Managing MS may include navigating a unique set of personal finance challenges—from healthcare costs and co-pays, to long-term investments. It may seem like a lot to keep track of, but just know that you’re not alone. Be sure to reach out to whatever resources you have available, whether that’s family, friends or the human resources department at work. Here are just a few ways to get a handle on your healthcare costs:

Choosing Your Healthcare Plan

This can be a serious challenge because of all the things you need to consider – costs, premiums, deductibles, maximum out-of-pocket expenses, co-pays, and “in network” doctors that cater to your particular needs. It’s also important to make sure that all the prescription drugs you need are covered.

Now is the time to reach out to whatever resources are open to you. Your doctor is a great place to start. He/she may have some valuable insights to share before making such a big decision.

If you’re working, you should have a conversation with your company’s benefits representative. This should be a purely confidential discussion, and you can ask just to make sure. Your human resources department can connect you with the representative. It’s best to make an appointment and bring a list of medical expenses from the previous year so that you can work together to hone in on the best options.

Tap Into Employee Assistance Programs

Many companies have implemented Employee Assistance Programs to provide their employees with confidential, professional, one-on-one, short-term counseling for personal and work/life issues. These might include identifying and resolving personal concerns, including, but not limited to, health, marital, family, financial, alcohol, drug, legal, emotional, stress, or other personal issues that may affect job performance. In some cases, the programs are even made available for benefit-ineligible employees and their dependents.

Start a Health Savings Account

If your plan has a high-deductible policy, open a Health Savings Account (HSA) and contribute to it regularly (automatic deposits from your main bank account make for one less thing to remember). Your HSA acts as a great buffer for any out-of-pocket health expenses

If you’re working, talk to your company’s benefits representative about tax-deferred and flexible spending healthcare accounts, which you can contribute to regularly with pre-taxed income. This can be a great buffer for any unforeseen medical expenses. Money deposited into an employee’s FSA is not subject to payroll taxes, which can make for a substantial payroll tax savings. However, some of these accounts are “use it or lose it,” so it’s important that you set up an investment plan that most closely fits your needs.

Medical Tax Deductions

Keep a record of your medical expenses. These may be deductible. The IRS makes the stipulation: “You may deduct only the amount of your medical and dental expenses that is more than 7.5% of your adjusted gross income.” (See www.irs.gov Publication 502.)

Keep a record of mileage for medical reasons, and any health items you’ve needed to purchase. These may be deductible. Organize your medical bills into a folder by the date you received the medical treatment (“Date of Service”), so they’re easier to reference later.

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