Long Journey in to the “Stroke World” Sans Enough Insurance

by Lynn Cardarelli

It seemed that it was a typical day. But, it wasn’t. March 8, 2016 at 10 in the morning would start off being the worst of worst days. My name is Lynn Cardarelli and among other hats I wear, I am an insurance agent. When you work in this profession you know that bad things can happen to great people, but I didn’t expect that it would be “my turn”, let alone that of my long-time beau, Joe.

So, here is how my “worst day” began… I am working in my home office. Joe comes in says he isn’t feeling well and wants me to make a doctor’s appointment for him. While an unusual request, it didn’t seem too “odd” as I suspected he was not well. He would normally goes to the gym at 4:30 AM to work out, however that morning he had crawled back into bed and said he wasn’t feeling well and needed to sleep. For him to miss his workout is atypical so I figured he must be getting sick and I was going to call the doctor. Then I took looked at him. He wasn’t sick. He was staggering as if he was drunk. He acted disoriented and was holding onto the wall trying to put his clothes on. I knew then… Joe was having a stroke.

I called 911. (Commence solemn music) This is where the nightmare truly beings. Hours spent in the ER as hordes of medical professionals determine treatment and finally find a bed for him. Then starts the ongoing days and nights in the hospital room waiting for him to wake up. Praying that he would come out of it all right. And, once he woke up, a blessing, we began to discover the extent of the damage.

The long journey now becomes longer…

From the hospital Joe went into a nursing facility only to be back to the hospital again. Rinse and repeat for seven months. That is what it feels like, but not in a good or cleansing way. But, more futile as the challenge is where does beloved Joe go next? More care facilities? Remain in the hospital?

A stroke can make someone feel like they are in prison. And, their caregivers like they are helpless.

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Joe does not have use of the right side of his body and there is no way of knowing if this his new normal or if it will come back. Mentally he is like someone who has suffered PTSD.  And, I continue to pray.

Our future is uncertain and the fears, the tears and the prayers take their toll.

 Joe has good medical insurance. I am an insurance agent and I know the policies. I know what medical insurance policies including Medicare and policies that supplement or replace Medicare do and do not cover. Most policies cover a 100 days in a skilled nursing/rehabilitation center, so many hours of speech, physical and occupational therapy, home health care etc. If durable medical equipment is needed, the recipient normally has a 20% coinsurance. Most policies do not cover retrofitting the house for an individual who is immobile.

I know I must not be alone – there are others who have their “Joes”.

Being struck by a critical illness – stroke, heart attack, cancer, ALS, MS, Dementia etc. – cost money and if a Boomer is not properly insured the illness will destroy their retirement funds.

Boomers should know what their health insurance policies covers or if on Medicare, what Medicare covers. And, to protect the home and financial future you should have policies such as…

  1. Long Term Care
  2. Critical Illness or a Cancer/Stroke/Heart Attack policy
  3. Hospital policy
  4. Disability Income policy (if still working)

These policies provide for money to cover the costs that medical insurance, including Medicare, does not cover. They provide money to live on while recovering, money for additional time in a skilled nursing facility, money for additional days of therapy and money to cover alternative treatments.

Many have bought policies through their work and will let them go when they retire. You should review the policies you own with a trusted Insurance Agent. Sometimes, if the company allows it, it is better to keep those policies in place during retirement. Regardless of age, individuals should look at acquiring additional protection against critical illness. In my Stroke Support group, I am always surprised by the number of stroke survivors who are in their 20’s and 30’s.

Joe’s stroke has cost over a half million dollars. The insurance company is bearing the majority of the cost. We are responsible for a portion of the cost. A Long Term Care Policy would have significantly reduced the financial burden of his recovery. There are options every Boomer should discuss an insurance agent.

Joe and my journey is long on a road we did not want to discover. He was healthy. I am healthy. And, now we are both severely impacted physically and emotionally from the toll a catastrophic illness can impart on its’ victims.

I wish we had better options… and a different road.

For more information: Stroke.org

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