Studies: a cancer diagnosis often leads to a need for bankruptcy

When you think about the reasons why persons need to file bankruptcy, it is all too easy to assume that reckless spending was the primary cause. However, you may not know that medical bills are the top reason that Americans seek bankruptcy protection. Although paying for many types of serious injuries and illnesses can potentially push a person to their financial breaking point, recent studies highlight that cancer patients may have it the worst for several reasons.

A study by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention found that cancer patients are especially vulnerable to financial problems because the treatment for the disease makes them unable to hold down a job in many cases. Since the patient is unable to earn an income, it is only a matter of time before his or her savings are used up and the situation becomes desperate.

Of course, the high cost of cancer treatment also lends itself to the problem. Experts say that the cost of treating the disease has consistently increased since new cancer-fighting drugs were approved by the FDA in the 1990s. Since this occurred, the cost of treating the disease each month has risen from a few hundred dollars to up to $10,000. Sadly, patients are also responsible for a greater portion of the treatment costs, since more insurance plans now carry high deductibles.

Without an income and faced with exorbitant costs of treatment, it is little wonder why cancer patients turn to bankruptcy. A study by the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center found that cancer patients are four times more likely to need bankruptcy protection by their fifth year of treatment than patients with other diseases or disorders. The study also found that the likelihood of needing bankruptcy as a way out increased exponentially the longer the patient lived.

Bankruptcy can be a helpful solution

For those struggling with medical debts, bankruptcy can offer the way back to financial solvency that many seek. Many filers in this situation choose Chapter 7 bankruptcy, as it can quickly discharge medical bills and other unsecured debts in as few as 90 days.

However, Chapter 7 is not right for everyone. In such circumstances, filing Chapter 13 bankruptcy is also effective. During this type of bankruptcy, medical bills and other debts are consolidated into a payment plan and are repaid over a three to five-year period. However, medical bills and most unsecured debt do not have to be fully repaid under the plan in most cases. These bills generally end up discharged after only a fraction has been paid towards them.

To learn more about how bankruptcy can help you with your medical debt problems, it is important to speak to an experienced bankruptcy attorney. An attorney can evaluate your financial situation and recommend a solution that would best alleviate your burdensome debt load.