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Financial Toxicity, Financial Stress While Dealing with Cancer

Financial Toxicity, Financial Stress While Dealing with Cancer

Financial toxicity -- problems a cancer patient has related to the cost of treatment -- is a buzzword in the health realm that is becoming commonplace in decision-making regarding treatments.

(You can call financial toxicity whatever you want: economic burden, economic hardship, financial burden, financial hardship, or financial stress.)

Recent studies show financial toxicity is more likely to affect cancer patients and survivors because the cost of treatment may hurt your ability to work and pay bills.

“It’s unfortunate, in this country, that today we’re still struggling with ‘How are we going to pay for health care,’ ” says LifeGuide Partners’ CEO Scott Page. “When someone is diagnosed with cancer or a serious illness, one of the two questions they have is they want to find the best doctors and then, secondly, how are they going to find the funds to pay for it.”

Cancer patients report higher out-of-pocket spending, with some spending more than 20% of their annual income on medical care. These costs include copayments, deductibles, and coinsurance.

There’s also costs beyond treatment, like travel, outpatient services, medical appointments, and prescription drugs. And extenuating circumstances: advanced-stage cancer, recurrent cancer, cancer with a poor prognosis, having more than one type of cancer.

On top of dealing with cancer, the financial burden multiplies when everyday life is layered in. So, your physical and emotional issues ultimately become money problems: less income, debt because of the cost of your treatment, trouble paying for housing, food, and bills – even bankruptcy.

We also know while trying to pinch pennies, patients may not take their medicine as directed. This could lead to a host of new problems, including lower quality of life.

All the while, you’re struggling to pay the premium on a life insurance policy.

When it rains, it pours …

But that doesn’t have to be the case. A financial option is the value of a life insurance policy. Simply put, selling all or a portion of your policy may be the answer to access immediate cash.

“There are multiple ways to approach how to pay for medical care,” Page notes. “Even if you have medical insurance, you’re still going to be hit with out-of-pocket costs and deductibles.

“We urge patients to take a look at their existing life insurance policy. You can convert that policy into the cash they need and, in many cases, receive the money tax-free.

“LifeGuide Partners offers a free policy appraisal,” Page adds. “We can tell you what your policy is worth and convert it to cash today. That will remove their premium payments and help them receive the money they need to pay for care.”

Your financial situation may dictate decisions regarding cancer treatments. If those treatments cause financial hardship, it may affect your overall health. Don’t get caught between questioning your finances while trying to save your life.

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Stephen E. Terrell

Stephen E. Terrell is president of Life Guide Partners. He may be contacted at stephen@lifeguidepartners.com.