When we are in our 20s, we don't think about health care. Our focus was getting ahead in our jobs, developing meaningful relationships (finding a partner). Great if we had an employer that offered health care insurance was a bonus.
A couple times I entertained thoughts of leaving GM for another company. It was after about 10 years, I started realizing it would be more difficult to change employers as I age – invested stock (401k) benefits, vacation time, etc. I was still healthy, so a change of employer was mostly “can you pay me enough to match my benefits”.
Then in 1990, about 19 years into my career (43 years old) I was diagnosed with 2 “predetermined conditions” - hypertension and incurable (but treatable) viral infection.
From that time until I was able to retired with benefits, I was walking a fine line. There was a chance that our division of GM could be sold – what would that do to me health care? We went through down-sizing – was I going to be cut? I was concerned that disputes with supervision could put me on the chopping block.
Finally, I got to the magic 30 years and the year of my 55th birthday. I could retire with benefits. I breathed a sigh of relief.
Three years into my retirement I suffered a stroke cause by a failed heart valve. Thankfully, I still had my good GM insurance coverage. As a cost cutting move, GM changed retiree health care plans – now at age 65, we would lose GM insurance and go onto Medicare. There was a promise that we would get $300 a month more in our pension to help offset our cost of Medicare and MediGap. At this time I am NOT holding my breath that I will ever see this money.
Then came the GM bankruptcy.
At this same time, I was going through surgeries, radiation, and chemo for cancer. Did not know if I would have my GM health care insurance. Didn't even know if I would retain my pension! Just what I did not need while trying to battle cancer.
What would I do? I was facing pleading for the VA for health care (as a Viet Nam vet) and losing all of my savings. Thankfully, President Obama saved the auto industry, and perhaps – my life.
I am still undergoing routine CT scans for my cancers. In a couple months I turn 65 and will be covered under Medicare. Now, if the Republican's don't cut my Medicare and Social Security, I may be able to continue a reasonable comfortable lifestyle riding my bicycles and shooting photos.