Six Key Things You Need to Know During Open Enrollment

Open enrollment for plans sold in the Marketplaces started yesterday and we have Six Key Things to Know Open Enrollmentbeen hearing that there is still a lot of confusion. As a reminder, open enrollment is the time of year consumers can shop for a new plan or make changes to existing plans. For Marketplace and Medicare plans the plan won’t start until January 1, 2018. Employer plans may have different start dates, so check with your employer. Here are six key things you need to know during open enrollment:

  1. Health insurance can be confusing.
    1. Make sure you understand the key terms used in your health insurance policy. Watch our new video – Triage Cancer Presents: Health Insurance Basics to learn more. This information is useful regardless of where you get your health insurance coverage.
  2. Financial assistance still exists for most people who purchase plans in the marketplace.
    1. For 2018, 8 in 10 people have Marketplace health insurance options for $75 or less, a month. This is mostly due to the premium tax credits available to people based on their income level.
    2. Even though the Administration has said that they will no longer pay the insurance companies back for providing cost-sharing subsidies (aka cost-sharing reductions), the insurance companies still have to provide those discounts to consumers.
  3. Individuals shopping for insurance (regardless of where they get it – Medicare, employers, private companies), should be sure to do the math when comparing options!
    1. Often times we only look at the monthly premium of a plan. However, to accurately determine what a plan with cost you for the year, you have to do the math! Assuming that a consumer will reach their out-of-pocket maximum during the year, the way to do the math is to multiply the monthly premium by 12, then add that amount to the plan’s out-of-pocket maximum. You may be surprised to find that the bronze plan may not be your most affordable option.
    2. Consumers should also look at the network of doctors and hospitals, the other costs (e.g., co-payments, deductibles, etc.), and prescription drug coverage.
    3. For more information on how to pick a plan watch our webinar, Choosing Wisely: How to Pick an Insurance Plan or visit
  4. Individuals who are eligible for Medicare are not eligible to purchase plans in the Marketplace. Visit for more information about plan options.
  5. Be wary of short-term health insurance plans.
    1. These plans may look attractive based on their low cost, but they are not considered creditable coverage and when they end, consumers typically aren’t eligible for a special enrollment period to buy a plan in the Marketplaces, which could leave them with a gap in coverage. Additionally, they do not have to include the consumer protections in the ACA and may be able to charge people with cancer more, or exclude covering cancer treatments.
  6. Open enrollment dates may vary depending on where you live.
    1. The federally run Marketplace will be open from November 1 – December 15; however, some states have extended their open enrollment periods.
    2. There are also some extensions available for people who were affected by the recent hurricanes. (see the link above)

Using Online Crowdfunding to Raise Financial Help for Cancer Care

Triage-Cancer-Blog-CrowdfundingIn recent years, online crowdfunding has become a major industry for those hoping to raise financial support for themselves or loved ones when medical expenses become too big a burden. As crowdfunding has gained in popularity, several issues have arisen regarding regulations and tax and financial implications.

If you already qualify for Medicaid or other government benefit or financial assistance programs, it is important to make sure any money raised through crowdfunding or donations does not push your income beyond the eligibility threshold for your current financial assistance. As some people have learned, this collection of money counts as income, which can cause a person to lose state and federal benefits on many things, like healthcare and food programs.

One other area to be aware of is related to privacy and disclosure of a cancer diagnosis. If you are not disclosing to family, friends, or an employer, then you want to think about how to raise funds while still protecting your privacy. For more information around privacy and disclosure decisions, watch this webinar:

Even though there can be some potential pitfalls to using online crowdfunding if you are not careful, it can still provide a great deal of help when medical and other related costs become overwhelming.

Some tips for creating a successful funding page include: creating a strong appeal using details and a clear description, using pictures and videos, and building trust with your potential donors. One organization, HelpHOPELivem, is a nonprofit that verifies the validity of donation requests on behalf of a patient, while also streamlining the process for the patient or loved one who has started the campaign.

There are many different crowdfunding sites, but here are a few that are often used for medical bills and healthcare:

  1. GiveForward
  2. GoFundMe
  3. Indiegogo Life
  4. YouCaring
  5. HelpHOPELive
  6. Crowdrise
  7. Crowdfunder
  8. FundRazr
  9. StartACure

While selecting a crowdfunding source, be sure to check out the fees collected by each site. GoFundMe and GiveForward charge 5% of each donation and an extra 3% as a processing fee. Crowdrise offers a 3% pricing guarantee including credit card fees and HelpHOPELive charges a 4% fee with an additional 3% for credit card processing. YouCaring takes about a 3% processing fee. Depending on your needs many of these sites will provide the platform you need to reach a large audience of donors.

Ultimately, the best thing you can do is make sure you are well informed about any of the implications raising money through crowdfunding may have on your ability to qualify for other resources.

If you are a donor who wants to donate to a medical crowdfunding page, make sure that the page is reliable or belongs to someone you know and if possible see if you can provide support in a different way. Material items, such as food, furniture, clothing, and gift cards do not apply to household income. For loved ones who want to create a crowdfunding page for someone diagnosed with cancer, make sure that you have talked with them about their privacy preferences, and sought out individualized tax, financial, or legal advice to ensure that you won’t jeopardize their ability to qualify for other resources or programs, such as Medicaid.



West Coast Conference on Work & Cancer

Triage Cancer is excited to partner with Cancer and Careers for the first-ever West Coast Conference on Work & Cancer, next Friday, November 13th!

This free, daylong event explores the challenges of balancing treatment and recovery withWest Coast Conference Flyer 2015 employment and is open to patients, survivors, healthcare professionals* and anyone else touched by cancer.

Our CEO, Joanna Morales, and Rebecca Nellis, chief mission officer of Cancer and Careers will present on topics including:

  • Disclosure
  • Working through treatment
  • Health insurance options
  • Legal issues
  • Job-search
  • …and more!

Below are more details about the event. Space is filling up, so be sure to register today!

Date: Friday, November 13, 2015
Time: 8:30 AM – 4:30 PM (breakfast & lunch provided)
Location: The Center at Cathedral Plaza, 555 W. Temple St., Los Angeles (Free parking)

Website for more information:

*Free CEUs are available for oncology nurses and social workers.

If you’re in the Midwest, save the date for our Midwest Conference on Work & Cancer on Friday, April 8th in Chicago!

Getting Good Financial Advice Regarding Your Divorce

We know that a cancer diagnosis doesn’t come with a pause button on life, and that often individuals are forced to cope with difficult life changes in the midst of treatment and recovery.  Today we share some expert advice from financial planner Kristi Sullivan about how to deal with divorce and finances.


Financial Advice Divorce Triage Cancer BlogIf you are going through or contemplating a divorce, first of all, I’m sorry.  That is a terrible time for all involved.

Other than custody of minor children, the biggest sticking point is how to divide assets.

There are financial planners who have extra education in this area and the most recognized certification is CDFA (Certified Divorce Financial Analyst™).   I do not hold this designation, but I do believe it’s important to engage the services of a CDFA™ so that your settlement makes the most sense from a financial and tax standpoint.  Lawyers won’t be the best guides for that.

Here is an article to make you aware of some pitfalls and strategies when dividing assets in a divorce.

If these topics sound like they would be of interest to your employees, sales conference, or professional organization, contact me at 303-324-0014 or for more information.

The post Getting Good Financial Advice Regarding Your Divorce appeared first on Sullivan Financial Planning.

How do I Find a Financial Planner?

Back again to share more expert financial advice is Kristi Sullivan!  Today she is sharing practical information about how to go about finding a financial planner.


Finding a financial planner can seem like a scary process.  Kind of like finding a Finding a Financial Planner Triage Cancer Bloghairdresser, but the hairdresser decision is MUCH more important.  You have similar questions in the relationship.  Will I be listened to?  Is this person competent and experienced? Will the result leave me confident or depressed?  Will he/she try to upsell me products I don’t need to pad his/her commission check?

So, then, the finding of the right planner (and hairdresser) takes a little trial and error, requests for recommendations from your friends, and, could require a change occasionally.

Referrals are the most common way that people find financial planners and also the major way that financial planners grow their businesses.  So, a good way to start your search may be to ask a friend or family (one that seems financially comfortable) who they use.

There are several professional organizations that have Planner Search tools on their websites.  You can enter your zip code and some parameters of what you are looking for in a relationship and see who comes up.  Some well-known sources are:

The Financial Planning Association:

Certified Financial Planning Board of Standards:

National Association of Professional Financial Planners:

Prepare to interview more than one person before finding the right fit.  Ask questions about the planner’s experience, education, customer service, and investment philosophy. Find out how the planner gets paid and how much you will be paying for financial advice.

There are also financial planners out in the community doing pro-bono (free) work.

The Financial Planning Association provides opportunities for financial planners to go out into the community and help those in need.  This can take the form of a Financial Planning Day where planners gather a public place and do 20-minute quick appointments with the public.  There are also presentations given in association with Money Smart Week.  Some news stations offer call-in hours where you can phone in and speak to a planner for free.  MoneyLine 9 is an example here in Denver.

Free financial planning events are typically advertised in the local newspaper and on TV and radio in the month leading up to the events.  Keep an eye out for flyers at your church or school, too.  You can always Google “free financial planning Your City,” but a bunch of sponsored stuff comes up first, so you’ll have to scroll down to get what you are looking for.

Finding a financial planner may not be easy, but it is worth it!

The posts: Financial Planners in the Community and How do I Find a Financial Planner? appeared first on Sullivan Financial Planning.

Webinar: Cancer & College


Join Triage Cancer partner, The SAMFund, on Thursday, August 27, at 3pm EST/12pm PST for a webinar: Creating an Academic Plan: When You’re Diagnosed During College.

Register today!

As millions of college students head back to campus this week, a subset has to deal with the logistics of studying while undergoing cancer treatment. Leading this webinar is Michele Rosenthal, Assistant Dean, Sawyer Business School, Suffolk University and College and Cancer Resource. Michele will:

  • share strategies that help students effectively work with faculty, administrators, and their peers during treatment
  • discuss important details like taking time away from classes, reducing your course load, and resuming your studies after treatment
  • ensure that students facing cancer know about on-campus resources to develop a realistic and unique plan to fit their circumstances

Please email with any questions you have about this event.

Michele will also be sharing her insights in a series of Triage Cancer blogs on education, coming soon!

Triage a Needs Assessment

SAZ social media logoOur friends at Survivorship A to Z, Inc. (SAZ) have been working hard to provide cancer survivors and caregivers with quality information.  SAZ hosts an online website dedicated to educating consumers to give them the best chance for surviving and thriving beyond a cancer diagnosis.  The SAZ website was launched on June 9, 2008, and has assisted thousands of individuals with cancer and other serious medical conditions while they navigate through many life-changing decisions.

Never willing to settle for “good-enough,” founder and Executive Director, David Landay, is at it again! He is spearheading a project in conjunction with the Academy for Oncology Nurse Navigators (AONN) to conduct a needs assessment for the cancer community.

They are asking any person who has been diagnosed, or who has served as a caregiver to complete a short survey.  The results of this survey will help determine where there are gaps in cancer care and what types of additional information (e.g., practical, financial, psychosocial), resources, and tools may be beneficial to patients and caregivers.

Please take a few minutes to complete this survey, learn more about Survivorship A to Z and the wonderful work they are doing, and follow them via social media on Facebook and Twitter.