How To Deal With Critical Illness Costs
We never truly value our health until it fails us. And sometimes your health can fail you so drastically that it becomes a critical illness. A critical illness is a long-term medical problem that dramatically alters your way of life and potentially shortens it. And financially dealing with a critical illness can become so expensive that it practically becomes a new and inescapable utility bill. So, how can you deal with critical illness costs?
Critical illness costs are inescapable because not paying them can result in death. Bad eating habits, lack of exercise, and even the act of aging increase your chances of developing a critical illness.
And Americans seem to be more afraid to deal with critical illness costs than dealing with a critical illness.
Americans Don’t Want to Deal With Critical Illness Costs
Half of Americans between the age of 40 to 50, and making at least $50,000 annually, were more afraid to deal with critical illness costs than developing a critical illness.
According to the CDC, six out of every ten Americans have a chronic disease. And four out of every ten Americans have a comorbidity. In other words, they have at least two or more chronic diseases or illnesses at the same time.
And collectively paying for chronic diseases costs Americans over $3.8 trillion in medical costs every year.
The CDC says that chronic diseases are the leading causes of disability and death in the United States. (Barring the coronavirus.) The regrettable thing about critical illnesses, an interchangeable term with “chronic diseases,” is that many are avoidable.
And 90 million Americans are now more likely to develop a critical illness or comorbidity if they get infected with the coronavirus.
Over 53% of Americans fear they will become financially ruined if they develop a critical illness.
So, before we discuss how you can deal with critical illness costs, let explain what it is exactly. And we will also list some examples of various critical illnesses.
What is a Critical Illness?
A critical illness is a medical problem that causes dramatically life-altering or life-shortening consequences. A critical illness can cause abrupt or incrementally worsening medical problems.
A critical illness can be self-caused, like through lack of exercise or bad eating habits. Or it can be genetically inherited. Or it can be caused at random, by accident, or medical error.
But worst of all, developing a critical illness can mean having to pay long-term or life-long medical bills to deal with it. It’s why Americans fear to deal with critical illness costs. (More on that later.
Examples of critical illnesses include, but are not limited to:
- Kidney failure
- Heart attack
- Heart valve replacement
- Organ transplant
- Chronic lung disease
- Muscular dystrophy
- Full-blown AIDS
- AIDS contracted via negligent medical error
- Benign brain tumor
- Degenerative brain disorders like Alzheimer’s
- Parkinson’s disease
Now, let’s examine why Americans fear to deal with critical illness costs.
How Much Does It Cost to Deal With a Critical Illness?
Americans fear to deal with critical illness costs because their personal finances could be dramatically reduced or eradicated.
The average American can lose over $12,000 via income reduction in the first year of a critical illness diagnosis.
Over 56% of critically ill Americans say that they have difficulty paying one or more of their medical bills. Another 27% can’t afford their long-term medical bills. 37% completely exhaust their personal finances trying to pay to treat their critical illnesses.
The typical out-of-pocket costs to deal with a critical illness is $6,500.
It can cost you anywhere between $24,000 to $36,000 to pay for cancer-fighting meds during the first year of diagnosis.
If you have a stroke, it might cost you $15,000 to deal with it 90-days after its occurrence.
Look at this problem from another context; over 30 million Americans don’t have any health insurance.
Now that we have examined the problem, here are some ways to deal with critical illness costs.
Healthcare.gov is federally funded health insurance that is distributed on the state level for qualified applicants. Your ability to qualify for free basic medical insurance depends on your income and ability to pay.
This is your best option to secure before you develop a critical illness. The coverage you qualify for could be basic if you have no job or money. But such coverage is better than nothing and can come in handy for paying for generic medications.
One of the most optimal ways to deal with critical illness costs is to only buy generic medications when applicable.
Generic medications contain the same kinds of ingredients as brand-name medications. However, generic medications cost anywhere between 30% to 80% less than than the brand name.
However, you will have to do a lot of research work to find every possible generic version of a medication you require. Start by asking your doctor.
Renegotiate Your Bill
If you can’t pay for medical bills related to your critical illness, then try to renegotiate your medical. Contact your billing office or doctor and don’t wait until the last moment.
You are not the only person struggling with medical debt. Your hospital or doctor may be very willing to renegotiate or delay your bill instead of not being paid at all.
Ask if any discounts apply to your situation. Ask if you can delay payment until a date when you can pay. You could ask to restructure your payment plan on a schedule that aligns better with your ability to pay.
Ask if you qualify for a 0% interest payment plan. They can only say no.
Inquire About the Insurance Rate
Even if you cannot afford to pay for a medical procedure, you may be able to afford the relative insurance rate.
The insurance rate for a medical procedure may actually be cheaper than the rate your hospital charges you as a patient. Ask if you can pay the insurance rate for your treatment, if possible.
Non-Profit Patient Advocates
A patient advocate is a former medical bureaucrat, expert, nurse, doctor, or industry professional who advises patients on how to deal with medical bills and bureaucracy.
A patient advocate can call your hospital or insurance company to negotiate in your stead. Or they can inform you of your rights and options relative to your circumstances.
The Patient Advocate Foundation is an organization that will match you to free patient advocates near you.
Look for non-profit patient advocates in your area. Most patient advocates are work-for-hire and can charge anywhere between $100 to $500 per hour.
Critical Illness Insurance
Critical illness insurance is health insurance that covers you in case you are struck by a critical illness.
Depending on the size of the coverage you purchase, you can get a lump sum of a few thousand or tens of thousands to pay your medical bills. And premium costs are affordable.
However, critical illness insurance does not cover pre-existing conditions. And each company that offers it has a specific list of critical illnesses that qualify for coverage.
So, you must make sure that your critical illness insurance covers an illness you don’t have before you get it. And certain benefits may be reduced or eliminated after you reach a certain age to reduce the risk for the company.
Make sure you look over your contract carefully if you buy critical illness insurance.
How to Deal With Critical Illness Costs
The best way to deal with critical illness costs is through preventative measures.
Take care of your health. Get medical insurance through your job or Healthcare.gov early.
Consider getting an HSA. A health savings account is a savings account that is dedicated only to paying for medical issues.
The point is that you should think about how to financially deal with critical illness costs as early as possible.
Allen Francis was an academic advisor, librarian, and college adjunct for many years with no money, no financial literacy, and no responsibility when he had money. To him, the phrase “personal finance,” contains the power that anyone has to grow their own wealth. Allen is an advocate of best personal financial practices including focusing on your needs instead of your wants, asking for help when you need it, saving and investing in your own small business.