As someone who lost a parent to cancer, I’m all too familiar with the issues families face after a cancer diagnosis. One of the most important but least considered issues is the financial ramification of the diagnosis.
Typically, a family quickly concludes that it needs to make sure medical bills can be paid. Assuming the diagnosed family member is covered by insurance, the family usually moves on to making sure all the non-financial aspects of the diagnosis are addressed.
This is understandable. Cancer can be a life-changing disease.
Unfortunately, this is also a short-sighted approach to what is often a large problem.
Beyond simply paying medical bills, there are many other financial issues that should be addressed. These include:
- Payment of co-pays and/or meeting insurance deductibles;
- Payment of non-covered medical expenses (dietary supplements, novel or experimental treatments, etc.);
- Payment of incidentals such as home health care providers or nutritionists, which may not be covered by insurance;
- Setting aside funds for payment of funeral expenses in the unfortunate event the diagnosed passes away; and
- Setting aside funds for long-term support of surviving loved ones in the event that the diagnosed family member passes away and was a contributor to the family income.
What can be done to insure these financial issues don’t turn into an insurmountable problem after a cancer diagnosis? Have a plan and don’t wait until the last minute to deal with the financial stuff.
I can tell you from experience that as a loved one’s cancer worsens, the rest of the family’s ability to think clearly and execute a plan becomes worse as well. When you are faced with a family member that is possibly dying, the mental exhaustion from sadness and worry can be debilitating. This is why it is important to deal with things early on.