Karla Taylor-Bauman needed a little extra cash. So she figured she’d tap a clause in her life insurance that allows an early withdrawal if the policy-holder has certain serious illnesses.
One problem: The insurance company told her, “You’re too healthy.” Given what she’s gone through over the past year, she’s totally OK with that: “I got denied because I am healthier than I ever was before,” said Taylor-Bauman, 50.
That would have seemed an unlikely scenario last spring, when the Lake Villa resident was described by her doctor as being “as close to brain-dead as you get without being brain-dead.”
After she contracted the coronavirus, she was so sick that she spent 54 days in hospitals, 21 days of that on a ventilator in an induced coma in a last-ditch effort to help her recover.
“I truly am a miracle, walking and talking,” said Taylor-Bauman, her words punctuated by a nervous giggle.
After her prolonged recovery, Taylor-Bauman, a financial analyst, hasn’t been able to go back to work yet. She’s still doing physical therapy three times a week to improve the condition of her heart and lungs.
That was facing the prospect of foreclosure and losing her home because of the dire financial straits she and her husband Jevon Bauman were left in thanks to her medical bills, mostly from the hospital, Vista Medical Center East in Waukegan, despite having health insurance. The medical bills she was facing came to around $240,000.
After we asked the hospital why, given that she was insured, her bill was so high, Taylor-Bauman got a call from Vista saying it was a mistake and that her insurance had, in fact, covered her tab. She owed nothing. Though that, too, seemed miraculous, the Baumans still faced the foreclosure of their Lake Villa home after falling behind on their mortgage.
What happened next maybe wasn’t as much another miracle as it was an act of kindness and generosity on the part of some business leaders. They were in the process of starting a nonprofit lender to help Illinois residents living “at the margins” and read our story about the Baumans.
“We realized that this story was at the heart of who we wanted to serve,” said Paul Hawkinson, an associate professor of finance and strategy at North Park University who’s one of the founding members of Transform Capital.
Hawkinson and his group negotiated with the Baumans’ lender and helped set them up with a new mortgage with payments they can afford.
“At this point, they are fully the owners of their home, with a new, private mortgage at a market rate,” Hawkinson said. “And the foreclosure risk is gone.”