Saving for a rainy day is something that we’re taught to do from the time that we’re young, and as that money grows, we tend to think of it in terms of the enjoyment we’ll get out of it rather than the protection or security. When the rainy day arrives in the form of a cancer diagnosis, those who’ve methodically saved over the years may breathe a sigh of relief, thinking that they have provided themselves with a monetary cushion, but that relief is short lived when they come to terms with what cancer treatment actually costs.
Even for those who are fortunate enough to have health insurance, the out-of-pocket expenses can quickly surpass their savings. Recent reports have indicated that insurance companies generally pay about half of cancer treatment costs, while Medicare pays about one third, but those contributions have still left one out of four patients using up all or most of their family’s savings to pay for cancer treatments. Though there are actions you can take to minimize your costs – most notably negotiating with your physician and hospital in order to reduce your costs at the outset – this does not stop the bills from coming in. If you’re quickly depleting your personal savings and have found yourself wondering what else you can do to pay for out-of-control cancer costs, here are some of the options that are available to you.
Hill-Burton is a federal grant that provides free or low-cost services for patients that are unable to pay. They work directly through specific hospitals, so ask your hospital whether they are a Hill-Burton facility. Applications for funding can be submitted before, during or after treatment. You can also do your own research to determine what hospitals work with this program.
In addition to federal grants, Medicare and Medicaid, there are a number of other government-funded programs that may be able to offer assistance with cancer costs. These include state-sponsored children’s health insurance programs, veterans and military benefits, and a variety of financial support programs for low-income women being treated for breast and cervical cancer.
Though you took your life insurance policy out with the idea of taking care of your loved ones in the future, it may provide you with a valuable source of ready cash that you need right now. Life insurance loans through Fifth Season Financial are available to those who have been diagnosed with advanced stage illness and can provide a large percentage of your policy’s death benefit in just a few days’ time. There are multiple advantages to life insurance loans, including the fact that the lender assumes the payments of your loan going forward and that any remaining death benefit is still slated for your named beneficiary.
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Many retirement plans offer the ability to withdraw funds early and without incurring a penalty when you meet the IRS definition of disability. As with life insurance loans, the balance in your plan will still go to your beneficiary upon your death.
Friends and family are often anxious to help but have no idea how to do so. Many will be willing to help pay utility and household bills or organize fundraisers in order to help pay for cancer costs or day-to-day expenses.
If you have equity in your home, it is possible to take out a line of credit or a lump sum in order to help pay for cancer costs. The disadvantage of doing so is that regular payments will need to be made on a monthly basis, and you will need to pass a credit check in order to qualify – something that may be difficult if you are already struggling with cancer treatment bills.
As is true with taking out a home equity loan, personal loans require credit applications and monthly repayments. They also require collateral, which can put your assets at risk if you are unable to pay.
Homeowners who are at least 62 years old may be able to convert their home equity into cash with the loan to be repaid at a future time. Taking advantage of this program can provide you with money to pay for medical bills. This type of loan does not have to be repaid until the last surviving borrower dies, sells or moves from the home.
If you hold stocks, real estate or investments, many of these can be sold, though it is a good idea to check with your financial advisor to see what the income tax ramifications will be. Selling these assets can also interfere with your ability to qualify for some of the government-sponsored funding that is available.
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