your employer, be creative and think of how you feel on your worst day. Do you require a nap? Do you need to go for a walk? Do you need to alter your schedule? Today, I have written a 30-minute nap into my schedule. One of my lupus warriors works for her family, and they provide a couch for her naps. It does not hurt to ask for every accommodation even if it seems impossible because your mind, your body, and your life comes first. You come first. It is your right.
Have there been things you have learned along your lupus journey that you wish had been explained to you by a healthcare provider earlier?