6 “Financial” Things to Do During a Family Health Crisis

The emergency is on and you or your loved one is in the ER (or worse); what do you need to consider?

  1. One of the first things is to talk to your insurer to inform them on the situation and get the ball rolling on any authorizations. Do not be afraid to push a bit if the answers are not making sense. If you are uninsured start asking about costs. Hospitals and doctors both appreciate a patient who is up front. Ask about cash discounts and start negotiating a payment plan that won’t break you.
  2. Some things are not about the money. A huge medical bill can derail a retirement or other savings plan but caring for your loved one should be paramount. A fee-only Certified Financial Planner will be able to help you determine how to make the changes to respond to your new circumstances.
  3. Remember the documents we covered in the prior blog entry? If those documents are not ready it is time to get going and get them in place. That is assuming that everybody you need to do this is able to fulfill his or her obligations.
  4. Any incomplete parts of the estate plan should be addressed, if that is still possible.
  5. Ask the doctors about drug samples and generic drugs. These can save you a large amount of money.
  6. Swallow your pride and talk to friends and family. You might be surprised at the love that pours out when you reach out and ask for help. Anyone can give a gift to help out another, but there can be tax consequences if you give more than the amount allowed under the tax code. However, payments made to a medical provider for another person do not count toward the annual limit.

I hope that no one reading this ever has to manage this sort of emergency, but the reality is you or someone else reading this will. Keep your head, take care of your loved one (or yourself), and reach out to friends, family, the medical providers, and financial advisors for help. You and your family will survive the storm.

About the author

Jim Heitman, CFP®

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