Tag Archives: self-employment

The Affordable Care Act

This seems like a good time to mention this again:

  1. I had cancer as a kid.  This was not my fault.
  2. I am now self-employed.
  3. A few years ago I moved to California, where I tried to buy private health insurance.
  4. I was denied, not because I couldn’t pay for it—I could—but because of a “pre-existing condition” (the childhood cancer).
  5. To repeat: I WAS WAVING MONEY AT THEM trying to buy health insurance. The response?  NO HEALTH INSURANCE FOR YOU! unless I switched careers (and specifically to something that would give me employer-based healthcare).
  6. I finally managed to find a solution, albeit a temporary one, that allowed me to buy private healthcare.  (My premiums are more than most of my friends’ car payments.  I pay more in healthcare costs than I do in rent.)
  7. This year, I got cancer again.

Given that the reality is that I was very close to not being able to get private health insurance AT ALL and now HAVE CANCER, The U.S. healthcare system—or lack thereof—for all practical purposes wanted to me either to (1) give up what I love doing for a living, (2) go bankrupt, or (3) die.  So, to anyone who frames the ACA as “removing choice:” here, have some childhood cancer, assholes.

The ACA isn’t perfect, but it beats what we’ve had.

On My Constant State of Unemployment

As regular readers know, I work in the film industry.  The particular job I do for film is what’s known as a “day playing” position—I come in only for the days they need me.  Unlike some positions, I’m not a crew member who is on for, say, the whole production period of a movie or the whole season of a TV show.

Which means I live in a constant state of unemployment.

It’s really hard to get film jobs (oh, you should hear us kvetch!  But that’s not what this post is about).  I work as hard to get one film job as I see most people work to get a new 9-5 position.  And once I get a job . . . I’m employed for a day.  Maybe two.  Maybe five, if I’m really lucky.[1]

And then I’m unemployed again.

The lion’s share of what I do is trying to get the next job.  If I didn’t like the actual work so much, I’d throw down the mic and go find something that would pay me with regular checks to be working there for the foreseeable future.  What a utopia!  You get to work and get paid every day!

I’m not saying, y’know, that good 9-5ers are easy to get—I know they aren’t!—but at least if all goes well you only have to get hired once.

So for anyone thinking about moving out to Hollywood (or, heck, this probably holds true for a variety of other freelancing careers as well; do all y’all writers and photographers go through this, too?), keep this in mind.  Even if you make your living at it—I do—you still may be for all practical purposes living your life in a constant state of unemployment.  If the idea of spending every day looking for work doesn’t intimidate you, then come on down!

Ah, the glamor of Hollywood.

  1. I dream of getting those rare three-week gigs.  What a gold mine.

Miscellaneous Links of Madness or Awesome

The Cool and the Sciency:

A brine lake under the ocean.  It’s an underwater lake.  A lake!  Under water!

Zombie bacteria.  They’re dead.  But they’re ALIIIIIVE.

Participate in a word association study!  (Only takes a minute or two, and it’s fun!  And it’s for SCIENCE!)  My favorite of my associations was “probability” associated with the word “replacement,” because I’m so used to seeing “with/without replacement” in combinatorics problems.  Also, “crenellations” was one of my top three associations for “fortify.”  Too much fantasy, yo.

Nice, undeniable visual of how effective vaccines are at saving people’s lives.

Mount Doom exploded.

The Humor (Some a Little Sciency):

The Avengers go out for beers and shawarma.  Batman expresses confusion that they don’t sit in a dark basement and brood over their dead parents.

The Oatmeal’s take on being a freelancer.  This is SO TRUE.

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A Personal Tale of United States Health Insurance

Jim Hines mentioned in a blog post about writing yesterday that a part of the reason it’s important he keep his day job is that it gives him good health insurance.  And rather than spitting up all over his comment threads, I decided to rant here about the pre-Affordable Care Act state of American health care.  This account will be purely anecdotal . . . but I want to illustrate how difficult healthcare can be, particularly for someone who is self-employed (as some self-important people were telling Jim Hines he should be).

First of all: I’m a privileged, middle-class American.  I have been lucky enough never to be in a financial situation where health insurance should have been a problem.  Now, I’m the first person to admit that I don’t understand the byzantine wording of how healthcare plans work, but I feel like I have the standing as a human being to say that the mess my healthcare has been, the mess America’s healthcare has been, shouldn’t happen.

Other background: I have a serious illness in my past.  This means it’s important that I go in yearly for a variety of tests.  I won’t die if I don’t get them, but I’m high risk for a lot of health concerns, so it’s necessary preventative care.

Also, I note that this account is not meant to encompass all of the many and myriad nuances of the American healthcare system and what is wrong with it or how it could be done better.  I started to include some of those things, but this was already WAY TOO LONG.  So, this is only about my personal experience with the healthcare system, and is not meant in the least bit to be even the first millimeter of a complete picture of anything.

Anyway.  My story:

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The Best and Worst of a Freelance Lifestyle

To some people, freelancing seems like a dream come true.  You get to be your own boss!  You get to set your own hours!  To other people, it seems like it would be a terrifying nightmare of never knowing when you’ll get your next job and needing to be your own boss.

Both views are kind of correct.

I present you with: The Top Ten Reasons I Hate Being a Freelancer.  Followed by: The Top Ten Reasons I Love Being a Freelancer!

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The Other Self-Employed Grass is Always Greener (and More Financially Successful)

I’m entirely self-employed—I work as a freelancer in a variety of fields, and am able to make my living doing so.  Despite what I said in my second post about “not quitting my day job,” I don’t actually have a day job, and fortunately I haven’t needed one for some time now.

The world of freelancing can be so mercurial sometimes that I’ve taken quite a bit of time to reflect on how and why I’ve been successful at it.

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