Research Finds Bankruptcy More Common For Cancer Survivors

Is Bankruptcy More Common For Cancer Survivors?

We’ve talked quite a lot about how medical debt can drive some people into bankruptcy. But a recent study of 232,000 adult cancer patients over a 14 year period has found that cancer survivors are more likely to file bankruptcy than the general population.

“Patients diagnosed with cancer may face significant financial stress due to income loss and out-of-pocket costs associated with their treatment,” said Scott Ramsey, M.D., Ph.D., a health care economist and internist at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center who led the study. “On average, bankruptcy rates increased fourfold within five years of diagnosis.” Ramsey presented the findings June 6 at the 2011 annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in Chicago.

The study found that compared to the general population, bankruptcy rates were nearly twice as high among cancer patients one year after diagnosis, and that the median time to bankruptcy was two and a half years after diagnosis.

While the study suggests that this fact is now just being discovered, many bankruptcy attorneys already know that those with serious medical conditions are more likely to file bankruptcy. It’s not just that debtors battling illness have medical debt, it’s also because they are often unable to work and cannot pay other basic expenses such as their mortgage or credit card debt. The illness has a domino effect on their financial situation and if they want to survive financially they really need the financial fresh start that bankruptcy offers. The important thing is that debtors recovering from an illness realize quickly that they in fact do need the protection of bankruptcy and that they do not delay a necessary filing.

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