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Those With Cancer Nearly Three Times More Likely to File for Bankruptcy

A recent study found adults diagnosed with cancer are 2.65 times more likely to file for bankruptcy while bankruptcy filings are as much as five times higher among your cancer patients.

According to the study, led by Scott Ramsey, MD, PhD, an internist and health economist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Washington, between 1995 and 2009 there were 197,840 people in the western Washington survey area data who were diagnosed with cancer and met the inclusion criteria for our study. Of that group, 4,408 (2.2 percent) of those people filed for bankruptcy protection after being diagnosed with cancer (83 percent of them under Chapter 7 and 17 percent under Chapter 13).

Those With Cancer Nearly Three Times More Likely to File for Bankruptcy

Cancer patient versus non-cancer patient filing rates.

The reasons behind the need for bankruptcy protection after a cancer diagnosis are typically related to increased medical expenses and/or reduce income from the illness.

This study provides the “strongest evidence we have between a disease and risk for severe financial distress,” Dr. Ramsey said in the press statement. “I’ve not seen other studies that linked databases of this quality.”

The study found while some households plan for future financial obligations, the cancer household is typically struck by a sudden and traumatic financial crisis that sends ordinary finances into a tailspin.

The risk of filing bankruptcy is influenced by the debt before the cancer diagnosis, assets, health insurance, disability insurance, and the number of dependent children.

Up to 85 percent of cancer patients who were working had to stop working during their initial cancer treatment while some did not return to work for up to six months.

Those With Cancer Nearly Three Times More Likely to File for Bankruptcy

Incidence of Bankruptcy 1 Year After a Cancer Diagnosis

The high incidence of bankruptcy among patients with thyroid cancer could be related to the fact that thyroid cancer mainly affects younger women. “Compared to men, younger women are more likely to live in single-income households and to have lower wages and lower rates of employment, and therefore less access to high-quality health insurance — leaving them more financially vulnerable,” the researchers explain.

If you would like to read the full study, click here.

Those With Cancer Nearly Three Times More Likely to File for Bankruptcy
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About Steve Rhode

Steve Rhode
Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy and has been helping good people with bad debt problems since 1994. You can learn more about Steve, here.
  • Pauletta G.

    Where did you come up with your figure, ” 2.65 times more likely to file for bankruptcy”?

    This quote was from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research website, “Of
    those, 4,408 (2.2 percent) filed for bankruptcy protection after diagnosis. Of
    the matched controls who were not diagnosed with cancer, 2,291 (1.1 percent)
    filed for bankruptcy.”

    How does 1.1 percent to 2.2 percent equal 2.65 times more likely?

    • http://GetOutOfDebt.org Steve Rhode

      Read the study linked at the end of the story. All the supporting data is there.

      • Pauletta G.

        I see. I guess I was just thrown off by this part of the study, “During that same time period, 4,408 (2.2 percent) of those people filed for bankruptcy protection after being diagnosed with cancer…Of the matched 197,840 controls, who were not diagnosed with cancer, 2,291 (1.1 percent) filed forbankruptcy over the same time period.”

        But then later they say, “we found that cancer patients had a rate of bankruptcy that was 2.65 times higher than that of people without cancer”

        I don’t know, I guess statistics may not be my strong suit.

      • Henry

        :)

    • Henry

      seems like the numbers came from the Cox regression analysis that they used to predict the probability over time.

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