Cancer and Bankruptcy? Unfortunately, these two issues, one medical and one legal, many times go hand in hand. A recent report by Reuters Health citing a study conducted by Dr. Matthew Banegas at the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research in Portland, Oregon, found that one third of cancer survivors ages 18-64 have gone into debt because of their cancer treatment incurring in excess of $10,000 of debt.
This debt is caused, in part, by the rising costs of the medical care required to treat cancer. Drug cost are the major financial burden for most cancer patients who are treated outside of a hospital, however, other medical costs also include surgeries, periodic hospitalizations and additional medical fees.
The study found that cancer patients of a younger age, lower income and using public health insurance increased the risk of debt or bankruptcy as compared to older cancer survivors with higher incomes and private insurance.
Another contributing factor to this debt problem is the impact that surviving cancer and enduring treatments can make on one’s work schedule and ability to do his or her job. As part of the study, Dr. Banegas said, “if they have to take time off, they may have to use extended time or extended leave which could impact insurance coverage and impact how the cost affects them.” The financial burden can transfer to family members as well who may try to work multiple jobs or more hours to help their loved one with the costs associated with treatment and other living expenses during their treatment.
It is advised that cancer patients seek financial counselors or social workers at the treatment facility they utilize to advise them on how the costs of treatment will impact them personally. There may also be resources available at the American Cancer Society.
On a personal note, I have a friend who can’t afford to pay the portion of the surgery to treat her cancer that insurance won’t cover. It is sad that financial strain may keep her from having a lifesaving procedure. No one should have to make a decision like this one. The strain of a serious illness is enough to bear without the added worry of the cost.
In our practice, we see many people struggling with past medical bills. Medical bills are almost always unexpected financial burdens that can have a huge impact on your finances. In my opinion, medical bills are one of the top 3 reasons why people seek bankruptcy assistance.
If you are struggling financially due to medical debt or any other type of debt, don’t face anymore sleepless nights without seeking assistance. Call our office nearest you today and schedule a free consultation to discuss your bankruptcy options.
Amy K Tanner is a shareholder in several of the Bond & Botes Law Offices. She holds a Bachelor of Science from Auburn University at Montgomery, and a Juris Doctorate from Thomas Goode Jones School of Law. She focuses primarily on consumer bankruptcy law in the Huntsville and Decatur offices.Read her full bio here.