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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.

Breast Cancer: Post Treatment: Finances


Treatment can play havoc with finances. Almost two out of three people who file for personal bankruptcy do so because of medical expenses. Over 75% of those people had health insurance. Yes, you read that correctly. Over 75% of people who file for personal bankruptcy because of medical expenses have health insurance.

If you are having difficulty paying medical bills or other debt:

Every debt that is not secured by an asset (such as a mortgage) is negotiable. 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. See: How To Negotiate With Creditors

If needed, there are counseling services 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 for nonprofit services that end up charging you a fee. See: Credit Counseling Service 101Professionals Who Negotiate Medical Debt

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 keep insurance from a former employer under COBRA until the new coverage starts.
    • You can obtain individual health insurance despite your health condition. See: How To Obtain Health Insurance
  • Pay your bills on time.
    • This is especially important for essential bills such as rent or your mortgage.
    • Pay at least the minimums due on your credit cards on time. Timely payments are important to your credit.
    • 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.
    • See: Breast Cancer: Financial Assistance
  • Credit
    • Do what you can to Increase your credit.
      • Start accepting the credit card offers you get in the mail. That does not mean to use the cards to run up debt. It does mean using each card enough to keep it open in case you need credit in the future.
      • If you don't have credit, start getting it.
    • Try to improve your credit score. Credit scores are important for a batch of reasons, including how much you will be charged to borrow money. Your score may even be a factor in determining whether you get a job or how much you pay for car insurance.
    • For information, see:  Credit: Score, Getting, Fixing, Maximizing Use
  • Do what you can to save money. See:
  • Create an Emergency+Fund so you have cash on hand for emergencies and other expenses that may require cash.
  • See what you can do to improve 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:
  • Put as much money as you can spare into your retirement accounts. 
    • 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: (i) 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. (ii) 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.  
  • 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 breast 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. See: Financial Planners 101
  • Consider increasing the amount of life insurance you have. Among other ways to get life insurance, you may be able to buy life insurance at work once a year no matter what your health history. If your life becomes shortened, life insurance can be used as an asset from which you can get cash. See: Life Insurance: How To Buy Despite A Health History
  • Find out if you can obtain Disability Income Insurance. It provides an income in case you become disabled and unable to work. If you can't obtain it on your own, you may be able to get it from a new employer. Large employers such as the government often offer such insurance as an employee benefit. See:
  • Keep track of your medical expenses. They may be deductible from your taxes. Deductible expenses include the cost of getting to and from doctors. See: Tax: Medical Expense Deductions
  • 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.
  • Refine your investment strategy to fit your health situation.
    • Continue to invest as much as you can in tax advantaged retirement plans such as IRAs and 401(k)s.
    • The remainder of your investment strategy should include the possibility of a recurrence and a shorter than normal life expectancy. That is not to say that breast cancer as such shortens your expectancy. If your particular situation shortens your life expectancy, take that into account. 
    • See: Investments After Diagnosis: An Overview

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