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A look at how a cancer diagnosis can lead to bankruptcy

On Behalf of | Sep 29, 2016 | Medical Debt

Being diagnosed with cancer can shake up a person’s whole world, as they are suddenly faced with a myriad of problems and worries. Unfortunately, for many cancer patients, they will also have to face financial strife as a result of their diagnosis. In fact, according to NBC News, 3 percent of all cancer survivors end up filing for bankruptcy, and one-third find themselves in debt because of their illness.

No statistics were available regarding what types of cancer put patients more at risk for bankruptcy. However, in general, the areas where cancer patients tend to rack up medical expenses include:

  • Operations
  • Prescription drugs
  • Hospital stays
  • Doctor fees

In addition, costs for the care cancer patients receive has gone up compared to years past. Plus, those who are ailing are often unable to work and their families must cope with that loss of income, as well. The types of patients found to be most at risk for financial problems were those on public insurance plans, young people and those in lower income brackets.

It also appears as though debt may seriously affect black survivors of cancer more than their white counterparts, reports UPI. One study found that while 15 percent of white patients with cancer skipped on certain treatments in order to cut costs, 21 percent of black patients reported doing the same. In addition, 18 percent of white cancer patients reported having to take on debt in order to afford their treatment, compared to 31 percent of black patients. It was not likely the patients’ race that directly led to the increased debt they incurred, according to the researchers who conducted the study, but rather the fact that they likely had lower financial standing prior to being diagnosed.


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