Let’s be honest for a minute.  When your head is bent over the pile of monthly bills, with your calculator nearby at your elbow, the realty hits you… unless you ask for, and receive, a raise, one or more of those obligations must get pushed to the side.

When it comes to those “obligations” for which you must dole out your hard-earned pay, never scrimp on, eliminate or fall behind in any insurance premium!

You’ve read or heard the advice before, most likely from financial advisors, to always adequately insure your home or vehicle, and that advice goes for your healthcare as well.

When it comes to protecting yourself, and your loved ones, you need to plan ahead.  Plan for a future that may not be as rosy as you’d like it to be, or, at the very least, know that the years ahead may become tarnished, not golden, due to illness or other such circumstances beyond your control.

The time to put insurance policies for disability, long-term care and life insurance benefits into place is when you are younger, not when you are older or thinking of retirement.  By then it might be too late.

Don’t let this be your story

Just imagine, if you will, a scenario so heart wrenching that it needs to be told.  A story that involves a person who has had a catastrophic incident and not enough insurance coverage to provide for a long-term convalescence to get better again.

As you know, the cost of healthcare today is staggering.  Whether or not you agree with the principles of the Affordable Healthcare Act, or, the fact that all Americans are now required to have healthcare coverage in place or pay a fine, you do realize that just one catastrophic incident has the potential to send you into bankruptcy or deplete your life savings, whether you choose to “go bare” and not have insurance in place or you have no-frills insurance.

There is only one state in the union where a catastrophic injury in a vehicle will not put you in the poorhouse or force you to declare bankruptcy.  That state is Michigan.  Though all vehicle insurance policyholders in Michigan are not always pleased with the added cost foisted onto their no-fault auto insurance policy premiums, at least, if any person in Michigan suffers a catastrophic injury in a vehicle that necessitates a lengthy hospital stay and/or long-term rehabilitation, that person will have unlimited personal injury protection benefits through the Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association (MCCA).  In Michigan, each auto insurer is responsible for, and pays, the MCCA assessment, but, unfortunately, the cost is often passed on to policyholders.

Unfortunately, however, the other 49 states do not have such helpful catastrophic injury benefits, so, if you were to become chronically ill, or, you are debilitated by a serious injury, like a vehicle crash for example, your medical insurance is finite and will eventually cease paying for your care.

If reading that last paragraph makes you shudder as you quickly calculate what liquid assets you have on hand to pay for your hospital or rehab facility stay, all the while with you out of work (unless you were savvy enough to procure long-term disability insurance or long-term healthcare insurance), you might as well consider that you will either be declaring bankruptcy or you will have to offload your treasured assets so that you can get better.

Medical billing

Most people have visited their doctor and upon being sprung from the consultation, are met with the billing staff.  There you are told whether your office visit was covered in its entirety or you will need to fork over a co-pay amount.  Sometimes you think you got off scot-free, only to return for a follow-up and be hit with a big bill, or, you get an “explanation of benefits notice” (or “EOB”) in the mail telling you what you owe.  You sigh and just pay up.

Formidable costs

Whether you have the smorgasbord of long-term insurances in place, you probably know someone whose medical challenges forced a long-term hospital or rehabilitation facility stay.  Hopefully they had long-term disability insurance in place from their employer, or, they had the forethought to get it in place for themselves long before the incident.  But, often household expenses, bills, and the like, will take precedence over the well-meaning expenses like insurance premiums.  So… you omit these expenses from your budget.  Not a good idea.  To help pay your medical expenses that seemingly grow in leaps and bounds beyond the fixed amount your health insurer will pay, your kind co-workers might sponsor a fundraiser and perhaps set up an online fundraising website on your behalf like “GoFundMe.com”.  But what about the remaining bills that languish unpaid?

Spare your dignity

There are organizations to assist in your plight when the expenses start to pile up and that return-to-work date may never happen, so, in order to thwart bankruptcy or avoid depleting every asset you have, you must rely on the generosity of organizations that will help you get on your feet both medically and financially.

If the expenses relate to a child, most everyone has heard of the good that St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital does.  Perhaps you’ve given a donation or personally have known someone that St. Jude helped.  They rely on donations to assist in the wellbeing of children whose families are at the end of the road for treatment and payment for same.  At St. Jude, your child and you may stay as long as it takes to recuperate, and the hospital stay, and anything attendant to that stay, is free of charge.  This charitable hospital’s creed is:

“Families are free to focus on their child.  No child pays.  Families never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing or food — because all a family should worry about is helping their child live.”

For other persons whose insurmountable expenses pile up as a result of a long-term hospital or care facility stay, there is a solution.  An organization named CoPatient may be able to assist you in your effort to tackle those high medical bills.  CoPatient is a medical billing review service wherein you enlist their aid to assist you in reducing the cost of your medical bills.  They will review the bills for any errors and savings opportunities.  On their website, https://info.copatient.com/, this organization touts the fact that they “find savings opportunities in over 80% of the bills we review, saving some patients thousands of dollars after a death in the family, surgery, birth, or hospitalization.”  It is free to start and if they do not succeed in saving you money by negotiating your medical bills, you pay nothing for their services.

Conclusion:  While it is good to know that institutions and services can help to pare down that horrible hospital or medical bill, why not take matters into your own hands today and get insurance plans in place to thwart any potential asset-depleting illnesses down the road?