I am laying in the ER and the oncologist is telling me that I have Acute Myeloid Leukemia, and that I likely needed to spend the next 4-6 weeks in the hospital. "It could be a long road," he said. A week prior I simply felt a little tickle in my throat...
A million things ran through my head at that moment, but primarily I was immediately thinking about my role as provider and primary income producer; would my family be OK financially if I didn't make it through this? What if I did make it through, but couldn't work for a while? What hit were we about to take from medical bills?
I didn't want to contemplate the possibility of not only dying...of leaving my kids without a father and my wife without a husband...but the possibility of dying and leaving my family in a pile of debt. That latter part weighed on me most heavily.
As it turned out, the answers to all of the swirling questions gave me relief, and it was because I invested in good insurance over the years. This relief allowed me to focus on getting well in the best possible way...with less worry.
Yes, this blurt is about insurance. It's not heart-warming or sentimental. It's my story of some good financial decisions (peace of mind) I had made that helped me in the long run, and a plea for young families to do the same.
Life Insurance (what if I don't make it?)
When I got married I converted a small whole life policy my parents had purchased for me into $250K worth of coverage, and after we had our first child I purchased another $750K.
At this point, my family should collect $1M in life insurance if I were to die. It's what we could afford.
It's not enough to make it so my family will never have to work again, but it is enough to significantly impact their ease of life, especially if me and my income were to vanish.
This is a no-brainer, especially for a young healthy family, but also for any family who has a clear bread-winner without a backup if that income were to disappear.
If you do not have life insurance go out and apply for a policy NOW. If you happen to get sick later (ex: a cancerous mole), the process to apply will get a whole lot harder and more expensive.
Disability Insurance (I'm alive but I can't work...for now)
Most companies that offer benefits to their full-time employees have some sort of low-cost pre-tax disability insurance option that you can buy into, and you should...whatever the max offered is. In my case more recently, I had been paying for disability insurance out-of-pocket because it wasn't offered by my employer.
During my treatment for Leukemia I haven't been able to work for a variety of reasons and the disability has allowed me to not have to worry as much about that. In fact, my policy allows for up to 60 months of benefits (if nec), for each disability instance!
Although the premiums haven't exactly been cheap over the years, the benefit payments are absolutely worth it, now that I have experienced them. Had I had to watch our bank account creep down to zero as my body recovered from chemo, I'm certain the added anxiety would have had a negative impact on my progress.
BTW this is NOT Social Security disability, which is much more difficult and complex to apply for, receive, and is extremely limited in terms of benefits provided.
Health Insurance (what will all the treatment cost my family?)
Several years ago the (very) small business that I worked for smartly decided to offer a gold-plated health insurance plan, which we opted into; no deductibles and high premium. While the monthly cost has certainly been high when compared to what we were used to, now that I've experienced Cancer and an extended hospital stay (27 days), it's easy to see the upside.
My extended stay cost $299K according to my insurance provider (doctor invoices not included), but I only saw up to my maximum individual out of pocket.
Your health insurance premium should be the second most important thing in your budget after your mortgage, and you get what you pay for.
I didn't have all these answers while I was laying in my hospital bed, but I had hoped I had set me and my family up well enough. After a quick review, I realized I had, and the relief came.
My cancer is currently in remission, but I'm still under treatment, and can't work.
I'm happy to say that at least I can say that I've done everything I could, in advance, to make this easier on me and my family, regardless of the outcome.
Lastly, I'd like to send much love to all who have been sending me positive energy through this difficult time!