- Question from Stephanie: I have metastatic breast cancer. Due to some funding cuts at my current company, I may need to start a job search. What do you think are some of the most important issues for me to consider as I entertain this possibility (i.e. health insurance, illness disclosure, etc.)?
- Answers - Irene Card Of course, in a job interview, you just want to answer the questions asked. Don't volunteer any information. A good interviewer will probably elicit your medical history without asking, so be very aware of that. If you ask too many questions about the health insurance early in the interview, you may be putting up a red flag and alerting the interviewer that you may have a health problem. It's best to wait until you have almost been guaranteed a position before you ask for specific information about the health insurance. If this is a very large company, they will have multiple plans from which to choose. Even small employers with less than 50 employees often have a number of plans from which to choose. You definitely want an insurance plan that gives you the most freedom to choose your providers, namely a preferred provider organization (P.P.O.). This allows you to see anyone who is in the network, but you also have the option to see a provider out of network although it will always cost you more money out of your pocket when you are out of network.
- Barbara Hoffman You're likely to have many medical appointments in the future, so having flex time at work would be good for both you and your workplace. To maximize the kind of position where you have flex time, it may be best to work for a very large employer that has at least 50 employees and is covered by many federal and state laws that would give you more options regarding medical leave.
- Irene Card There is no waiting period for pre-existing conditions so long as you have been continuously insured and do not have a gap in coverage. When you have a gap in coverage, you are not insured. Some states will allow you to have a gap in coverage for a fixed amount of days not there will be no waiting period for preexisting conditions. Not all states do this. Of course, ideally you do not want a gap in coverage, especially if you are dealing with a current diagnosis of cancer. Any new illness or injury that you receive during a gap in coverage will be considered a pre-existing condition and as Barbara said, the larger the employer, the better your chances are of being insured under a plan that simply has no waiting period for pre-existing conditions. It's important to save any correspondence about your health insurance from one job to the next because in all likelihood, you will have to prove that you had health insurance for a given period of time.
The Ask-the-Expert Online Conference called Working During Treatment featured Barbara Hoffman, J.D., Irene Card, and moderator Ruth Oratz, M.D., F.A.C.P. answering your questions about the legal, financial, physical, and emotional aspects of working during breast cancer treatment.
Editor's Note: This conference took place in September 2007.
The materials presented in these conferences do not necessarily reflect the views of Breastcancer.org. A qualified healthcare professional should be consulted before using any therapeutic product or regimen discussed. All readers should verify all information and data before employing any therapies described here.
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