Our Client Service Representative Trish Chilton was kind enough to share her personal story on the blog this week and wanted to preface this post as “a personal journey from someone who's been there, done that and was so grateful her employee benefits were in place.”
(Disclaimer: The views expressed herein are those of the author; they do not necessarily reflect the views of Montridge Advisory Group Ltd.)
When embarking on a new job with a new company and deciding on whether or not to sign up for employee benefits, I had always wondered whether the cost of the premiums was worth it.
For the average person who only has minor health issues now and then, is the monthly payment worth it over time? I am young and healthy - so is it really worth the cost?
In a moment frozen in my mind, I discovered the answer.
YES. A resounding YES.
Let me tell you why having employee benefits in a time of need was the absolute right choice for my family and me.
The Unexpected Can Happen - And It Did
We all think the same thing when we hear about someone with a critical illness like cancer.
“That's awful… but that's not going to happen to me.”
At least, I know I thought that.
My sister-in-law had breast cancer, my best friend passed away from breast cancer. There was no way I was going to get it too.
A few years ago, I was a sprite 47-year-old wife and mother of two teenagers with no family history of any life-threatening illnesses.
I did everything right: I didn't smoke, I exercised regularly, I ate well, I breastfed our babies, etc. There was absolutely no reason why I should end up with Triple Negative Breast cancer.
The bad one. The aggressive one. The one with the not-so-great odds.
But I did.
And after a very long year of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation-–I BEAT IT!
I kicked it to the curb. I am happy to say that I am now three years cancer-free and living my best life, which I’m told is the new trend.
I've always tried to live my best life. Which is why getting that dreaded diagnosis was so hard to digest.
Trish Before Cancer
The True Value of Employee Benefits Plans
Looking back on my battle with cancer, the one thing that stands out as an "OMG are we ever lucky we had that," (besides, of course, the support of family and friends) was, you guessed it: my Employee Benefits plan.
Before my diagnosis, I had never thought about all that having a critical illness entails:
- A loss of wages for both me and my spouse
- Costs of medication above what Pharmacare covers
- Gas and parking for the millions of appointments
- Childcare costs for when one can’t get out of bed to care for their family
- Not to mention the wigs and false eyelashes!
Trish During Treatment
Then there were post-treatment costs like physiotherapy, massage therapy, and chiropractors.
The financial impact is IMMENSE and not something most people think about. Until you need to.
To have to choose the ‘they sort of help' anti-nausea medications over the ‘wow - they work!' anti-nausea medications isn't something you ever want to do.
The burden of illness is hard enough without trying to find extra money or work during treatments. If you don't work, you risk your mortgage not getting paid.
Thankfully, I was fortunate enough to have been employed with a company that did have an employee benefits plan in place.
- Because of my extended health drug coverage, I was able to receive a very expensive white blood cell booster shot called Neulasta ® that enabled me to receive my chemotherapy on a more aggressive timetable than someone who didn't have that coverage.
- Because of my dental coverage, I was able to ensure my teeth stayed healthy. (Little unknown fact, chemotherapy can do a number on your bone health and dental health.)
- Because of my practitioner coverage, I could go for massages which were such a relief for my sore muscles.
- Because of my Long Term Disability (LTD), I was able to be off work during my treatments so I could focus on getting better.
- Because of the Critical Illness (CI) benefit, I received a tax-free payout which enabled my husband to also take time off work to take care of me and we didn't even have to worry about missing mortgage and car payments.
Another benefit I’m hesitant to mention--and most people are--is the Life Insurance benefit.
To know that was in place for my family was a huge relief for me. I was quite intent on never having to utilize it, but in the back of my mind, knowing it was there provided me with enough comfort to focus on the important issue of recovering.
Because of my Employee Benefits, all of our energies went into my treatment and recovery process instead of being stressed out about paying for expensive medications and lost wages. The positive impact of having benefits during my critical illness journey were endless.
The next time you are thinking about opting out of your work benefits plan, take the time to think long and hard about whether it's the right decision. At least know what you will be losing if you do.