Your cancer doesn’t own you, but when a diagnosis is coupled with financial stress, sometimes it may feel that way.
If you’re struggling to keep your finances in order after you cancer diagnosis, you are hardly alone. The numbers can be staggering:
- Research from the University of Wyoming revealed that family income declines by an average of 20% in the first year after diagnosis
- Work hours among that group declined by about 200 hours, or five full weeks
- At the same time, costs for cancer medications have skyrocketed, with newly-approved drugs costing more than twice what they did only a decade ago
- As a result, cancer patients are more than 2.5 times more likely to file for bankruptcy than the average individual
Experiencing financial stress is a huge impediment to treatment and recovery. An important first step after a cancer diagnosis is to do a complete financial assessment. It may seem easy to put off with so much happening with your medical condition, but understanding your assets and the costs that are to come will benefit you in the months ahead.
Making a budget spreadsheet is something we always think about but rarely make the time for. When facing a cancer diagnosis, now is the time to get your finances in order!!
- MONTHLY INCOME – include your gross monthly salary, and the salaries of your spouse or other working family members that may be supporting you during your treatment. It’s especially important to talk to your doctors or social workers about what to expect moving forward, and how it might affect your ability to work. If you anticipate an impact on your monthly income, best to factor it in now.
- NON-MEDICAL BENEFITS – include anything that you currently or may ultimately qualify for in the immediate future: public assistance, unemployment, social security, alimony, disability, etc.
- MEDICAL COVERAGE – make sure you’re talking to a social worker (or a financial navigator if you have access to one) to ensure that you’ve got the best possible coverage for the treatments and drugs that you’ll need. There may be changes you can make that could dramatically change your medical expenses moving forward.
- YOUR EXPENSES – be thorough in understanding what your true monthly costs are. Make sure to include mortgage or rent, gas & electric, car payments and insurance, food, telephone, education and any other expenses that you can expect. Be honest about your spending and account for quality of life needs that can help you through your treatment.
- LIFE INSURANCE – there are sources of real funds that you may not realize you can access. Did you know you may be able to receive some of your life insurance benefits early? Fifth Season Financial (through the FLAG – Funds for Living And Giving program) can provide advances to patients with later-stage (III and IV) diagnosis based on the face value of their life insurance policy, regardless of type (group, life, whole, FEGLI, etc.). These advances are not repaid during their lifetime…instead, the advance is repaid later out of the remaining proceeds in the life insurance policy. And in most examples (90% of Fifth Season’s cases to date), funds still remain to pass on to beneficiaries. So your life insurance policy can be an important item to have on your asset list. Contact Fifth Season to understand if this option might be right for you.
Understanding your assets and expenses is often the first step to minimizing financial insecurity. We hope this provides a good guide on how to get started, and on learning more about alternative sources of funds. To learn more about Fifth Season Financial, call us today or submit a short request for information and we will at help right away.
Chief Marketing and Business Development Officer
Fifth Season Financial 866-459-1271