Managing an unexpected medical expense can be stressful, but there are several steps you can take to help alleviate the financial burden and limit the impact if the unexpected happens.
A good place to start is speaking with a financial advisor at your local credit union, as they may have suggestions, ideas or tips for how to manage your money most effectively. Bow Valley Credit Union, which has branches across the Bow Valley region including Cochrane, Calgary and Banff, is a great place to start. They care about you and your plans, hopes, and dreams and offer convenient access to a full range of financial products and services, as well as personalized and tailored financial advice.
Experts at Bow Valley can advise on the best way to proceed when dealing with an unexpected medical expense. For example, you may need to consolidate debt, tap into savings or investments, or get a loan if needed in order to lessen your stress in the face of medical bills.
There are many ways credit unions can help when the unexpected happens and their financial advisors are ready to offer you the support and advice you need. If you are faced with a medical bill that you don’t know how to pay for, contact Bow Valley Credit Union today. Learn more here.
Here are some other tips for how to manage an unexpected medical expense:
Look at your health insurance coverage
- Check policies for yourself and your spouse (if applicable) to understand what is covered and what isn’t. This will give you a clear idea of what portion of the medical expense you are responsible for. Some of the things to check include:
- Deductibles: the amount you may have to pay upfront before a claim is paid.
- Copayments: a fixed amount for a covered service, paid by a patient to the provider of service before receiving it.
- Coverage limits: the maximum amount covered per person (or per family) over a set period of time such as a year or lifetime.
Review the publicly-funded Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan (AHCIP)
- AHCIP covers the cost of medical services that are deemed necessary. Make sure you know what is included under this plan (as well as by any employer plans you have) and what out-of-pocket costs could be associated with the specific medical treatment you require, such as medications, equipment or follow-up treatments with a specialist. Check the website to determine if you are eligible and learn how to apply.
- Note that there are other government programs that can assist with medical expenses such as the Alberta Adult Health Benefit that covers health benefits for Albertans in low-income households who are pregnant or have high ongoing prescription drug needs, and other programs such as child benefit programs, or supports available for disabled or terminally ill individuals (learn more here).
Talk to your healthcare provider
- Talk to your doctor or other healthcare provider to ensure you understand why you need the treatment, what is involved, the impacts and potential costs. Your doctor may be able to provide you with cost estimates or alternative options that could help reduce the financial burden. You can also try talking to the service provider – especially in advance – to negotiate terms of repayment or see if you are eligible for a discounted treatment.
Get a tax break
- Make use of your Healthcare Spending Account (HSA), if you have access to one through your employer, to set aside pre-tax dollars for use on medical expenses. You can also research if the medical expense can be claimed on your tax return the following year to get some of the money back (learn more here).
Create a budget
- You may need to prioritize the medical expense and make cuts elsewhere in order to proceed, so the best approach is to create a new budget that looks at your overall financial situation. See if you can cut back on discretionary spending to allocate more funds towards the medical bill. You can also look to get help from community groups, charities and other organizations that offer help and support to families and individuals in need to add to your budget if possible.
If you or a loved one is faced with an unexpected medical expense, you’re not alone. Speak to Bow Valley Credit Union or find a local credit union near you here to determine the best way to procced.