Sick Policy

“So, what brings you to us today?” asked the pleasant gentleman seated before me. We were in one of those tiny little offices that ought to be a cube, but the walls go floor to ceiling. It was painted a creamy buttercup yellow and had a large poster on each wall depicting a kitten facing a problem. I was looking at kitty gripping a screen door as it opened.

“I wanted to look into consolidating my insurance needs.” I answered, swinging my scooter around to get a better look at kitty with a jar stuck on its head. I bumped into the formed plastic visitors chair in the tight quarters. “Sorry about that.”

“No problem. So tell me what insurance you have now.” he said. I liked him, he was relaxed. I went through my three life insurance policies; all of them term policies. I told him I had insurance on three cars, varying between full coverage and liability only. I said I was considering renters insurance, which would lead to homeowner insurance at some point. He listened, nodding occasionally. When I was done he leaned forward on his forearms and asked me why I had three minimal life policies, and wondered if I might be better off to convert to whole life. “I can bundle the products you need in any case, though.” he said.

“Well, I’m medically retired.” I said, rotating myself to face him. “My money comes from disability payments and my condition makes it difficult to get life insurance.”

He nodded again. “So, what’s wrong with you? I mean, what is your condition?” I told him I had Multiple Myeloma, which brought another nod. “What’s that?”

“It’s a cancer of the plasma cells in bone marrow.”

“Is there treatment for that? Is it one of the cancers they can control?”

“It depends. There are therapies, chemotherapy, stem cell transplants, radiation… it just depends.” I said. He didn’t nod.

“So, tell me about you. I can see that you’re in a chair and you mentioned that you live on disability.”

“Well, we tried Doxorubicin, Velcade and Revlimid. They weren’t effective for me, and I was not a candidate for stem cell transplants. I had certain sensitivities to steroids that were necessary to the process not being fatal. At any rate, the unusual form of the cancer I have, it’s called being a non-secretor, doesn’t manifest many of the attributes that Myeloma is known for. In most cases there are proteins in the blood that cause problems with the renal system among other things, and I don’t have that. Instead, my bones are slowly disintegrating. If you look at an xray of one of the affected areas, it looks like the bone is made of lace, or cheesecloth. There are places where the bone is entirely missing, and areas where the bone has developed a hard and brittle shell where the insides are kind of a mush. Like an M&M you’ve held in your hand too long. Anyway, except for radiation, nothing helped. Radiation works to kill off the bone and its activity in locations of tumors, called plasmacytomas. But it does kill the bone and so it has to be used sparingly. The chemical treatments caused severe peripheral neuropathy, a pretty painful condition. It’s been quite a while since I was treated and the majority of the symptoms have finally, slowly worn off. ”

“So, why the wheelchair? If the peripheral thing went away, what makes you need the chair?”

“It’s because of the damage to the skeleton. For the most part my skeleton won’t bear my weight. If I stand, then it puts great pressure on my lumbar area and hips. The doctors believe that my pelvis will collapse and start a cascade of damage. I guess you can see why I have the little insurance policies I do. The only reason I have those is because of the VFW and American Legion, and Uncle Sam. Three agencies and three policies.”

He was nodding again. Then he shook his head with the same metronome rate as his nod. “I don’t think I can come up with competitive products for those policies.” he said. “It sounds to me like you understand your situation and have already found the insurance products available for greater risk individuals.”  It was my turn to nod. I told him that I was looking to bundle the services, giving me a single place to pay for my premiums and possibly offering me opportunities I might not qualify for but for service bundling. Kind of like I get with Comcast for television and Internet. He was shaking his head again now. “No, I can’t think of a way we can create a composite that includes life insurance.”

He went on to quote me rates for rental insurance and car insurance, and I was a bit surprised at the premiums. His quote for car insurance was a full thousand dollars above what I currently pay Geico. I opted to stick with the little green lizard. As to his renters insurance, that was going to give me a maximum payoff of twenty-five grand for only $300 per month. I took a pass on that as well, deciding that putting away $300 a month into a special savings account made a lot more sense.

The thing is, there aren’t a lot of opportunities out there for those of us with profound illness. If it weren’t for the subsidies of the government and benevolent organizations like the VFW and American Legion, there wouldn’t be any at all. Then again, there is a lot more to these organizations than meets the eye. Membership is a smart move for disabled or chronically ill veterans. And, it is with them that I will be staying, not that I was looking to replace them so much as combine them into a package that was easier to keep track of and manage. But they aren’t all that hard to monitor anyway, what with the organizations always sending notices and information updates.