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).
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.
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.
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