Cancer and bankruptcy: Treatment can destroy your wallet

Sometimes life throws unexpected curveballs. When this happens, everything seems to be flipped upside down. This is often the case with medical issues. A surprising diagnosis can wreak havoc on not only one's health, but also one's wallet.

Costly medical care and associated treatments are burdening patients across the country. Despite attempts to make prices reasonable within country's health care system, nothing has relieved the extreme financial hardships of medical care.

A new study lead by researchers with the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Washington has examined the expenses associated with cancer. In this research, data was collected from nearly 200,000 patients. According to the study, those who have been diagnosed with cancer are nearly three times as likely to file for bankruptcy as those that have not.

In addition, the research discovered that certain types of cancers increase the chance of a bankruptcy filing. For example, filing rates were significantly higher for people suffering from thyroid and lung cancer. The fewest filers came from those battling melanoma, breast cancer and prostate cancer.

The researchers also examined previous studies in an effort to gain a better understanding of the financial toll that cancer patients endure. In 2004, researchers with the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey found that 6.5 percent of the $20.1 billion spent on cancer treatments in that year came directly out of patients' pockets. Ultimately, researchers believe that the added financial stress could be detrimental for cancer recovery.

Dealing with cancer is hard, but the financial consequences can make the situation much more taxing. If you are struggling with cancer-related expenses (medical visits, tests, treatments, etc.), you deserve strong support. While it is difficult to control the unexpected troubles of life, you can work to make them easier. The good news is that certain forms of bankruptcy and other debt-reducing options can help cancer patients eliminate some of their financial obligations.

For example, Chapter 7 bankruptcy is a form of debt relief that can get rid of most forms of unsecured debt, including credit cards, medical bills and personal loans. However, if you plan to pursue this option, it helps to have legal support along the way. Bankruptcy law is very complex, and the proceedings can be confusing. Also, if you do not file your case in accordance with appropriate legal procedures, you could risk your chance at debt relief. To make life easier, contact a qualified bankruptcy attorney in your area.

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