Monday, April 11, 2016

A post about the job hunt.

These institutions, they can do better.

My partner and I have been on the job market for a few rounds now. Yes, we have jobs and tenure, but we are ready to move up. In the last 2 years we have turned down 3 jobs over the health insurance. Its nothing short of atrocious. The most recent offer was $700+ a month, $8k and $14k deductibles (in / out) and $25k max per year. Are you kidding me? If you're in a family with health issues you're looking at at least $17+k per year. O

n the $50-65k salaries that are being offered, that amount makes you part of the working poor. We've actually looked at the ACA (Affordable Care Act) as an alternative and the coverage is better and the premium is lower. But, with an election coming the ACA could be dismantled on day 1, and thats not a risk we're willing to take.

Yes, we'll readily admit that our current insurance is amazing - we have a $10 co-pay, no in network deductible and $1k out. We know we'll probably not find that again, and thats fine. But plans that cause you to worry more about your healthcare bill than it does your teaching and research, are bad for everyone.

Furtherer, we've now caused 3 failed searchers because of this. As we all know, searches aren't cheap or easy on the committees. How did we end up here?

- from unknown sender


  1. I wonder whether institutions *can* do better, or whether that's just what the insurers are offering these days (I'm in a very large pool -- all the employees of a medium-sized, fairly densely-populated state -- and my premiums are pretty low for what seems like pretty decent coverage, but I'm single and haven't, thank goodness, had to put it to the test). It's definitely a conundrum, and might be the sort of thing that would be hard to look into before you got to the offer stage at some institutions, though all the information for my institution is publicly available on the university website -- but, once again, we're talking about a state institution, and it may be just as bad as you're describing -- and, although our TT salaries are a bit higher than what you describe, the local cost of living is astronomical.

    Definitely an argument for a single-payer system, but I, too, would settle for keeping the ACA. If it can survive for another presidential term or two, I'm pretty sure it will become untouchable, because too many people will have at least one family member or friend who relies on it. But we're probably not there yet.

    1. The pool size really matters. During my last post-doc I was part of a pool that included all the state-employees of a square state, and the coverage was, if not solid gold, at least gold-plated.

      In my current job the bargaining unit is just this smallish directional state university, and the the premiums are a little worse and the co-pays a little higher and the exclusions a little more numerous. None of the differences are individually unreasonable but taken together they make a big difference in the overall value.

  2. How did we get here?

    Because The Academy is no longer a path to the middle class. It's now the realm of the working poor.

    Unless you're a superstar. Or you manage to wind up at the 10% or so places that treat employees well. If not, good luck paying back your student loans, buying a house, or living comfortably above the poverty line.

    - Anon y Mouse

    P.S. Did you try to use the bad insurance as a point of re-negotiation in the job offerings?

  3. Law is one of those professions where many lawyers have for many years now told their children "don't become a lawyer."
    I'd probably now tell my kids "don't become a professor. don't go into academia."

    1. My father in law teaches history at a second tier state university. For as long as I've known him he's has his own three laws of economics.

      1. Greed is good.
      2. Money is better.
      3. If you're going to be a teacher, marry someone in the for profit sector. (Which he did. Mom-in-law worked sales in the tech industry and really raked it in from time to time.)

  4. Goddamn fucking A. I hate this shit. I have the gold plan or the platinum or whatever, but I want to quit. Some of those ACA plans do look good. It's all a fucking mess.

  5. Unfortunately, a lot of those ACA plans in Cali suck donkey schlong. To be "affordable" one has to accept astronomical deductibles, crippling for families or anyone with less than massive income who actually has to use the system. Fortunately, my CC has a good plan. I'm so damn grateful to be in that 10% that Anon Y Mouse mentions above. Hang in there.