Financial Options for Patients With Terminal Illnesses

Learning you have a terminal illness can be devastating. You’re confronted with your mortality and forced to make critical decisions about the time you have left. You may also have significant financial concerns, particularly if your condition prevents you from working.

A terminal illness can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to treat. Some prescription medications cost $100,000 or more per year. There are ways you can reduce the cost of medical care and access funds. Using the tips outlined here can ensure you have the money you need to cover your expenses and afford the medications and treatment you need to manage your illness.

Sell your life insurance policy’s death benefits.


Your life insurance policy has a face value you can receive if you cash it in. You can receive more money if you opt to sell the life insurance policy you own through a life settlement or a viatical settlement, rather than waiting for your beneficiaries to receive the death benefits upon your passing.

A viatical settlement company hires agents with at least one year of experience handling life insurance policies who have fulfilled the licensing requirements to become a viatical settlement broker. Viators must have a chronic or terminal illness, and brokers must ensure the viators meet the requirements to qualify for a viatical settlement. The viatical settlement company’s brokers locate third-party buyers who pay a lump sum of cash in exchange for the policy’s death benefits. The buyer assigns a new beneficiary who receives the death benefits when the policyholder dies. The buyer also assumes responsibility for monthly premiums still owing on the policy, enabling viators to reduce their monthly expenses while accessing cash funds.

Viators don’t pay taxes on the cash payout they receive, enabling them to use the total amount. There are no restrictions governing how the funds are used, which means viators can opt to use the money to buy prescriptions, pay for medical treatments, or travel the world.

Like viatical settlements, life settlements pay more than the cash surrender value of the insurance policy but less than the death benefit amount. Life settlements also pay less than viatical settlements. Viators must have a life expectancy of fewer than 25 months to qualify as a viator, but anyone can pursue a life settlement. Although it’s uncommon, some individuals with terminal illnesses may have a longer life expectancy and not initially qualify for a viatical settlement. These individuals can opt to pursue a life settlement instead.

Explore discount prescription medications.


Prescription medications can be expensive. Many patients don’t have a health insurance plan that covers the cost of their prescriptions, but there are discount prescription medications patients can use to save money on their medications. Companies such as CanadaDrugstore offer affordable prescription and over-the-counter medications to patients. Patients can choose between generic medications and brand-name prescription drugs. Common prescription medications available include Advair, which is used to treat chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and Eliquis, which is used to prevent blood clots after a patient’s had surgery. Patients can set up an account, submit their prescriptions, and order prescription medications online. They can also order their refills online. This is a convenient option for those struggling with fatigue because they won’t have to leave their home to go to a pharmacy.

Find medical professionals who accept your insurance.


Check to see which clinicians are covered by your health insurance and use healthcare providers covered under your plan. This will prevent you from paying unnecessary costs for treatment. Whether you’re seeing an oncologist or a teletherapist, your insurance can cover most of your treatment costs. Mental health professionals, such as counselors, social workers, and psychologists, can help you process your diagnosis. You may opt for individual therapy sessions you attend in person or teletherapy sessions you attend online. You may also opt to participate in group therapy sessions. Group therapy can be an affordable way to receive support, while telehealth options enable you to receive treatment without leaving your home. Telehealth is an ideal option for immunocompromised individuals due to their medical treatments, such as cancer and AIDS patients.

Apply for government benefits.


In the United States, people with terminal illnesses may qualify for government benefits. Some patients may be eligible to receive compensation allowance from the Social Security Administration. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services oversees government programs offering food stamps and financial assistance. Patients may qualify for government health insurance options, such as Medicare and Medicaid, which can reduce medical treatment costs.

Seek help from nonprofit organizations.


Several organizations help people with chronic and terminal illnesses. The pharmaceutical patient assistance program enables patients to receive access to affordable prescription drugs. CancerCare is a nonprofit organization with a copay assistance program, covering the cost of copays for cancer patients.

CancerCare offers financial assistance that can be used to cover practical expenses, such as the cost of child care and medical supplies. The American Cancer Society is another nonprofit organization that provides free transportation to medical appointments. They also help patients find low-cost accommodations if they need to travel for medical treatment. The Ronald McDonald House also offers affordable housing for medical patients.

In addition to nonprofit organizations, faith-based organizations offer practical and financial assistance to people with terminal or chronic illnesses.

Terminally ill patients include patients with heart disease or cancer, as well as other medical conditions. Their health condition may prevent them from working, and they may have expensive medical bills to pay due to their condition. Terminally ill patients can sell their life insurance policy death benefits to improve their financial situation. They can also reduce medical treatment costs by using low-cost prescription drugs and clinicians covered by their insurance plan. Terminally ill patients may also be eligible to receive government benefits and practical and financial assistance from nonprofit organizations.

Written By
Carrie Anderson
Financial Analyst | Contributing Writer
Carrie Anderson

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