There are plenty of factors that make it difficult to survive and thrive these days. Millennials are struggling along with a measly 3% of the total U.S. wealth, housing is a costly proposition, healthcare is exorbitantly expensive, and wages remain, by and large, stagnant. To top it all off, the coronavirus has sent an already teetering economy into an economic tailspin.
These struggles are common to all and sundry. However, there’s one group of people to whom the current climate simply adds economic insult to injury: those living with a chronic illness.
The Financial Burden Of Living With A Chronic Illness
- Heart disease.
- Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS).
- Alzheimer’s disease.
The list goes on. Research has found that a shocking 90% of the nation’s annual health care expenditures go towards those with chronic and mental health conditions. 90%. Just let that sink in for a minute. Considering the fact that healthcare spending was 3.6 trillion in 2018 alone, the takeaway is flooring.
On average, chronic, non-communicable diseases like diabetes cost thousands of dollars per individual each year. For example, managing diabetes costs between $3,219 and $4,674 per year. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) runs around $3,968–$6,491 per year. Even the common struggle with asthma can add up to over $3,000 on an annual basis.
When you consider conditions like heart failure, schizophrenia, and cancer the costs skyrocket into the tens of thousands of dollars, annually speaking.
The point is, healthcare can soak up an enormous amount of your budget if you’re trying to live life with a chronic illness.
Tips For Saving Money When Coping With A Chronic Illness
While there’s no doubt that a recurring health concern can be a blow to your bank account, that doesn’t mean you have to resign to your financial fate. Here are suggestions for several ways that you can combat the costs of a chronic illness in small and simple, yet effective ways.
Follow Basic Budgeting Rules
This may sound obvious, but the first thing you want to do is ensure that you stick to a sound budget. This includes:
- Creating a thorough budget with all income, expenses, and savings accounted for.
- Building up an emergency fund to avoid the need to borrow money in the future.
- Reduce obvious expenses such as dining out and electricity consumption.
Of course, making a budget and saving up for a rainy day are fairly standard, run-of-the-mill suggestions — and often they just aren’t enough to counter the burden of abnormally high healthcare costs.
Fortunately, there are a few other ways that you can save on money that aren’t necessarily at the front of one’s mind when your budget is laid out in front of you.
Keep Up On Your Health
If you’re already struggling with a chronic illness, you may be tempted to consider your health a lost cause. However, your situation should make your overall health and wellness more imperative than ever. As you work to minimize the effects of the chronic condition, make sure to also:
- Enhance your health by eating healthy, exercising, and taking vitamins and minerals.
- Ensure that you sleep an adequate amount each and every night.
- Maintain good posture, brush your teeth regularly, and generally take care of the parts of your body that are still working well.
By keeping up with your health, you avoid any additional health-related expenses that can be easily avoided.
An illness, even a perpetual one, shouldn’t have to stop you from financial success. On the contrary, it’s important to do your homework and then invest boldly. Even in your investments, though, it’s wise to consider each expense and look for ways to make it as efficient as possible, such as:
- Buying a home on a budget by adding up what you can afford, discussing deals with lenders, and looking for government programs to help.
- Taking advantage of employer-matched retirement investments.
- Upgrading an investment, such as a rental home, in effective, affordable ways — like changing hardware or using tile stickers — that won’t hurt your current finances.
Investing proactively yet wisely — even when you’re juggling a chronic disease — is the best way to both defeat a pessimistic financial attitude and avoid falling into a cycle of financial and mental poverty.
Look For Government Aid
Finally, it can be financially beneficial to search for government aid. You can do this in two primary ways:
- By looking for tax write-offs, such as energy star rebates or child credits that can help offset your medical expenses.
- Considering your eligibility for programs such as Medicaid and Medicare, and when to sign up, both of which may be able to help you manage your persistent expenses.
While the specific write-offs and programs will vary in each area, looking for the best government aid and write-off possible can help to keep your finances in the black.