Debilitating diseases, such as cancer, Alzheimer’s, and HIV/AIDS, can create significant challenges for patients and their families. While physical symptoms can be difficult to cope with, living with a chronic disease can also have a detrimental effect on mental health. In addition, paying for treatment can be financially devastating for families.
The treatment of chronic and debilitating illnesses accounts for approximately 75 percent of medical spending in the United States. According to The Sun Life Financial Benefits Planning Report, almost half of all foreclosures occur as a result of medical problems.
In many cases, the financial burden of debilitating illness causes many patients to lose their homes. If you’re struggling to pay for treatment, here’s a guide on keeping your home through debilitating disease.
Know your finances
Creating a comprehensive financial strategy to keep your home requires organizing your finances. Start by researching potential treatment options to gain a general idea of how much treatment will cost. Then, determine what your health insurance company will cover. Review your current health insurance coverage to find out what copayments and deductibles you’ll be expected to pay during your treatment. If you don’t have insurance, consider applying for a public program, such as Medicare or Medicaid.
Next, talk to your doctors to determine how long you’ll be able to continue working. Once you figure out how long you can continue working, you can start strategizing how to move forward. If you’re unable to continue working, you still have options. Selling your life insurance policy can provide you with a lump-sum payment. You can use these funds to keep paying your mortgage, supplement your income, or pay for medical treatment.
To qualify for a viatical settlement, policyholders must have a life-threatening illness as well as a life insurance policy valued at $100,000 or more. American Life Fund, an industry-leading viatical settlement company, works with clients looking to sell their policy, providing them with a cash payment in as little as 1–2 weeks.
Apply for assistance
If you cannot continue working due to your disease, you can apply for disability benefits. The Social Security Administration offers a detailed guide on applying for disability benefits on its website.
Also, determine whether you qualify for mortgage assistance. The federal government offers mortgage assistance through the FHA’s Home Affordable Modification Program. Under the program, individuals unable to pay their mortgage may qualify for suspended payments, reduced monthly payments, or refinancing.
If you cannot qualify for federal mortgage assistance, researching refinancing options can lower your monthly mortgage payments. A simple Google search like “Kansas City mortgage lenders” can connect you to lenders in your area.
Create a budget
Once you’ve reviewed your financial situation, you can create a budget for treatment, living costs, and other non-medical costs. To calculate your fixed non-medical costs, use the Macmillan Cancer Support online budgeting tool. Although this tool was created for individuals with cancer, it offers valuable advice on mortgage payments, savings, and other important financial topics to help individuals suffering from any debilitating disease.
Additionally, conduct in-depth research on your medical costs. You should know the standard price for your treatment, along with what you’ll be responsible for after insurance benefits. Since the cost of certain medical procedures can vary dramatically depending on where the care is received, research different options to figure out where you can receive quality less expensive care.
It’s also important to determine whether you will require in-home care. The Visiting Nurse Associations of America provides a detailed description of what types of debilitating diseases require in-home care and how to select a healthcare provider. If you cannot afford an in-home healthcare provider, consider asking friends or family for assistance.
Adjusting to life with a debilitating disease can be overwhelming and financially stressful. Ultimately, organizing your finances, applying for assistance, and creating a budget can help you keep your home.