| April 2, 2012

Financially caring for a sick child

There are few things worse for a parent than watching a child develop a serious illness or disability. Most parents want their children to have access to the best medical care possible, but what happens when hospital and clinic bills start to add up? Many parents may turn to home equity until this option dries up, and then be forced to rely on credit or personal loans. Over time, this can lead to significant credit card debt and endanger their finances and homes. The financial scenario of taking care of an ill or disabled child can be difficult for parents, but there are several steps they can take to find an affordable solution.

First and foremost, parents should consider entering into financial counseling to speak with a professional who has experience with these situations. While budgeting will be a key aspect of sound financial planning, adults may also have to rearrange other funds, reconsider their current housing and make other lifestyle decisions. For example, downgrading to a smaller home may free up parents' income if they are facing significant medical bills.

Examining their current insurance coverage and knowing exactly which services their company will and will not pay for is also essential. Many adults may not realize that hospitals also charge different rates for services and treatments, making it crucial to contact different facilities and compare pricing. While it's imperative not to sacrifice quality care for a lower price, it is crucial to conduct reviews of different hospital departments to weigh costs versus services. This can be especially helpful if insurance does not cover certain treatments or services that parents will have to pay out-of-pocket.

There are several of programs that offer financial assistance to parents who are not equipped to cover the costs of care. It's recommended by CNN Money to do thorough research on these programs to find out if the child qualifies and to fill out paperwork quickly and accurately. Parents can seek out programs directly through hospitals and treatment centers, or research online for groups and organizations that offer assistance for certain disorders and illnesses.

Lastly, parents can save significantly by claiming medical expense deductions on their taxes. This write-off allows parents to deduct expenses that exceed 7.5 percent of their adjusted gross income. Costs that can be written off include everything from treatments and medical supplies to transportation and lodging costs. 

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