Friday, February 24, 2012

There But For the Grace of God Go I

George called at about 6 pm, when I was starting to think about heading out. His wife has renal cell carcinoma. She had an 8 pound, volley-ball sized tumor removed and her abdomen is held together with staples. The surgeons didn't think she'd survive the surgery, but she did.

Then, a month or so after her big surgery, George took his car in to be fixed. It was a Cadillac; George and Teresa had done well in life, and they drove big cars and lived in a big house. They were both professionals; he was a hospital executive. They thought they were set for life.

Anyway, the Cadillac dealership said the car was fixed, so he brought it home and put it in the garage. Then George smelled smoke. In the end, their $800,000 home was reduced to rubble and flames.

George filed a claim with his homeowner's insurance, but State Farm -- his insurer -- denied the claim. He got a lawyer, but somehow, State Farm got the judge to exclude all evidence about the Cadillac, the dealership, the repairs -- the source of the fire. The jury found against George. He is now trying to appeal, but he doesn't have the $9000 he needs to get the trial transcripts he needs to appeal.

The house is a pile of rubble, but George has tried to hang onto it. He promised Teresa that she would not die in the three room "cave" they live in now, where Teresa sleeps on a broken couch and George sleeps in a chair. They have no working kitchen -- no refrigerator or stove -- so they can't go to a food bank for food. They tried Meals on Wheels but they both got sick after three days, so they gave up on that. George hasn't eaten yet today.

George and Teresa had burial plots. He sold his about a year ago to pay Teresa's medical expenses. He won't sell Teresa's because she deserves a proper burial, he says.

Teresa is on Social Security disability -- their only income -- and she has Medicare, but doctors and radiologists and other health care providers won't treat her without payment of the 20% coinsurance up front unless she has a Medicare supplemental policy. Teresa's policy costs $420 per month. George doesn't have it this month. He doesn't know what he's going to do.

I spent an hour and a half going through all the resources I know about with George. He has 3 pages of names and phone numbers now, so he will be busy on Monday. And I will try to do some more work for him next week. At the very least, they ought to have a bed to sleep in, so I will try to find a bed or furniture store to donate one.

But there it is -- a picture of what can happen to any of us if we're hit with a health disaster, a house fire, a nasty insurance company, a bad lawyer, a judge who actually high-fived the insurance company's lawyer when the jury brought back its verdict against George. It can happen to any of us.

Every day we have a roof over our head, a hot meal, a bed to sleep in, we are so very fortunate.

I will take that with me into the week-end. I hope you will, as well. Jennifer


  1. Counting my blessings.... Thanks, Jennifer.

  2. Oh, wow. They will be in my prayers. I'm glad they at least have you in their corner, and I am sad that the system failed them so horribly thus far.

  3. The way I read this, George & Teresa were doing very well for themselves. He, a hospital executive. And she another great job. So she gets sick & somehow they don't have proper coverage & can't pay their co-pays. Seems odd to me.
    If this were a story about an average income family, I might feel bad. But this guy just doesn't want to break into his nest egg or something. He's looking for a handout. I feel bad that Teresa got sick. Very bad. But this guy's story isn't sitting right with me somehow.
    Rich couple with an $800,000 home. It burns down, can't collect on his insurance, and his car burned up too. Again, can't collect any insurance ? Hmmm??? What kind of hospital bills does a hospital executive get anyway ? I would imagine their family gets a lot of free care. Now maybe I'm wrong & maybe I'm not. Or maybe I'm just sick & tired of people with huge bank accounts who hide all their assets to collect freebies. He has no reason to be forced to live in a 3-room cave. No family ? No friends ? Odd.
    How about U publish a story about an everyday hardship story. Maybe I can believe that one ? Like a divorced woman after a 32 yr. marriage, who is totally disabled but she can't collect any S.S. Disability because she didn't get paid for taking care of her no good husband & children all those years. Plus the no good ex-husband goes to court for over 8 yrs. & sucks her dry of any money she was entitled to by claiming there's nothing wrong with her & a bunch of other lies. While at the same time, being the Psychotic he is, gets himself a doctor to perform back surgery he didn't need from a minor car accident, just so the judge could feel he was entitled to retire early & take away his wife's support & refuse to pay her what he agrees to pay her in court & on paper to cover her medical costs. He keeps her under constant threat of taking the lousy small support check she has left, & her medical coverage that's left so she has to struggle thru everything in life, while he spends like a money mongrel. Especially on his kids, who he successfully estranged from his ex wife by telling them a carload of lies about her & what she did to him, etc. I say that's unfair !! How can she possibly afford to keep paying lawyers to fight his lies in court anymore when he's taken everything she had away from her ? That's the person I want to see get justice in this world. Not some rich executive who mismanaged his money. Or just plainly hid it to collect free benefits. Sorry, but I cannot believe this entire story. Especially how he's so broke now & can't afford to take care of his ailing wife. ( or himself) Ba-lon-ey !!

    1. I write about down and out people all the time. I thought it might be important to people with means to be reminded that this can be them any time. A 20% copay on all medical care can add up. And then there are things insurance doesn't cover. And then, when you lose your house, there's alternate housing that they've had to come up with money for while trying not to lose their house, which was mortgaged. It doesn't take long to lose one's savings and everything when facing illness and homelessness. I think we have to be sympathetic and compassionate towards everyone in bad times. And I'm quite certain that this story is true -- they've lost everything. You're welcome to not believe it, but I'm certain -- I've checked it out. It's true. And again, if we are going to get the majority of people to care about things like health reform, we have to show them it could happen to them, too. But if you've followed this blog for any time, you know I spend a lot of time writing about people who didn't start out with any means who can't get out of the hole they're in. It's all every day hardship, whether you started out rich or poor. But thanks for telling the story you've posted. I do hear many such stories, especially from women. I do think those stories need to be told, too. J

  4. In your post you shared and described a very bitter person. Its sad to waste energy on trying to punish those who maybe had a better life than we have had, yet find themselves in tthe same painful place in the end. Rain falls on the just and unjust, regardless of our position in life. And if such travails happen to the financially well-off, it can happen to any one. You doubt the truthfulness of the story of a rich man falling on hard times. It is a much more common a story today than it was a few decades ago. Its the best argument I've seen for a system of care that benefits all of us, and not just a few. I hope the friend you describe in your post will find peace and healing so that the self-destructive emotions of bitterness and anger toward others will not limit their own possibilities for happiness in the future.

    1. I assume you are referring to the person who posted above you. Well said. I couldn't have said it better. J