I’m curious how you would rate yourself on the Bad Break Test.
Let’s say you got into a bad car accident tomorrow and you were out of commission for, let’s say, a few months. How well would you be able to weather something like this?
For me, while it would hugely disruptive, it wouldn’t bankrupt me. I’d have some hefty hospital bills, no doubt. But I do have insurance, including short-term and long-term disability. Assuming that I was able to get back to a functional state and return to work, I would be okay. I think. As long as that was the only thing I had to deal with.
But if I was injured so badly that I could never work again, I don’t know what I’d do. I suppose I would go back home and live with my elderly parents, and try to offset my costs with SSDI. But it would be hard for them. They have their own financial burdens. I don’t think it would take long for us to be impoverished.
I don’t have any experience or insight into what other countries are like to know just how bad American is with regard to safety nets. Is the solution as simple as making healthcare free/low cost? Besides that, what do other countries do to mitigate the effects of “bad breaks” that the US doesn’t do?
I am long retired, so it would not affect me so much. In Canada, where I live, there would be no hospital bills and a serious cap on drug costs (not sure, but I guess it cuts in around $1000/year). My pension and private investment accounts would continue along with Quebec pension and a federal grant called old age security. (There is a further guaranteed income supplement for poor people that I am nowhere near qualifying for.)
Now my kids, all of whom live in the US want us to move to be near one of them in case of a catastrophic illness. I don’t have enough social security credits (only 34 quarters) to qualify for medicare, but could buy into the system for a few hundred a month for each of us, easily affordable. And, despite many previous conditions I had assumed I could get supplemental insurance, using the substantial decrease in taxes (a lot of which are used to fund medicare here). But now I am having my doubts about whether any of this will remain after the Republicans take over all four branches (counting SCOTUS).
Anyway, it seems to me that the social safety net in the US is badly frayed and about to get seriously worse. The life expentancy will continue to decline and so will the rest of society, leaving only the wealthiest in good shape. And most of the Trump voters will be among the most seriously impacted.
Actually this is a question close to my heart. I’m 34 and in may I was in an car accident which aggravated my back and makes me spend about 90% of my day in bed. Fortunatly I had lots of savings because I didn’t have short term disability insurance. My wife has had to go to work and I’m paying cobra to keep my medical insurance. I’m going to a back specialist and they’ve run out of treatments for me. So I’ve just applied for social security disability and up my va disability to 100%.
Any temporary medical problem would be a minor irritant financially. Even for pretty long-term values of “temporary”. OTOH, permanently losing the ability to work my current job (which is a lot more likely in my job than many/most) would be financially life-changing.
I/we’d get by, since we’re planning for my mandatory retirement in just 8 years anyhow, but we’d be switched from a comfy-class retirement to a frugally-getting-along-OK class retirement.
Unless I can promptly find an alternate career with upper middle class wages. Sigh. Again.
As an aside, every time I hear a siren outside, I think that somebody’s life just changed for the worse, and will never get back again to where it was. Whether its an ambulance, a fire truck, or a police patrol, somebody just experienced a bad break.
Given only my own resources, I’d be fucked. But my dad would probably take care of me financially. He doesn’t help me financially right now, while I’m “paycheck to paycheck”, but he’d most likely loosen his bootstraps mentality if I really, really needed it, like life or death needed it.
I had a series of “bad breaks” all in 3 months some years ago, and I was briefly homeless until I found a cheap apartment, maxed my credit cards and drained my 401k(s) to pay rent, got utility assistance and food stamps, used food pantries, and relied on the kindness of Dopers, who gave my children a Christmas I couldn’t, and I will never forget that. Boxes and boxes came from literally around the world filled with toys and candy and my tears as I opened them. Today, I wouldn’t have the money for rent with even two months off work. Working on fixing that, but it’s a slow slog back up out of the hole. (I did a literal happy dance when my credit rating finally came back up to “Average.”)
Near to my heart too. I’m on Disability now and so long as the system keeps working, we’ll be fine. The issue is that (surprise!) insurance companies don’t really want to keep you on disability and I’m currently unemployable. Every few weeks I’m going through another round with the insurance company, pulling medical records, completing paperwork and so on, just to keep my benefits; all while I try to find some treatment that works for my condition. It’s not easy.
I have gotten an attorney to help me deal with all of this and protect my rights, but I’m close to that “bad break” club. The wrong event and we’re in trouble. It’s particularly frustrating because I’ve paid for disability insurance and SSDI and medicare and all of those other deductions for 35 years. Insurance should be there to protect you. My overwhelming belief is that they are waiting for a paperwork slip up or missed phone call to cut me loose with no resources. More profit for them.
It’d be trivial for me financially. Since I live in Finland I’d end up being on paid sick leave (for up to 105 days, says my collective labor agreement). There would be no huge hospital bills either, though I’m not entirely sure how much I would end up paying myself. If I was incapable of working longer than the 3.5 months I have enough savings to handle it and as a last resort wealthy parents.
Australia here, no medical bills whatsoever, and medications are capped once you hit a certain amount per year*.
I would also receive a payment from the government fortnightly, either a sickness allowance (app $300pw) or if I suffered more permanent damage, a disability allowance (app $400pw). Add rent and utilities assistance plus vehicle reg discounts can add up to another $100 on top of each allowance.
Also, if my injuries meant that I could never work again, I have an insurance policy connected to my Superannuation Fund that would see a payout of app $50k.
I already share accomodation with my daughter so my rent/bills are already on the lower side, so whilst things would be tight, not impossible.
*If eligible for a government allowance, medications cost $6 each regardless of hitting a threshold.
Well, because of one of the other bad breaks mentioned in the article - finding yourself unexpected caring for a family member - I’d weather the one suggested in the OP fine. Since I still haven’t found a house that my dad and I can agree on (which admittedly is mostly because we want to stay in the same town and there are all of 3 houses between 100-250k on the market that are over 1600 square feet) rather than buying the one I would’ve if only my needs were in play, I have well over a year’s pay in my savings account.
As for a bad break, I’m retired and I have some income besides social security (if that goes south). Where I’m a big loser is WRT family, i.e., I don’t have any. Widow, no kids, no siblings, 92-year old mother in assisted living. So, nowhere to go, no one to turn to for help. It’s all on me. A lonely feeling and scary, the older I get.