How to Manage End of Life Medical Expenses

There comes a moment in everyone’s life when it becomes clear the end may be near. This is never a moment you want to...
a person writing on a piece of paper

There comes a moment in everyone’s life when it becomes clear the end may be near. This is never a moment you want to recognize. Even though death is inevitable, it can still be difficult to talk about and sad to consider when a loved one is reaching the end of their life. This is an incredibly delicate time where emotions can be running high for you as a caregiver and for the individual reaching the end of their life. While you want to focus on getting them the absolute best care possible, there is still the financial element to consider when discussing the end of life care.

Sadly, dying can be a costly affair in the United States. No matter what treatment plan you pursue, there are going to be high costs of medications, professional assistance, and hospital bills. Managing everything can seem overwhelming, especially when the costs are piling up and you don’t necessarily know where to turn. Luckily, there are plenty of options, like Medicare, Medicaid, and other insurance providers, that will help with these medical bills. Beyond that, there are simple steps you can take to lower costs and make smart financial decisions as well as loving treatment decisions. This is a difficult process all around, but with compassion, communication, and dedication, you can help your loved one move on without worry about leaving a financial burden behind. Helping to manage these end of life medical expenses may be the most loving last gift you can give that special person in your life.

Know what you need.

Before you begin a treatment plan and consider how to pay for it, you need to decide what treatment will be best for the patient. This is a time for complete transparency between you, your loved one, and the doctors. You may feel inclined to “sugar coat” it, but the more honest you can be, the more autonomy they will have over how they want their end of life care to go.

There are a few different options for end of life care. Palliative care is when you are taken care of by nurses and caregivers as doctors put together a treatment plan to find a cure for your condition. On the other hand, hospice care is when nurses, volunteers, family, or spiritual leaders work to make you as comfortable as possible during your final days. Rather than actively pursuing a cure, this path prioritizes comfort at the end while accepting that death is near. Once you decide which option to pursue, you will have the option to have your loved one stay in a hospital, seniors nursing home, or at your residence. Each will come with different medical expenses and costs for you to consider. Wherever you choose, be sure it is the best option for you and your loved one to be the most at peace and comfortable.

Rely on your health insurance.

Medicare and Medicaid spend a lot of money each year taking care of end of life costs. When you’re managing your expenses, speak with your insurance agent to see what your Medicare plan can offer you. You pay into these health plans for your whole life so that you can get financial assistance as a policyholder when you need it most. Various states will have different rules for terminal illness and Medicare advantage. Check quotes for medicare insurance to see what your deductible will be and find a health plan with lower out of pocket costs. This can be an important step to take when you suspect the end may be near. It can be difficult to enter into a Medicare contract or new insurance policy when you already know your medical expenses are going to be high. If Medicare isn’t the answer for you, there are other private insurance providers in the secondary market that can also help cover your end of life costs. Remember, this is what they’re there for. Speaking to your insurance provider should be your first step in managing the end of life expenses.

Consider viatical settlements.

In the event of a terminal illness, you may need quick cash to help with your medical condition. This is where viaticals settlements from American Life Fund can be beneficial. Rather than waiting for a payout on your life insurance policy after death, viatical settlement brokers will offer you a lump sum of money in exchange for your life insurance. As a policyholder, you have the flexibility to cover your medical care costs now rather than wait for a death benefit later. Discuss this option with your loved ones to see if the viatical settlement process may be in your best interest.

Prepare for at-home care.


If you choose to treat your loved one at home, there are costs and preparation involved with an at-home health plan. Consider how to prepare your home as a service area for medical needs. Depending on the state of the patient, you may need ventilators, monitors, and medicines to administer to them during their final days. When you’re paying for medical supplies, look for the best offer, and check your eligibility for discounts. An at-home pharmacy may be a lot to set up, so what additional information can you get to help lower the purchase price while keeping your loved one comfortable?

Get discounted prescriptions.

Medicine is a huge expense, especially if you need several different pills during the end of life care. There are plenty of prescription drug plan apps and websites that offer you coupons and discounts on any medications. Put your treatment in good hands by lowering costs, giving yourself more financial options, and working to maintain good health for as long as possible.

More is not always better.

When you’re desperately trying to save a terminally ill patient, you can be interested in every experimental procedure and medical option. However, adding up medical care also increases your medical bills. If you’re needing a lot of financial help because you’re trying multiple treatment plans, it may be time to simplify. More is not always better. Especially when treatment is going to cause more stress and pain for your loved one.


Sometimes, it is simpler and more affordable to try a few specific treatments. Then, if they aren’t successful, it may be time to make the brave decision to stop. This can be the hardest decision you are ever asked to make. Consult with your loved one who is nearing the end of their life to learn their wishes. They may be tired and exhausted from treatment and ready to let go. When someone has made that difficult decision, it is time for you to focus on hospice care and getting them as comfortable as possible. Stop shelling out premium payments on experimental medical plans when it is in their best interest to let them pass on peacefully.

Give yourself grace as a caretaker.

Taking care of a dying loved one is an emotionally, physically, and mentally exhausting process. You want to make sure they are taken care of and shown love until the very end. On top of that, you’re worried about insurance premiums and payment plans. Give yourself time and space to rest when you need it. Take moments to enjoy your last days with the individual who is so special to you. Focus on the relationships rather than the money, because in the end, that is the most important thing.

Sam Fisher joined Urban Tulsa as a contributing writer, before taking on the associate editor role. He graduated is a Boston University graduate and resides in Austin, Texas.