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Mother in law out of money for co-pays
Old 06-18-2012, 10:03 AM   #1
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Mother in law out of money for co-pays

This may be a polictical topic. I have a mother in law that was diagnosed with cancer and needs copays in the 4-5 thousand dollar range to get treatment. My wife ofcourse wants to pay. My wife ofcourse has been a stay at home mother of 1 and has no income directly. My wife wants to use some of our emergency funds to pay for her mothers treatments. I feel that her mother a 2 pack a day smoker has lived here life the way she wanted and never really had any savings and spent every penny of her income throughout her life. These were the mother in laws choices and I am having a hard time coming to grips with spending this money when it was her living and spending choices that contributed to her situation. On top of it sh has never carried medicare gap insurance. 4-5 thousand now means could mean delaying retirement given that I am still 10 years away from that ER date.

I feel I go without thhings like cable tv, eating out, driving cars forever until the wheels drop off, meanwhile the mother in law has cable, eats out and drives relatively new cars. She had to stop work and is now 100% on SS for living expenses and has moved in with her sister due to being evicted for not paying rent due to having to stop work now.

My question to you folks is why should I be responsible for her lifestyle choices and forgo my goals because of it?

I am of course sorry for her diagnosis and don't want to come across in this posting as cold hearted, even though it may seem that way.
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Old 06-18-2012, 10:10 AM   #2
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Sorry to hear this news. You are not responsible but remember one thing.
"happy wife, happy life" This will not end well either way so ride the storm. JMHO
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Old 06-18-2012, 10:24 AM   #3
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I'm with 73ss. This isn't about your mother in laws poor choices. Nor is it about your wife being a stay at home mother. You are both in this as a team, and need to approach it that way. Start talking now to find the balance between helping your wife do what she feels she needs to do as a caring daughter and what you need to feel financially secure.

I suggest you find an amount you are both comfortable with, and let your wife give it to her mother as she sees fit.

Good luck.
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Old 06-18-2012, 10:27 AM   #4
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Yeah, the practicalities may outweigh the moralities. Be clear with your wife about the impacts this will have on your life. Agree on how much you can afford to give without falling into the same hole yourselves. Have your wife research any other state/federal/private programs that might be able to help with MIL's bills. If this is a low probability of success kind of procedure, investigate hospice care. Any other family that can contribute?
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Old 06-18-2012, 10:35 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by RetirementColdHardTruth View Post

My question to you folks is why should I be responsible for her lifestyle choices and forgo my goals because of it?
1. You are not responsible for her lifestyle choices.

2. And part two is obviously a personal decision. I see the political analogy you referenced in your first paragraph (referring obviously to liberal or conservative politics), and also know the relationship issues/struggles you are up against.

I might think I would know what I would do if it was me, but then again, I wouldn't really know unless I was in that position. So, I offer you good luck with your decision making.
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Old 06-18-2012, 10:41 AM   #6
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This is purely a personal decision, not something I'd be inclined to ask acquaintances or strangers online. You will have to live with your decision for the rest of your lives together, no one here has anything invested. My 2...you know what to do.
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Old 06-18-2012, 10:51 AM   #7
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Yes, there are no easy answers. If her Mom dies or gets considerably worse and your wife perceives it is because you didn't come up with the $5k, how will that impact your life? What if you believe it to be true? Are you gonna feel good or bad visiting her in the hospital?

Is it your money we're talking about, your wife's money, or your money in common?

How much will the loss of $5k really delay your retirement? Crunch the numbers, and consider how much real precision there is in those numbers.

I can understand a bit of resentment for being asked for this based on what you perceive to be your MIL's poor choices. That's water under the bridge. If you part with the money, do it with a glad heart and feel good about yourself for having done it--that's best for everyone.

Do talk with your wife and decide how much you can afford to give and how it will affect you both. There's a limit to what you can do. $5k is unlikely to be the end of it. If it helps, remember that her sister is doing even more.
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Old 06-18-2012, 10:51 AM   #8
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I think my original post was to get confirmation that I shouldn't pay and let the MIL sleep in the bed that she has made. Prior to posting it was a Pay vs Pay nothing in my head. Now I see there is a middle ground, that my mind was closed to before I posted. For this I am thankful for those who have posted a response even if you didn't have a vested interest. At least now the lines of communication can be opened up with the wife without my feelings getting in the way. There is no right or wrong choice here only compromise. Thank you all and keep posting replies as they are very helpful to my wife and I. I think that is what a forum is all about, getting other prospectives on situations.
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Old 06-18-2012, 10:55 AM   #9
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I agree with most of the replys expecially Super Sport's. "Momma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy". I think you should do the right thing, bite the bullet and pay up somehow and maybe start on a program with MIL to set up finances for her to fund a supplemental plan and other financial matters that may be of concern. You will never regret making that move.

Just read you last post and see you on the right track. I also thought of something that could help in the future. What kind of valuable assets does MIL have? You know, "mom, we can help out as much as $XXXX but is there any thing you can help out with like selling some jewelry or some other valuable possessions?" I think if she sees that things don't come easily she may be really thankful for your help. Good luck and best wishes to you and the family.
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Old 06-18-2012, 11:05 AM   #10
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What if you believe it to be true? Are you gonna feel good or bad visiting her in the hospital?

Is it your money we're talking about, your wife's money, or your money .
I wouldn't feel bad that I didn't give her the money, however, I am sure the wife would.

Mine vs Her money. That's another political can of worms right there. wife chooses to not work and I support that choice. There has to be value in raising a good son that has parental leadership and compassion that I directly relate to my wifes values that she has instilled in him. What $ value is impossible to say. I do feel that I earn the money and am fully financially responsible for our family. My wife "chooses" to stay out of the financial decisons no matter how much I try to involve her. I think that it is our money, but It is there for us and not others. I think I will open discusions up around the $1000 mark and say that is what we can do. 4-5k just takes me far too many months to save and I will also state that I will support her taking a part time job to bridge the gap.
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Old 06-18-2012, 11:44 AM   #11
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You and your wife must handle money differently than my family. In my house it doesn't matter who makes the money. It all goes in the same pot. We have an equal say in how it is handled.

How much are you talking, $5k a year at most for the insurance premium? I stand by my previous advice, but will expand on my view a little.

We don't have a huge income, but if my wife wanted to spend that on her mother I'd relent. We would talk about it. Alot. But I would eventually relent. I'd be worried about your signature line coming true:
I'm too Frugal for my love too Frugal for my love
Love's going to leave me

$5k looks like a lot, until you turn it around and look at what you could lose by not letting your wife do what she feels is necessary. This is a trying time for your wife. She undoubtedly loves her mother and wants to do right by her. Help her to make wise decisions, but don't get in her way of doing what she feels she must do.
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Old 06-18-2012, 11:56 AM   #12
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I agree with the happy wife, happy life mantra but maybe there is a middle ground. Can't MIL be left responsible for the copay and then you and your wife work with her on how to deal with the problem? For example, what happens if MIL can't make the full copay immediately? Are you required to cosign for her to get treatment? Does she not get the treatment without payment up front or does she simply owe a debt? Seems to me that if all that happens is she owes a debt, then let her go into debt and start a slow repayment schedule. Maybe help with that so she doesn't become a dead beat which might interfere with future treatments.
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Old 06-18-2012, 12:11 PM   #13
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No coypay no treatment. Most doctors require it up front now or will not order tests and set up surgeries. Been down that road already. Already talked with the wife and we have agreed to drop the $1000 up front directly to the doctors where needed. Secondly my wife will take on a part time job to cover the rest. That's what she wants to do. I think I will continue to struggle with the fact MIL has chosen a lifestlye that determined her situation, and now it has become my issue. But I guess thats something I have to deal with. My goal will be nit to become a burden on my child if that time comes. Also updated my signature as it was ment to be a joke.
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Old 06-18-2012, 12:17 PM   #14
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Very tough issue. I can't help you make the decision, just want you to keep in mind that if her treatment lasts into 2013 you'll start over on a new insurance year and another $5000 co-pay.

I was a stay at home mom until our sons were in college and DH worked and supported us financially. I've been working part-time for 6 years. All income and assets (except for my Roth IRA) are jointly held and all of our family is "our family." Deciding how to help a family member would be seen as an "us" decision.

But we have not been in the position that you and your wife are facing. Knowing how you feel about the way your MIL has lived and run her finances makes it hard to swallow supporting her in this way. Especially when it delays your own plans.

Emergency funds are there for a reason. It's probably not the kind of emergency you expected but that's how emergencies happen, they can't always be defined in advance.

Does your DW have other siblings who may be able to contribute? If you don't help MIL does she not get treatment? If she couldn't get treatment how would you and DW feel as she got sicker? Has she sought out any other options for low income medical care?

Good luck with making this decision.

You posted an update while I was composing my post. I hope that helps her out and that you and DW are comfortable with your decision.
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Old 06-18-2012, 12:22 PM   #15
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Your OP mentioned that MIL drives relatively new cars. Perhaps you could trade your ride plus some cash for her ride (if she still has it). Or if she has any other assets perhaps you could buy them and that would provide her the cash she needs now.

Another thing to consider is the likelihood of success of the treatment she is receiving. If the likelihood of success is poor it seems like you are throwing good money down the drain.

I like the option to pay up and have DW take a part time job to help replenish what you both paid out.

At the end of the day though, it may be best to make sure your DW knows the financial implications to the both of you and your children and let her make the decision. If you push a decision she isn't fully on board to, DW will probably resent it for the rest of your life and you will never hear the end of it. $4-5k to MIL is cheaper than a divorce.
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Old 06-18-2012, 12:49 PM   #16
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She owes more on the car than it is worth. Other assets wouldn't bring much more than garage sale prices. MIL spent more than income her entire life. What even more anoying to me is she still has a $10 a day smoking habit that she refuses to give up. If all the money is in a pool then are we not also supporting her smoking habit by paying up for the copay. Also the wife having a part time job is to cover the other 3-4 k not to replenish what will be spent upfront. It just sucks anyway you look at it. Just another case of those who have lived within their means being expected to cover those that have not. Also treatment is not always effective. Even if it was, I do wonder what would happen to a number of these cancer treated people if they just left it be. Kind of what they are figuring out with prostate cancer. It is a pitty that doctors are not held responsible for outcomes tied to payment. I know if my car goes in and has something done to it that doesn't fix the issue my machanic will not chage me for the original fix. Maybe then treatment options would be only done if the outcomes are highly sucessful. Anyway, side tracking my own thread.

I think I will treat the money outlaid as a gift. There are 3 other children in the family that also have nothing to give. Thats why she ended up moving in with the MIL sister. The kids seem to be following the same patterns of the mother. I guess if the treatment is not sucessful they will also expect us to cover the funeral costs. Yea, I know showing more of my cold heart. There is a long history of the MIL being bailed out by the money that I have earnt. Like needing to stay with us for a few weeks that turned into 6 months before I finally had to "make" her move on. During that time she didn't contribute a dime to household expenses because of her debt commitments. The list goes on. It isn't really just the 4-5k, but the cumulative effect of all the times she has drained from me in some way or another. Keeping the wife happy is nice to say but really how many times must this go on before enough is enough?
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Old 06-18-2012, 12:53 PM   #17
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Sounds like a reasonable plan, RCHT. Just keep reminding yourself that it isn't about your MIL. It is about your wife.

You ask some tough questions above. For me, the answer would be that determining when "enough is enough" for MIL is best determined by your wife. With your loving input, of course.
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Old 06-18-2012, 12:57 PM   #18
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What $ value is impossible to say.
Trying to put a $$ value on something like this corrodes life. Either you can afford it, or you can't. In any case, you are halfway across the river on a one-way bridge. You can't get off without finishing the crossing, or accepting considerable damage of every kind.

This is part of that "for worse" thing.

Ha
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Old 06-18-2012, 12:59 PM   #19
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To prevent the money going to cigarettes, one could pay the co-pay directly, but make sure you are not signing up to pay everything. I'd probably not even write a check, but would pay in cash.

Also, you should probably try to leverage the money, as in, "OK, we will give you $1000 as long as you get another $1000 from the 3 other children."

And is there not an advocacy group for cancer patients with no money? Has she contacted anybody to plead poverty?
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Old 06-18-2012, 01:02 PM   #20
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Unfortunately, once a person has cancer, (s)he will always be a cancer patient even if they are considered in remission or "cured". The cost does not end with the copay for treatments. There are a follow-up appointments, labs, screening test, multiple specialists and consultants, etc. A lot of cancer patients, even if they have great insurance usually do end up in the medicaid system. Some of my patients' inability to return to work in a timely manner cost them their health insurance once they're terminated for medical reason. Some working parents of children with cancer usually need to stop working to get the aid needed to continue their child's treatment; the 1-2 million dollar lifetime caps can easily be reached by the time their child reach their 3rd year of treatment.

Your MIL should apply for financial assistance. Start with the social workers at whatever facility or institution she is treated at. Certain cancers are covered under Medicaid Cancer Treatment Program (MCTP) and there are cancer foundations that assist with copays for chemotherapy. Most pharmaceutical companies can provide discount on their medications but require proof of finances. It's best to start the process as soon as possible since it can take up to 2 years and the exhaution of most of the patient's assets to qualify for some of these aid.

Cancer is financially and emotionally draining for entire family so telling your wife you do not wish to contribute financially to her mother's treatment can cause a lot of unnecessary "bad blood". Start by looking into other ways to help your MIL since that 4-5K is not even enough to cover her mdical needs. Best of luck to you and your family.
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