Love, Death, Marriage, and Health Care: a Kentucky Story

Love, Death, Marriage, and Health Care: a Kentucky Story

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“I do believe that most people probably end up wishing they’d taken more chances in life, risked more, had more fun. I doubt that people agonize over those days they were late to work or regretted missing school on the day when the visiting missionaries showed slides of the leper colony. I don’t know any woman who would lie on her deathbed and wish she hadn’t eaten that last box of Godiva chocolates and I’ll bet there’s not a man anywhere who would lie on his deathbed and wish he’d gone to see Yanni “Live at the Palace.”

— Bonnie McCafferty, Ace, November 1994

BY NICK STUMP

I married Bonnie McCafferty in 1992. She was a smart and very successful woman. She had her own marketing company, Creative Resources, and at the height of her career, she was one of the most sought-after and best-paid marketing strategists in the country. She made a great big pile of money.

I had some success as a screenwriter and I was able to add to that big pile. Three months after we were married, an aneurysm on her carotid artery burst and she nearly died.

Somehow, the Jelsma brothers, the best neurosurgeons in Louisville, managed to save her, and after a long slow recovery, Bonnie went back to work.

I kept writing and we continued to prosper. Our health insurance went up around a thousand dollars a month, but it was okay. After all, we still had that big pile of money.

We were now in the land of pre-existing conditions. Over the 22 years we were together, Bonnie had gallbladder surgery, cancer, and other problems we all face as we age. There were more medications to buy, and some of them were very expensive. Our health insurance costs seemed to rise monthly. More doctor visits, more meds, more treatments. That big pile of money started shrinking. We were still making money, but our medical bills were taking what we made and more from that not so big pile.


Five years before she died, I dropped my health insurance. Our family plan had jumped to $3700.00 a month. I dropped mine so Bonnie could keep hers at the bargain price of three grand a month. After she was old enough to get Medicare, we thought things would be better. The big pile of money was a very small pile now but I was still working and Bonnie had her retirement. We had both grown up poor, so losing a lot of money didn’t get us down. We had each other and money was never the big thing in our lives.

One day I went to pick up her meds and found out we were in the Donut Hole and I had to pay full price for the month’s medicine. Over $6800.00. I didn’t have it. We didn’t have it, but I had a wallet full of credit cards. During the Donut Hole period, I maxed out every credit card I had.

Bonnie died at home with me by her side, February 24th, 2013. If she had lived another month, I would not have been able to buy her medicine.

Two weeks before she died, the credit card companies sued me and seized the last three thousand dollars I had in my bank account. The big pile of money was gone. It was the lifetime savings we had both worked so hard for.

I used to think a couple of million dollars was a lot of money. It is nothing when one has a chronic illness.This new plan cooked up by the insurance industry and their Republican lackeys in Congress is a return to the days where poor people get to go home and die and people like Bonnie get to lose everything, and then go home and die.

The day Bonnie died, I had $267.00 in my pocket and nothing else.The day she was cremated, I was back in the same hospital that killed her having a leg operated on, and I was a charity case.

After I healed up, I sold most of my guitars, all my guns, except one, and a little bit of gold I had saved. That gave me enough money to move back to Lexington from Louisville. I sold our house, paid off what debts I could with the proceeds and walked away with nothing. I never looked back.


I’m talking about my past and what well might be the future for half the people in this country. Half of us have pre-existing conditions. I see those Republican bastards celebrating this so-called victory and it sickens me. I hope they all die in slow agony, hungry, in a cold room, alone.

 

Guest Opinion by Nick Stump.

Nick Stump is a Lexington musician (the Nick Stump Band; the Metropolitan Blues All-Stars) and writer.

Bonnie McCafferty was a marketing executive, an author (Smiling Through the Apocalypse), and a frequent columnist at Ace in the 1980s and 1990s. She died in 2013.

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