In part 1 of this series, the author explained how some fortunate timing helped his uncle fight cancer without high premiums or big out of pocket expenses. In part 2 of the story, he explains how his uncle dealt with the time off of work.
For years, my uncle had bad knees and always knew that he should have surgery, but he never did because, even if he had had health insurance, which he didn’t, he couldn’t afford to miss work. His social security payments, which began when he was 62, weren’t enough to pay his mortgage, much less the rest of his monthly bills. He didn’t have a huge nest egg and relied on his self-employment income to get by.
For that reason, I worried not only about his health but also about his finances when he was diagnosed with throat cancer. I knew he’d have to miss some work, and I wondered how he’d be able to survive. But then he surprised me. My uncle told me that, while he had gone without health insurance for years, he actually had a cancer policy that he had purchased in 1996. That was the year my grandma passed away from lung cancer, and because he had also lost a brother to cancer, he thought it might be a good idea to protect himself. It certainly was.
On top of the scheduled payments for surgery, tests, and outpatient radiation and chemotherapy treatments, the policy had a $2,000 initial diagnosis rider as well as a rider that paid $50 for every month he had had the policy (nearly 20 years). He received a couple checks totaling more than $10,000. Not only did that cover his out-of-pocket costs and replace the income he missed while receiving treatment, it even allowed him to make a down payment on a much-needed new truck.
My uncle lost his voice and learned to text during his radiation treatments. Once he was able to talk again, we had a good laugh about the fact that he had actually made money from his cancer diagnosis; his cancer policy more than covered his medical expenses and lost income, so he once again felt lucky in life.
Unfortunately, 2017 did not usher in the same good news that the previous year did, and it appears that his luck may have finally fun out.