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A Little Cold Takes a Whole New Meaning

Posted By Ester Venouziou, Tuesday, December 20, 2011
In the almost nine years I worked at the St. Petersburg Times I never went to the doctor.

I never thought much about health insurance. Every year, I signed up for it, because I was told it was the thing to do. And every year co-workers would tell me how awful our health plan was, how much worse it got every year. To me it didn't matter, since, well, I didn't use the health plan anyway.

• • •

So when I got laid off, losing health benefits didn't seem like a big deal. But my friends and family were worried for me.

What are you going to do if you get sick?
You need insurance! Can't you get COBRA?
You better get another job quickly, if only for the benefits!

Getting another "job" was out of the question. My plan was is to work on freelance projects (writing, editing, marketing) while focusing on growing LocalShops1.

Signing up for COBRA was out of the question, too. The cost was about three times what I had been paying at the Times, and it seemed like a frivolous expense, especially considering that now I was on a major budget mode.

• • •

Now, a little more than two months after I got laid off, I get sick. Just a cold or flu, or whatever is going around. Nothing serious, and nothing that would have made me want to go to the doctor, back when I had insurance.

But now that I don't have insurance, this little annoyance takes on a whole new meaning. What if it isn't just a cold? What if I HAVE to go to the doctor or worse, the hospital?!

After things get settled a bit, I'm going to check out private insurance options.

• • •

Between popping Nyquil, Zycam and Echinecea pills I started researching: "Health care options for the uninsured in Florida." One of the best sites I came across is The Artists' Health Insurance Resource Center, which, as the name states, is geared for artists. But AHIRC but has good information for all solopreneurs and freelancers.

Among the links listed there is a state website with information on hospitals, health plans, insurance for the uninsured, even a symptom navigator and links to prescription drug prices. Lots of good reading here, for those with insurance and for those without.

Are you starting over after a layoff? We want to hear your story! Please email us at, and include your story and contact info. We will try to include as many stories as possible in future blogs.

Ester Venouziou, founder of and co-founder of Gulfport! Magazine, is available for freelance projects: writing, editing, design or social media. She can be reached at or 727.637.5586.

Tags:  alternatives to COBRA  health options for uninsured  losing insurance after a layoff  uninsured in Florida 

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