A Few Financial Planning Questions for People with Fibromyalgia

Thursday, June 21, 2007

By: Kate Jones

Reprinted from FMOnline


Everyone struggles with financial planning—just look at all the books and magazines published on the topic. For those of us with fibromyalgia, or any chronic illness, making decisions about finances can seem overwhelming. Here are ten questions to help you get started:

1. Is ‘fibro-fog’ affecting your ability to make financial decisions?

Making major decisions requires a clear head, yet we often forget that minor decisions can have a profound impact on our financial health. If you suffer from ‘fibro-fog,’ you may not even realize that you forgot to pay a bill or are making subtraction errors in your checkbook. Trying to analyze your health insurance options or other more complex tasks may be impossible. If you are having trouble with day-to-day financial tasks, ask a family member or friend to help out.

2. Are you compromising your health because you cannot afford to visit your doctor?
Going to the doctor is expensive, but the long-term cost of not going will be greater. You will miss symptom and medication monitoring, possible new treatment options, and an objective look at your health. Ask the office manager about payment options. Another alternative is to participate in a research study as a way of getting medical care. (You can find studies athttp://www.fmaware.org/ in the research section and http://www.clinicaltrials.gov/)

3. Are you compromising your health because you cannot afford prescription medication?
Discuss alternatives with your doctor. Is the benefit from a newer drug worth the added cost? Are sample packs available so you can try a new drug before purchasing a month’s supply? Is a generic available? Some drug manufacturers have programs to assist people who cannot afford their medications; check with your pharmacist.
4. Do you have, or can you get, affordable health insurance?

Private health insurance is prohibitively expensive; last year I was given a quote of $2200.00 per month for minimal coverage! Affordability is the key here. Can you get insurance through your employer? Do you have a spouse or domestic partner whose employer offers health insurance for family members? Online, visit Kiplinger Personal Finance’s article, “Your Own Health Insurance” for advice on purchasing private insurance. http://www.kiplinger.com/

5. Are you taking good care of yourself physically and emotionally?

Planning for wellness, not just illness, has benefits far beyond the physical. Medical bills are one of the leading causes for personal bankruptcy, so doing what you can to stay healthy only makes sense. Walking, for example, is a free activity which lessens the chances that you will develop diabetes or arthritis—thus improving your health and saving you health care costs, lost days of work, and so forth.

6. Is there someone you trust to discuss financial plans with?
Certified financial planners can do this, but a trusted family member may be the first person you want to talk to. Be honest, and don’t forget that fibro-fog may be affecting you (see number 1 above).

7. Are you planning for the future?

If you are working, are you contributing to a 401-K or other plan? Have you considered the pros and cons of long-term care insurance? The federal government has publications on these topics available online and in print form, as do other organizations such as Consumer @ction and AARP. (See http://www.consumerreports.org/ and http://www.consumer-action.org/)

8. Are you spending more than you can afford?
We’re addicted to credit and to having things now. The movement to simplify your life stems, in part, from a desire to stop the credit merry-go-round. Can’t figure out where your money goes? Get a notebook and write down every cent you spend; just writing it down will help you curb impulse spending. If you have concerns about your spending habits, the federal government has publications to assist you. (See “Taking Control of Your Finances.”http://www.pueblo.gsa.gov/ )

9. Is your health so compromised that you should be on disability?
The National Fibromyalgia Association provides information about disability issues, including a special focus in an issue of FMOnline. Getting disability from the Social Security Administration is not easy and takes perseverance, but can ease your financial problems if you succeed.

10. Are you expecting to make any major life changes in the near future?
Retirement, becoming a parent, getting married, moving, getting divorced, changing jobs—the list is long, and every change can have serious ramifications for your financial health. Will you have health insurance after your divorce? Does your new employer offer it? Look before you make changes. Ask questions. Plan carefully.