RSS Feed

Changing Jobs: Insurance Coverage, Cobra and the Affordable Care Act

Legal Disclaimer: I’m not a health care expert, but I am changing jobs and did a fair bit of research to figure out how switching jobs will impact my insurance and liability under the Affordable Care Act.  I thought I would share, since finding this information was not as straightforward as I had hoped. Keep in mind that this is NOT legal advice! Even though I am lawyer, I am not your lawyer, and everyone’s insurance can be a little different. So make sure to talk to your HR person to ensure that you have all the right information for your specific situation.

At my current job, my insurance runs for the whole month, so if I work just one day in that month, I am covered until the end of the same month.

At my new job, insurance coverage begins on the first of the month after the day you start. So, for example, if I started work on September 2, 2014, I would not be covered by their insurance until October 1, 2014.

This could result in about a month-long insurance gap for me.  There are two considerations with this:

  1. Could I be subject to a penalty under the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare)?
  2. What happens if I get hit by a bus during that period?

Answers:

(1) Fortunately, if you only have a small gap in coverage (less than 90 days), there is no penalty under Obamacare. Score!

(2) But what about that bus? (Knock wood!)  Well, it turns out that most businesses offer Cobra. (Businesses with more than 20 employees are usually required to offer this by law; ask your HR person.)   Cobra is essentially an option to pay your own insurance premium to maintain the insurance that your current employer offers, even after you have a “qualifying event.”  In other words, Cobra is a legal requirement that your boss allows you to maintain the company’s insurance even after stop working there.  Usually you will be responsible for paying the premium; your employer will not pay it, but you can stay on the same plan.  It’s not exactly cheap to buy this type of insurance, but it may be a good option for some.

But, Rachel, what is a “qualifying event?” In my case, the “qualifying event” is leaving my current job. It is usually anything that causes you to lose coverage. More info is here.

When you have a qualifying event (leave your job), you are given a form by your HR person that gives you 60 days* to decide whether you want to enroll in Cobra.  When you do sign up, the coverage applies retroactively back to the date of the qualifying event.  So if between the time that I leave my job and before the 60 days are up, if I get hit by a bus, I can then sign up for Cobra after the bus accident and those medical expenses would be covered as if I never had any gap in coverage. Great, right?

The other good part is that if at the end of 60 days, I have not encountered any buses or other tragic mishaps (god willing), then I do can choose not to sign up for Cobra, pay no additional money and not be subject to the Affordable Care Act penalty.  Keep in mind that this only works were your final day of insurance at your current job is less than 60 days before the date on which your new insurance would kick in – otherwise, you don’t get the luxury of waiting to see if something happens to you during that gap, you may have to pay the premium for Cobra before your new insurance starts.

Here is some [marginally] useful information about who is exempt from Obamacare penalties, about how Cobra works, and what to do if your employer does not offer Cobra.

I hope you found this somewhat helpful, even though it doesn’t involve cookies or painting or power tools.

And, remember to look both ways before crossing the street!

With love,

Rachel

P.S. KNOCK ON WOOD!!!!

* The 60 days begins from the latest of either: the date of the qualifying event, the date that coverage actually ends due to the qualifying event, or the date on which you learn that you are required to inform your HR person and health plan about a qualifying event.  In my case, the 60 days will start on the day my insurance ends – the last day of the month in which I stop working.

An Engagement!

An Engagement!

Warning: this post is an annoyingly happy love story.

As some of you may already know, I recently got engaged!

Celebrating our engagement!

Celebrating our engagement!

 

It was just like a fairy tale, in an unsuspecting moment the love of my life pulled out my dream engagement ring and asked me to marry him, while we sat in the car at a gas station in Maryland.  True story.  At a gas station. And it was amazing, spontaneous and very romantic. I wouldn’t change a thing.

I am so happy and feel so lucky that I get to spend the rest of my life with this incredible man, who is so supportive of everything I do.  And I mean everything, from uprooting our lives (again) to move 3000 miles away so I can take my dream job, (Yep, I got engaged and got an incredible job offer on the same day. #winning!) to letting me paint (almost) everything in the apartment (almost) any color I want. I am a very lucky lady.

Oh yeah, and we are moving to Seattle in the near future so I can take aforementioned awesome job that involves nuclear weapons.  So, new job, new city, new fiance, best birthday ever, possibility of affordable real estate, returning the West Coast finally. Oh yeah. I am one happy girl.

So I’m just going to embrace this fact that this is a very self-congratulatory post and congratulate myself and my fiance again. Congrats, you two! I wish you many happy years in Seattle!

Love,

Rachel (and Victor)

PS.  Gas station proposals are the most romantic as evidenced by Jim & Pam from The Office. And ours was even better than that. :)

 

Pigeon Painting

Pigeon Painting

Inspired by some other pigeon art, I set out to paint my own.

Image

I painted this little guy on canvas board with acrylic paint. I found the frame for $1 at a yard sale. $1!!! Score!

Image

Here it is in the corner, with my new hanging lamp (post about that forthcoming).

Image

He makes me happy. I think he needs a name.  I may also paint him a friend yet… Obviously I need lots and lots of bird art. More bird art!

Also, I had an idea that may already exist. If it exists, someone please let me know. I would like to exchange some of my original art with someone else’s original art. I desperately want original art by some other artists, but I cannot afford to buy it, and I think there is too much of my own art in my apartment.  Does some sort of art swap exist? If anyone is interested in an art swap and in the DC area, please reach out!

For the love of pigeons and art and pigeon art,

Rachel

Updating Thrift Store or Garage Sale Art

Updating Thrift Store or Garage Sale Art

Sometimes you find some cheap art at a thrift store or a garage sale. It’s alright, but it’s not awesome. Here is what a little bit of paint and a few glasses of wine can do. I got this weird old duck painting at a garage sale for $4. My boyfriend thought I overpaid. . .

IImage

You can take a cute, but ho-hum duck and make it into a bright statement piece.

I painted the frame black with some paint that I had on hand. And I went in with the bright blue and some other vibrant colors to liven it up.  I just used acrylic paints.

Image

It’s not a masterpiece, but it does help fill in my gallery wall.  And I think the duck is cute. You likely remember that I have a seriously love of bird art. (Here and here.)

Image

Also, I’ve decided to just accept the fact that my photography skills aren’t great and post the pictures of my projects, as is. If I keep waiting until I get good at photography or have the time to stage perfect photos, I will never post on the blog. (After sitting in front of a computer for 10 or 11 hours a day at work, I can hardly bring myself to open my laptop on the weekends, let alone during the week; so I find I do all these DIY projects but cannot bring myself to share them since it requires sitting at the computer.)

Anyway, I hope you still like my abbreviated posts and real life quick phone photography.

Go find some cheap art and make it awesome.

Love,
Rachel

 

Mushroom Butternut Squash Barley Risotto

Mushroom Butternut Squash Barley Risotto

It is FINALLY getting warmer. Snow is melting. I have left my puffy coat at home for a few days, and I actually thought about NOT wearing tights this morning (I thought about it, but I’m not crazy – I still wore tights).  But, it’s still chilly enough for some hearty warm winter time comfort foods. And yet, since spring is coming, it’s best if that comfort food is also super healthy and crazy delicious.  Enter, Mushroom Butternut Squash Barley risotto.

photo 2

By cutting the arborio rice and using pearl barley, you can make a hearty whole grain risotto that tastes amazing, even if it is slightly less creamy than a traditional risotto.  The best part is that it doesn’t taste healthy but that can be our secret.

Do yourself a favor and just try it.  This is one of my new faves.

Love,
Rachel

photo 1

Mushroom Butternut Squash Barley Risotto

Makes about 5 servings for me (but 3 or 4 servings if feeding my boyfriend too).  I used my 14″ cast iron – if it had been any smaller it might be necessary to combine all the ingredients at the end in a bigger bowl/pan once the barley was completely cooked through.

Ingredients:

8 oz pearl barley (I bought a bag from Trader Joe’s)

1 large onion, finely chopped
1 butternut squash, diced into 1/2″ pieces
2 cups sliced mushrooms
1 tablespoon olive oil (approx)
1 or 2 tablespoons butter (2 is more delicious, but 1 is a little healthier)
1 tablespoon cornstarch.
1 tsp dried parsley
4 cups vegetable stock
3/4 cup apple juice, or sweet white wine (but I used apple juice, if using wine, reduce to 1/2 C, use water for rest)
2/3 C grated Parmesan reggiano
salt
pepper
Spread squash on baking pan and toss with a little olive oil to coat. Put in oven to roast at 400F for about 15 minutes, until it starts to sizzle and brown, but is not cooked completely through.
In a large cast iron skillet (or any large skillet, or sauce pan with low sides – the sides should be low to allow the liquid to evaporate), saute onion in a bit of olive oil until translucent (5 minutes). Remove from pan and set aside. Put mushrooms in pan with additional olive oil and sautee until golden. Remove from pan and set aside with onions.
Put uncooked barley into hot skillet and let brown for about a minute or two over medium heat. Add 1/2 C broth. Stir frequently until broth is absorbed, then add more broth in 1/2 cup increments and stir until absorbed. After about 15 or 20 minutes, you should have added 2 to 3 cups of the broth. Stir in one tablespoon cornstarch and about a teaspoon of dried parsley. At this point, add the butternut squash and continue stirring, adding more liquid (broth and juice/wine) until absorbed. This will take another 20 minutes or so of frequent stirring.  Occasionally taste the barley to see if it’s tender. If all the liquid has been added but the barley is not yet tender, add a little water.
When barley is tender, or just about, add the onions and mushrooms back in. Stir frequently until all liquid is absorbed and barley and squash are completely cooked. Before serving, stir in 1 or 2 tablespoons of butter and grated parmesan until thoroughly incorporated and melted.  At this point, season with salt and lots of pepper.  You do not want to add much salt before adding the cheese, because the cheese itself is very salty.  But lots of pepper is yummy.  Serve with additional grating of parmesan on top, if desired.

 

How to Iron Velvet – sorta

OK. I have no pictures for this one, but I have some advice on wrinkles and velvet.

I have this large piece of velvet that’s been sitting around, in a box, folded and super wrinkled. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with this velvet, but it was destined for something good. So when I finally decided what I was going to use it on (coming later), I had to figure out if I could get out the horrible wrinkles.

OK, I lied.  This post has one picture. Here is a picture of a chair I reupholstered with this same velvet (before I knew how to get rid of wrinkles).  IMG_0090

Apparently, one is not really supposed to iron velvet because it will RUIN IT! So here is my PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: Every velvet may be different, so you MUST TEST THIS PROCESS ON AN EDGE OR SMALL SCRAP OF VELVET. Do not – do NOT – dive right in on the middle of an expensive piece of velvet – it might get ruined. So always test this.  Got it? Test on a scrap first.

First, I spread the velvet out on the carpet. I wanted to work on a carpet, because it’s softer than an ironing board and would reduce the risk that I would crush the nap of the velvet.

Second, I folded the velvet over on top of itself. The bottom layer was facing up, and the top layer was facing down (good side to good side, nap to nap).  Set the iron on the coolest setting that produces steam. Very lightly – barely putting any pressure on the fabric, run the iron lightly over the BACKSIDE (the side should be facing up) to get the wrinkles out.

Third, turn the velvet right side up. This step is just for problem areas because it could damage the fabric if you are not very careful. Do NOT touch the velvet nap with the iron at all – it will ruin it. Hold the iron just above the surface of the velvet, close enough so that the steam is hitting the nap, but the iron is not touching. After an area is steamed, let cool for a bit so that it’s not going to burn your hands, and then use your hands to smooth the nap and smooth out the wrinkles.

You may have to repeat these steps a few times. The key is patience so you don’t ruin your expensive velvet. But after a few goes, the fabric should be looking much better. Now, when you do your upholstery job, the wrinkles will smooth themselves out with enough stretching and time.

I cannot wait to share my next project with you.

Love,

Rachel

Valentine’s Cookie: Super Yummy Butter Cookie

Valentine’s Cookie: Super Yummy Butter Cookie

I have talked before about my love of Alice Waters and her lovely cookcook, The Art of Simple Food. No recipe in it has yet let me down. So why, oh why, did I wait so long to try her butter cookie recipe? What is wrong with me?

IMG_0701

This simple recipe will knock your socks off with its perfect buttery saltiness. And then you can change it up and add some raspberry jam, or a light powdered sugar glaze to decorate them. They will make your Valentine’s Day extra yummy.

IMG_0702

PS. This realization that everything in this cookbook is amazing means that I am now going to start cooking almost exclusively from this book, because YUM.


IMG_0703

Butter Cookie Recipe: Adapted from Alice Waters,’ The Art of Simple Food.

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

2/3 cup sugar

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp salt

1 egg, at room temperature

2 tsps milk

2.5 cups unbleached flour

Preheat over to 350F. Cream together butter and sugar. Then add vanilla, salt and egg.  Gradually add the flour, mixing until just combined. Divide into thirds, and shape into logs. Wrap in saran wrap, and chill until firm. Then slice into 1/4 inch slices, and place two inches apart on baking sheet.  (Even though the dough has no levening agent, the cookies do spread).  Or, instead of logs, divide the dough in half, and form round disks, wrap in saran warp and put in fridge until firm. Roll dough out to 1/4 thick and cut with cookie cutters. Place spaced out on cookie sheet.  Bake at 350F for 10 minutes, or until lightly golden.  Let cool on sheet for a bit. Feel free to frost or make jam-filled cookie sandwiches (my favorite).

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Rachel

 

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,126 other followers