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Why You, Too, May Need Supplemental Health Insurance

By Rosaland Tyler

Associate Editor

New Journal and Guide

Marie Murphy, age 52, had a habit of opening her eyes to new possibilities long before she had a car crash in February, missed a week’s paycheck, and regretted she had not bought supplemental medical insurance.

While Murphy is not one of the estimated 1.5 million Americans who will declare bankruptcy because of increased medical bills, she shines a light on the adage: You are one illness away from financial ruin in this nation. Murphy is still paying on medical bills she racked up. She lost a week’s paycheck. And the tab to repair her car cost about $9000. But, the car crash opened her eyes.

“With supplemental insurance I would have received $800 upon admission to the hospital,” said Murphy, who began working in July as a sales representative for Combined Insurance, a global provider headquartered in Glenview, Ill.

“I would have received $100 to $200 a day if I had been admitted to the hospital, depending on the policy. And the policy would have paid for an ambulance.”

The point is the car crash opened her eyes in more ways than one. A friend urged her to get back into insurance, a career she launched in 1999 at another company. She completed an online application, attended a Combined Insurance training session from Sunday until Friday in Chicago, and received a stipend to get started.

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Although she and her husband Ranson Murphy Jr. have five grown children and seven grandchildren, she will start working on her degree in business administration at Tidewater Community College in September.

“I am still making payments on my medical bills from the car crash,” said Murphy who drives a school bus full time in Virginia Beach.

“I must still make payments on my medical bills,” she said. “That is what people don’t understand. You still have to pay those medical bills even if you have consulted an attorney or do not have the money to pay. So this is the key to having supplemental insurance. You can use the money to pay the rent, the doctor, or whatever you need it for.”

“So many things happen and you never know when you might need supplemental medical insurance,” she said telling the story of a pregnant teenager who planned to go live with her grandmother and attend school.

“But she just learned that her grandmother has bone cancer,” Murphy said. “If her grandmother had supplemental medical insurance then the extra bills would have been paid. She would have had a lump sum coming directly to her.”

While many never consider the impact of a sudden illness, a 2009 study in The American Journal of Medicine showed that 62.1 percent of the 2,314 people interviewed filed bankruptcy because of medical expenses.

In other words, this report showed how unexpected medical bills wreck family budgets. Specifically, 10 percent with more than $5,000 in medical bills, mortgaged their home to pay for medical bills, or lost significant income due to an illness.

Specifically, the average bankrupt family had $17,943 in out-of-pocket expenses, including $26,971 for those who lacked insurance and $17,749 who had insurance at some point.

Blacks, meanwhile, who have shorter life expectancy rates are more likely than whites to be uninsured. Blacks also are less likely to live long enough to draw Social Security, which operates like an insurance pool. Blacks are also less likely to have supplemental health insurance that Medicare does not cover, Ronald Angel noted in his book, Who Will Care for Us?

And this is why the recent car crash was not only a wake-up call for Murphy. It’s a chance to help others wake up. “I am trying to help others,” said Murphy who knocks on doors. And she speaks to various groups about supplemental health insurance.

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“ I enjoy what I do,” she said. “I enjoy talking to people. Some listen – then they tell me they don’t want it. But something will happen and they will see the truth too late. Getting our people to listen with understanding, to open our minds, will help us make sound decisions.”

To learn more about supplemental health insurance, please contact Marie Murphy at (757) 749-5093 or (800) 225 4500.

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