In a letter to the editor this morning, a writer claimed many people stay in jobs that are unhealthy for them, physically and/or emotionally, just to keep healthcare benefits for their family. What a sad tradeoff.

I believe it happens more often than you think. My brother, for example, stayed in a job he hated for 20 years because his wife had diabetes and couldn’t work and he felt trapped into providing healthcare benefits for her. Changing jobs was too risky. Many employers won’t add a spouse or child with a pre-existing condition to the new employee’s policy. So he stayed in a miserable work environment until he developed diabetes himself.

How many thousands of people are making that unhealthy choice?

I’m currently facing a similar situation. A full-time writer/editor position just opened at the newspaper. It’s the same position I applied for (with mixed feelings), then didn’t get (to my relief) four months ago. After four stressful months, the woman who got the job was fired. Now they’re asking me if I want it.

The truth is I don’t want the job, I just want the healthcare benefits. But if I get the position and end up stressed, unhappy, and not focused on my novels, how can it be worth it? Since I was laid off early last year and ended up with two, flexible part-time jobs, I’ve been happier—and healthier—than ever before. So I’m starting to think that being happy is the best health tonic of all.

Wouldn’t it be good for our entire culture if healthcare was easy to access and not linked to employment? And no one had to make a bad job choice based on fear of losing a loved one or going bankrupt from medical bills?

Here’s a few links to check out if you like this idea:
Health Care Hullabaloo
What Can I Do?

What’s your experience? Have you taken a job just for the benefits? Do you stay in your job for the healthcare insurance?

  1. I faced a similar dilemma several years ago. I had worked in Human Resources for years and was used to having more income and great benefits. After months of being in and out of the hospital with stress-related illness, it became clear to me that I was not having much fun. I decided to leave the job and start over. Although it caused great financial difficulty for the first year or so, my family and I have adapted quite nicely and I’ve finally found the right combination of career and family. I work as a school librarian and I write. These two things are a much better fit and I have great benefits with the school job. I’ve been offered other jobs that would pay more, but when I left the HR position, I said I would never again choose a job for the amount of money I could make. If it doesn’t fit my new philosophy on what’s important in my life, then it doesn’t fit me. My health is much better and I’m learning to take better care of myself. As I know it isn’t an easy decision, I wish you much luck and success in whatever you choose to do.

  2. It is harsh when people feel they have to do what they hate just to keep health benefits. And it happens all too often. It sounds like you’ve chosen to stay happy as a way to stay healthy. I think your chances are good!

    Straight From Hel

  3. Hi LInda,
    We actually went to IVHS together. I happened to find you on a facebook page and then followed link after link and found this. I too am in a job that I am only keeping for benefits. The job is miserable and pays barely above minimum. I want to leave and go to school full time, but alas, No benefits for going to school. So here I sit in TN with a lousy job, but great benefits. Hmmmm?
    Jeanette Drews Sprague

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