5 Things Singaporeans Don’t Know About End-of-Life Planning
Unforeseen expenses can turn palliative care for a family member substantially costly. Keep in mind the following points in this article to make sure you don’t get into a personal financial crisis.
It doesn’t matter how medicine has added to our life spans, we all have to face the fact that death is inevitable. In the last months and years as our family members await this inevitability, the last thing we need is to be stressed over finances.
Thus, it is crucial to be prepared financially during the aging years of our family members and dependents. Here are a few things to take note of.
Insurance Does Not Automatically Cover Palliative Care Equipment
Completely the opposite of popular notions, palliative care is not for those who are just going to breathe the last breath. Palliative care is typically done with medical treatments for those who still have hope and are trying to recover.
That being said, an important variable that has typically been neglected is the prohibitive expense of palliative care. In case a dying person chooses to be at home, this would mean renting medical equipment like a dialysis machine, oxygen tanks, etc. Mostly these medical devices are more easily accessible in a hospital or a treatment center.
However, there are some insurance policies that cover treatment costs only when a patient is in a hospital or a treatment center. The insurance policy may not cover medical equipment rental for palliative care. This means out of pocket expenses for you.
Seniors’ Mobility and Enabling Fund (SMF) is for Singaporean seniors requiring accessibility and mobility devices for independent living. SMF subsidies is only provided through application form. For each device category application is only once per lifetime.
So if you have a seriously ill family member and they choose to spend their last days at home, quickly consult a financial advisor. If your insurance policy does not include home palliative care, you have to plan for the expenses accordingly.
Getting a Caregiver May Be Required
A lot of families make the wrong assumption that they can take care of their dying loved ones on their own. In actuality, it is not that simple.
Particular illnesses would mean loss of ability to be coherent or to communicate. Let’s take this example. Alzheimer’s at their advanced stages would indicate that your family member could no longer recognize you and they may often appear agitated or angry. This can be challenging to deal with every single day and for a span of many years.
You also need to recognize your limitations physical-wise, especially if you are the main caregiver. It is problematic to always be around, 24/7. In addition, if you’re also elderly, you might put your health at risk having to carry or lift your loved one.
It does not matter how resolute you are at looking after your ailing family member on your own. You have to budget for a caretaker in cases where it becomes a physical challenge for yourself. Wellnurse agency have professional nurses with these kinds of specialties and are experienced with acute healthcare issues. You can also consider home hospice care in Singapore, which is provided by many welfare organizations. But there can be availability issues. HCA Hospice Care, Assisi Hospice and Metta Welfare Association provide free home hospice care however you may require your doctor recommendation to be considered to avail the services.
Medical Expenses Will Considerably Rise
It is a common belief that palliative care is cheaper than medical treatments. This is wrong. Patients who are experiencing strong pain may need more expensive painkillers. Also, patients having a lot of health problems would need an entire drug regimen at a regular basis. So, even if medical expenses will decrease, they may not decrease as initially assumed.
Also be prepared for situations wherein medical expenses might increase in the next few years of illness. For example, a patient with cancer may pay a lower expense in the beginning, by choosing not to get chemotherapy treatment. In future, however, they would need longer stays in the hospital under intensive care or more ambulance trips.
The risks can be lowered with the right and complete life insurance policy or even term insurance (basic). Medishield Life is a basic health insurance plan for Singaporeans to help in payment of large medical bills. Medifund and Medisave are national schemes by government for patients facing financial difficulties. A lot of policies pay out lump sums for terminal illnesses, which will more than cover the expenses. Talk to a financial adviser about the best options of life insurance plans.
Denial Can Be Financially Detrimental
There is a hidden danger to end-of-life care. Research has shown that when family members have incurable illnesses or conditions, denial is the first response.
It doesn’t matter how prosaic you are, reality will just strike you. A lot of families go for the more expensive and aggressive interventions. There are some cases that they even fall for scams like fake miracles.
These situations are worsened if the patient is unable to communicate or fail to declare intend. What in cases of coma?Deciding on whether they should continue to be in life support or die can be very intimidating.
Doctors will continue with their medical care if there is no Do-Not-Resuscitate or DNR order that has been signed or if the family does not consent to end the treatment. Nevertheless, each month of medical care racks up the medical bills. Eventually, insurance benefits will also run out.
It is beneficial to discuss such scenarios and be prepared. Families would get past their denial and take the necessary steps if a dying patient has already made their intentions known earlier on.
Bad Credit is Problematic
There are unanticipated expenses when you’re caring for a dying family member. Ranging from international travels for experimental treatment to emergency room visits, there are so many unknown factors. Even if you save up to 6 months of your expenses, this might not be enough. You may be in a situation wherein you do not just have to pay for medical treatment, but you also have to deal with a lowered income (you might have to go for a lower-paying job so you have more hours at home with your loved one, to give them the care that they need).
There is a high probability that you may need to get a loan from the bank. So, if you pay your credit cards late, this could be detrimental to getting more credit.
Banks might deny your loan application in case it sees that you have already applied for many large loans recently. So how does your chances increase of getting loan? Well, you need to have a proven track record of paying your bills and loan on time through many years. Check at credit bureau for options to obtain credit report. The credit report is important record of your payment history compiled by various credit providers.
It would be really painful if you were denied the loan meant for a big operation, which could have prolonged your loved one’s life. You have to make sure that you are being responsible with your credit, so when you most need it, it is there for you and your family.
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