Study Shows Cancer Patients Have High Rate of Bankruptcy

It is unfortunate the after enduring a serious health condition and accompanying medical treatment, many people survive only to find they now face financial hardship. This is the reality all too often. Nationwide medical debt is the most common cause of bankruptcy, responsible for almost one third of all the bankruptcies filed.

A study of cancer patients and bankruptcy was recently presented at the 2011 Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology. Due to the high cost of health care, it is not surprising that the study indicated that the longer a cancer patient survived, the more likely it was they would have to file for bankruptcy.

The bankruptcy rate of cancer patients one year after diagnosis was almost twice that of the general population. Of those cancer patients that filed for bankruptcy, the median time for filing was 2.5 years after their initial diagnosis.

The study's lead author, Scott Ramsey, MD PhD, explained, "Patients diagnosed with cancer may face significant financial stress, owing to income loss and out-of-pocket costs associated with their treatment."

The risk of bankruptcy differed depending on the age of patients and the type of cancer. Younger patients were more likely to file for bankruptcy possibly due to having lower incomes and less health insurance. One year after diagnosis, the highest bankruptcy rates were found in lung, thyroid and leukemia/lymphoma cancers.

In 2010, The National Institutes of Health estimated there was $103 billion spent on direct medical costs for cancer. "It's expected that in the next few decades it'll easily exceed $150 billion," stated Dr. Neal J. Meropol, MD, from University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Ohio.

As healthcare costs continue to grow, the numbers of patients filing for bankruptcy will only increase. If you find yourself in medical debt consult with an experienced bankruptcy attorney. Since medical debt is usually unavoidable, and such debtors cannot be accused of fraud or unnecessary indulgences, it is generally one of the easier forms of debt to have discharged.

Source: Bankruptcy Rates High Among Cancer Patients

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