Jay Lake (jaylake) wrote,
Jay Lake

[cancer] The high cost of disability and dying

I've been working through a lot of details with my employer about late life and terminal issues. As I (most likely) get increasingly sick, at some point, I may go back on Short Term Disability (STD) for a while. (This is what I did for last month's surgery.) Somewhere in my terminal stages, I'll go on Long Term Disability (LTD).

On STD, I am still an employee. My benefits still apply, most specifically health insurance. My income is reduced by a third, but I believe that reduced income is paid pre-tax, so it's not quite as painful as it could be. This is a benefit managed by a third party provider, but my understanding is that it is funded by my employer.

On LTD, I am no longer an employee. Instead I am living on an insurance benefit provided by a third party insurance company through my employer, the premiums for which I pay as pre-tax dollars. Because I am no longer an employee on LTD, my insurance lapses unless I elect to carry it through COBRA.

To belabor the obvious, if I go on LTD because I have terminal cancer, letting insurance lapse would be about the most bone-headed move I could possibly make. Yesterday I found out the COBRA costs for coverage for me, [info]the_child and her mother. $1,800 for the health coverage alone, plus a small bit more for the dental.

That's huge rise in monthly expenses at a time when my income will have been substantially reduced. On the same LTD plan which reduce my paid benefit by the amount I might collect from any other LTD plan, such as the private plan I've paid into for the past thirteen years.

Think about that for a minute.

Our system of disability and late life care is profoundly cruel, punitive, inhumane and illogical. The whole point of putting the LTD benefit at only a percentage of my salary is that sick people are somehow assumed to need less money. At the same time, I'll be putting out $1,800 per month for health insurance (about four times more than my employee-paid contribution currently coming out of my paycheck) and hundreds more per month for co-pays and out of pockets.

What never-been-sick idiot thought this up?

This system puts me and my family under intense financial stress at a time when we can least afford either the direct costs or the associated emotional strains.

This is insane. Is this how you want the end of your life to go? Unraveling financially no matter how hard you've worked, how good a job you've done?

Tell me again how we have the best healthcare system in the world? It couldn't be better designed to drive a dying person into bankruptcy and premature death if that had been the primary objective.

This is not how a just, humane and moral society should treat its sickest members.

Tags: cancer, child, family, health, personal

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