Sunday, February 9, 2014

Days of Our Work Lives: An unvarnished look at work today: Part I: David's Saga. Episode 10: Sometimes It Takes a Scare

Part I: David's Saga

Episode 10
Sometimes It Takes a Scare

In the previous episode, under the pressure of a new, bad job he felt forced to take, David had his second heart attack.

Fortunately, it was another mild one and after a month at home, his doctor okayed him to return to work. But David knew that going back to that start-up, even if it had been a good one, was asking for trouble. Besides, cliche though it is, flirting with death made him rethink his priorities: Maybe he should, at least for starters, while he's still not 100 percent, do a little volunteer work.

But where? The obvious choice was health care reform. After all, his two coronary experiences with the health care system were battles. They weren't battles with the doctors and nurses. While not perfect, they were doing their best with the field of medicine still in just its adolescence and made especially difficult because of the Affordable Care Act forcing the system to try to care for tens of millions of newly insured people, most of whom pay little or nothing into the system. His battle was with the insurance companies."They truly are monsters: doing everything in their power to avoid paying. Damn, if they're even questioning medical care for a heart attack, what the hell will they pay for?"

So David chose the obvious: to volunteer for Physicians for a National Health Care Program. And here, for the first time in his life, he felt at ease at work. "I don't care whether a widget sells or not. I care about people getting the health care they need without going broke, without a fight, without worrying whether a doctor is going to do an invasive test on me to cover his ass or, instead of prescribing a medication, doing a "procedure" (shorthand for painful and expensive) to make an extra grand for an hour's work."

At PNHP, David spent his day using his marketing mind to come up with smarter ways to lobby Congress to pass single-payer health care and his data-miner mind to find ammunition to support that lobbying. Work, this work, put fear of a third heart attack way to the back of his brain's bus.

After just a month of volunteering, someone he didn't know, in a suit, came into his cubicle and offered him a job: lobbying support analyst, basically doing what he'd been doing but now getting paid for it. The problem? The pay would be $65,000 a year, half of what he was making at UnderSports. He was down with that, super down with that, but what would Susan say?

The next episode is posted HERE.

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