Chronic Illness and Career Advice Needed

Hi, I’m new here and would love to hear your thoughts on this. Ever since I was diagnosed with a chronic illness, I’ve had to shift to part-time work, and most of my jobs have been contractual. I’ve only taken those that offer health insurance, but finding part-time jobs that pay well and provide insurance has been a real challenge.

To cope, I started a small business that I can run from home, but it’s not making money yet. It’s easy to feel discouraged and like the world has let us down, especially those of us with chronic illnesses. I still have so much passion for what I do, but it feels like the job market has no place for us anymore. Initially, I was hopeful and found some resources, but they turned out to be marketing schemes.

How do you manage a chronic illness while working in the industry you love? I don’t want to change my field; I love it, I’ve worked hard for it, and I don’t want to do something else. I’m a graphic designer and have experience in various areas of the field. It’s an industry that can easily expand, but it seems to stop being accommodating when you’re no longer a full-time, healthy individual who needs to work fewer hours a week.

I’d love to hear about your experiences and any advice you might have.

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You’re looking for a part-time job that pays well and provides health insurance? Granted, I don’t know what the job market is like as I am not looking for full-time (or part-time) work, but it sounds like you’re looking for something that doesn’t exist — at least not in the design field. I believe Starbucks and Amazon offer health insurance benefits to all employees. Not in the field you’d like, but sometimes you have to make compromises, and that’s okay. Like I said, I’m not looking, so maybe I’m not aware of what’s out there. Can you work full time if you have a flex schedule? Some days in the office and some at home? Or what about a full time remote position?

I’ve never heard of contractual work that comes with health insurance, and part-time employment with health insurance in any field isn’t especially common.

Perhaps you can land some part-time work, as @Steve_O suggested, and then use some of your left-over time to pursue occasional freelance opportunities as your health permits.

The field of graphic design is oversaturated with people calling themselves designers. Many small-time clients that were once the bread and butter of design freelancing have migrated to cheap do-it-yourself solutions or crowdsourcing. It’s pretty bleak out there, and I don’t see it returning to the way it used to be.

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I haven’t heard of any job under 32 hours that does health insurance in a very long time.
Certainly not since the ACA went into effect - check out Healthcare . gov if you are in the US (take out the spaces.)

Thank you for the thoughts you shared, everyone. Tech companies usually do contract work for 30 hours or more with health insurance. However, this year the market isn’t great for anyone in the tech world. It makes me think about how much time we spent talking about accessible design, but when you become the person who needs an “accessible” job, it’s like you’re almost not needed. Remote work is available, but it requires working 45 hours or more. Unfortunately, I now have a neurological condition. I can still design and do so much, but I can no longer work 45 hours a week. I manage 30 hours pretty well, but working more than that causes flare-ups.

Switching to freelance will need a bit of time that’s for sure and clientele. Wondering what do other people with chronic illness do in this case? everyone in this case seem to still be struggling even after years.

In the US?.. so you’re a contractor with a business license and the company sends you a 1099 form at the end of the year, and they are also providing health insurance? Or are you an employee who receives a W2?

Contract—W-2 form. So you’re not a full time employee but get some benefits and they use a third party agency to hire. Freelancers usually get a 1099, so I guess it depends on the company.

That’s interesting.

Autodesk hired me to do some user interface work three or four years ago, and that’s how they wanted to handle things too. They didn’t offer health insurance, but I didn’t ask about it either.

At the time, I dismissed the pseudo-employee thing as a quirky Autodesk practice, but from what you wrote, maybe it’s a standard Bay Area tech thing since so many tech employees work remotely from various locations.

Oh, I get it. Like a temp company that hires you out for contract work? We have contractors like that working for us. We pay someone else for their services and at the end of the contract we sometimes offer to do a buyout and they become our employee. I don’t know how that works insurance-wise, but I don;t imagine we cover it, their employer does.

Have you checked into things like this?
(I have no affiliation with this website and you’re on your own to vet the outcomes.)

I did a quick search for “graphic” on their partner portal SourceAmerica and came up with 4 Creative hits within 25 miles of a major city near me (they were varied from video to collateral design, to marketing.)

You could move to a country with better/more affordable health insurance/care.
Here in Austria there is almost no employment without health insurance and it’s compulsory to pay about 18% of your income for it. It’s automatically deducted before you get paid. The health system is top notch if you’re not a billionaire who can afford top class private clinics in the US.
Wages are lower, but so is the cost of living.

Moving from the US, as in not being a citizen of the EU, to any of the countries with affordable health insurance requires a lot of hoops. Looks like it might be possible for a US citizen to obtain a work visa if offered a job from a company in Austria, but you can’t just ‘move there.’ And certainly not to be covered under the country’s insurance plan. “Skilled Workforce” is the wording on the Visa pages online, that includes Engineers, Nurses, Doctors, etc. I’ve never seen Graphic Designer included on those lists…

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