November is COPD Awareness Month — 30 days devoted to educating the public about chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Affecting roughly 16 million Americans with more than 3 million new cases each year, COPD is the third most common cause of death in the United States according to the National Institute of Health.
The Mayo Clinic defines COPD as “a chronic inflammatory lung disease that causes obstructed airflow from the lungs.” Its symptoms range from coughing and wheezing to difficulty breathing and excessive mucus production.
Having an awareness month informs the public about the causes of COPD (such as smoking) and its dangers (for example, those suffering from the disease have a heightened chance of developing lung cancer and heart disease). There is also a wealth of information surrounding healthy diets for COPD patients: which foods to eat, which foods to avoid, and which foods can promote healing.
In recognition of COPD Awareness Month, Fifth Season Financial is addressing another common symptom of the disease: financial hardship.
As with any advanced illness, COPD patients must often grapple with their finances in addition to their health. COPD treatment — from medication to oxygen therapy to surgery — can come with a hefty price tag. Someone taking medication like Advair and Combivent might pay upward of $800 a month, according to Everyday Health. At scale, the total expenses can be staggering: “In 2010, the cost of COPD in the U.S. was projected to be approximately $50 billion,” writes the National Institutes of Health.
In 2017, NPR published a report with the headline “Many COPD Patients Struggle To Pay For Each Breath.” The article notes that a number of Americans diagnosed with COPD struggle to afford inhalers, and often must rely on free drug samples. “Across the country, doctors who treat COPD say costs are a common problem for patients,” the article reads. “[One doctor] says some patients cut pills in half or take a prescription once a day instead of twice, just to save money.”
However, there are solutions for COPD patients facing financial challenges. Here are two ways to reduce financial strain following a diagnosis:
Leverage your life insurance policy
Many people believe their life insurance policy is an inflexible tool — one that provides a lump sum to family members after the policy holder passes on. Thankfully, that’s not always the case. In fact, a life insurance policy can be leveraged during a patient’s lifetime to help cover medical bills or other expenses.
Fifth Season Financial’s Funds For Living Program provides individuals with advanced COPD the opportunity to tap into their policies in as little as 4-6 weeks. Fifth Season advances a portion of the patient’s life insurance policy to be used however they like: to pay bills or upcoming treatment costs, take a memory-making vacation with loved ones, cover transportation costs or any other expenses. There are no restrictions. Further, the life insurance policy remains in place with Fifth Season taking over all premium payments. In more than 90 percent of cases, funds remain to pass on to beneficiaries.
Tap into the COPD network
With so many Americans facing COPD, there is a robust network of support and advocacy organizations available. The COPD Foundation website has a long list of opportunities and organizations that can assist. Among them: the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance, which provides treatment guidance, educational materials, and even scholarships for those impacted by COPD; the American Lung Association, which features local chapters and flu clinic information; as well as the Partnership for Prescription Assistance, created to help patients afford necessary prescription medicine. COPD is a highly difficult disease to live with. Patients shouldn’t have to struggle with major financial burdens, too. The ultimate goal of the Funds For Living Program is to help relieve that stress so that clients can focus on their health and quality of life. To learn more about the program, contact us today at (866) 459-1271 or by visiting www.fifthseasonfinancial.com/contact-us.