Tuesday, November 14, 2006

November 12, 2006 - Blessed Insurance

One small comfort, throughout this past year of living with cancer, is that I’ve got some life insurance. This would help provide for the needs of my family, should anything happen to me. My father sold me my first policy years ago, when I was still in seminary, during a time when he was briefly in the insurance business. Some years later, Claire and I each purchased another policy. Additionally, the church’s pension plan provides a modest “death benefit” – efffectively, a term insurance policy – whose payout decreases with age. (I’ve always found that phrase “death benefit” a little odd: an oxymoron, even.)

Do we have enough insurance? Probably not. But at least we’ve got something.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about buying more insurance – although I realize that, with my recent health history, that could be problematic. When a mailing arrived from the Presbyterian Church’s Board of Pensions a few weeks ago, advertising an open enrollment period for additional death benefits, I figured this could be my chance.

An earlier conversation with our regional Board of Pensions representative was somewhat reassuring. A cancer diagnosis, he told me, doesn’t necessarily disqualify me from coverage. It’s a group policy, so as long as I meet their basic medical underwriting requirements, and am willing to put up with a one-year “pre-existing condition” exclusion, there’s a possibility I could still be eligible. There’s no medical exam, just a barebones medical-history questionnaire.

What’s more, the cost is not affected by health circumstances (other than a separate rate table for smokers, which doesn’t apply to me).

We were talking about life insurance just last week, at the Cancer Concern Center support group. I found out that life insurance is a big issue for many cancer survivors. In many cases, if you don’t sign on the dotted line before being diagnosed, you’re either completely ineligible, or you’re subjected to such high premiums that you may as well be. The group seemed to think the Board’s policy sounded unusually generous.

There remains but one other obstacle to my filling out the application: an obstacle that’s within me. “What does it mean,” I keep asking myself, “that I want to get more insurance? Does it mean I’m giving up? Does it mean I believe, in my heart of hearts, that my remission is not going to last long?” Filling out the application seems a bit like an act of self-betrayal.

I’ve gotten over that. Today I complete the application, and leave it for our church treasurer to sign (I’ll pay the premiums myself, but it’s part of my employee benefits, so she has to sign off on it).

I still feel a bit uncomfortable about it, but I’ve put those uncomfortable feelings aside. Completing the application doesn’t mean I’m giving up. It means I’m looking out for those I love.

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