A recent study led by researchers from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Washington concluded that cancer patients in Washington State were twice as likely to file for bankruptcy as people without cancer. The study drew information from bankruptcy court records and from the regional cancer registry on about 200,000 cancer patients, and compared them with a like group of people from the same area who did not have cancer. The study found that young people with cancer experienced the highest bankruptcy rates. This group experienced up to 10 times the rate of bankruptcy filings when compared to older age groups.
Having represented consumers facing financial challenges for almost a quarter of a century, this study’s findings did not surprise me. Despite many people’s perception of bankruptcy debtors as “deadbeats”, it has been my experience that a good half of the people who seek bankruptcy protection find themselves unable to pay their bills due in some part to medical related problems. I have represented young married couples in which one spouse was required to quit a job in order to take care of a sick or disabled child. There have also been elderly individuals who have used credit cards to pay for medications necessary to keep them alive but for which their insurance would not pay. And yes there have been cancer patients over the years. Many of them. Good folks who had done everything right before being diagnosed with cancer. They then found themselves unable to work as many hours (if at all) and without the means to support themselves while undergoing life saving treatment.
For many people who have faced cancer and other health problems, bankruptcy has been the safety net that has allowed them to go on with their lives. For these people, there should certainly be no shame in seeking relief from bill collectors. On the contrary, bankruptcy exists to give them a fresh start. Having overcome (or learned to live with) illness, bankruptcy allows for a financial recovery to supplement their physical recovery.
If you or a family member has incurred financial challenges resulting from cancer or some other illness, you owe it to yourself to seek the advice of a qualified and experienced professional. At Bond & Botes, we offer a confidential free consultation with a licensed attorney. We will help you to find the solution that is right for your situation. Our offices are conveniently located in Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee. Please let us know if we can help.