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Information about all aspects of finances affected by a serious health condition. Includes income sources such as work, investments, and private and government disability programs, and expenses such as medical bills, and how to deal with financial problems.
Information about all aspects of health care from choosing a doctor and treatment, staying safe in a hospital, to end of life care. Includes how to obtain, choose and maximize health insurance policies.
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Overview

Wherever you are on the spectrum from a mild financial crunch to a full-blown financial crisis, there are 10 steps to consider to help make the situation better.  The steps involve some work on your part, but not as much as you may think. In a nutshell:

  • The first step is to take your finances apart and take a good look at them - one at a time. You do not need to be dollar specific. An approximation (a ballpark) of the numbers will do.
  • Once you have the picture, consider the various steps you can take to help make the crunch easier to handle, or possibly get rid of it entirely. If you are like most of us, there are likely more things you can do than you realize.
  • If excessive use of credit cards for non-medical expenses is part of the problem, put your cards away. Use cash for a while until things stabilize.
  • For information about the steps, see: Ten Steps To Consider In The Event Of A Financial Crunch Or Crisis

Free credit/debt counseling is available if needed through Consumer Credit Counselors. Financial Planners are also available for a fee if you need professional help through this situation.

If there doesn't seem to be a way out of your financial bind, consider bankruptcy. The idea of bankruptcy may go against the grain, but the idea  of a second chance is such a bedrock of American life that our founding fathers included bankruptcy in the constitution. You may even be able to save some assets to help you start again. (Before initiating bankruptcy, see: How To Decide Whether And When To File For Bankruptcy)

If finances are keeping you from getting the medical care you need, there are alternatives available. See our information for obtaining health care by people who are Uninsured.

If finances start to pull you down emotionally, focus on the important things in life your diagnosis has reminded you of. Get help if you need it. If you can't afford professional help, at least speak with someone else in your situation such as in a support group or with a buddy in a similar situation.  Talking helps. For information about emotions, click here. For information about support groups,including the advantages of joining one in addition to emotional support, click here.  To find other buddies with HIV, click here.

At the least:

  • Do your best to keep your health insurance premiums up to date. Health insurance is likely the most important asset you have.
  • Do your best to pay at least the minimum amount due each month on credit cards and keep your mortgage payments up to date. 
  • If it looks like you will have to miss a mortgage or rent payment etc, call the lender or company that services the loan or your landlord immediately. Don't wait until you receive a mortgage foreclosure, notice of eviction from your apartment, an interruption in gas or electric service etc.. Take immediate steps to change the situation.

As a general matter, debt collectors are not allowed to harass you. Learn about your rights with respect to debt collectors. 

If you are overweight, one way to save money on health care costs is to lose weight. Studies show that overweight people spend more on health care. One study showed that people with a body mass index of 25 spent $1,938 a year on health costs. People with a body mass index of 40 spent $5,510; people with a body mass of index of 45 spent $13,327.  Plus more and more employers are requiring people with health issues such as being over weight to pay a higher share of health insurance premiums.

It is worth taking a moment to find out if you or a close family member has unclaimed assets. Check each state you have lived in at: www.naupa.org offsite link.

For more information, see:

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Your Rights With Respect To Creditors And Harassment

If you are behind on your bills, you are probably getting calls and letters from collection agencies. Since this can be stressful, it's important to know your rights.

Under the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, collection agencies cannot do any of the following:

  • Call your place of work if you tell them your employer prohibits it.
  • Call your home before 8AM or after 9PM.
  • Be abusive
  • Call others about your situation.

If any of the above occur:

  • Make notes including the date and time the event occurred and the company who contacted you. If you can get it, include the name of the person who calls.
  • Tell callers to stop and that, if they don't, you'll report them to the Federal Trade Commission www.ftc.gov offsite link, State Attorney General's office, and Better Business Bureau www.bbb.org offsite link
  • If they persist, continue to make notes of each contact and file a complaint.

To temporarily stop all communications from creditors, write the collection agency or creditor.

  • Tell them that you want them to cease communicating with you. If you believe you do not owe the bill, tell them that you do not owe the amount they claim. (Send the letter in a manner that gives you a delivery receipt. Keep a copy for your file.)
  • A creditor will still be able to go after you legally, but will not  be able to contact you again until a lawsuit is actually filed. If the amount you owe is small, the situation may just go away, although there is likely to be a negative entry on your credit report which will affect your credit score. To learn about credit scores, and why they are important to you, click here. 

For additional information, see: Your Rights With Respect To Creditors

How To Deal With The Emotions That Come With A Financial Crunch/Crisis

A financial crunch can bring up all kinds of difficult emotions.

The following list includes some of the emotions that may appear, and tips for dealing with them:

For tips to help feel in control your emotions, click here.  (For tips about additional emotions/feelings, click here.)

If your emotions become overwhelming, or are severe for a continued period of time, seek help. Help can be anywhere from talking about it with a close friend, to a formal or informal support group, self help groups, to professional counseling.

Seeking help is not a sign of weakness. In fact it is a sign of strength: you want to do all you can to have the best possible quality of life. For information, see: