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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: Advanced


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Cash and investments which can easily be converted into cash can be king when coping with the ongoing costs of treatment. Unless access to cash is not an issue, keep as much cash or cash equivalents available as you can until you get news that there is no longer evidence of disease.

  • Put off discretionary purchases for now. 
  • Don’t give in to the urge to splurge way beyond your means on things you have “always wanted” or the trip you were planning for “someday.”  Too many people survive and ruefully find themselves saddled with extraordinary debt.
  • Use credit instead of cash when possible – particularly credit cards which have a benefit that pays off the balance in the event of death.  (To learn how to get more credit, click here.)
  • If you are considering purchasing an expensive item such as a car, see if you can get credit life insurance on the balance. Generally , applications for this kind of insurance do not request medical information. Credit life insurance will pay off the outstanding amount of debt in the event of your death. (For information about credit life insurance, click here

If you have health insurance:

  • Maximizing use of your health insurance policy will minimize your out-of-pocket expenses.  To learn how to maximize:
    • Your health insurance, click here,
    • Medicaid, click here.
    • Medicare Part D, click here
  • Financial assistance may be available if needed to pay for premiums, co-insurance or co-pays. For information, click here

If you do not have health insurance:

  • Use the information in our document about Uninsured to minimize the cost of treatment.
  • Financial assistance may be available. For information, click here
  • You can still buy health insurance. (To learn more, click here
  • Veterans qualify for veterans health coverage. (Click here
  • You may be able to qualify for Medicaid (Medi-cal in California.)
    • For information about Medicaid, click here.  
    • For information about transferring income or assets to qualify for Medicaid, click here.  

If you are in a financial bind:

  • You are not alone. People with medical expenses represent over 60% of the people filing for personal bankruptcy. Over 75% of those people had health insurance. If you are having difficulty paying medical bills or other debt (we call it experiencing a “financial crunch”):
    • To learn time tested techniques to use in a financial crunch, click here. As you will see, one of the techniques is to look for new uses of your assets – including selling a life insurance policy as a Viatical Settlement or a Life Settlement. (For more information, click here and here respectively.)
    • If all else fails, or if you are spending all you income on debt, consider bankruptcy. There should be no shame with bankruptcy. It is such a right for Americans that it is built into the constitution.  (For bankruptcy basics, click here.) 

When you have extra money:

  • Work toward a goal of a cash fund (an Emergency+Fund) equal to 3 to 6 months of monthly expenses. This is the amount of money generally recommended to keep in reserve 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, or you experience long periods of being unable to work, aim for 12 months of expenses in your fund.)
  • 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:
      • 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.  

Investments should take into account the possibility of a shortened life expectancy. Avoid investments that cannot readily be turned into cash.

A diagnosis heightens the importance of minimizing taxes

  • Check out all the expenses that are considered to be medical expenses for tax purposes. For information, click here
  • A diagnosis is not an excuse to skip filing tax returns.
  • Plan to minimize chances of an audit. If audited, your diagnosis may help provoke compassion from an auditor.  For information, click here.

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