We all know that medical debt is a leading factor in many bankruptcy cases, but recently, researchers at Seattle’s Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center have discovered just how much of a toll medical bills can take on a person’s finances.
The study, published in May, discovered that cancer patients are 2.5 times more likely than people without cancer to declare bankruptcy. Patients who are young, female, or minority face the highest odds of financial woes—the study showed that the youngest patients surveyed had a bankruptcy rate nearly 10 times higher than the oldest patients.
Younger patients often have fewer assets, lower-paying jobs, and dependents at home, so the sudden news of cancer often takes them by surprise. The financial stress caused by initial treatments is only exacerbated by ongoing treatment and other expenses.
While it would be easy to assume that those facing financial trouble are uninsured, anyone with a family member who has battled (or is currently battling) cancer can tell you that even with insurance, the costs of treatment are astronomical. Most insurance policies will only cover a portion of testing and surgeries, and patients will still have to shoulder large co-pay and deductible expenses.
Adding salt to the wound, many people undergoing cancer treatments will often be out of work for a considerable amount of time. Disability insurance may be able to cover some bills, but these payments are typically a percentage of the patient’s salary.
Despite many hoping that the Affordable Care Act would make healthcare more accessible, the coverage on many of the “bargain” policies is minimal, and is unlikely to prevent major medical events from pushing someone into bankruptcy.
If you or someone you love has been affected by cancer and you are overwhelmed by medical debt, our Phoenix bankruptcy attorneys are available to help you find answers. Call us now at 602-258-1000 to find out how our law firm can help, and speak with a lawyer today.