Ah, that’s why I wasn’t so poor.

I was summoned to a meeting at work the other day regarding health insurance and the Affordable Care Act. Before I continue, this is not a blog post about the act itself or my thoughts relating to it. It seems like every time it comes up when it relates to a conversation people are quick to offer their opinions on it. I wanted to stress that I’m not trying to start that conversation, despite the Act’s relevance to the meeting. Anyway, the meeting was for those of us full-time employees of the store that have been there for a while and how our health insurance has been affected. As far as I can tell, nothing has. But they wanted to make sure with us that some of the paperwork here on out is going to change and they wanted us to be clear that it’s only the paperwork, not our pay or our coverage.

The point is that the company has always paid for our health insurance plans in full. Now, so it looks like we’re paying for our plans ourselves, those of us that qualify have gotten a raise in our hourly rates while the difference has been “deducted” from our paychecks. In other words, we get the same plans and the same take-home pay at the end of the week (give or take a few cents, the math might not work out exactly). So in other words, we had a half-hour meeting to find out that nothing changed. I don’t even look at my pay stubs anymore. I should once in a while, but I got in the habit of not looking. As a result I probably wouldn’t have noticed the difference.

It finally put to mind that why, despite the fact that until this change I got less than the proposed minimum wage of $10.10 an hour, I don’t feel like I’m poor. Hearing that I’m getting more an hour only to have it put to insurance made me realize that it was because the company paid for my insurance in full was the reason that I’m not struggling like others who make that wage. I already had the feeling that it was because of that practice by my company that wages were so low to begin with. I still think mine is too low as my position is higher than entry-level. I can only hope that if the proposed minimum wage goes through mine will as well. However, now that I’m getting over that amount I have to wonder if I’ll get that much of an increase at all. That is, if it goes through.

I still don’t think that I’m getting enough for the amount of work that I have to do,not to mention that we’re understaffed and I’m having to take on extra responsibilities. Not only that, I’m over-qualified as I have a college degree and I still have the fleeting hope that some day I’ll be able to find a job with that. If not, I still intend on going for my master’s, but I still have some issues in my life I need to settle first. But all-in-all I’m living comfortably with the pay that I am getting. I quit my second job with the expectation that I wouldn’t have a lot of money to fall back on. I’m doing better than I thought.

I’m not offering praises to my employer. I’m not a company cheerleader by nature. I’m just giving the facts of my own case. I do believe that the federal minimum wage should be raised. I do know that there are a lot of people out there worse-off than I am. I’ve already made a resolution to stop complaining about my own money problems for that reason. But now that I know just why I wasn’t struggling so much (aside from the majority of last year when I had far too much money taken out of my paychecks for taxes) I have a better understanding of why I shouldn’t complain.

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