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We Need to Talk About the Financial Impact of Being a Spoonie


The emotional toll of chronic illness is well-known, but what is perhaps less explored is the economic impact. Insurance is a beautiful thing, if you have access to it. Even if you do have insurance, however, being chronically ill can still make quite a dent in your bank account.

To start, there are still lots of costs associated with doctor’s visits, even if you are insured. There are copays for the visit or procedure, copays for any medicine you may need, and possible transportation costs. If you need to see a specialist, you might have to spend money on a plane or train ticket, or at least on gas money for a far car trip.

Then there’s the regular medical expenses that can vary depending on how your health is progressing and what your exact condition(s) requires you to buy. This can include supplies like bandages, over the counter medications, and other medical supplies.

If you have to be on a special diet, that also comes with its fair share of costs. Certain diet-friendly groceries are more expensive, such as gluten-free products.

All of these costs start to add up. In order to pay for these growing health expenses, the logical step would be to work more or find a higher-paying job (or one with better insurance benefits).

This is where the backwards logic of “spoonie economics” comes into play. You need to spend more money, but because of your illness you might have to work less, or not at all. Or, you might have a steady job, but because of doctors appointments or having to take off too many days, you might risk losing your job.

Less income and more expenses is not a very good combination, obviously, and can lead to a lot of stress. The problem is that stress, in turn, is not good for healing.

It’s a vicious cycle, and one that I have personally experienced and am still dealing with. There isn’t an obvious solution here, but I think that compassion can go a long way. If you know someone who is chronically ill and trying to make ends meet at the same time, show them patience and understanding, instead of frustration.

Really, we all should be more understanding of each other, since we all have day to day struggles, but this is just one thing to keep in mind.

If you are on the other side, like me, and are dealing with expenses and illness, it’s important to know that you aren’t the only one struggling. As we head into 2017, my hope is that things get easier for those with hardships in both their health and their finances.

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