Finding Financial Relief After a Cancer Diagnosis
by Joe Borowiec
Combating cancer can be one of the most difficult challenges of a person’s life, and it is one that requires a great deal of mental, emotional and financial fortitude. Beyond the physical hurdles and side effects that coincide with most cancer diagnoses, there is the added hardship of paying for treatment.
Cancer takes place at the cellular level, occurring when abnormal cells develop and spread throughout the body. In order to eradicate the disease without causing further damage to healthy cells and surrounding tissues, most patients undergo several courses of treatment over an extended timeframe.
Although medical experts continue to break new ground in the fight against cancer, treatments such as chemotherapy, radiation, immunotherapy, targeted therapies and surgical procedures remain expensive. Without insurance, some patients find themselves on the hook for as much as $150,000 a year in medical bills. Even with health insurance, cancer patients can expect to pay several thousands of dollars a year in copays and/or deductibles before hitting their out-of-pocket limit—the maximum amount patients pay before their insurance kicks in.
Cancer can strike at any time, but the risk of contracting the disease increases with age, which is why it is more common among older adults. Research reveals that 9 out of every 10 cancer cases occur in people aged 50 or older.
Leveraging Assets to Pay for Treatment
Given that seniors are coping with cancer at a higher rate than any other demographic, it’s important to understand how the disease impacts the daily life of an older patient. For many, debt or the threat of it looms large.
Even seniors who aren’t grappling with a terminal disease face an uphill battle when it comes to their finances. Debt for adults aged 65 and older recently reached an all-time high, and seniors from all walks of life are seeking ways to alleviate financial stress.
Basic changes, such as exploring senior programs and benefits like Medicare and Social Security, adjusting your lifestyle to spend less and downsizing wherever possible can help, but you may also consider selling some of your assets to pay for medical treatment.
While many people assume they have to sell their vehicles or even their homes to make ends meet, there are other assets to leverage, including your life insurance policy.
If you determine you no longer want your policy, whether it’s because your monthly premiums have become a burden or your beneficiaries are now financially independent, you can sell it on the secondary market in exchange for a lump-sum payment. This payment will almost always be much larger than what you’d receive from your insurance carrier should you choose to lapse or surrender the policy. And when you’re saving to pay for multiple cancer treatments, every penny counts.
You can even sell a portion of your plan if you don’t want to part with the entire thing, which allows you to maintain your life policy while simultaneously unlocking its hidden value.
In order to qualify, you must be at least 65 years old and own a term, whole or universal life policy with a face value of $100,000 or more. Your policy type, size and scope, as well as your age and overall health status will play a role in determining your settlement.
For cancer patients looking to ensure their path to recovery is a smooth one, life settlements present an option worth exploring.