Preparation For Health Needs
Each of us faces illness from time to time. We can and should do what we can to prevent illness. However, we also can prepare for when illness does occur.
Preparation for illness has two components 1) financial preparation for the costs, and 2) legal preparation for decision making authority. The preparation for the costs of illness includes savings through traditional means, such as savings accounts, and obtaining health insurance to help defray the costs. There is also a new method of saving to pay for the costs of illnesses Health Savings Accounts or HSAs.
In order to be eligible for an HSA, you must be covered by a high deductible health insurance program, otherwise known as catastrophic health insurance. Your deductible must be over $1,110 in 2007. If you qualify, you can contribute the amount of your health insurance deductible up to $2,850. Your contributions build up tax-free until or unless they are needed.
Your contributions to the HSA can be taken as an “above the line” deduction on your income tax return. In other words, you do not have to itemize deductions in order to take this deduction. This is important because typically medical expense deductions are only allowable as deductions if you itemize your deductions and then only to the extent your medical deductions exceed 7.5% of your adjusted gross income.
The number of people eligible for HSAs has tripled in less than a year. The number is expected to quintuple again by 2010, so that 10% of all insured will qualify. If you qualify by having a high deductible plan, a supplemental HSA is a prudent way to save money for medical expenses on a tax-free basis. For more information on Health Savings Accounts visit http //www.treas.gov/offices/public-affairs/hsa/.
Once you have the money socked away to cover illness, you still have to address the legal issues. You need to appoint someone to make health care decisions for you in case you become unable to make your own decisions. A Health Care Power of Attorney serves this purpose. You appoint an agent to make decisions for you when you are unable to do so for yourself. By appointing such an agent, you can rest assured that your health care decisions will be in the hands of someone you trust.
As a part of this process you can also do an “Advanced Health Directive” or “Living Will” to express your wishes regarding what to do if you are terminal and cannot make end of life decisions. You will also want to consider signing a “Medical Authorization” form (HIPAA) giving your loved ones access to your medical information.
With the financial and legal aspects addressed, you can focus even more on preventing illness by reducing stress and living life to the fullest. A qualified estate planning attorney can help you address the financial and legal aspects of protecting against illness.
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