How Rigid is Your Company?: Tip-of-the-Day #189


I'm a contractor working for a very recognizable company in the technology sector. I was brought on board through a placement agency and when I first started I was offered benefits through this agency (health insurance, life insurance, etc.). At the time I took a pass because I had just paid my dues (with my current provider) through the end of the summer.

Now that summer is quickly fading, I thought it might be a good time to explore my options again as a contractor, seeing as my contract has been extended (yay!) and I'm ready to pay a lower monthly rate!

Come to find out, that the "open enrollment" for benefits through this agency had closed and I would not be able to enroll until June 2010. June 2010?? I promptly reached out to my contact at the agency and was informed that it is "fairly standard practice for employers to limit benefit enrollment (outside of qualifying life events or loss of other coverage) to initial and open enrollment periods only." Apparently, a "communication" was sent to me regarding this very subject. An email, huh? I get hundreds of emails every day and frankly rarely open messages with subject lines that begin with "A Message From ___."

That said, I wasn't giving up. Known to be tenacious as a weed, I kept on, and suggested that with matters as important as health the agency should really follow up with a phone call or even a face-to-face meeting for new hires explaining the significance of declining insurance and what that means with respect to future enrollment windows.

After a number of persuasive emails (thanks to my background in Journalism and Law) it seems I was able to "convince" my point of contact that "qualifying life events" is rather vague and could in fact encapsulate any number of events including contract extension and significant rate increase with a current provider. Against all odds, I "broke through the clutter" and my point was taken. They apparently found a "loophole" for me that I must never breathe a word of (except to you all). The secret loophole is as simple as terminating my existing coverage and mailing the notice to my agency for renewed coverage.


All this to say that if your company (or any business for that matter) has your well being casually cast aside in favor of "policy" - push back! Dig a little! DON'T take no for an answer. This is a theme with me, have you noticed? Smart women fight for what they need!

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