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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.
Answers to your practical questions such as how to travel safely despite your health condition, how to avoid getting infected by a pet, and what to say or not say to an insurance company.

Colorectal Cancer: Post Treatment 0-6 Months: Finances: Stages 0,I

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Now is the time to do what you can to get your finances in order to withstand the possibility of a recurrence or other expense. The same kind of planning will also help you meet your retirement and other goals.

How To Start Improving Your Financial Resources In Case Of A Recurrence  Hopefully there will be no recurrence. However, now is the time to start working on your financial situation in case it does. For instance:

  • If you don't have health insurance, now is the time to start doing what you can to get it. If you work, and your employer doesn't offer a health insurance benefit, consider changing to an employer that does. Job lock because of a health condition is a thing of the past. A new employer cannot ask about your health condition before offering you a job. The amount of time you have had health insurance can count against a new employer's health insurance waiting period. If necessary, you can retain insurance from a former employer under COBRA until new health insurance coverage starts. See: Work: Changing Your Job Or Career
  • Pay your bills on time. Timely payments are an important part of your credit rating. .
    • Especially pay essential bills such as rent or your mortgage.
    • Pay at least the minimums due on your credit cards on time.
    • Do not let any type of insurance policy lapse for non-payment - particularly health insurance. The last thing you need is a large economic loss that could have been insured against.
  • Do what you can to increase your credit.
  • Create an Emergency+Fund so you have cash on hand for emergencies and other expenses that may require cash.
    • Work toward a goal of a cash fund equal to 3 to 6 months of monthly expenses. This is the amount of money generally recommended to have on hand in case of periods of no income or unexpected expense. It does not mean you have to put this much money away today. However, now is the time to start.
    • If you work in a specialized area where there are very few jobs, aim for 12 months of expenses in your fund because if you lose your job, it may take longer to find another one.
  • Put as much money as you can spare into your retirement accounts. (See the next section).
  • See what you can do to increase your income. Perhaps there is a better paying job with your employer for which you can qualify. Or, as mentioned above, consider changing jobs.  See: How To Increase Your Income While You Are Working
  • A little financial planning will help maximize your financial situation. It doesn't have to take a lot of time. Planning should take into account ongoing medical costs and changes in your income and non-medical expenses due to colorectal cancer. Planning should also include the possibility of a recurrence. If this becomes burdensome, ask a family member or friend to help. Professional help is also available. (Also see: Do I Need A Financial Planner?)
  • Consider increasing the amount of life insurance you have.
  • Find out if you can obtain Disability Income Insurance. It provides an income in case you become disabled and unable to work. If you are unable to obtain it on your own, you may be able to get Disability Income Insurance from a new employer. Large employers such as the government often offer such insurance as an employee benefit.
  • A diagnosis heightens the importance of minimizing taxes.
    • Keep track of your medical expenses. They may be deductible from your taxes. Learn what is included in deductible medical expenses. For instance, deductible expenses include the cost of getting to and from doctors. (If needed, see: How To Survive An Audit
    • A diagnosis is not an excuse to skip filing.
    • Plan to minimize chances of an audit. If audited, your diagnosis may help if you are audited.
  • Don't pay a medical bill just because you receive it. Many health care providers send bills to patients even if the amount is covered by insurance. Check each bill to be sure:
    • That the service was received AND
    • That you owe the money instead of the insurance company.
    • If you owe a bill, you can likely negotiate the amount due.

If you have a financial crunch, click here for helpful ideas.  Following are some tips for dealing with medical bills and other debt:

  • Every debt that is not secured by an asset (such as a mortgage) is negotiable - including heath care debt. If for no other reason, every person and company you owe money knows that collection is not free. At the least, they would be likely to settle for payment of an amount that is less than the whole but more than they would receive if they were forced to use a collection agency or go to court. Creditors also know that there will be a lengthy time delay before they see any money -- possibly a long delay.
  • If your debts are more than you can afford:
    • Survivorship A to Z provides detailed information about how to deal with a financial crunch.  
    • There are su#mce_temp_url# that will negotiate for you with your creditors at no cost to you. Such services are paid by the creditors. Be cautious when choosing such a service. There are ads on television and radio for companies that are nonprofit organizations but end up charging you a fee.
    • Consider bankruptcy. Bankruptcy is not an option that counseling services generally talk about. However, the right for a person to start over financially is so ingrained in our system that it was built into our constitution. (For information, see How To Decide Whether To File For Bankruptcy)

If You Have Investments

  • Retirement Plans
    • Continue to invest as much as you can in tax advantaged retirement plans such as IRAs and 401(k)s. Saving tax dollars is the same as earning extra money. 
    • You can usually withdraw money or borrow it if necessary. If you become disabled, withdrawals are usually without penalty. 
    • Money in a retirement account is protected from creditors. 
    • If you have more than one retirement account: 
      • First priority is to fund accounts in which your employer matches your contribution. The value of your contribution is increased as soon as you put it into the account.
      • Then consider:  Which accounts are easier to withdraw money from or borrow against in case of unexpected expense. Pay particular attention to when you can do these things as well as the costs you’ll pay, such as penalties.  Which accounts are earning you the most money.
      • If you need help with this decision, speak with a financial planner, your accountant or attorney.
    • If you still have money left, open new accounts to the maximum permitted by the tax laws.
    • On the other hand, if find you need money, see: New Uses of Assets - Retirement Accounts
  • Investments
    • The remainder of your investment strategy should include the possibility of a recurrence and the possibility of a shorter than normal life expectancy. That is not to say that colorectal cancer as such shortens your expectancy. If your particular situation shortens your life expectancy, take that into account. Survivorship A to Z documents on the subject explain how. For example, avoid investments that cannot readily be turned into cash.
    • A diagnosis heightens the importance of minimizing taxes. A diagnosis is not an excuse to skip filing. Plan to minimize chances of an audit. If audited, your diagnosis may help if you are audited.
  • Consider retirement planning

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