Submitted by Rachel R on Mon, 05/20/2013 - 11:03pm
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A new study published in the medical journal Health Affairs gave readers some pretty shocking information about bankruptcy. Researchers from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle recently found that people who are diagnosed with cancer are over 2.5 times more likely to file for bankruptcy. The odds of filing bankruptcy are even higher for younger cancer patients.
As yet another testament to the rising cost of healthcare, the report, which was published on May 15th, shows how a serious medical condition can easily lead to financial turmoil. Let’s face it, a diagnosis of cancer is devastating enough. But to fight a disease and collection agencies at the same time? The stress of both could be unbearable.
The study consisted of adults who were over the age of 21 and lived in western Washington state. Each participant had been given a cancer diagnosis between 1995 and 2009. This group was compared to a “control group” made up of randomly questioned people who were in the same age group, of the same gender and lived within the same areas. The only difference between the two groups was that the control group was made up of people who were not diagnosed with cancer.
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Once researchers compiled the necessary information from both databases, they were able to cross-reference the figures with records from the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Washington. What they found during that comparison is what many cancer patients have already experienced firsthand: Having a cancer diagnosis can unfortunately lead to bankruptcy.
Although this particular study didn’t examine the insurance coverage for each participant, plenty of research has already proven that many Americans filing for bankruptcy due to major health issues are actually insured. In fact, one earlier study found that over 60 percent of all bankruptcies in the United States are due to the overwhelming cost of medical bills. Among those people filing for bankrutpcy, around three-quarters were insured when they got sick.
When all of the data was compiled, researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center also discovered some interesting financial differences among cancer patients of different demographics. Cancer patients filing for bankruptcy were found to be younger in age, females and not white. In fact, the youngest participants in the study were found to have ten times the number of bankruptcy filings when compared to the oldest participants.
It stands to reason that many of the younger cancer patients were diagnosed at a time when their debt-to-income ratios are at their highest. Younger patients are generally in the process of trying to pay down massive student loans, purchasing their first home or entering into a career. They face a lot of preexisting debts while simultaneously parenting young children. In addition, younger cancer patients are often unmarried single parents, which cuts out any supplemental income from a spouse.
When compared to younger cancer patients, bankruptcy filing rates are much lower among older cancer patients. Researchers believe the reason for the difference is due to the fact that older cancer patients usually have Medicare and Social Security health insurance coverage. In addition, they often have more assets and are considered more financially stable.
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Researchers also uncovered some fascinating statistics relating to cancer patients and bankruptcy filings. Some of the most overwhelming facts they discovered were:
When patients are diagnosed with cancer, they often don’t realize the massive costs that are involved. A quick online search reveals hundreds, if not thousands, of results that focus on the astronomical price of cancer medications. Patients are often forced to choose between paying their bills and buying their daily medication. Once behind on their bills, many cancer pateints find themselves searching for an experienced North Carolina bankrutpcy lawyer who can explain current bankruptcy laws and inform them of filing options. It’s a scary situation and no one should be forced to put their health in danger due to financial difficulties.
If you or someone you know are experiencing financial difficulties due to medical bills, it may be time to consult a trusted North Carolina bankruptcy attorney. When you are sick, the last thing you need to worry about is debt.
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