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CHD and Our Financial Futures

Monday, November 16, 2015

By Damion Martin

Of all the stresses that come with congenital heart disease, one that doesn’t necessarily sit front and center is the prospect of our financial futures. As a CHD patient, I often look at my financial situation in the present and am consumed with the finer points of insurance coverage and deductibles, and less so with investments.

With my most recent diagnosis of pace-induced heart failure, I was faced with the realization that I hadn’t done much to help my wife and children thrive, should the darkest of days come sooner than expected. I remember driving home with a growing lump in my throat, playing through the scenario of what their lives would look like without me in it.

With ever-increasing deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums, many CHD families may be paying out thousands upon thousands of dollars each year. How, as CHD survivors, can we make smart financial moves to help lessen that burden in the here and now—as well as make an attempt to build a nest egg for our hopeful golden years?

With CHD affecting so many in all walks of life, it is daunting at best to establish a financial strategy when times are often tight. So… I figured I would share our financial strategy with you, with the hope that it might spur conversation on different options we can take advantage of.

I’ve opted in on the guaranteed issue life and long-term disability coverage my employer offers. The contribution per pay period is minimal compared to the benefit this coverage will provide down the road. By getting this through my employer I am guaranteed coverage and am able to avoid the medical underwriting process that is required of plans I would buy myself.

I’ve tried to go down the path of securing life insurance, but have been told more than once that if I were lucky enough to find a provider that would offer it to me, the premiums would be prohibitively expensive. As such, we have increased my wife’s life insurance so our children will be provided for, should something happen to both of us.

We will soon be starting investment accounts for each of our kids and will deposit as much as we can each month—even if that is a seemingly small amount. Over time that will add up, and should our kids need financial assistance for medical care down the road, they will have access to these accounts. Fortunately, neither of our kids have been burdened with serious health concerns that we are yet aware of, so they will be able to use these funds to pay for educational costs down the road, or as seed money for a car, house, etc.

With regard to healthcare, we max out our Flexible Spending Account (FSA) every year, knowing that we are going to spend that money anyway. With the pre-tax contribution, that saves us a pretty decent chunk of money in taxes each year.

If your employer doesn’t offer an FSA option and you have a high-deductible insurance plan, look into a Health Savings Account (HSA) where you can contribute up to a maximum of $6,650 for a family in 2015 ($3,350 for an individual). Deposits are tax-deductible and can be withdrawn for qualified medical expenses tax free. Further, that money can be invested for growth.

Unfortunately, some options are determined by the programs offered by an employer. As many CHDers find themselves seeking disability benefits, or working for small companies with less than ideal insurance offerings, funds may not stretch far enough for these options to work. What do you do, if anything, to try to plan for you/your family’s financial future? You never know who you might help by sharing your strategy in the comments section below.


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The contents of this blog are presented for informational purposes only, and should not be substituted for professional advice. Always consult your physicians with your questions and concerns.