Balancing finances while living with an invisible illness
March is Endometriosis awareness month – to help shine a light on the issue we’re teaming up with Standard Life (who are partnered with Endometriosis UK) to discuss some of the financial side effects that can come from living with the condition.
What is Endometriosis?
While many people haven’t heard of it, Endometriosis is a chronic condition that attacks the reproductive system of 1 in 10 women in the UK*. It causes a wide range of symptoms such as; severe pain, fatigue, sickness, migraines to name just a few. As a result of these varied symptoms, it can be very difficult to diagnose – in fact; the average time to secure a diagnosis currently sits at seven and a half years.
The financial side effects
Standard life and Endometriosis UK carried out a series of in-depth interviews with Endometriosis sufferers which brought to light some reoccurring financial side effects caused by the illness:
Part-time work and continued employment
Understandably, when living with an illness, full time or continued employment is not always possible. However, along with the need to step away from the workplace in order to focus on your health, the need to consider additional financial pressures can arise as a result of any associated reduction in earnings.
If you find yourself in this position, there are various options that you could consider when it comes to your finances as certain investments or saving vehicles could be more beneficial than others. For example, the flexible nature of some ISAs could make them more helpful if you experience a change in circumstances. This is solely an example and won’t be right for everyone; you need to be comfortable with taking investment risk for some ISAs and that you might not get back what you pay in. Seeking expert advice can help you find the right solutions for you when it comes to managing your finances.
Private health care
As with many illnesses there can be additional costs when it comes to health care and insurance.
For example, getting diagnosed with Endometriosis can take some time and may mean multiple visits to the doctor. This undoubtedly frustrating search for answers could make private health care an appealing option even though it means additional costs.
Again, if you find yourself in this position there could be ways to make the costs more manageable. For example, if you’re in employment, look to see what employee benefits you’re entitled to. Many employers in today’s employment market offer a wide range of benefits that could include financial aid when it comes to private health care.
Navigating the insurance market can be messy with or without an illness. However, thanks to the recurring nature of Endometriosis, and the potential surgeries that may be required as a form of treatment or to alleviate pain, having the right kind of insurance in place could play a key role in keeping your finances afloat should you be required to pay for health care or experience any reduction of income.
Again some employers offer access to insurance as part of their benefits package – just be sure that what they offer can cover your needs.
Planning for a family
Endometriosis can have a significant impact on quality of life, not just for women with the condition but also for those who are close to them – including partners, family and friends.
While some women with endometriosis conceive naturally, there can be fertility problems associated with the illness which can affect a couple’s long term plans.
For example, as a result of the effects of endometriosis, couples may worry about leaving it too late and therefore try to have children earlier than they would otherwise have done. We’ve all heard the saying that there’s never a right time but it’s worth planning how to deal with any additional financial pressures that could come with moving your timeline forward in this way. For example, that starting a savings plan early could help to deal with any unexpected costs that may arise at a later stage or to fund IVF as access may be limited through NHS. Endometriosis UK also provides a host of useful information and guides on diagnosing and living with the illness.
When planning our futures it’s tempting to envision the best case scenario; it’s human nature. However, things don’t always go to plan. If you are suffering from an illness, aside from seeking the best treatment, taking the right approach to your finances might, in some small way, alleviate some pressure.
If you’re in any doubt, seek expert advice to discuss your options.
Want to know more about Endometriosis?
Standard Life has teamed up with world renowned photographer Rankin and Endometriosis UK to tell the Real Life Stories of women living with endometriosis and their supporters in a new gallery exhibition. You can visit Stills Gallery Edinburgh between 1-8 April or find out more at beyondtheinvisible.co.uk
*Source (1) – https://www.endometriosis-uk.org/endometriosis-facts-and-figures