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April 15, 2002: Due dates

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I found it faintly amusing to note the number of people who were still hunched in front of their computers at work today as I was leaving, hurriedly punching numbers into a range of online tax preparation systems in an attempt to beat the deadline. The news reports on the radio as I drove home were full of little comments about how busy and crowded the post offices were as people raced in to drop off their completed forms, or pick up new ones.

Luckily, we weren’t part of the last-minute tax panic. This is because we got ours done back in March, going to an accountant to do them instead of trying to make sense of the myriad of rules and forms that have dogged me ever since my financial situation got too complicated for the 1040EZ form to handle. We owed a painfully high amount, mainly because I’d exercised all my stock options upon leaving the Big Fish, and Richard cashed out a retirement account for his trip, but at least it wasn’t unexpected. The checks went into the mail about a week ago, and have already been received and cashed by both federal and state.

I can’t be too smug about having ours done early, however. It wasn’t so many years ago I actually called in sick to work in order to muddle through my taxes on April 15th, one eye on the clock as I nervously sifted through a mess of paperwork to try to figure out which numbers went into which boxes on the forms. I don’t do that anymore, but I understand far too well the temptation to postpone something difficult.

Our taxes were done, true, but we still had another type of paperwork due today. Last week the HR department at The-Company-To-Be-Nicknamed-Later took us into a conference room in small groups to present the new insurance selections for open enrollment. And because they’re changing everything – vision, dental, life, and health – this meant that Richard and I had to go through a rather hefty stack of paperwork this weekend to figure out what would work best for us.

I’ve never really had to care one way or the other about health insurance plans. My primary care physician was, for years, simply the nearest hospital. I would go in once a year for the annual exam all women adore (ha!), and agree to see whoever had an opening. I rarely have a need to go see a doctor any other time of the year, with the exception of the occasional trip to the emergency room for doing things like breaking a bone or slicing myself open on something (the usual side effects of being incredibly clumsy). However, Richard - with his asthma and allergies and such - has to actually care whether we chose HMO or PPO or whatever other options were out there.

I sat down Sunday, after we’d both had a chance to go through everything, and filled out the forms to elect the types of coverage. The new insurance providers come with a few more benefits, but also a few more expenses; enough that we’ll need to figure out how to work them into the budget. I did a small bit of petty whining about the 100% increase in the prescription drug co-pay, but on the whole we’re both happier with what we’ll be getting. And if not, well, we'll have an entire year to figure out what to do next time open enrollment rolls around.

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