Your cell phone rings incessantly throughout the day. Sometimes it’s a surprise check in from family, and other times it’s an annoying appointment reminder. Most people have the choice to answer it or not. What could require you to keep your phone on and with you at all times? The answer, a bilateral lung transplant costing over a million dollars. We are awaiting that life changing call, however, we would not be without our insurance. With every ring of the phone, we dream of relief and of a new life. My dad, Shea Little, is on the National organ transplant list in hopes of getting his life-saving organ, new lungs. Due to his genetic lung disease, alpha 1 antitrypsin deficiency, he has not been given much time left. His lungs are infected and dying. Insurance is, quite literally, a matter of life or death. It is the difference between hope and despair. He is my hero. This is a cliche word, but he is the perfect personification of it. He is sacrificial, positive, tough, involved, and optimistic. You ask me, “Why is insurance important to me?” Aside from our love for each other, it is the most important thing in our lives and always will be. Insurance has changed my life by helping to give me the past; the last five years with my dad. It has given me the present; it is the reason he has a chance at a transplant, a new life. Finally, it has given me the future; insurance gives us hope for financial stability moving forward.
To my first assertion, my past. You may wonder how insurance could “give” me the last five years with my dad? When he was diagnosed, we were told a drug could slow the progression of his lung disease down. The name of the drug is Glassia. It is human plasma infused with antitrypsin, the protein the rest of us produce in our livers. The catch, we found out, is that it costs $35,822.58 per shipment. He infuses once a week, every Wednesday. If my parents did not have insurance, my dad would not get this vital drug to slow the progression of his disease down. We know someone with my dad’s disease. She does not get the infusions due to lack of insurance. I have had the last five years with my dad, from age 13-18, because this expensive, terribly important drug was covered and helped to slow down the disease progression. Insurance literally gifted me five good years with my dad before his decline was severe enough he became listed for transplant. Those years made me who I am. They gave me hunting, fishing, camping, and coaching memories. More importantly, they let me become the man I am today. My coming of age has happened. Live or die, he will forever live on through me. His commitment to my mom, to us kids, and to our community are examples I will emulate. There is no price I could put on what insurance has done and the importance of it to me. Insurance has not only given me my formative years with my dad, it gives me the possible present as well.
We were told point blank, my dad would not qualify for the transplant list without insurance. In fact, it took my parents an extra month and a half to even get the appointment to see if he qualified because they had to wait for the insurance to approve the appointment and possible transplant. I am so grateful for our insurance coverage. I asked my mom and dad what the bills have been for all of my dad’s health issues. The answer is a staggering 4,108,775.38, and that is just the figure for the last 24 months. Over four million dollars. Due to our coverage, My dad has a chance at life. Fly fishing with us again, or even just seeing him walk into the house without having to catch his breath is my prayer. Thinking of him with my future children brings a lump to my throat and hope in my heart. Living in the moment, knowing our moments are not numbered. This is the “present” insurance can give us that I dream of. This is hope for a transplant and new chance at life with my dad is my present reality I am thankful for. What about my future? How does insurance play a role in that?
Several different types of insurance are important to me for my future. The first is the continued health insurance that has given me my past and the present with my dad. In the future, if my dad gets new lungs and makes it through the transplant, the lifelong anti-rejection drugs are literally thousands of dollars a month. I looked at the list my parents were given, and just one drug, Valganciclovir can be up to $4,000 a month! We need that important coverage to keep him alive in the future. This means he would be around to meet my future wife, read my kids Goodnight Moon, and have Nerf wars over our sofa, as he did with me.
Another insurance that is important to me for my future is my dad’s life insurance and disability insurance. Whether he makes it or not, his life insurance and disability insurance assures we will all be able to have our basic necessities met as we forge ahead in whatever new world we are thrown into; the world of post-transplant survival or managing life as best we can without our dad. As hard and undoable as that seems right now, he has insists we would move forward, keeping him “alive” through loving each other and persevering no matter what.
Insurance quite literally is the lift the gives us life in my family. It is the air to all of our lungs. No one should ever be without coverage. You never know when and how you will need insurance. Alpha 1 is a genetic disease. I have a 50 percent chance I have the gene. I live my life every day personifying the life lessons and principles my dad has taught me. One of those lessons is to never be unprepared and to handle whatever life throws at you and to the best of your ability. This, by definition, is what insurance is for. It’s coverage and peace of mind for you and all those you love. My past, my present, my future; this is why insurance is important to me.
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