Financial planning for a breast cancer diagnosis or other major medical event

by Badgley Phelps | Oct 26, 2016

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and the unfortunate reality is that most of us will be affected by breast cancer at some point in our lives—whether that means experiencing it ourselves or helping to care for a friend or family member diagnosed with the disease. When this or other major medical issues present themselves, it’s important to be as prepared as possible. That’s why we developed this list of questions to ask yourself well in advance of a major medical issue.

Are your documents up to date?

If your will, medical power of attorney and durable power of attorney documents have not been updated within the past three years, now is a good time to take another look. Major medical issues can mean involving others in your care—and your wishes should be clearly documented.

Where would you live if you were to become disabled?

Now is the time to think about how you would handle different scenarios should you become disabled. For example, if you were disabled but could still live in your current home, you might consider things like whether you would use outside caregivers or rely on friends and family to check-in on you, or whether it could be helpful to use a Life Alert device. Alternatively, if you were to become disabled and could no longer live in your current home, where would you live instead? Who would help you find a new place to live and what support network would you require? Were you to need a temporary assisted living, rehabilitation or nursing home stay, would you keep your house and, if so, who would care for it and your pets?

In all three disabled-living scenarios, it’s important to consider spousal and child care, and where the money will come from in order to cover associated costs. Securing long-term care insurance now could help pay for services to assist with daily living later.

How would you get around if you no longer are able to drive?

Most of us take for granted our ability to drive ourselves to the grocery store, doctors’ appointments or to work. But what if a major medical event made it impossible for you to drive temporarily or permanently? If you were no longer able to drive, who would arrange your replacement transportation, and what would that transportation be? How would you pay for that alternate mode of getting around?

How will you pay for medical expenses?

One of the best ways to start planning financially for a major medical expense is to revisit your insurance plan to make sure it amply covers major issues and, if not, look into the possibility of switching plans. From there, it’s a good idea to consider whether you can benefit by opening a Health Savings Account (HSA) as it may be possible to reap tax benefits by contributing the maximum amount allowed to a HSA. You can also talk to your wealth manager about how to invest your HSA.

Breast cancer diagnoses and other major medical issues can blindside us, but taking steps to answer the tough questions in advance and prepare financially can help ease the burden down the line.

Unsure whether you’re prepared financially for a major medical event? We’d be happy to help. Get in touch today >


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