This video from Your Life, Your Money highlights Rochelle James, an electrician in New York City with a good salary and a solid benefits package. Rochelle had fallen on hard financial times some years ago, but with the help of a group called Nontraditional Employment for Women, she found her current position and acquired health insurance through the Brotherhood of Electrical Workers union. The video explains the importance of health insurance and how it can be acquired through employment. Other types of insurance (e.g., life insurance and renters insurance) are also very important, especially for those with dependents.
Get Insured Transcript (Document)
No one likes to think about life’s worst-case scenarios, especially when it comes to money. It’s important to know that there is a form of financial protection you can purchase to help provide for unexpected catastrophes. Insurance is a generally affordable way to prevent large and potentially devastating financial loss.
Insurance is a contract between you (the insured) and a company (the insurer) that provides compensation for potential financial losses. When you buy insurance, you make periodic payments—known as premiums—in exchange for a policy that pays you a sum of money upon the occurrence of a specific event. Usually, you are required to pay a portion of the loss, called a deductible, and the insurer pays the rest. Buying insurance is essentially a calculation of risk for both the insurer and the insured. It is possible that you'll never need to use the insurance, but it is also possible that an insurance benefit could help you overcome a significant financial loss.
There are many different types of insurance, but the most important ones are health, auto, property, disability, and life insurance. Health insurance generally covers a range of medical expenses, including prescription medicine. Auto insurance can cover personal injury and property damage and also protects you if someone else is injured or another person's property is damaged due to an accident with your car. Homeowners or rental insurance can cover losses due to fire, burglary, vandalism, and natural disasters. Disability insurance is important as it pays benefits to you if you are unable to work due to an accident or illness. Life insurance pays a specific sum to beneficiaries upon the death of the insured.
Paying monthly premiums for health insurance, auto insurance, property insurance, disability insurance and life insurance can get expensive, but there are ways to save. Since rates vary, it's a good idea to shop around before choosing an insurance provider. You can often get lower rates if you use the same company for, say, your homeowners or rental insurance and your car insurance. It's also important to note that premium rates are set based upon the insurer’s calculation of the insured’s risk—the higher the risk, the higher the premium. One way to lower insurance premiums is to lower your risk factors. For example, your auto insurance premiums will be lower if you have a good driving record, if your car has air bags, anti-lock brakes or anti-theft devices, or even if you're a good student. Insurance does come at a price, but most financial experts agree that not having insurance could cost you a lot more.
Host Donald Faison: You’re about to meet a woman who’s been through life’s ups and downs. She’s a single mom with two kids and a good job, but she’s seen the other side of life so now she’s ready for whatever comes her way. Meet Rochelle James, from my hometown, New York City.
Rochelle James Electrician, NYC
Rochelle James: We are at the South Ferry Train Station, which is underneath the Staten Island Ferry. What we’re doing is building a whole brand new station. I can point to several buildings across New York City and, and show my family and my friends that I worked there; that I put the lights in; and I’m very proud of that.
Host Donald Faison: Rochelle is an electrician with a union job that gives her many fringe benefits, most importantly health insurance.
Rochelle James: We have an excellent medical plan that covers my whole family My daughter’s eight years old. Thank God she’s healthy. But you know suppose she had asthma or suppose she had some kind of ailment that would have needed special care? Our union provides excellent health care. So I wouldn’t have to worry about it.
Host Donald Faison: Things weren’t always so good for Rochelle…
Rochelle James: I didn’t come from a poor background. But because of unfortunate circumstances, I did end up at the very bottom. When my, when my mom passed away I fell into like a depression state.
Host Donald Faison: At 22 with a new baby and a younger sister to support, Rochelle was soon facing financial disaster.
Rochelle James: I took dead-end jobs just to make a little bit of money to get ahead. I took dead-end jobs just to make a little bit of money to get ahead.
Host Donald Faison: Rochelle not only needed a higher paying job but one with good benefits. She found out about an innovative program called Non- Traditional Employment for Women, or N.E.W., which trains women to compete for skilled jobs in construction and other blue collar trades. After successfully completing the program she’s now a journeyman electrician…
Rochelle James: I am on my way to security. I won’t say that I’m fully secure yet. I hope to stay with this company, They’re making it happen, and build this wonderful relationship and make a lot of money. [Foreman calls to Rochelle , hands her a check, says “Keep up the good work”]
Rochelle James: Thank you. My paycheck. [Tom affirms] Um. I get paid, uh, fortyseven dollars an hour. So it’s a nice check at the end of the week. It, it feels great. I feel independent, financially. And, um, when there’s overtime it’s even better. So I enjoy working and I enjoy paydays. The union is Local Union Number Three, IBEW, which stands for “International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.” Maybe one day they’ll change it to “Brother and Sisterhood,” Our union provides excellent health care. Health care should be a necessity and not an option.
1 in 3 Young Adults Lack Health Insurance
Average cost of an uninsured hospital visit: $3,300
Beth Kobliner: You know, it's amazing to me, with all the talk in our country about health insurance, 20 million people, aged 18 to 34, still don't have it, It's a huge problem. Ideally you get it from your job, but if you don't have a job that gives you health insurance, see if there's some organization you can join to get health insurance… whatever it is, you want to make sure to have health insurance.
STREET FEED: Is health insurance important to you?
Nicole: I’m not extremely concerned about not being on the health plan because I’d like to get a job that actually has insurance benefits and a higher salary
Lizanne: I currently do not have health insurance, which is very sad. I did a few months ago, and I’m in the process of shopping because it’s very expensive.
Host Donald Faison: When you're young and healthy it’s hard to imagine that a serious illness or accident could bring you down. Health insurance isn't cheap, but the cost of not having it can be very expensive. If you're uninsured you can end up with thousands of dollars in medical bills. If you can't pay them you could literally lose everything. Insurance is complicated with all those applications and forms, but you can find a lot of expert help online. If you have dependents like Rochelle, you also need protection if something should happen to you.
Rochelle James: Life insurance is very important. My children are going to be depending on my same income if I die. I have three hundred and fifty thousand dollars worth of insurance. It’s still a little low. But I figured as time goes on and the more money that I make, I can increase my insurance. So if anything happens to me now, in 20 years, my children would be fine.
Host Donald Faison: Rochelle is intent on helping other women become economically self-sufficient, so she serves as a mentor in a financial literacy class co-sponsored by Financial Women’s Association of New York—that she went through just a few years ago.
Ann Diamond Financial Counselor
Ann Diamond: Most of the women in this class are union employees; they will get their health insurance that way. They have come to be trained…so that will be looking at their cash flow; looking at their goal list; and figuring out how we can get them the help that they need. We listen in as Ann and Rochelle conduct the class… Needs vs. wants, saving money through cutting wants
Ann Diamond: The biggest reason people go bankrupt is because they had a health emergency and the bills were so overwhelming that there’s no way they could possibly pay them. The fact is we all need to have health insurance. You cannot just go from emergency to emergency and expect to get anywhere.
Host Donald Faison: But of course there’s a lot more to insurance than just medical coverage and life insurance.
Learn more about insurance options at pbs.org
Rochelle James: Renter’s insurance is the only thing that I don’t have that I’m really considering because, um, I’ve taken my hard-earned money and bought certain things for myself, certain toys, and if something happens to it, you know, how am I going to replace it? That’s thousands of dollars down the drain.
Beth Kobliner: It does make sense to get renters’ insurance, because it covers you for any damage that happens…And the truth is, it's not that expensive.
Average annual cost $150-$300
Average Coverage: $35,000
Host Donald Faison: Rochelle has turned her life around and now she is serving as an inspiration to others. Her photo will be seen in the New York City subways encouraging other women to get the training they need to compete for skilled jobs.
Rochelle James: I realize now how it is out here; how hard it is to make a living and take care of a family…So whatever you have to do, get up. If you have to go and sell shoelaces just to make some money for that day to eat, do what you have to do. Don’t sit around and feeling sorry for yourself. That’s the one thing I didn’t do. I didn’t sit around and I didn’t beg. I went out and I worked every day until I got to this point.
RECAP: Get health insurance
Get life Insurance if you have dependents
Shop around for the best deal
Academic standards correlations on Teachers' Domain use the Achievement Standards Network (ASN) database of state and national standards, provided to NSDL projects courtesy of JES & Co.
We assign reference terms to each statement within a standards document and to each media resource, and correlations are based upon matches of these terms for a given grade band. If a particular standards document of interest to you is not displayed yet, it most likely has not yet been processed by ASN or by Teachers' Domain. We will be adding social studies and arts correlations over the coming year, and also will be increasing the specificity of alignment.