OCT 2012

EyeWorld is the official news magazine of the American Society of Cataract & Refractive Surgery.

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Page 143 of 168

seem overwhelming. It's no secret that healthcare delivery is changing, and those changes are reflected in the financial issues that healthcare professionals face every day. As an ophthalmologist you must continu- ally educate yourself about new research in your chosen specialty, stay current on the latest technology that is transforming healthcare, and pay attention to business considera- tions, including ever-changing state and federal insurance regulations. With reimbursement headed south and office overhead heading north, it is imperative that you focus on your own personal financial security. Like many, you may have transi- M tioned from medical school and residency to being on your own with little formal preparation for the substantial financial issues you now face. Even the day-to-day concerns that affect most people—paying college tuition bills or student loans, planning for retirement, buying a home, insuring yourself and your busi- ness—have become even more complicated ore than ever before, the demands on medical practi- tioners can by the challenges and rewards of a medical practice. It's no wonder that many medical practitioners look for- ward to the day when they can relax and enjoy the fruits of their labors. Unfortunately, substantial demands on your time can make it difficult for you to accurately evalu- ate your financial plan or monitor changes that can affect it. That's especially true given ongoing health- care reform efforts that will affect the future of the industry as a whole. Just as patients need periodic check- ups, you may need to work with a financial professional to make sure your finances receive the proper care. Maximizing your personal assets Much like medicine, the field of finance has been the subject of much scientific research and data and should be approached with the same level of discipline and thought- fulness. Making the most of your earning years requires a plan for addressing the following issues. Retirement: Your years of advanced training in ophthalmology and perhaps the additional costs of launching and building a practice may have put you behind your peers outside the healthcare field by a decade or more in starting to save and invest for retirement. You may have found yourself struggling with debt from years of college, intern- ship, and residency; later, there's the ongoing juggling act between mak- ing mortgage payments, caring for your parents, paying for weddings and tuition for your children, and maybe trying to squeeze in a vaca- tion here and there. Because starting to save early is such a powerful ally when it comes to building a nest egg, you may face a real challenge in assuring your own retirement. A solid financial plan can help. Investments: Getting a late start on saving for retirement can create other problems. For example, you might be tempted to try to make up for lost time by making investment choices that carry an inappropriate level or type of risk for you. Speculating with money you will need in the next year or two could leave you short when you need that money. And once your earnings improve, you may be tempted to overspend on luxuries you were denied during the lean years. One of the benefits of a long-range financial plan is that it can help you protect your assets—and your future—from inappropriate choices. Tuition: Many medical professionals not only must pay off student loans, but also have a strong desire to help their children with college costs, precisely because they began their own careers saddled with large debts. Tax considerations: Once the lean years are behind you, your suc- cess means you probably need to pay more attention to tax-aware invest- ing strategies that help you keep more of what you earn. Using preventive care The nature of your profession requires that you pay special atten- tion to making sure you are protect- ed both personally and professional- ly from the financial consequences of legal action, a medical emergency of your own, and business difficul- ties. Having a well-defined protec- tion plan can give you confidence that you can practice your chosen profession without putting your family or future in jeopardy. October 2012 • Ophthalmology Business continued on page 12 11

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