Goldilocks, Dad and Finding Care That’s Just Right

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Goldilocks, Dad and Finding Care That’s Just Right

My dad retired in the 1980s. In addition to his pension he had also earned health insurance coverage for the rest of his life. Over time, as you can imagine, the actual value of that insurance became more and more evident; In all likelihood, it was a many-years-of-life saver, because he lived until 2012. But then, I think his health insurance may have killed him, too. Dad retired early at the ripe old age of 60, because when he was 59, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. His resulting surgery did not successfully remove all the cancer cells, so Dad then dealt with that cancer for 24 more years. His cadillac health insurance, which covered everything you can imagine – and then some – and which required only a $3 co-pay for anything, served him very well for decades. Or did it? In fact, a review of Dad’s last two years of life indicates that having that excellent health insurance in all likelihood contributed to his death. Here’s why: By the time Dad was 80, he had developed spinal stenosis in his lower back, a very painful narrowing within the spinal column which then chafes against the spinal chord. Over time the pain grew worse and worse, affecting everything he did. He tried everything to relieve it except narcotic drugs, including other non-addictive drugs, exercise, even herbal supplements. While some of his efforts partially relieved his pain, he was never pain-free for the last 3+ years of his life. Then he began talking about back surgery, and at that point, I stepped in as his advocate. I read everything I could read, I talked to a handful of physician friends – primary care, neurosurgeons and orthopedics…  NONE of them – not one – recommended Dad consider surgery. They put his chances of any pain relief at all at between 10-20%, and warned that at his age – 82 by then – such difficult surgery could create even bigger problems, especially in light of Dad’s prostate cancer. But Dad would hear none of it (because, like many of us experience, somehow…


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