A frustrated former employee writes: I left my job when my contract expired. Originally, my supervisor and I expected that I would sign on for another year, but as tensions mounted, we agreed it was best for me to move on. She agreed (in writing) to write me a strong recommendation letter. She has not done so, nor do I think she will. I already have strong recommendations from past supervisors, so I don’t think this will hurt me.
My position required me to have a lot of institutional knowledge and expertise, something that the people I worked with did not have. I wrote instructions and trained everyone before I left, but the information they needed was challenging for them to grasp, since they were so inexperienced. I am getting emails from my former colleagues asking questions about how to do the job. I have helped as they have needed. Since I have not received my recommendation letter, I am wondering if I should still be spending my time answering all of their questions.
Here’s my suggestion for handling this particular situation: Don’t assume that your former supervisor is refusing to write you a recommendation. In fact, never assume anything in business. Your supervisor signed an agreement to give you a strong recommendation letter, something that is rarely, if ever, done. Call her to say you have not received the letter and ask her if, in the interest of saving her time, she would like you to write and forward a draft to her. Tell her that you have continued to train your former colleagues and that you would like that included in the recommendation letter. If she agrees that is a great idea, write a letter describing the job requirements and all that you brought to the position.
This is your chance for you to promote yourself as a marketing letter would do. Whenever you ask someone to write something for you, you are at that person’s mercy. She may not have the time needed to craft a well-written letter. She may not remember all your accomplishments on the job. She also may not be a good writer. Writing your own recommendation letter is your best option.
If she refuses your help and says she will do it on her own, ask when you can expect to receive it. This is also the perfect time to ask if she would like to go into a written contract with you for consulting/training time, since you have spent many hours of your own time helping your former colleagues. If she says she no longer wants to write the recommendation letter, remind her you have a signed agreement stating she will do so. If she is a smart supervisor, she will acquiesce, knowing she needs your continued help training her employees.
Laid Off with a Medical Condition
Several options exist for employees with permanent medical conditions who are laid off without insurance benefits.
Carrie McLean, consumer specialist of eHealthInsurance Services Inc., says COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act) is one of the most expensive options and only allows an employee 18 months of insured time. Most benefit administrators will give 45 to 60 days for employees to make a COBRA payment. If a person chooses COBRA, McLean suggests continuing to shop for other options. Once the COBRA period runs out, a person becomes HIPPA eligible. This would give a plan similar to COBRA at a higher cost, but there is no medical underwriting or waiting period. To qualify for HIPPA, a person must exhaust the 18 months of COBRA and have 18 months of coverage prior to that. “You can’t have had a break of more than sixty-two days in coverage, and you can’t be eligible for Medicare A or Medicaid B or any other employer-sponsored plan. To complicate this option, a person cannot qualify if coverage had been terminated due to failure to pay or because the person committed fraud,” says McLean.
If you live in one of the handful of “guaranteed issue” states (N.Y, N.J., Mass., Wash., with certain conditions, and Michigan/Blue Cross-Blue Shield), you can apply for private individual health insurance and your application will not be rejected. In states with medical underwriters, you will have a hard time qualifying with a pre-existing condition. If you don’t qualify, investigate PCIP’s at www.pcip.gov  (these were part of health-care reform), which is individual insurance for people with pre-existing conditions. Unfortunately, a person has to be uninsured for six months to qualify, but these policies are less pricey than COBRA.
McLean reminds us that Medicare covers people under 65 with qualified disabilities and who have received Social Security disability for 24 months. Short-term health insurance policies typically last only six months but allow more time for job hunting, and again, it’s better than being uninsured. Accident and critical illness plans are more like life insurance in that a person is paid a direct cost benefit when experiencing a qualified illness or accident. Unfortunately, critical illness plans exclude illnesses caused by a pre-existing condition. For help, speak to an insurance broker or contact the Foundation for Health Coverage Education.