Wednesday, October 28, 2009

My nightmare

I woke up with a nightmare that I got sick - and didn't die.

I don't have a problem with getting sick and dying.  We all die sometime, and I've got life insurance and savings that will take care of my wife and kids.  We live frugally on one income but have no debt except for the mortgage.  They'll get by just fine if I die.

But here's what happens if I get seriously sick and live.

At first, everything is OK.  I've got health insurance through Blue Cross/Blue Shield.  I've got short term disability and long-term disability and nursing home insurance (this stuff costs a bundle, but I like to be prepared).  So if I get seriously sick and can't work, I'll use up my accumulated sick leave and then my 12 weeks of unpaid family leave (short-term disability kicks in to keep us afloat).  Once we're past that point my employer will have to fire me if I can't work.  Then I'm onto long term disability, which gives me a portion of my regular salary until I reach retirement age - this is a good thing.  The problem is that my health insurance will run out 18 months after my employer fires me (that's the limit of the COBRA coverage).  Now my family and I will find ourselves in the position of having enough money to live on through disability insurance and my wife going back to work, but no health insurance because I'll have a pre-existing condition and no one will insure me.  So to pay the health care bills for my disease, I'll run through our regular savings, kids college savings, retirement savings, and eventually sell the house to live in apartment.  At a certain point, the money I have from the disability insurance and my wife's income won't be enough to cover medical care, but it will be enough to preclude us from getting medicaid.  At this point I'll finally start to die due to rationed care.  My only hope would be to last long enough to get to 65 so that Medicare kicks in.

Why this is a nightmare is that there is absolutely nothing I can do about it.  There is no way to get health insurance that guarantees the insurance company will be forced to stay with me, accept my premiums and pay the costs if I get really sick.

There are two options to help out my family. The first option is to divorce my wife as soon as I get really ill.  Once we split our assets and I have the disability to live on, I'm likely to qualify for Medicaid  This approach is a method of gaming the system and is inherently unethical.  But I can justify it to myself because society has put me into the position where there is nothing ethical I can do to secure the future of my family if I get really sick.  Leaving my family destitute is also an unethical choice. Its interesting that so many people have been forced into artificial divorce that Medicaid will actually go after an ex-spouses assets for up to five years after a divorce.  So the best bet is to divorce early when diagnosed with a long-term disease.

But I have another back-up plan. If I get really sick, I'm going to get one of those really fast motorcycles - and I'm not going to buy a helmet.

At least I've got a plan.  What's yours?

Welcome to my nightmare.


Usually Frustrated Caps Fan said...

What's my plan - basically plan a) is the divorce route and I don't feel it's inherently unethical. My wife does home health and we've seen the medically impoverished for years, if you realize and accept that option then you basically just have to bridge 6 months from when the COBRA ends and the 24 month waiting period re: ownership, etc. ends here in our state.

plan b) Is similar to yours but I hear that free fall skydiving provides you with a really awesome sense of euphoria and I'm not into motorcycles.

Ben said...

Hadn't thought about skydiving. I wonder how difficult it would be to target a small spot for landing - say the front yard of an insurance executive? Maybe land on the Lexus in the driveway?