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We’ve told you before how medical expenses contribute to a great number of bankruptcies filed by our clients. These can range from work or auto accidents, partial or total disability or a serious illness. Of all the diagnoses you can get, cancer is the scariest and a recent study has linked cancer with a greatly increased chance of ending up in bankruptcy.
A study published recently by Health Affairs, a peer-reviewed health policy journal out of Washington state, found a correlation between cancer and bankruptcy. The study was conducted with nearly 200,000 cancer patients ranging from age 18 and up over a period of 14 years. The results? They found that cancer patients were 2.65 times more likely to file bankruptcy than those without the disease.
And while the expenses will obviously be more costly for those without health insurance, even for those with insurance, copays, deductibles, out of pocket costs, time missed from work and nonmedical costs can all pile up and cause deep financial troubles. Not only did the study find a greater risk of bankruptcy in those with cancer, but highlighted particular demographics and types of cancer that were more at-risk for bankruptcy.
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Rundown of Study Findings
Here are the highlights from the study that we found particularly interesting:
- Breast cancer was associated with the highest incidence of bankruptcy
- Ages 20-34 and 35-49 were the groups at highest risk for bankruptcy
- Most cancer victims that filed bankruptcy lived in urban areas
- Young females are at the highest risk for filing bankruptcy after cancer
- Most of those with cancer that filed bankruptcy were non-Caucasian
- Young cancer victims were 2-5 times more likely to file bankruptcy than seniors
- Single cancer victims were more likely to file bankruptcy than married people
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What This Means for You
If you are diagnosed with cancer and wish to avoid bankruptcy there are some preemptive steps you should consider.
- If you are single, you may want to begin cutting as many expenses as possible after your diagnosis.
- Giving up your apartment or selling your home and moving in with a family member can free up cash (plus they can help with the support you’ll need throughout your illness).
- Find out what your options are for paid and unpaid leave as well as FMLA so you can try and have your company hold your job while you undergo treatment.
- Don’t assume that a diagnosis means you must leave your job. With advancement in cancer therapies, many people are able to continue working while recovering.
- If you have no insurance (and Obamacare doesn’t get defunded) as soon as you get your diagnosis, you can apply for health coverage and it will be the same cost as you would have paid even without cancer because pre-existing conditions don’t apply. The premiums will be cheaper than trying to pay cancer treatment costs out of pocket.
- If you have no insurance and can’t afford coverage under the Affordable Care Act because you don’t earn a lot, apply for Medicaid. You may be able to qualify for government coverage if you are unemployed or earning minimum wage.
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How We Can Help
If you have been diagnosed with cancer and have accumulated a pile of medical bills that you simply cannot afford to pay, bankruptcy may be a viable option for you. If you are still going through treatment, you may want to wait until you are done with your treatment and well into recovery before you consider filing for bankruptcy relief.
To find out what your options are for your particular circumstances, contact a reputable North Carolina bankruptcy attorney for help. John T Orcutt has been practicing bankruptcy law in NC for decades and is ready to help you now. Contact us now to schedule an appointment at one of our convenient locations in Raleigh, Durham, Fayetteville, Wilson, Greensboro, Garner or Wilmington.