Monday, September 10, 2007

Attention all Titanic Passengers...

"...there will be a surcharge on the last leg of this voyage."

Two and a half weeks ago, management at my current employer took us out to lunch. At that lunch we were informed that our health plan was up for renewal starting in October. The current insurer wanted to raise the premium on our PPO by 25 percent because of the costs of claims filed over the past year. We were told that they were in the process of trying to find a new plan that would cost less, perhaps a health savings account. The next day, we were given forms to complete for another carrier. I filled them out promptly, and we heard nothing about them since.

Last week, my wife said that we should think about tapping my 401(k) to help meet the shortfall of the increased insurance premiums, and if I didn't do it, she would take it out of her own account. She knows full well my feelings about treating retirement plans as a source of immediate liquidity, and it's none to brightly.

I told her that my employer was supposed to be finding a replacement plan that would spare us the higher costs. I agreed to sit down with her over the weekend and work out a revised budget instead. We wound up postponing the discussion because I was gathering data over the weekend, and I needed her to dig up bills and statements that are in her possession.

On Thursday of last week, while I was out West, the CEO sent out an e-mail:
... as we discussed, (the company's) insurance costs have increased. The employee portion of these new costs will be reflected in your next payroll.

We are currently obtaining quotes from other providers so I hope to be able to bring these costs down.

I will send you each a follow up email with the former costs and the new current costs on a monthly basis.

Let me know if you have any questions.

I never got the followup message, so I sent out an e-mail for clarification. It turns out that they do not have a replacement plan lined up for October, so we will stay on the current plan on a month-to-month basis.

I got the numbers for the increases, and they are not pretty. Currently we pay $351.77/two-week pay period to cover all of us. That goes up to $432.65/two-week pay period. That's $80.88/two-week pay period or $2,102.88/year. That would be a 3.39 % pay cut against a salary that hasn't increased since I started with the company in November 2005.

Oh, and by the way, the CTO today told me that he'd like me to go to the standards body group meeting in the northeastern part of the Sunshine State the last full week of September, by myself. I said the only way that I'd go is if they'd pay for the tickets, hotel, and transportation up front. I would also need a per diem and temporary use of a laptop since I don't have one of those right now.
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