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Research Study Looks at Cancer Diagnosis and Bankruptcy

There are a lot of elderly residents in the Tampa Bay area as well as individuals seeking a friendlier climate to recover from a life-threatening illness. Our Tampa Bankruptcy Blog talks about medical debts as a factor in causing residents to seek personal bankruptcy solutions, but how great is that factor?

A recent study shows that for those who are diagnosed with cancer, their likelihood of filing for personal bankruptcy protection more than doubles. According to the study, they are actually 2.65 times more likely to seek debt relief through bankruptcy.

The study was conducted by Scott Ramsey, MD, PhD who works with the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center located in Seattle. It used data from 197,840 adults who had been diagnosed with cancer from 1995 to 2009. Of those individuals, approximately 2.2 percent or 4,408 patients proceeded to file for bankruptcy. That rate was closer to 1.1 percent for those in the same area who had not been diagnosed with cancer.

There are many studies that show a definitive relationship between those with large overall medical debts and personal bankruptcy, but this is one of the first studies that looks more specifically at cancer — something that affects a very large percentage of the population. Almost everyone is affected by cancer whether they are diagnosed, a family member has been or even a very close friend.

It is not just the medical bills in cases of cancer. Often the diagnosis has a financial ripple effect in other aspects of the patients’ lives. Long treatment plans can physically prevent a patient from working or force them out of a job due to scheduling issues. Job loss can affect insurance coverage, and even traveling to the treatment site can be expensive.

Those suffering from debt related to a medical diagnosis should seek a bankruptcy attorney prior to trying to fix the situation on their own. In some cases, the people who try to fix the problem on their own end up filing for bankruptcy anyway. Bankruptcy may not be for everyone, but it is important to receive thorough advice on any debt-relief solution.

Source: MedScape Today, “Bankruptcy Rate Doubles With Cancer Diagnosis,” Nick Mulcahy, May 15, 2013

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