So, can having an elder law attorney be beneficial to your health? Yes, indeed, it seems.
Actually, it is elementary, my dear Doctor Watson.
Bottom line: Persons who are ill, even seriously ill, do better health-wise when they do not have non-medical stress in their lives.
Legal, financial and health insurance stressor specifically included.
To that end, The National Cancer Legal Services Network (NCLSN) was established in 2009 to increase the availability of legal services for folks dealing with cancer.
The Network connects cancer patients with legal services to help lift their legal burdens and thereby allow the patients to focus on their medical care and quality of life.
As a recent article in the Huffington Post noted, cancer is the second leading cause of death in the U.S.
According to the article, titled “When an Attorney Is the Best Medicine,” there will be about 18.1 million cancer survivors in the U.S. by 2020 and that is 30% more than in 2010.
Although the five-year survival rate for all diagnosed cancers has improved, the rate of cancer diagnosis and the costs of cancer also go up.
It is an expensive disease.
In fact, according to The National Institute of Health, direct medical costs alone will be at least $158 billion by 2020. This represents an increase of 27% over 10 years.
Attending this increase in costs, patients have or will have problems paying for basic food, clothing and shelter.
Not surprisingly, cancer patients with major financial issues are also more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety.
However, attorneys who work with health care professionals can help with many of the non-medical issues that can a patient's person's cancer prognosis and life expectancy.
For example, identifying healthcare coverage options, securing coverage, and assisting patients with resolving disputes with providers are some of the major issues with which attorneys can help.
In addition, on the legal and financial side of the calculus, an elder law attorney can also help with housing, Medicaid (if necessary), Social Security and estate planning issues.
The original article observes that such legal assistance helps patients help themselves.
Experience has shown that those receiving legal services become better self-advocates.
In the end, everyone appears to win with an attorney acting as part of the healthcare team. As a direct consequence, doctors are able to focus on the patient's health.
Fighting cancer alone can make anyone vulnerable. Fighting cancer while dealing with unrelated legal and financial stress can be just too much.
Unfortunately, neither Kansas nor Missouri has an official local NSLSN presence at present, but there are helpful resources for patients, attorneys and healthcare providers on its website.
Regardless where you reside, contact an experienced elder law attorney so you and your loved ones do not face a disease like cancer alone. He or she has knowledge and expertise in Medicare, Medicaid and related legal matters.
To locate an elder law attorney near you, visit the website of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys.
Remember: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” When making your financial, tax and estate plans, do not go it alone. Be sure to engage competent professional counsel.
For more information about estate planning in Overland Park, KS (and throughout the rest of Kansas and Missouri), visit our estate planning website and be sure to subscribe to our complimentary estate planning e-newsletter while you are there.
Reference: Huffington Post (August 14, 2015) “When an Attorney Is the Best Medicine”