Sunday, October 02, 2005

I’m actually an “employee” again…

I inked a deal on Friday, with the contract house that has been finding and administrating my contracts, ITI .

For the past year or so I’ve been an independent contractor, a ‘1099’ employee. While that’s been fine, it also meant I had to keep track of my tax liabilities, provide my own medical and dental as well as set up my own retirement account and so on.

I've had very little contact with these folks over the last year. I met a few people at the start of the contract, but, as it was only supposed to be six (6) weeks long, I wasn't expecting to see too much of them. There have been one or two phone calls, mainly me calling to give them a 'heads up' about contract extensions and so on, but, all in all, they've been very transparent in the process.

I had lunch (for the first time) with the owner and one of the reps this week and during the meal they discussed the idea of me becoming an regular (W-2) type "employee".

I have to admit I was a bit torn. On one hand it’s been nice being independent, I work the hours I want, no problem keeping up with ‘paid time off’ (as there is none) and every hour I am billable for, I get paid for. All in all, a straight up and fair to all parties, deal.

There had also been the possibility (as mentioned to me several times troughout the year) that the client was going to hire me, but last week in several conversations it became pretty clear that wasn’t going to happen any time soon. My manager explained that, for next year I’d been put in the budget as a contractor, not an employee. Not a big deal, in and of itself, to me.

I figured I could buy my own health insurance (as COBRA will be ending soon), continue to fund my own 401K and just continue doing what I’d been doing.

However, when Maryan and I were going through the mail one evening this week my thoughts began to change.

It seems my previous employer had elected to switch health insurance carriers (once again, not a big deal by itself). However, the new plan isn’t in the new insurance company’s “system” yet, and, some of the health care providers we’ve been dealing with for Maryan’s back are not ‘in network’ and the new company requires ‘pre-approval’ for all physical therapy, in, or out of, their “network”.

Well things began to cascade fairly quickly from there. The PT place cancelled all of her appointments next week, citing a lack of approval from the (non-existent) health insurance company. We can’t get any prescriptions filled (without paying full price now and waiting for a reimbursement from the, (again non-existent) insurance company… etc... etc…

So, Maryan made several calls to the previous employer during the week, talked with HR, the President’s secretary, the insurance agent and the insurance company… all to no avail.

Friday morning, I called and left John (the President) a voicemail, asking for a personal favor, that he get this resolved for me. I also called the insurance agent and asked for the same help.

Well, when she called back the insurance agent proceeds to tell me I have nothing to worry about… and I have to stop her right there, and explain that despite what she ‘thinks’, I do have something to worry about. That my wife’s post surgery therapy is being interrupted, that the PT center has cancelled all of her appointments for next week and the insurance company has no information, at all, on this supposed new policy, or, and more importantly, "us".

I went on to explain, as calmly as I could, that if this in any way hindered her full recovery, I would hold, her, the agency and my former employer (who as of this morning, has still not returned my call) liable.

She then started to explain that the company made the decision to ‘switch’ insurance carriers, late… and once again I stopped her.

I asked why, should her inability to get her client to act in a timely manner, or the client’s inability to make a timely decision, be my problem. That this was certainly looking more and more like an actionable situation should my wife be harmed by their inability to take action in a timely manner.

When it was all said and done, she promised to get things straight, today, and call me back.

In the meantime, the folks from ITI (the contract house) called, with an offer. It was exactly what I’d hoped it would be, paid time off, medical, dental, 401K (with a generous match) a ‘salary’ + hourly payment for any billable hours worked past 40!

All in all, net... net… I’m going to wind up within 5% of where I am now. Pretty fair deal all the way around, as far as I’m concerned.

The real bonus in all of this, to me, is that Maryan and I won’t have to deal with the ‘old’ employer any longer. We’ll be finally free of all of that, and trust me, that alone is a big deal to me!! Maybe even more importantly, ITI has Blue Cross as their health insurance carrier, which, in my opinion, is vastly superior to 'WellPath', the company my old employer had switched to!!

So, it’s Sunday morning, I spent a good 6 hours in the garage yesterday, but took only two pictures as I spent the entire time trying to get the last patch welded into the truck bed. (I still have a little more work to do there today!)

It was one of those if it can go wrong it will kind of things. I initially forgot to turn the shielding gas on, and with a MIG welder that leads to all sorts of trouble… Duhhhh… so it was cut the patch back out, refit it as best I could (you may recall I got rid of all the ‘spare’ donor bed parts in the dumpster earlier in the week) and attempt to make up the voids that resulted with thin strips of sheet metal.

Not exactly a masterpiece, but with an hour or so more work, it’ll be a pretty seamless patch to all but a very trained eye. Once I blend it with some body filler, prime it, paint it and then have the bed liner sprayed down, I doubt anyone will ever be able to tell!

I know I promised pictures, and as soon as I start getting all these pieces into primer I’ll definitely take, and post them!

Thanks again for stopping by, and for leaving me comments… I love hearing what you folks are thinking!


Ken Sheldon said...

Hey Bill! Ccongratulations on being hired! It's about time that something really good happened to you, especially being able to break all the ties our former employer! I am sure the Maryan will feel good about the security of knowing that the contracts aren't about to end anymore, and knowing you as well as I do, in know you will be a real asset to the company. We ought to go celebrate sometime!

Bill said...

Ken!! - I'm so glad you stopped in!

Well, it's still contract work, but at least the benefits are taken care of now!

We should definitely go celebrate (like I've ever really *needed* a reason)

You know, when things started to shift, I knew we'd end up better off... you and I have a knack for doing that!

Beth said...

Congratulations on the new job, Bill! I cannot stand working with insurance. I always have a hard time. I think that's part of their job!

Chloe said...

Stupid bureaucratic paperwork! Down with WellPath!

And congrats on the new benefits, that's fantastic!

Bill said...

Beth - Same job actually... it's just that now, there's a bit more stability in the week to week paycheck :) I hope BCBS is better than WellPath!!

Chloe - Don't ya just hate all that paperwork.. in triplicate... not to mention what you need to do to prove you are, in fact, an actual citizen of the country!!

Thanks y'll for stopping by!

Firehawk said...


Sounds good about the new job. Some of the things your old employer was doing didn't sound "on the up and up". Knowing that you're covered with medical and dental is a big load off. I just got into a "covered" situation after a long time of knowing that if I had a health problem, I was up the creek.

Sorry I haven't been around as much lately. I've been busy, man. Congrats on your published piece (albeit late from me).

jenbeauty said...

That is great about the offer Bill! I hope everything with the insurance gets straightened out quickly.

No_Newz said...

Congratulations on your new job! It's about time they offered up a little more than money. Guess they knew a good thing when they saw you. :)
Lois Lane

Ilene said...

Congrats, but selfishly I hope you don't stop blogging. Good days to you.

Trevor Record said...

Ohh, if you get medical down in the USA, I guess that's a pretty big deal eh?


Bill said...

Firehawk - I think the 'old emplyer' simply didn't get the new policy done in time (certainly nothing new)... it only really effected us because we're not 'inside' any more. I did miss ya... but, I'm glad to hear you've been busy.. hope all is well!

Jen - Thanks, I appreciate that... things are getting worked out, and by the 1st of November it'll all be a distant memory.

Lois - I think it's more like they're stunned that I'm still working on a gig that was supposed to last 6 weeks, 11 months later!.. But it's all good.

Ilene - Me? Stop blogging? Not very likely.. but it's nice to know I'd be missed.

Trevor - Thanks! It is a pretty big deal.. especially with the kindsof medical bills we've been rolling up the past few years... hopefully, we've peaked and are moving the other way now!

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