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The connection between cancer and bankruptcy filings

On Behalf of | May 1, 2019 | Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

Those who discover they have cancer often become hyper-focused on the medical battle into which they are suddenly thrust. Dealing with the stress and physical consequences of cancer treatments like chemotherapy and radiation can require all of a person’s energy.

The desire to win the battle against cancer is their sole focus. Doing whatever is necessary to heal and recover requires work. That mental focus can actually benefit cancer patients and improve their odds of success.

However, once they go into remission, they may have to face unexpected consequences. Cancer treatments often prove prohibitively expensive. For some cancer survivors, getting the treatment they need to beat the disease also means dealing with staggering levels of debt after treatment. That makes cancer survivors twice as likely as others to have to file bankruptcy.

Insurance doesn’t cover everything

Even those who have robust health insurance policies can find out that their coverage falls far short of what is necessary after a cancer diagnosis. Many health insurance policies have steep co-pays, deductibles and coinsurance payments that a patient must make in order to receive treatment.

You could wind up paying as much as 30% of your cancer care out of pocket. In addition to those direct costs, there is the secondary risk of exceeding the maximum insurance benefit for your policy. Many insurance companies place a financial cap on how much they will cover in a given year, as well as over the life of a policy.

Considering that some cancer treatments cost tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars per session, patients who need the most cutting-edge therapies could also wind up saddled with impossible amounts of debt. That debt is probably building up at a time when you can’t work, creating serious financial strain for your household.

Bankruptcy helps you approach remission as a fresh start

After battling for months or even years against the cancer growing in your body, you shouldn’t have to live in fear of losing your home or other financial consequences related to your treatment. Filing for bankruptcy protections once you complete treatment and have received all of the necessary medical bills may be an option for those who don’t have significant assets or income.

In fact, if you haven’t worked for some time and don’t have a large amount of personal assets, you may even qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Regardless of what kind of bankruptcy you choose, the important thing to remember is that medical debt is unsecured debt. You shouldn’t liquidate the equity in your home or cash out your retirement fund to pay those unsecured debts.

If you worry about the financial consequences of your cancer treatment, sitting down with an experienced North Carolina bankruptcy attorney can help you make the best decisions for getting back on your feet and taking charge of your medical debt.


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