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Terminal Cancer Diagnosis How Will You Cover Costs?

The following is a post from guest writer, Scott Sanders, about how to cover costs for terminal illness.  You can find more information from him at www.cancerwell.org.

Terminal Cancer Diagnosis: How Will You Cover Costs?

Facing a diagnosis of terminal cancer is devastating enough.  If your finances are also in turmoil, you and your loved ones can be overwhelmed.  Here are some suggestions for covering the costs that come with treatment.

Consider your options.  When deciding how you will pay for treatment, you should first have a realistic idea of what your expenses will entail.  Carefully consider how you want to spend your remaining time and what treatments and procedures are important to you.  Some of your options and ideas may change through the course of your journey, but as CBS News points out, many people with terminal illnesses experience treatments they don’t desire because it is standard procedure for the medical industry.  This could mean incurring additional expenses and enduring difficult or unwanted procedures.  Discuss your preferences with your physician and loved ones throughout treatment.

Disability benefits.  If you are still a part of the workforce, The CPA Journal advises you are still eligible for disability benefits.  You also can use your Health Savings Account, or HSA funds, to cover medical and treatment expenses.  Depending on your circumstances, you might be eligible for Social Security disability payouts as well.

Viatical settlements.  Viatical settlements are life insurance policies, which are typically available for those with a life expectancy of less than 24 months.  The funds you receive through these policies are not subject to federal income tax.

Terminal illness insurance.  If you are not expected to live more than 12 months, terminal illness insurance might be an option for you.  Most standard life insurance policies offer a terminal illness benefit.  It is designed to start paying benefits as soon as you receive a terminal illness diagnosis.

Medicare Advantage insurance.  Medicare Advantage plans expand your Medicare coverage.  These plans help cover expenses such as prescriptions, vision and dental needs, which can be especially helpful after rigorous cancer treatment.  To enroll in a Medicare Advantage Part C plan, you should apply close to your 65th birthday, or 24th month of disability benefits.  The enrollment period opens three months before the month in which you turn 65, and closes three months after the month of your 65th birthday.

Veterans benefits.  If you are a veteran or the surviving spouse of a veteran, the Veterans Administration includes hospice and palliative care in the veterans benefits package.  Benefits include in-home care, assisted living, or nursing home care, there is no co-pay for hospice, and you can receive medical equipment, medication and personal care supplies.  You also direct the pain and symptom relief around the goals set by you and your loved ones.  You can apply online for assistance.

Funeral expenses.  Planning and paying for your funeral in advance can alleviate a substantial amount of stress and emotional burden to your loved ones during a difficult time.  U.S. News points out many people opt to pay with a trust or insurance through the funeral home, and a substantial number of people pay with a check or cash.  Social Security also pays a small, one-time death benefit, which can be applied to funeral or burial expenses.

Self-funding.  If you are wealthy or have assets you can liquidate, self-funding care is a viable option.  Much depends on how readily available your assets are.  Consider selling property you own outright such as a boat, RV or vacation home.  Your decisions can impact taxes for your surviving loved ones, so consider talking with an attorney and/or financial planner regarding your estate.  You may wish to review an end-of-life checklist as well.

Facing a terminal illness is difficult, and it’s important to establish a plan for your expenses.  Being prepared can alleviate stress for you and your loved ones.  Weigh your options and take your final journey on solid financial ground.