As a teenager, I had never actually given much thought to any type of insurance, except when my parents complained about how much it cost each month. That changed drastically 2 years ago, when my grandfather became ill and eventually passed away. He had worked his entire life and had always stressed the importance of providing insurance for his family. He always believed that if no other bills got paid, the insurance bill would. As his health deteriorated, there were multiple close calls with death, with medical “miracles” saving him time and again. Over a period of almost an entire year, he had multiple procedures and multiple hospital stays. He also had home health care nurses caring for him in between those hospital stays and required a lot of equipment and medication. At the start of it all, he spent seventy something days in the Intensive Care Unit of Lafayette General Medical Center. This was followed by numerous other hospital admissions, outpatient procedures, therapy sessions, and a variety of other services and medications.
This series of final illnesses were not his first brushes with death. 20 years earlier he had suffered a massive heart attack and, after lengthy CPR and other heroic measures, he made a full recovery. This incident also required a lengthy hospital stay and a return stay for surgery to correct the damage. Fast forward a few years to another brush with death. What started out as a sinus infection, ended with him being in a diabetic coma brought on by the shot given for the infection. All of this occurred when he had never even been diagnosed as a diabetic. Again, he spent an extended length of time in the Intensive Care Unit and again made a miraculous full recovery. Fast forward again a few more years to another lengthy hospital stay, this time for a combination of meningitis and encephalitis, both of which should have been fatal. He again fought back and through the wonderful doctors and treatments, made yet another full recovery.
As I watched my family struggle through the last years of his life, watching him fight to stay alive, and watching his wife and four daughters rally around him, there was one thing I never heard or saw. There was never a time where any one even mentioned the cost of all of this. You see, when these things are happening, money doesn’t matter. I realized that our family would have sold everything we own to get him the care that he so desperately needed to stay alive. They would still, to this day, give up everything for just one more day with him. So, as helpless as everyone felt and as hard as it was to let him go, never once did anyone question that there was anything else that anyone could have done to save him.
My grandfather lived and died a fighter – literally! In his lifetime, he received the Last Rites five times!! During the time of his last illness, he was inducted into the Louisiana Boxing Hall of Fame. He was a three time State Champion as he boxed for New Iberia Senior High School. He was a lifelong salesman, working for the same company for over 40 years. He raised four daughters who have grown up to make him proud and have raised families of their own. He taught those daughters the value of caring for your family – above all else. Among those things that he passed down, was his belief in “insuring” that things will be taken care of in the event you are unable to.
I am unsure of the total cost of these illnesses, but it was well over the million dollar mark. What I do know is that my grandmother was left with very little monetary liability. In a time where she needed to focus on him and his health, she wasn’t struggling or worrying about how this would all be paid for. You see, my grandfather was retired and had Medicare, as well as a very good supplemental policy. Before his retirement, he always carried full coverage on his family and was willing to sacrifice in other places to make sure they were taken care of first and foremost. Combined, these policies had taken care of just about everything that was done to him and for him. Although he was unable to get life insurance, because of his earlier health issues, he had other insurance in place so that my grandmother would be able to continue to live her life after he was gone.
So, the lesson I have taken from all of this is just how important it is to have good insurance. Not for myself, actually, but for the people that I care about. For now, my parents take care of the cost. But, one thing is for sure – I will certainly do my research and I will be sure to take care of this for myself when the time comes.
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