Last Thursday, around midnight, my wife was hauled down a long, lonely corridor, knocked unconscious, and stabbed five times.
At least that’s how her surgeon described it.
It turns out that your gall bladder can become infected. My wife’s was, and the doctors removed it. She’s recovering now, building back her strength, getting her innards working again, so things are getting back on track.
What does this have to do with freelancing? A lot. You see, the whole experience dragged some realities into the spotlight, realities that I can no longer ignore or play down.
The job search for my proposed career change—from software developer to writer/editor/proofreader—has taught me several harsh realities. One such reality is that for someone without formal editing experience, entry-level positions are thin on the ground (and by “thin” I mean non-existent).
The only way to get experience, then, is to go freelance.
Freelance has many attractive features with no boss, flexibility, and a super-fast commute chief among them, but it also has unattractive features as well.
Instability of income is a big downside for me because I am currently the sole breadwinner of the family and a lot depends on a consistent revenue stream. My wife is building up her own business, but her work will be freelance as well and to be frank, the idea of us both working freelance gives me the heebie-jeebies.
But this past week brought to light another downside of freelancing: individual health insurance.
I work for a non-profit health insurer, and I have pretty good coverage. I also (currently) make sufficient money so that I don’t have to worry about copays and deductibles. For this episode, between urgent care, emergency room, surgery, and an overnight hospital stay, I expect we’ll be responsible for several thousand dollars of the overall costs.
As a freelancer buying individual insurance, though, my policy would be much less comprehensive and a lot less generous (I’ve checked). Thankfully, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) would subsidize any premiums I incurred, but my financial responsibility for an event like this would be much larger, possibly by a factor of three or four.
And this event was an easy fix. Imagine if it was something more serious…
I’m in my late-middle-fifties, a time when health issues often arise. I’m in pretty good health, but until we have a single-payer universal health care system, it’s just another big risk to add to the pile.
Doing freelance editing on the side is one thing, and I may still do that—I will definitely go freelance once I reach retirement age—but putting all our precious eggs in that one basket is too precarious a position for us right now, and I won’t do it.
So, I’ll send out more CVs and continue the search, modifying my goals as required.
Watch this space.