Study: a cancer diagnosis often results in bankruptcy

On behalf of Robert Furr at Furr & Cohen, P.A.

When many people think of what causes others to be in debt, they tend to assume that simple overspending or lack of financial control are at the heart of it. However, this is often not the case. A recent report published last year in The Atlantic found that 40 percent of Americans are in debt because of medical bills. Unfortunately, this problem is growing, as medical debt has now become the leading cause of bankruptcy. Medical bills can be especially problematic if a person is diagnosed with a condition that requires expensive treatment, such as cancer.

Data from the National Cancer Institute confirms the financial problems that the nation’s cancer patients often face. According to the institute, cancer treatment is expected to cost the economy $150 billion by 2020. Additionally, according to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cancer patients are less likely to be able to work, and are thus prone to a higher rate of financial problems than other patients.

Unfortunately, yet another study confirmed that the high cost of treating cancer forces many patients into tough financial positions. A study by the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center found that cancer patients were four times as likely to file for bankruptcy by year five of their treatments than the national average. Sadly, the study found that the longer a cancer patient survives, the more likely he or she was going to turn to bankruptcy court.

Why are cancer patients especially at risk for bankruptcy? Experts believe the answer to this question lies in the development of new cancer drugs. Since new cancer-fighting drugs were approved in the 1990s, the price of treating cancer has risen from a few hundred dollars per month to up to $10,000. With the increase in the number of high-deductible health insurance plans on the market, the patient, not the insurance company, is on the hook for more of this cost. As a result, many patients find they have no choice but to seek bankruptcy protection.

Bankruptcy as a solution

Although it is often portrayed as a negative thing, bankruptcy is hardly the end of a healthy financial life. In fact, it is particularly helpful for those struggling with medical debt with little hope of repayment. In both types of consumer bankruptcy, all of this type of debt is eliminated in most cases. Once relieved of this crushing debt, many are able to resume a financially responsible life.

If medical bills are pushing you to your financial edge, bankruptcy may or may not be the best solution for you. To learn about all your options, consult the experienced bankruptcy attorneys at FurrCohen. Our attorneys can evaluate your circumstances, discuss the available options and recommend one that would best protect your long-term interests.

Our Team

Aaron A. WernickAaron A. Wernick
My restructuring and insolvency practice focuses on helping businesses, investors, and individuals maintain current assets and business structure while reducing existing debt load.

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Alvin S. GoldsteinAlvin S. Goldstein
Achieving success means caring about my clients, often providing financial advice to address their whole situation, not just the bankruptcy.

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Jason S. RigoliJason S. Rigoli
I utilize my understanding of business and knowledge of bankruptcy law to help clients thrive in the future.

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Marc P. BarmatMarc P. Barmat
I always keep in mind how to provide the best financial benefit to my clients, helping them to retain as many assets as possible and move forward with their lives or businesses.

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Alan R. CraneAlan R. Crane
Whether in bankruptcy or divorce, my goal is to help clients find creative solutions to complex problems so they can move forward from a very difficult time to a brighter more secure future.

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Robert C. FurrRobert C. Furr
The Bankruptcy code is complex and constantly evolving. I give clients the benefit of expertise and experience in utilizing the law successfully to protect their interests.

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Charles I. CohenCharles I. Cohen
I feel like I've accomplished something when I help people navigate a difficult stage and move forward with their lives.

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