Financial Challenges and Medical Expenses Patients Have During the Holidays


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November 22, 2022


The holidays are a season marked by joy and celebration, but they can also be a time of increased activity, more travel, and a certain amount of stress. This is especially true for families who’ve experienced a healthcare crisis. Medical treatment and the financial challenges that come with it can often create additional burdens for patients during the holidays. 

At CaringWays, we believe that helping eliminate the financial stress and burdens of medical care is one of the most valuable ways to support patients and their families during their medical journey—regardless of the time of year. We also recognize the holidays present their own set of unique challenges.  

For the past several years, Aflac has conducted a national survey that highlights some of the unique financial challenges that patients experience during the holiday season. There were a few noteworthy findings from last year’s study:  

1. Medical expenses often force patients to make hard decisions during the holidays

Whether it’s due to a cancer diagnosis or medical emergency, more than half of patients have to make some type of sacrifice during the holiday season because of medical costs. Nearly 1 in 4 families say they had to spend less on holiday gifts, and 20% decided against purchasing a gift for a loved one altogether.

2. Parents and families are uniquely impacted by the financial burdens of medical expenses. 

According to the study, 43% of American households with children plan to take some actions in and around the upcoming holiday season out of concern over healthcare expenses. For families experiencing a medical crisis, parents are twice as likely to pick up extra hours or shifts so that they can afford holiday purchases for their children.

3. Even families with insurance experience financial strain during the holidays. 

While health insurance certainly helps many Americans manage medical care costs, it doesn’t eliminate the financial strain that patients experience during the holidays. Nearly 1 in 5 families experienced medical costs exceeding $1,500 over the course of the past year. This number is even higher for families with chronic medical issues. 

Other findings from the survey indicate many U.S. families deal with health insurance remorse, with 42% saying they made healthcare coverage decisions they regretted over the past two years. Even with insurance, medical debt adds significant financial strain during the holiday season.

4. Medical issues can affect how patients celebrate their favorite holiday traditions.

A cancer diagnosis or medical emergency often changes how a family celebrates the holiday season. Patients often face unique challenges during this time. Treatment may impact their energy levels, and if they’re immunocompromised, they may not be able to travel or visit family. It’s important for patients to remember that there’s no right or wrong way to celebrate the holidays. Staying connected with the people who matter most through video calls or shorter visits can still bring joy to patients and their families. 

5. Financial stress causes patients to put off other medical care. 

Financial fears also impact patients’ plans to access healthcare year-round, not just during the holidays. According to the study, 35% of families said they had postponed their own medical appointments, and 24% postponed taking a family member to see a medical professional due to medical costs concerns. When financial concerns affect access to healthcare, something must be done. A CaringWays campaign can transform a family’s experience of their medical journey. 

The Best Gift You Can Give Patients This Holiday Season

While the holidays can be a difficult season for patients and their families, it’s also a time marked by generosity and goodwill. As a platform specifically designed for medical fundraising, we want to do everything we can to help patients experience the joy of the holiday season.  

If you’re looking for ways to support a family member after a cancer diagnosis or simply want to support a friend after a medical emergency, starting a CaringWays campaign is a simple and tangible way to show them you care this holiday season.

And if you’re a patient struggling with financial challenges this holiday season, we want you to know that it’s OK to ask for help. We’ve created specific resources to help you raise financial support for your medical expenses

Contact our team today to set up your CaringWays campaign. 

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