Your Benefits, Your Story: Jennifer Gaskill
January 10, 2018
An ounce of prevention
They found the tiny, pea-sized tumor during Jennifer Gaskill’s annual mammogram. That she had such a thing surprised both Gaskill and her doctor. “Haven’t you been checking yourself?” the doctor asked. “Well, you didn’t find it either!” Gaskill replied. The fact is, some tumors are just too small to be detected by touch alone, no matter how thorough the self-examination. The annual mammogram, therefore, proved to be critical for Gaskill, who is a HealthSelectSM of Texas participant. “Recommended preventive exams are fully covered by the plan," Gasklill said. “People need to get them done."
Jennifer Gaskill became retirement eligible in December 2017. She will continue working until her husband is ready to take the retirement step with her.
After a biopsy confirmed a cancer diagnosis, Gaskill embarked on a nine-month quest to beat the disease. She underwent seemingly endless tests, a couple of surgeries, 16 chemotherapy sessions and 33 rounds of radiation. However, she felt fortunate that the hit to her bank account was far less painful than what she had endured physically. “After all was said and done, I spent only a few thousand dollars out of pocket,” Gaskill said. While it wasn’t an insignificant amount, she knows it’s a lot less than people with coverage through other employers might pay. She also made sure that her in-network primary care doctor could set up her initial appointments with in-network specialists, who then implemented her treatment plan. All Gaskill had to do “was focus on getting well.”
With her cancer in remission, Gaskill, a Certified Texas Public Purchasing Manager, is now back on the job at the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), where she has worked for the past 18 years. (She has been a State of Texas employee for 23 years). It’s her job to get the best deal when purchasing the equipment TCEQ’s scientists and engineers need.
“The most challenging part of my job is to understand the products they require: What does an air monitor do? Why do we need all these chemicals?” Once she is confident in her understanding, Gaskill can then evaluate which options best meet industry standards and state procurement guidelines. “We have 300 lab trailers across the state that monitor air and water quality. I have to make sure they have the tools they need to get the job done.”
“When I first came to the state, I took a $7,000-per-year pay cut, but the benefits helped offset that loss of income,” said Gaskill. In fact, she recently found she was getting about $30,000 in benefits, according to an analysis of data she plugged into a benefits estimator that TCEQ maintains on its employee website. What might be more important than money? Security. Gaskill knows from experience that when you are sick, there is comfort in knowing you will be cared for.
This year, all GBP health care plans cover digital mammography and breast tomosynthesis in the same manner as low-dose mammography for annual breast cancer screenings in women ages 35 years or older.