25/04/2013 13:41 BST | Updated 25/06/2013 06:12 BST

Financial Burden of Ill Health


Life is hard, even if you don't suffer from ill health; in today's world it's not easy to make ends meet, and usually a household necessities two incomes to uphold a certain standard of living. With the economy worldwide in poor shape, a disabled person, often on a small disability allowance; times can be very tough. There are so many extra expenses when chronically ill, that if one were to chart all these additions, it would be quite shocking, as they add up to a tidy sum. The financial side is generally overlooked, and those fortunate to be blessed with good health, probably don't give it a second thought nor realise it's tremendous effects.

Only disabled and chronically ill persons along with their families, know and understand first hand, how difficult life can be. Financial burden is an issue not often mentioned, since no one wants to admit openly the hardship that frequently goes hand in hand when a person is unable to work due to health reasons. Humiliation and shame at not being able to manage appear to cause great embarrassment, often leaving a family to struggle in silence. Doctors, understandably are primarily concerned with the health of the patient, but I often wonder if they give any thought to this very common and real economic problem.

To give you a few simple examples of what extras a chronically ill patient might incur: just purchasing necessary prescription medications can stretch one's budget to the max. Should one decide to buy additional medicines that require no prescription and are considered 'alternative' or 'holistic', these are usually highly expensive. Then of course, special equipment may be required, such as: walking sticks, crutches, wheel chair, hand rails for bathroom, raised toilet seat, electric bed, heating pads, good orthopaedic shoes or house slippers with proper support and so on. The list is long; but you get the picture!

There is also the matter regarding loss of spouse or caregiver's income when required to spend the day in hospital with the person who is not well. Often little or no time to prepare food and drink for the day, one ends up spending more money in the hospital cafeteria which is usually expensive and not particularly nutritious. The amount of time, energy and lost income when attending various doctor's appointments, tests and filling prescriptions at the pharmacy is unimaginable.

One expense that really makes my blood boil is car parking charges in medical centers and hospital car parks. Let's face it, no one visiting a hospital or medical facility goes there for the sheer fun of it. It's not a pleasurable day out; you didn't wake up one morning and think where shall we go today? Why don't we go to the hospital? It's bad enough being ill and requiring a hospital visit, (some unfortunately on a regular basis) but obligated to pay for this 'pleasure' seems ludicrous, if not rather cruel. It's about time these parking charges were dropped.

Much time is spent contacting various authorities when chronically ill and in need of assistance. The amount of running around, bureaucratic forms to be filled out not just by your doctor, but an array of health officials, takes precious time. If the person who is ill isn't capable of dealing with this paperwork alone or can't get to the appropriate offices by themselves, the responsibility lands on the shoulders of the spouse who brings in the sole income for the family, who has to once again take time off work.

We've all heard the saying "money can't buy health or happiness", and this couldn't be more true. However, I must confess that having money would make life so much easier and just a little less fraught when chronically ill by alleviating the financial burden. Marriage can become challenging when financial anxiety and strain is brought into the equation. This monetary problem can also cause a couple great difficulty in getting a mortgage, and in my case, no insurance company is willing to give me a life insurance policy.

I am in the strange position of being worth more alive than dead! (what a cheery encouraging thought). The insurance companies presume I'm a bad risk and think they know something the doctors do not. I will not be defeated by pessimistic insurance businesses; if anything this strengthens my verve for I aim to prove them wrong. I intend to live a full long life, and maybe someone with heart will "Take a Chance on Me"! (as the song by ABBA goes).