Monday, February 27, 2006

Are You In Good Hands?

No. This isn't an insurance commercial.

No, wait. Yes, actually, it is. I wanted to tackle a significantly important issue for those parents of children with diabetes. And while this loosely affects those who are adults, the impact is limited.

I had absolutely wonderful parents. My mother, bless her heart, was so proactively involved in my diabetes early on that it bordered on annoying. But she quickly helped me become very self-sufficient, and I can owe my own ability to manage my diabetes so well to her involvement. She went beyond "controlling", to the point of teaching me to be the one who was controlling for myself.

So it isn't any surprise that my mother had the foresight to realize my eventual choice of career would significantly impact my life as a diabetic. Anytime I alluded to a desire to pursue music as a career (as my older brother had), she would set me straight.

"You have diabetes, Ryan. You need a job that you can work for a large company with health insurance."

She was absolutely right. It wasn't really about squelching any dreams of mine, but the harsh reality of the disease: that living with diabetes is expensive. Fortunately, I had also always wanted to be a software developer, and that became my future. (Although, I flirted with becoming an English teacher for a while, until I realized that teachers really make next-to-nothing.)

But what was important was the constant and irritating reminders throughout my childhood up through my teen years that I had to find myself a good job. And so now, I pass this lesson on to you. I encourage parents of children with diabetes to help guide their children into career paths that will ensure they are in good hands, insurance-wise. As much as we want to encourage our children to excel where they are most interested, there is a point where that must be utilized...or perhaps even pushed aside entirely...for a greater benefit. And by starting this young, by the time your children are old enough to start truly thinking about a career path, this consideration will weigh heavily on their decision.

To a small degree, I do this with my own children. My second son is obsessed with drawing. He has a flair for art, and we like to encourage that. But we know that being an artist isn't really a wise career decision, so I want to help guide him into an area where his talents in art might bloom into a good career. Architecture, perhaps, or some kind of design work. Who knows at this point. But he needs to learn that drawing for a living isn't a good way to put food on the table.

And for the diabetic, this is even more significant. Healthcare is expensive these days, and it only looks to be more expensive. We cannot rely on hopes (and, in my opinion, false hopes) of a cure before they graduate from high school. The reality is, they will most likely live out the rest of their lives with the disease. And that will be expensive. Do them a favor, and make sure they choose a path that will allow them to take care of themselves and, ultimately, their own family.

I admit, I have a passion for creative endeavors. For a while it was piano, then singing, then choir. Now, I'm focused on writing (which is actually a passion I had starting in elementary school). But these are things I can pursue while still maintaining a full-time career that also provides me decent health-care. And unless my writing makes me millions of dollars a few times over (which isn't likely), it is unlikely I'll ever stop working as a software engineer, even if I have many published novels to my credit.

Finally, I would be wrong to miss talking about life insurance. Realize that obtaining life insurance for the diabetic is also an expensive option. While I have life insurance through my job, I have two policies that I pay for myself. And these policies really aren't worth a whole lot, but they are there. Again, my mother had the good sense to get a life insurance policy for myself when I was young, when the premiums were still relatively low, even with diabetes. Not too long ago, I checked into the premiums for a similar policy at my age, and it was prohibitively expensive. Why? Because as far as insurance companies are concerned, I'm knocking on death's door as a diabetic, no matter how well I take care of myself. So if you haven't done it, talk to an insurance agent as soon as possible and get a policy for your child. The younger you start, the less expensive it will be.

1 comment:

Penny said...

Thank you for the advice about the life insurance. I hadn't really looked at it that way.