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First Person: Technology Claims Another Job

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First Person: Technology Claims Another Job

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FIRST PERSON | In December 2007, I was 25 and working for Health Care Association in its patient account services division in Las Vegas as a medical billing specialist making $13 an hour. I am now 30, and I have yet to find another job that I enjoyed as much as that one.

It was about two weeks before Christmas and every department was called into the cafeteria for a meeting. Every department within patient account services consisted of about 500 people. I found this odd because we never had a meeting that applied to every department, but I definitely wasn't expecting what happened next: They informed us we would all lose our jobs by April the next spring, and some of us would be gone before that happened.

They told us that if we wanted our severance pay that we had to stay with the company until the very end. This made it more difficult for us to secure another job before we lost our jobs. The severance pay was anywhere from $3,000 to $10,000, depending on how long you had been with the company. (Mine was about $7,000 before taxes.) HCA offered positions at the other divisions in Atlanta and Nashville, Tenn., but no more than 20 were willing to relocate.

The employee morale for those four months was definitely non-existent.

It didn't make any sense to me because I'd always thought it was a secure company and that what I was doing was also very secure. For the most part, it was, but if there is anything a company can do to save some money, it is going to do just that.

Technology would eliminate most of our job, and the positions that were left over would go to other U.S. locations. Five hundred positions were gone by April because of new software that was able to do what we did: go through medical insurance claims and filtering them -- going through each and every one. The software (I don't recall its name) could sift through those same claims, detect problems and just pick out the ones that needed corrections. (That's when the specialists in Atlanta and Nashville stepped in.)

Our location no longer needed to exist.

After the layoff, I decided I would become more specialized and pick a job that technology could never do in place of me. I turned to health care management, but I am not currently working. I have held a few temporary jobs in medical front offices but nothing permanent or full-time. Temporary jobs paid me $12 an hour. I was receiving unemployment until it ran out in mid 2009.

I ended up not having enough money to pay my bills, so my boyfriend is supporting me and my three kids. I'm currently attending school to receive my master's degree in business administration at Colorado Technical University, an online school, where I stared in August 2008. It took me a while, but I obtained a bachelor's degree in business management with a medical management concentration in December.

I can appreciate technological advancements. I use them every day. But sooner or later, technology is going to control everything, and there will be even fewer jobs. I think it is safe to say that I definitely hold a grudge against it. I'm sure there are people going through this now and the best advice I can give to those people is to learn something a bit more specialized that a computer can't do for you.

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