Medical Procedures and Your Finances

When you use the words “medicine” and “money” in the same sentence, most people — at least in the US — think of the cost of medical insurance, copays and deductibles, that is, the out-of-pocket costs of healthcare that US medical insurance doesn’t cover.

And there’s a lot that isn’t covered. Fidelity Investments has published estimates that couples over age 65 may see an average of $295,000 in medically related expenses that Medicare doesn’t cover. Amazingly, that figure excludes the cost of long term care, and nursing homes in the US can cost as much as $14,000 per month. The person who goes into old age not knowing about that financial risk can be in for a gigantic and very unpleasant shock.

(And for those of you living in other countries and used to complaining about your healthcare system, this might be a moment for reflection.)

However, that’s only part of the story of how medicine impacts your finances.

Think about stents. These are devices inserted typically in an artery when there is a blockage of some type. Some doctors use them routinely. Some medical research questions the value of their use.(3)

Procedure for inserting a stent to open a cardiac artery. Source: Wise Geek

Stents can be used with other organs as well as a treatment for inflammation of various kinds.

The problem is that if you get a cardiac stent inserted into you and then try to buy life insurance —

  1. You might not be able to buy it, or
  2. The amount you can buy may be a lot less than you need, and/or
  3. You might not be able to get certain riders (benefits) included with the insurance, and or
  4. The cost for you if you can get it may increase by 50% or more.

In the US, one of the key values of “life insurance” are “accelerated benefits” which is the ability to use part of the death benefit to fund what Medicare won’t. If you have a stent or a variety of comparable procedures you are no longer eligible for accelerated benefits and the price of the basic insurance goes way up.

Basically, if you need the insurance and get sick first, you end up paying a lot more for less.

Doctors of course when they recommend a procedure won’t tell you that. They may not even know.

It’s on you to plan for what may happen in your future. If you wait for that future to happen, you may find you have little left you can do.



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