This is a guest post written by Kristina Schnack Kotlus from kristinakotlus.com as part of our home success series.
Today’s success story talks about a significant issue in today's society. How can you prepare for an emergency medical diagnosis (like cancer) before you find yourself in that position?
Kristina can help you figure out how to build a medical fund, why that is so important and what expenses you’ll need to consider should you find yourself with an emergency medical diagnosis.
If you want to start a budget so you can figure out how to save four your rainy day medical fund you can grab the FREE 90-day Budget Bootcamp here to get started…
My name is Kristina, and I am a two-time brain cancer survivor! We were so fortunate to come out the other side of our experience mostly unscathed- but I would still like to give you guys a financial heads up on things I hope you’ll never need to know- how to plan for a rainy day medical fund, if you will.
Why You Need A Medical Fund
There were so many things we didn’t even know to plan for with my initial diagnosis, but there were some we could have done better. For example, we all know what our per-person maximum is on our insurance, and it’s a good idea to have double that in an account that you do not touch.
Why double? Well, Murphy’s law says that you’ll get sick right before the end of the insurance year and you’ll end up maxing out two times. While an HSA is great- you probably can’t roll it over from one year to the next, so just make sure you have it available in case you need it.
My MRIs, which I get every 6-8 weeks, are $30,000 each, so we know we’re going to use every drop of insurance coverage I have, making our max HSA contribution a sure thing.
Next, we were very lucky to have a barrage of food brought to our door- but it’s important to know that there will still be expenses out of pocket if someone gets sick.
I was in the hospital for 2 weeks after my initial brain surgery, so my husband ate a lot of hospital food. He made sure to find out about parking discounts– most hospitals offer a long-term rate, a cancer rate, or a daily treatment rate, and they can save you a lot of money.
Additional Expenses To Think About
Parking isn’t cheap and it can really add up! In addition to your per person maximum, plan on $40/day for your spouse for parking and food knowing that some treatments can take up to a month– and that’s if you don’t have to account for a babysitter- which we were fortunate not to!
Do make sure to ask the hospital you are at if they have a social worker who can help you find any special deals. Is there a Ronald McDonald House nearby (child treatment only)? Is there a hotel that gives a medical rate? Ask for any help you can get and don’t be embarrassed at all! If you’re commuting to treatment, don’t forget gas, too!
Finally, we ended up having to travel for my treatment from our home in Manassas, VA to Duke Cancer Center. We were able to check out Caring House (a McDonald House for adults) but ultimately took advantage of hotels so our children could visit.
Because my husband is the only responsible credit card owner I know, he ended up getting a Brand Specific Hotel Rewards Credit Card. He paid the card off monthly, but we got so many free nights and cash back rewards with our hotel stay for my cancer, we were even able to do a free week at the beach when I was better.
Ask For A Discount
When I relapsed in 2017 our kids came with us and we rented a house on Air B&B. We asked for a medical rate, and the people renting the home were very kind and gave us an extended stay discount (6 weeks- the length of my radiation treatment) and a medical rate. Don’t be afraid to ask!
Another thing to ask for? Ask your doctor if there are medication rebates and ask your pharmacist, too! Also, call your insurance company and ask about specialty pharmacy orders by mail. You can save a lot of money, and if you’re talking Chemo, you can be talking about a savings of tens of thousands of dollars.
I hope that you never need to have your “Rainy Day Medical Fund.” But in case you do, I hope this gets you started planning!