Managing money when you have a chronic condition

Woman look at papers for chronic disease management article

There is plenty you have to manage with a chronic condition, such as your diet, medications and activities. But what about your finances? Knowing your overall financial picture may help you feel more in charge of your life.

Plan a budget. Use a budget to divide your monthly income between bills, groceries, medical expenses, fun, and savings. This way you can take a regular look at your expenses. It may also serve as a foundation to long-term planning. There are plenty of budgeting calculators online to help you get started. With a budget in place, you may be better prepared for moments when you have unexpected medical costs or your income changes if you’re unable to work for an extended period of time.

Know your health insurance. Get a copy of your health insurance coverage from your employer and flip through it to refresh your memory. Ask your employer or benefits provider questions if you need help clearly understanding certain insurance terms and what you pay out of your own pocket. You may also discover that visits to nutritionists, acupuncturists or other therapies are covered in some way. And don’t forget to ask if there are any other options that may help you manage your ongoing medical expenses.

The IRS may be your best friend (really). Your healthcare costs may be tax-deductible—including miles traveled and parking—so keep your receipts organized. Check out the list of medical expenses that qualify under IRS guidelines. You may find it helps to write your expenses on your calendar as they happen; or you can add each item as you pay for it to the grand total, so you don’t have to add it all up at once. Ask a friend or family member to help get you started.

In case of emergency. You may also want to prepare a list of instructions for a trusted friend or family member that includes where to find important health and financial information in case of an emergency.

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