Stamford, CT (October 31, 2018) – According to the National Cancer Institute, anywhere from one third to over three quarters of cancer survivors exhaust their savings to finance medical expenses. Fifth Season Financial, a specialty lender providing solutions to alleviate the financial strain associated with serious illness, recently hosted a roundtable with leaders across the healthcare spectrum to discuss the growing problem of financial toxicity and offer insight to those diagnosed with a late-stage illness.
Carla Tardif, CEO of Family Reach, a national nonprofit dedicated to alleviating the financial burden of cancer, sees the harsh financial reality of this devastating disease every day. To help patients navigate their finances, Family Reach has collaborated with the Foundation for Financial Planning and the Financial Planning Association to create the Financial Planning for Cancer Program.
“Oftentimes a family member has to stop working to care for themselves or a loved one, cutting household income by 50 to 100 percent while out of pocket costs increase,” said Tardif. “How can a patient afford to pay their mortgage and access lifesaving treatment when they have no income? Our Financial Planning for Cancer Program pairs cancer patients and their families with pro bono financial planners to help them manage cash flow and debt during cancer treatment.”
The resources offered by nonprofits to those facing a late-stage illness can vary greatly – from access to care and co-pay assistance to help with medications and pro bono financial guidance.
When it comes to discretionary needs, Fifth Season Financial is equipping patients and their families with the funds required to prevent or overcome the burden of financial toxicity. Fifth Season President Adam Balinsky shares how the company is offering solutions in the form of financial assistance that leverages both lending and life insurance.
“Our Funds for Living and Giving (FLAG) program is an innovative approach to financial assistance that allows an individual to access a portion of the face value of their life insurance policy (as opposed to the cash surrender value) at a time when they need funds most,” said Balinsky. “Fifth Season advances a significant portion of the policy’s face value to the individual and then takes over paying the premium on the policy. We work with term insurance, group employer coverage and other insurance policies. Throughout the process, the individuals’ policy is kept in place, and ultimately the advance is repaid using the proceeds of the policy and any remaining funds are given to the family. This differs from a sale where the seller gets a lump sum payment, but the entire death benefit is kept by the purchaser. The concept is to provide access to funds when they are needed (funds for living) but to maintain a portion of the policy for the family (funds for giving).”
Balinsky continued, “One of the most empowering aspects of this concept — and the element that best helps overcome financial toxicity — is the complete lack of restrictions. Individuals can spend their funds in whatever way best suits their context and lifestyle, with absolutely no stipulations or conditions or current payments or obligations to Fifth Season.”
Dr. Julie Monroe, a licensed, board-certified medical oncologist and founder of Cancer Consulting Services serving clients nationwide, emphasized the importance of honesty with health care providers regarding financial limitations. “Never feel embarrassed or ashamed to let your doctors know if a medication is too costly or if transportation is an issue. Programs are often available to help alleviate some of these costs. There could also be an alternative treatment option with a similar efficacy at a lower cost,” Dr. Monroe said.
Dr. Monroe continued, “If your illness causes significant financial strain, don’t be ashamed to let your family members and close loved ones know. You may think you are doing them a favor by shielding them from the reality when, in actuality, being truthful and working with them to prepare for the future can be the best thing you can do for them.”
Additionally, Greg Solometo, CEO of Alliance Homecare, a concierge home health care provider serving individuals and families in New York metro area, recommends looking into insurance options promptly and meeting with specialized professionals who can help. “Late stage diagnosis is often an expensive proposition financially. Ideally, long-term care insurance would have been prepared well ahead of time. If this isn’t the case, life insurance hybrid products may be available that enable consumers to use beneficiary funds while living. If time or health circumstances prevent either option, meet with an aging life care professional or elder care attorney as soon as possible to determine next steps,” Solometo explained.
Dr. Jack Goldberg, former Chief of Hematology and Medical Oncology at Penn Presbyterian Medical Center, serves as Fifth Season Financial’s lead medical underwriter. He urges those facing serious illness to visit a lawyer, bank and financial advisor right away and ensure that an up-to-date last will and advance health care directive are in place.
“At the late stages of cancer, the words ‘unresectable and incurable’ can be overwhelming. There are so many treatment options, so many words of advice, so many cancer centers to visit and so little time. No one wants money to stand in the way of their chance for survival. The thought of not working, the loss of income and poor insurance coverage for expensive medications can cause more turmoil and panic,” said Dr. Goldberg. “Seek the help you need early on. Patients should be allowed to concentrate on fighting their cancer with the support of their loved ones and knowing that their resources are ready to take on this personal battle.”
Fifth Season Financial is located at 2777 Summer Street, Suite 304 in Stamford, CT. They can be reached at (866) 459-1271 or by visiting www.fifthseasonfinancial.com. For the latest news and updates, follow @5SeasonFin on Facebook and @fifth-season-financial-assistance on LinkedIn.
About Fifth Season Financial
Since 2007, Fifth Season Financial has offered a solution to combat the financial strain caused by serious illness. The firm’s Funds for Living and Giving (FLAG) program utilizes an often-overlooked asset for people with advanced stage illnesses – their life insurance policy and in more than 90% of cases, funds remain to pass on to beneficiaries. Fifth Season has provided more than $115 million in financial assistance to nearly 400 patients across the United States. Clients are able to secure immediate cash advances with no restrictions and leave funds for their beneficiaries later. For more information, visit www.fifthseasonfinancial.com.
Kelly Lee/Jennifer Reisfeld
Relieve financial stress with the FLAG Program, a viatical alternative that uses your life insurance for a cash advance