Erasing Healthcare Debt

Columbia Heights, Minnesota

After Samuel was diagnosed with cancer... within a short time, the couple owed almost $30,000. For two people living on Social Security, and paying a mortgage, it was becoming too much.

When Samuel was stricken with lung cancer, Miriam, his wife of 41 years, not only had to contend with watching her husband suffer, but with the mounting credit card debt they were incurring to pay his healthcare expenses.

Miriam, 77, was a retired nurse’s aid and Samuel drove a truck most of his life. Before that, the couple briefly owned a resort along Lake Minnewaska, located in the middle part of the state near the small town of Glenwood, Minnesota.

“We owned about a dozen cabins on the lake,“ she says. “They were built many years before by a prior owner. It was a lot of work, but we enjoyed ourselves. After the tourists left, we’d rent the cabins to a group of teachers, who would stay all through the winter and then leave in April.“

After Samuel was diagnosed with cancer, it soon became apparent they lacked adequate health insurance. Within a short time, the couple owed almost $30,000. For two people living on Social Security, and paying a mortgage, it was becoming too much.

“My husband had been ill for a long time and things were not going well at all,“ she says.

A county social worker who was helping them find ways to manage the health care costs recommended they consider a reverse mortgage. They were referred to Dory Lidinsky of Marketplace Home Mortgage.

The couple owns a two-story home in Columbia Heights, a northern suburb of Minneapolis. A Polish flag and white eagle are on the sign marking the border between Columbia Heights and Minneapolis, visible when entering Columbia Heights on Central Avenue, in celebration of the suburb’s early roots as a Polish-American community.

The 100-year old home was appraised at $147,000. Samuel was the younger of the two at age 68, which enabled them to receive roughly $70,000 in reverse mortgage proceeds. The reverse mortgage closed a few weeks before Christmas in 2003. They took $40,259 and paid off the existing mortgage and then a $29,500 lump sum to help pay off their credit card bills.

Samuel sadly passed away on March 10, 2006.

In August of 2007, Miriam called Dory to say that she had an outstanding credit card bill with Sears, who agreed to take a lesser amount if she could pay it off in a lump sum. Miriam wondered if she could get more money out of the house. The house was appraised at $175,000 and using her age of 75, plus the increase in value, she was able to pay off the current reverse mortgage and receive an additional $10,000 to retire her Sears credit card. She also had borrowed some money from her daughter and was anxious to pay that back.

In 2008, she sent Dory a Christmas card that said, in part:

Dory,
It’s that time of year when I think of the kind people like yourself. I’m doing well. I have my deck built in the back of the house and a new front door. I also took your suggestion & put my gateleg table on the end of the living room closest to the kitchen. Worked well as I had all 6 of my kids over last Easter for the first time in years. Take care & have a nice holiday. Thanks to you I’m enjoying mine.