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divorce/small business owner/insurance
Jan 23, 2004

I am female, HIV+, in a troubled marriage and trying to plan for possible futures. I am considering starting a small business so I would have something of my own if we divorced, but wonder if that is an unreasonable avenue to investigate (as opposed to acquiring skills in hopes that a company would hire and insure me) because of health insurance issues. What would be my options as an HIV+ small business owner, if I were to divorce? Right now I have good PPO coverage through my husband's company. At my age and with my background I imagine finding a job with insurance, even with training, would be extremely difficult for me, for a variety of reasons, which is why I was considering small business ownership.

Response from Ms. Breuer

You are so wise to be plannng for options. Before you allow a career decision this major to be entirely determined by your status, I recommend researching various insurance plans that insure small businesses. Some, as I understand it, will provide coverage for an HIV+ person, but you'll want to weigh the costs/benefits.

Please talk this over with your provider as well. S/he may have ideas about the best plan in light of your clinical status and how well you're responding to therapy, if you're on therapy.

If you do decide to go get a job with a company that provides benefits, please allow me to recommend an outlook as well as a process. First, focus on how the employer will benefit from having you there. You have nothing to apologize for. Life experience brings wisdom, especially people sense. Focus on what you've learned to do best--manage cranky people? (Husband?) Explain how to do complex things? Organize an event? Go with your strength.

Then learn which organizations in your area could benefit from your expertise AND have good benefit plans. Mostly, that will be large employers. When you join a health plan of a large employer, you face far less intrusive questions/obstacles than you would with a small employer.

There are lots of resources for women seeking to enter/re-enter the job market. Ask around in your community about services for women re-entering the job market. Start with your local United Way, which can refer you to a wide range of services that they help to fund. From there, follow the links.

Not knowing more about your situation, I can't say more than that, but I do encourage you to explore both options. A large AIDS services organization in your state should be able to direct you to a benefits specialist who's knowledgeable about companies that write health insurance for people who live with HIV.



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