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How to Best Navigate Finances After an Advanced-Stage Illness Diagnosis

These five best-practices can keep you in control of your finances during treatment

Receiving a diagnosis of cancer, ALS, Alzheimer’s disease, or any other life-threatening illness is a traumatic event — not just for the patient, but also for their loved ones.

After processing the news, seeking proper care is an essential step. So too is financial planning. While it may not seem as critical as treatment itself, the two are naturally linked. Navigating finances early in the process can help minimize any unnecessary burden associated with the cost of treatment.

“Cancer is costly,” writes the American Cancer Society (ACS). “It can take a toll on your health, your emotions, your time, your relationships – and your wallet. There will be unexpected charges, and even the best health insurance won’t cover all your costs.”

To help successfully navigate your finances after receiving an advanced-stage illness diagnosis, consider the following:

Plan ahead

Don’t be surprised by bills and other expenses. “Learn as much as you can about cancer and your cancer treatment before it starts,” advises the ACS. “This will help you know what to expect.” How do you go about this? The ACS recommends consulting with your team of doctors frequently about the fees for lab tests, clinic visits, and procedures.

Master your health insurance

Knowing the ins and outs of your health insurance policy is essential – from your deductible amount, to which doctors and treatments are in network, and the process for submitting claims for reimbursement. “It’s important to understand your policy and create an organized way to pay and follow up on health care bills,” advises the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The NCI recommends a phone call with your insurance company’s benefits coordinator to review which tests, treatments, drugs, and specialists are covered and which are not.

Know your rights

There are laws in place that help individuals with disabilities – which can include cancer, Alzhemier’s, ALS and other diseases – secure financial support. The Americans with Disabilities Act requires employers to provide those who qualify with “equal access to whatever health insurance coverage is offered to other employees,” explains the ACS. Also, the NCI suggests patients over the age of 65 become familiar with Medicare, which can help cover drug costs, among many other expenses.

Leave a financial roadmap for loved ones

Setting your financial affairs in order early on can relieve major distress down the line. The Alzheimer’s Association has several tips on this front that not only apply to Alzheimer’s disease, but to other advanced-stage illness as well. The organization recommends discussing finances with family shortly after a diagnosis. They also suggest organizing and reviewing all pertinent financial documents and bringing in an expert: “Find professionals who can provide planning information and assistance.”

Explore your life insurance options

Life insurance is an important resource for those diagnosed with a illness. It provides financial stability as well as invaluable peace of mind. Still, many patients aren’t aware of how beneficial their life insurance policies can be. For example, at Fifth Season Financial, the Funds for Living Program provides clients with an advance on their life insurance policy while preserving funds for beneficiaries to receive in the future. This advance has absolutely no restrictions – it can be used for medical bills and living expenses, but also travel, home renovations, or a variety of other uses to enhance quality of life.

Although recommended by certain disease-specific organizations, the tips above are appropriate for with an advanced-stage illness. If you or a loved one has been recently diagnosed, Fifth Season Financial may be able to help. To learn more about our Funds For Living Program, contact us today.

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