Photo credit: Louis Leray

Photo credit: Louis Leray

Cancer. Stroke. Broken bones.

Every day, thousands of Americans find themselves on the receiving end of these diagnoses.

While such health challenges are never fun to confront, the diagnosis is just the first of a “one-two” punch.  First, you have to work with your medical providers to treat your condition. Second, you must pay for it.

If you have health insurance, you may think – “No sweat, I’m covered.”  But are you?

The odds are high that you may have significantly less of a financial safety net than you think. That’s because health conditions bring with them a variety of costs, many of which are not covered by traditional “major medical” health insurance.

As a financial advisor, three classic examples of these costs that I see are:

  1. Deductibles and co-pays (i.e. the portion under your health insurance contract that you are expected to pay out of your own pocket)
  2. Related expenses such as transportation to follow-up medical appointments
  3. Your ongoing household expenses that will continue to pile up even if you are ill and unable to work (think: rent/mortgage, car payments, utilities)

Add these three items, and the “True Cost” of many common medical conditions is enough to make your head spin.  To get a sense of how staggering these numbers can be, visit

For example, if you are a 35-year old female with a moderate case of breast cancer and an average level of major medical health insurance, you could see a total price tag of $75,000+ for the above three items. (And yes, this is AFTER adjusting for what your “health insurance” would cover).

Even something as seemingly “simple” as say a broken leg could carry a price tag –after adjusting for what your major medical insurance would cover – in the range of $10,000.  Worse, if you have an ongoing condition such as diabetes, that out-of-pocket cost can shift from an annual one-time payment to an ongoing annual expense! (In case you are wondering, that price tag can top $11,000 PER year).

How can you protect yourself?  This is where a supplemental, guaranteed-renewable disability insurance such as that offered by Aflac (a company I am proud to work with) can help out.  Such policies pick up where your major medical insurance leaves off so these out-of-pocket expenses don’t leave you feeling like you are having an out-of-body experience when it comes time to settle up your bill.