Consider four key areas: investments, insurance, legal arrangements and taxes

By Marisa Otto

Marisa Otto

In light of the coronavirus pandemic, virtually all Morgan Hill residents have considered health-related issues. But for people facing a serious, chronic illness, such as Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, diabetes or cancer, health concerns are an everyday matter. Of course, going through these health challenges bring physical and emotional concerns — but also financial ones. How can you prepare for them? Essentially, you’ll need to consider four key areas: investments, insurance, legal arrangements and taxes:

  • Investments — You’ll likely need to draw on your investments for at least some of the expenses associated with your illness. So, within your portfolio, you may want to establish a special fund devoted to these costs. A financial professional can help you choose investments for this fund, as well as make recommendations for your overall investment strategy.

  • Insurance — Depending on your health status, you may be able to collect Medicare earlier than the traditional starting point at 65. Even so, you’ll likely need to supplement it with additional coverage. But you may also want to look beyond health insurance. For example, you might be able to purchase a “chronic illness rider” that allows you to tap into life insurance benefits while you’re still alive. Or you might consider adding a “long-term care rider” to a life insurance policy; this rider offers financial benefits if you ever require daily care that you can’t provide for yourself.

  • Legal arrangements — If you haven’t already done so, you may want to establish the legal documents most appropriate for your situation, such as a durable power of attorney for finances, which gives someone the authority to manage your financial affairs if you become temporarily incapacitated, possibly due to flare-ups of your chronic disease. Once you’ve recovered, you regain control of your financial decisions. You might also want to consider a health care proxy, which appoints an individual to make medical decisions for you if you can’t.

  • Taxes — You might qualify for Social Security disability payments, which, like other Social Security benefits, are taxable, so you’ll need to be aware of what you might owe. But you may be eligible for tax breaks related to your condition. If you still itemize tax deductions, you may be able to deduct some medical expenses, as well as certain home improvements, such as wheelchair ramps, bathtub grab bars, motorized stair-lifts and so on.

Dealing with a chronic illness is never easy. But by considering how your illness will affect all aspects of your life, getting the help you need, and taking the right steps, you may be able to reduce the financial stress on you and your loved ones.

Marisa Otto